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The orange and black Hooded Pitohui, (Pitohui dichrous), was the first bird scientifically proven to be toxic. The skin and feathers of these birds contain a neurotoxin remarkably similar to the batrachotoxins found in Poison Dart Frogs.

Later studies confirmed that the Blue-capped Ifrita, (Ifrita kowaldi)-- the smaller bird at top-- also possessed similar defensive toxins. Both birds are believed to acquire batrachotoxins from the Choresine beetles that they regularly consume.

Merely touching the feathers or skin of either species causes numbness and mild pain.

The pitohui and the ifrita are endemic to New Guinea.


Toxic Birds ©2013 John Meszaros.  All Rights Reserved