Red Wattlebirds and Toadstools

To: <>, <>
Subject: Red Wattlebirds and Toadstools
From: "Alan Leishman" <>
Date: Thu, 07 Mar 2002 10:19:32 +1100
Jill Dark wrote requesting information relating to birds eating fungi, Amanita 

The book The Poison Plants of New South Wales, by Evelyn Hurst (1942) states:

FUNGI Amanita muscaria (L) Fr.  Fly Agaric.

This fungi has a bright scarlet cap covered with broad white warts. The symtoms 
develop a short time after the ingestion of the fungi. There is excessive 
salivation, perspiration, flow of tears, nausea, vomiting and watery diarrhoea. 
The pulse is slow and irregular, the pupils small. Dyspnoea develops. There is 
some giddiness and delirium. Death may follow or recovery in two or three days. 
(This description is for humans).

The active principal is known as muscarine (King 1922). It is an antidote of 
atropine (Cleland, 1934). [ Atropine is available in tablets and injection from 

King, H. (1922) Jour. Chem. Soc., cxxi, 1743. The Isolation of Muscarine, the 
Potent Principle of Amanita muscaria.

Cleland, J.B. (1934) The large fungi of South Australia. Adelaide.

Best regards,

Alan Leishman,
Plant Sciences,
Royal Botanic Gardens,
Mrs Macquaries Road,
Sydney, NSW 2565
Tel: (02) 9231 8166
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>>> "jill dark" <> 03/07/02 09:19am >>>
On Tuesday afternoon a Wires rescuer in Katoomba picked up a group of 24 Red
Wattlebirds which had been eating Amanita muscaria (big red toadstools with
white spots, usually found under pine trees).  Most of the birds were in a
really bad way, with severe diarrhoea and blood coming from the beak - a
most distressing sight for the rescuer.  17 of the birds died before
anything could be done for them, 1 had severe head injuries when bitten by a
dog, and the remaining 6, after copious amounts of fluids, recovered
completely and were released the next morning.

I have worked with Wires for many years and have never heard of any birds
poisoned by these toadstools before.  Does anyone have any other records of
this or any ideas on how the birds could be treated if it happens again?


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