What happens if a bird eats plastic?

Answered by Robert Flynn

When a bird ingests plastic, it can have severe consequences for its health and well-being. The plastic can cause physical damage to the bird’s soft tissues and internal organs. The sharp edges of the plastic can cut or puncture the delicate lining of the bird’s digestive tract, leading to injuries and potential infections.

One of the major problems with plastic ingestion is that birds often swallow pieces that are too large or numerous to pass through their digestive systems. Unlike natural food items that can be broken down or digested, plastics are non-biodegradable and cannot be broken down by the stomach acids. As a result, the plastic remains in the bird’s stomach, causing a blockage or obstruction.

The accumulation of plastic in the bird’s stomach can have several detrimental effects. Firstly, it takes up space that should be reserved for food, causing the bird to feel full even when it hasn’t consumed enough nutrients. This can lead to a decrease in appetite and a reduced intake of essential nutrients.

As the plastic continues to accumulate, it can cause the bird’s stomach to stretch and distend. This can lead to discomfort and pain for the bird. Additionally, the blockage caused by the plastic can interfere with the normal digestion process, preventing the breakdown and absorption of nutrients.

Over time, the accumulation of plastic can become so severe that it completely fills the bird’s stomach, leaving no room for food. This can result in starvation as the bird is unable to consume enough nutrients to sustain its energy needs. The bird may exhibit signs of emaciation and weakness as its body starts to utilize its fat stores and muscle mass for energy.

In some cases, the presence of plastic in the bird’s stomach can also interfere with its ability to regurgitate food for feeding its young. This can have significant implications for the survival and development of the bird’s offspring.

It is important to note that the effects of plastic ingestion may vary depending on the size and type of bird, as well as the quantity and composition of the ingested plastic. However, the overall impact is generally negative and can lead to severe health issues, reduced reproductive success, and even death.

To mitigate the harm caused by plastic ingestion, efforts should be made to reduce plastic pollution, promote responsible waste management, and raise awareness about the dangers of plastic for wildlife.