Psittacine plasma concentrations of elements: Daily fluctuations and clinical implications

Karen L. Rosenthal, Matthew S. Johnston, Frances S. Shofer, Robert H Poppenga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


During the past 2 decades, the potential for excessive exposure of pet birds to zinc has become a concern for many pet bird owners. Ideally, avian zinc toxicosis is diagnosed on the basis of history of exposure to zinc, radiographic evidence of ingested metal, occurrence of melena, detection of an elevated plasma zinc concentration, and response to treatment. However, most pet birds suspected of having zinc toxicosis present with vague signs and lack of radiographic evidence; therefore, the diagnosis relies on the presence of an elevated plasma zinc concentration. A question was, is there a significant diurnal variation in the zinc concentration in psittacine birds and could this be clinically relevant? Because studies in other species have shown that zinc is not the only element that shows a diurnal variation, the authors examined 13 other plasma elements including arsenic, cadmium, calcium, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, potassium, selenium, and total phosphorus. Fifteen adult psittacine birds housed in the same aviary were used in this study. Three blood samples, separated by 4 hours, were taken from the right jugular vein in each bird. All elements were measured in plasma. Zinc, copper, and molybdenum revealed diurnal fluctuations. The results of this study suggest that interpretation of clinical samples may be more complicated than previously believed. Furthermore, on the basis of the results of this study, it is possible that some avian reference ranges may need to be reexamined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-244
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Avian
  • Calcium
  • Diurnal variation
  • Heavy metal
  • Iron
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


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