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Sandra December 13, 2021

Signs of a sick bird

I often get messages on our social platforms asking for advice or questions about their bird's health. For starters, if you ever are unsure if your bird is sick or have suspicions that they might be sick, take them to your avian vet as soon as possible. The sooner you catch an illness, the better chance for a speedy recovery.

It's important to remember things like removing household dangers, including a proper nutritious diet, ensuring your bird has a safe environment and following adequate care guides will help prevent illness. 

When a parrot gets sick, it becomes a danger to the flock and becomes the weakest link in the wild. Predators will target an ill bird as an easy meal. A bird showing signs of illness is usually driven away by the flock. Every parrot's instincts know that its safety depends on protecting a flock as a unit and will hide its disease for as long as it can. Once a parrot becomes visibly ill, it has been sick for a long time.

It's helpful to continually monitor your bird's poops and check their weight regularly. These are two easy ways to catch any signs of illness earlier. 

Signs of a Sick Bird

1. Abnormal poops: 
  • Red or black droppings. This is a sign of internal bleeding, egg binding or intestinal infection. It can also mean your parrot has swallowed an object.
  • Bubbles or air pockets in the droppings are signs of gas or infection.
  • Undigested food can mean pancreatic problems and infection, which is a symptom of Proventricular Dilation Disease.
  • Diarrhea can be brought about by many things, including parasites, infection and digestive problems.
  • Persistent (lasting a day or two) liquid droppings (called polyuria) can result from infection or kidney disease.
  • Decreased urine suggests dehydration.
  • Yellow or green urates signal liver disease.
  • Yellow urine indicates infection or kidney disease. (Source: BirdTricks)

2. Weight loss:  A parrot should always be weighed in grams - make sure you have a scale and weigh your bird often. Keep a log that you can share with your vet; an avian vet can let you know the approximate healthy weight for your parrot, depending on species and size. If your parrot loses 10% of its body weight during a month, it needs to see a vet. 

3. Changes in appearance: If you notice anything unusual about your bird in the behaviour or appearance, seek an avian vet. Things like acting lethargic, feather discoloration, fluffed-up feathers, or anything unusual is a cause for concern.

4. Loss of appetite: Our parrots burn a lot of energy and need food to refuel. If your bird was a great eater and something changed their eating habits, it could be a red flag.

5. Drooping wings/perched at the bottom of the cage: Prevalent signs of a sick bird.

6. Discharge: An excretion from the nasal area, eyes, ear holes or anywhere else is a sign of infection or other serious problems that must be addressed immediately.

7. Lack of vitality or inactivity: If your bird is not as active, is not being vocal and not behaving as they usually do, these are often the first signs of an existing illness. 

8. Eyes are dull or cloudy:  A parrot's eyes should be crystal clear. They majestic eyes! If they are not showing signs of awareness and their eyes look dull, pale or unclear, this is cause for concern that requires a vet visit. 

Prevention is the best way to keep your bird happy and thriving. Consider improving your bird's diet and lifestyle if you haven't already to prevent illness and help them live a long healthy life.