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Signs of A Sick Bird

Post this on your refrigerator and read it every morning.

Examine every bird in your care, every day and answer the following:

  • Is my bird looking as perky as he or she did yesterday? Are the eyes as bright and wide open as yesterday? Are the eyes closed or squinting? You are the best judge of your bird’s general well being. Changes in energy level, vocalization patterns or unusual behaviors such as unwillingness to “step up” when he or she is usually eager, may be subtle signs of an illness. He or she may also be telling you that “I vant to be alone, This is my day to cocoon!” If this change in behavior persists more than 24 hours, you definitely need to seek veterinary advice.


  • Are there any changes in the appearance of my birds droppings? Are there as many droppings as usual? Are there any unusual colors in the droppings? Look for lime green or iridescent yellow. These colors could be signs of an infection or liver problems. But don’t panic! A single dropping doesn’t mean anything. A pattern observed over a couple of days may be significant. Remember that the amount of liquid is directly related to the water content of the diet. If you are feeding primarily vegetables and fruits you will observe loose droppings. Also don’t panic if you see red droppings after feeding something red. Colored pellets may also add color to the feces. A single dropping doesn’t mean anything, but a pattern can be significant and if it persists you must call your Avian Vet.


  • Does my bird have a pasty vent? This is a simple exam that every bird owner can do. If your bird is used to you holding him or her upside down, you will find it really easy to examine the vent. There should be no sign of feces adhering to it or anywhere on the underside. If you’re not sure what to look for, be sure to ask your vet or breeder. Even if you can’t hold your bird on the back, get down and check out the underside. Pasty vent is usually easily observable and is almost always a sign of infection. Call your vet and discuss your observations.


  • Is my bird fluffed? This is a most important indicator of a sick bird. Birds normally fluff when they nap or sleep, or if the room is too cold. However, a bird that sits in the corner of his cage and acts uncharacteristically lethargic may be showing subtle signs of illness that require prompt medical care from your avian vet. If a bird is fluffed for more than a few hours it is probably sick and requires prompt medical care from your avian vet.


  • Is my bird wheezing or sneezing? All birds sneeze occasionally and this is probably However, wet sneezes are usually not normal, unless your bird has bathed or immersed its head in the water crock. Repeated wet sneezes require prompt medical care from your avian vet. Wheezes, unusual whistling noises, and noises you observe as your bird breathes are usually signs of a respiratory problem that requires prompt medical attention from your avian vet. These problems include:


  1. Blockage of the air passage because a parrot has inhaled a seed, toy part or even a nutshell fragment. Many sudden deaths of otherwise healthy birds have resulted from such a blockage.
  2. Fungal infections including Aspergillosis are extremely debilitating to a parrot. Sometimes these infections have been longstanding and your bird may have been suffering from the ravages of these infections for a long time before you observe symptoms. Immediate treatment is needed to save the infected bird. Remember that fungal spores are circulating in most of our homes.


  • Are the nares (nostrils) cleanOr is the beak encrusted?—There should be no mucus or discharge around the 2 small openings above the beak which equates with our nostrils . Sometimes when a bird has an upper respiratory infection, you may even see mucous bubbling around the nares as the bird breathes. Another indicator of a respiratory infection may be a dry, crusty buildup on the beak. If any of these conditions are present your bird requires prompt medical care from your avian vet.


  • Is my bird’s tail bobbing in rhythm with its breathing? Tail bobbing is usually associated with breathing difficulties. Such a subtle behavior requires that you watch your bird carefully. This condition requires prompt medical care from your avian veterinarian.


  • All birds, including our parrots are masters of masquerade. This is because they are preyed upon in the wild and like all weakened animals they will be the first choice of predators. This is why they try to mask any sign of slowness or illness and why we must look so closely and learn to recognize subtle signs and indicators.   Often, when a bird lets down his or her guard and shows signs of illness, the situation is critical.   This is why we must safeguard their health, monitor health status, and provide prompt medical care.




  • Please trust us. Many, many of our customers have shared their grief with us over the loss of their parrots. I have personally received and read dozens of necropsies of parrots.   Probably 50% of them do not provide a conclusive cause of death and we try so hard to assure the grieving owner that he or she did everything possible for their parrot and try to relieve them of their guilt.


  • Another 50% (approximately) show signs of infection or organ changes that might have been preventable , had the bird owner been better-informed and educated. We grieve with these people also and take to heart the lessons that we learn from these losses and try to share them with everyone that we can reach to avoid more preventable diseases and/or accidents.




  • Strictly adhere to Parrots Naturally’s Nutritional Guidelines. Remember “we are what we eat”! Many infections can be fought off when your bird has a strong immune system. We are always here to help you discuss this process in more detail.


  • Weigh your bird at least once a week, and be sure that it is   at the same time every day. It is best to weigh first thing in the AM and keep records (see us for charts). A drop in weight of more than 5% in a week means that your bird needs a veterinary consultation.


  • Parrots Naturally is your ultimate source of advice for your parrot, whether purchased from us or elsewhere. We really care about the health and welfare of these endangered birds.


  • This advice is meant only as a guideline and is definitely not a substitute for advice or recommendations provided by an avian veterinarian.