Tell if Your Bird Is Sick

Edited by Yuliya, Derek S, Eng, Nuance

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How Birds Handle Illnesses

Becoming sick as a human means getting treatment, being made more comfortable, and generally getting taken care of. Becoming sick as a bird may mean danger. If a bird shows symptoms of illness in the wild, it's essentially painting a big red target on itself. Weak, sick birds are the perfect prey for animals who are predators, find them delicious, and always target the old, young and sick -as they are easier prey.

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Because of the inherent dangers involved in being a bird with health issues, birds have evolved in such a ways as to not show any signs of sickness until whatever is plaguing them has taken a deep hold. Unfortunately, this instinct has followed birds into captivity, making it very difficult to determine if your beloved pet bird is sick, especially if he thinks someone is watching him. Sadly, if you notice your bird is behaving as if he's sick, it's often too late to do much to help him.

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That's why as a bird owner, it's imperative to look for the small, tell-tale signs to figure out if your bird is feeling sick - before the signs become obvious.

How To Tell If Your Bird Is Sick

As mentioned, birds don't show obvious signs when they're sick. Here are a few things to look for that may mean your bird isn't feeling well:

  1. 1
    Droppings
    .
    A bird's droppings are often the first place you can see if something isn't right with their health. Some things to look for are:
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    1. Runny droppings.
    2. Droppings that are smeared or stuck to the feathers around your bird's bottom.
    3. Strange colored poop.
    4. The absence of the solid, dark part of the dropping.
    5. If your bird's bottom appears clogged, has any discharge, or has any sign of blood, take your bird to the vet.
    6. Some of these symptoms may also be a result of a diet change, but as they say, it's better safe than sorry.
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  2. 2
    Posture
    .
    Do you sit up straight and alert when you're sick? Neither does your bird. ##Watch for a hunched posture and puffed up feathers.
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    1. Birds fluff up their feathers at night when they go to sleep, but seeing fluffed feathers during the day is often a sign your bird might not be feeling well.
    2. Healthy birds balance on both legs about an equal amount. If you notice your bird favoring one foot over the other, you may want to get him examined.
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  3. 3
    Bottom of the Cage
    .
    Spending a lot of time near the bottom of the cage is a bad sign that warrants an examination as well.
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  4. 4
    Feathers
    .
    A healthy bird preens and takes excellent care of its feathers.  
    1. Poorly groomed feathers may mean your bird is sick.
    2. Over-preening or not preening enough is also associated with mental health, and whether your bird may be stressed.
    3. Watch for abnormally shaped feathers, torn or tattered feathers, and feather pulling, especially if it's concentrated in one spot.
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  5. 5
    Temperament
    .
    If your normally sweet bird suddenly becomes angry and irritable, it might not be feeling well. Changes in temperament can be caused by many things other than illness, but remember that a healthy bird is alert and quick to recover from stresses. If you notice your bird acting extra nippy or very mellow and tired, something may be wrong.
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  6. 6
    Respiration
    .
    Ragged or labored breathing, tail bobbing at every breath, any kind of discharge or sneezing, are all signs of a problem.
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  7. 7
    Skin
    .
    Regularly check your bird for cuts, lesions, or color changes in their skin.
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  8. 8
    Beak and cere
    .
    The cere is the nostril area above the beak in pigeons, doves, and parrots. A crusted-over cere is a sign of mites, while an overgrown beak is a sign of malnutrition or a metabolic disease.
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  9. 9
    Weight
    .
    Rapid weight loss is not only a symptom of an underlying sickness; just that alone is dangerous for small birds on its own. To determine if your bird is underweight, run a finger down the front of his chest. If you can feel a sharp bone, your bird is malnourished.
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  10. 10
    Blood
    .
    Any sign of blood is never okay.
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The Importance of a Good Vet

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Many vets will only see cats and dogs. Many others say they'll see a bird, but don't know enough about birds to be much help. I took a canary with watery eyes into a vet who said he sees birds, and he spent the entire half hour visit telling me about how to tell a canary's gender. When I mentioned her eyes, he shrugged it off. This was not a good vet visit!

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When you're choosing a vet for your bird, you should ask and look around. Find a vet who specializes in birds. This is often included among the blanket term of "exotic pets" which also includes reptiles and rodents.

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Birds are living creatures, and when you get one, it becomes your responsibility to take care of it. This means making sure you get your bird good health care. Get a good vet for your bird!

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Questions and Answers

I do not know why, but my birds died, I think there is a stomach problem with my birds.

Stomach problems? I don't know what to do? There were more birds in my cage, but now there are only 9 or 8 birds so now I do not know that I should do. I do but I think they have a stomach problem because they are urinating. I have tried: I am from Pakistan. I used two kind of medicine flaygel and amodium.

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Article Info

Categories : Birds

Recent edits by: Eng, Derek S, Yuliya

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