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
NOT WAIT! TAKE YOUR BIRD TO AN AVIAN VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY!
1. Bird stops
eating, eats much less than normally, or suddenly changes eating
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
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
metal poisoning or sometimes by bacterial enteritis
in the gut tractthat causes internal bleeding.Other symptoms of
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
6. Bird seems
depressed- stops talking and/or reacting to you as it normally
7. Bird has fluffed
feathers, and is sleeping on both feet during the day or at a
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
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
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
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
22. Bird has a "rash" on its skin and/or is picking
at a raw area of skin.
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
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.