Would there be a possibility that there is lead paint in birdfeeders and bird baths, manufactured in China. If so, how do birds and animals react to lead?
Considering the recent publicity about high levels of lead in toys imported from China, you are wise to be concerned. A 2006 study from the University of Cincinnati determined that India, China and Malaysia produce consumer paints with dangerously high lead levels; these paints are used in a variety of products intended for export. The United States banned leaded paint in 1978 as it was linked to developmental problems in children. Lead paint affects birds and other wildlife as well. Burger and Gochfeld's 2000 study, published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, confirmed that even low-levels of lead affected growth, locomotion, balance, food begging, feeding, thermoregulation, depth perception, and individual recognition in birds. Young birds affected by lead may not recognize their siblings or parents due to impaired cognitive ability and tend to wander from their nests. Higher levels of lead can lead to death.
Paint issues aside, the wood China uses to construct bird houses as well as other products is a source of concern. China does not harvest its own forests for the majority of the products manufactured in that country. Russia, Malaysia and Indonesia are the three largest suppliers of timber to China. These countries have limited forest management, and much of the wood China uses is actually obtained illegally from threatened forests. The forests in Indonesia, in particular, are home to many species of birds which are threatened by the rampant deforestation. To ensure that wood products you buy are from reputable sources, look for Forest Stewardship Certified (FSC) wood. The concerned consumer should ask questions about the source of any wood product, such as furniture or paper, to make sure your purchase doesn't encourage the deforestation of threatened areas.