The tragic loss of Speckle the pigeon

A few weeks have now passed since the world learned of the sad passing of Speckle the pigeon and his mate, Miss Pretty.

While some may not understand why this news was so tragic, to many it was truly devastating. Speckle was no ordinary pigeon as through his public outreach and love of socialising in the pub, he helped change the perception many have about these beautiful, intelligent birds.


Poor Speckle and Miss Pretty appeared to have succumbed to fumes from a neighbour’s house and there was nothing that their dedicated guardians could have done to prevent what happened. However, it highlights that all bird owners should be aware that bird are extremely sensitive to fumes, be that from household chemicals, cigarette smoke, and even non-stick cookware.

Cooking pans, drip trays and other cookware coated with Teflon, is not safe to use with birds in the vicinity. While under normal use Teflon is safe, if the pan overheats, such as if warming a dry pan or accidentally letting a pan boil dry, toxic fumes can be emitted.

Teflon can release fumes if allowed to get too hot

These polymer fumes can cause flu like symptoms in people, but quickly kills birds due to the extremely efficient way the bird respiratory system exchanges gasses from the air into the bloodstream and muscles. This efficiency is necessary for the high energy demand of flight, but means that any airborne toxins are rapidly absorbed, leading to toxicity.

While too late to save Speckle, we should all heed this warning, particularly those living in communal buildings, to make sure such a tragedy never happens again.