Symptoms of
an Ill Bird

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If you suspect that your bird is not well, please do not wait to see if it will "get better". Birds instinctually hide illness as they must appear healthy to predators.
This wild instinct is still present in our domestic-raised pets and birds will often hide symptoms of disease until they are seriously ill.
Therefore, do not wait if you notice that there is something "not right" with your bird. It is an excellent idea to have an avian veterinarian for your bird BEFORE
you have an emergency situation so you won't waste any time searching for one if you have a sudden need for one. Also having seen your pet as a healthy bird,
your veterinarian will already have a chart on your pet and be more prepared to evaluate the situation.

Below are some possible symptoms of illness. These MIGHT NOT be symptoms of illness in every instance but are given as guidelines to help you evaluate what is not normal in a healthy bird.
If several of these symptoms are present, you could have an emergency situation on your hands so

1. Bird stops eating, eats much less than normally, or suddenly changes eating preferences.

2. There are no feces being produced or very tiny amount of feces (this is usually the green or brown component of the droppings.
Note: Consumption of orange or red foods such as cooked carrots and cooked beet root can cause fecal component to be orange or red in coloration- this is ok).

3. Urine (actually uric acid- white part of droppings) turns yellow, very pasty, or extremely watery.

4. Feces are bright green, yellowish green and/or extremely watery. (Note: fruit and/or vegetables
in the diet can cause changes in the color or consistency in the feces and this is normal. Example-
eating beet root or yams will cause bright red or orange droppings so do not be alarmed!)

5. The feces part of the dropping is black and "tarry". This is known as melena. and is an indication of digested blood. This can be caused by heavy metal poisoning or sometimes by bacterial enteritis
in the gut tractthat causes internal bleeding.Other symptoms of heavy metal poisoning include lethargy, trouble standing and/or flying, respiratory distress, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
In any case, seeing a tarry stool from your bird is an indication that the bird is quite ill and should see an avian veterinarian IMMEDIATELY!

6. Bird seems depressed- stops talking and/or reacting to you as it normally does.

7. Bird has fluffed feathers, and is sleeping on both feet during the day or at a time
when it is normally active (birds normally sleep on one foot).

8. Bird has unkempt appearance as if it has not been preening its feathers.
(feathers may appear dirty and ruffled)

9. Eyes appear dull or squinting- bird is not opening its eyelids fully.
Eyelids may be reddened or puffy; or eyes are sealed shut or weeping.

10. Bird's tail bobs up and down with each breath showing respiratory difficulty;
might wheeze or have clicking noise when it inhales. This is a sign of respiratory distress!

11. Bird repeatedly sneezes; fluid is coming from nostrils or mouth or nostrils appear to be clogged.
(Note: birds occasionally sneeze, just as humans do, with no serious problem indicated.)

12. Bird vomits and/or passes its food undigested in its feces.

13. Bird suddenly loses the majority of its wing and/or tail feathers.
(Note: Birds lose these feathers in a normal molt but not all at once.)

14. Bird loses weight; feels "light" when it is picked up; the keel bone in the chest appears sharp
or the chest is V-shaped instead of U-shaped (this is a sign of a very serious problem as this indicates weight loss and could be an emergency situation!)

15. Bird appears to have difficulty in breathing and might be unresponsive (this IS an emergency!).

16. Bird is panting with its wings held out at an odd angle from its body
(this is indicative of an overheated bird- put it in a cooler area IMMEDIATELY!)

17. Bird is shivering and appears to be cold; feathers are constantly fluffed.
(this is indicative of a bird that is cold and could be seriously ill; provide warmth with
a heating pad set on LOW- never use one directly under a bird on HIGH setting!)

18. Bird has abnormally rough or scaly area on its legs and feet and/or around its beak
(this could be indicative of mites).

19. Bird appears weak and/or unable to sit on a perch.
If a bird is sitting continuously on the floor of the cage, this could be a sign of illness/weakness!

20. Bird has an unusual and/or unpleasant odor that was not previously present.

21. Bird drinks an unusually large quantity of water and there are very watery droppings resulting.

22. Bird has a "rash" on its skin and/or is picking at a raw area of skin.

If a bird is scratched by a cat, even a small scratch, please take the bird to an avian veterinarian immediately!
Dog bites or scratches could also be very serious, so any attack by another animal is cause to have your bird seen by an avian veterinarian.

These are just a few indications of disease. Know what is normal for your own bird so that you can immediately tell if it is acting abnormally and don't hesitate to call your avian veterinarian if in doubt about your bird's health. Please do not wait, as one or more of these symptoms could possibly indicate serious or critical illness! Please do not contact us for help with questions regarding your bird's potential health problems as we do not have an avian veterinarian on staff and are legally unable to help you. Indeed no one could reliably diagnose a bird's health problem over a telephone or via e-mail.

Good luck and good health to you and your birds!

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