Emetics and flushing

Emetics and stomach flushing do not usually kill the bird, but occasionally they do and these methods are usually considered too invasive. As an emetic 0.8 cm3 of 1—1.5% antimony potassium tartrate per 110 g of body mass is administered via a syringe usually through a vaseline-coated narrow flexible plastic tube pushed gently down the esophagus. The bird is then placed in a dark box with a carpet of absorbent paper and released 15-20 min later. Of 3419 birds of 82 species studied in Venezuela, 3033 diet samples were obtained, ofwhich 2712 had recognizable food, but 70 birds died (Poulin et al. 1994). Nectar is difficult to detect but pollen grains are obvious.

Stomach flushing apparently has lower risks. A vaseline coated narrow plastic tube is inserted into the stomach and lukewarm (often weak saline) water pumped in through a syringe until the contents of the esophagus and stomach are voided. In many countries use of both emetics and flushing would be illegal without permits.

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