Common Avian Emergencies

The critically ill avian patient

The most commonly presented avian emergency is that of the critically ill bird. Most often these are birds are found on the bottom of the cage with little if any history of prior signs of illness. The symptoms, visual examination, and initial diagnostics will often establish the direction of treatment and specific diagnostic tests. The following are common problems grouped by system. The patient that presents with only depressed mentation, and severe dehydration must be pursued aggressively until some clue is found to justify its condition. A diagnosis for the birds state of decompensation gives the patient the greatest chances for survival.

Hypocalcemia syndrome

African Grey parrots (Psittacidae), both Timneh and Congo sub-species, are rarely affected by a hypoglycemia syndrome (although there appears to be a decrease in it’s frequency in our practice, perhaps due to increased awareness of nutritional needs). Young birds 2 to 5 years of age are most commonly effected. Signs may range from incoordination to status epilepticus. Hypocalcemia should be on the differential diagnosis of any grey parrot with neurological signs. Grey parrots (Psittacidae) presented in seizure should be treated presumptively with intravenous calcium gluconate as well as with diazepam.

Respiratory emergencies

Difficulty breathing is a common complaint in birds presented for emergency or critical care. After administering oxygen or establishing an airway and adequate ventilation, a thorough evaluation of the animals respiratory tract must be performed to determine the cause of the problem. Character of respiration may be helpful in making a diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Primary pulmonary disease (pneumonia, pulmonary congestion or hemorrhage), upper airway obstruction and abdominal disease that interferes with the filling of air sacs may all present as respiratory distress.

Pulmonary disease may result from a variety of causes including heart disease, fungal, bacterial, viral and parasitic pneumonia or pneumonitis, and airborne toxins. Symptomatic treatment should include oxygen, antibiotics, and other supportive therapy such as diuretics. The use of bronchodialators and corticosteroid are controversial. Nebulization of medication and or humidification will benefit some patients.

Upper airway obstructions are common avian emergencies. Inhaled foreign bodies (e.g., millet seeds inhaled by cockatiels), fungal and bacterial granuloma at the syrinx and glottal papillomas may result in near total to total obstruction. These patients present with a history of acute onset of dyspnea, often with no previous sign of disease. Initial evaluation of respiration may show open mouth breathing, inspiratory and/or expiratory stridor, very often with a musical squeak-like respiratory sounds originating at the glottis or syrinx combined with cyanosis are suggestive of upper airway obstruction. The cyanosis and signs of distress may become evident with any stress or restraint. The decision of what point to intercede and intubate the air sac should be based on whether the patient can tolerate diagnostic and therapeutic care without becoming cyanosis. If cyanosis with or without restraint, intubation should be considered.

Bleeding and blood loss

The sight of blood strikes fear in all bird owners and is a common emergency presentation. Hemorrhage may result from numerous causes including trauma, infectious disease, metabolic and nutritional causes, and neoplasia. Trauma is the most common cause of hemorrhage. The majority of the birds bleeding due to minor trauma can be easily treated. Bleeding blood feathers, fractured or avulsed toenails and beaks, and traumatized wing tips make up the majority of these cases. Bleeding blood feathers must be pulled. Even if the bleeding has stopped, it may resume if the tip of the growing feather brushes a perch, or is groomed by the bird. If the feather appears to be gone but continues to bleed, look or palpate for a remnant of the feather shaft in the follicle (BE GENTLE!). Once the feather is pulled do not put hemostatic agents in the follicle! The bleeding will usually stop if the follicle is pinched closed for 60-90 seconds. If the hemorrhage continues try gluing the follicle closed with a drop of tissue cement in the opening of the feather follicle. Bleeding toenails may be cauterized with a mild styptic such as ferric sub-sulfate or the quick may be covered with a thin layer of tissue cement. Broken beaks are occasionally difficult to stop bleeding. This is particularly true with slab-type fractures of the tip of the upper beak or rhinotheca (common with cockatoos and African Grey parrots (Psittacidae). These fractures may be difficult to diagnosis due to blood spreading from the tip of the beak to the tongue, giving the appearance that the origin of the hemorrhage is elsewhere in the oral cavity. The bleeding will often stop if the broken surface is filed or ground smooth. This also appears to make the broken tip less irritating to the bird. The tip of the beak may be cauterized with hemostatic powder if needed.

Hemorrhage secondary to more significant trauma, such as lacerations of major vessels, hematoma, or fracture of the liver, spleen or kidney is immediately life threatening. The first goal is to recognize the hemorrhage. This is not a problem when trauma results in external hemorrhage. The greater challenge is to recognize internal blood loss. The hemorrhage must be slowed or stopped and restorative therapy initiated in order to prevent the bird from bleeding out and support vital organ function. The rate that blood is lost from the circulation is the determining factor in its mortality. Losing 20% to 25% blood volume over several minutes may be fatal where the same volume lost over several hours is not. Generalized clinical signs of blood loss include pallor of skin, nails and mucous membranes, delayed capillary refill time, increased cardiac and respiratory rates, thin appearance to blood visible in peripheral veins (median ulnar and jugular), generalized weakness, fear, and dyspnea, especially with restraint. More specific signs of hemorrhage depend on the location of the hemorrhage but may include bruising, distention and/or discoloration of the abdomen, and coolness of isolated limbs.

Timely diagnosis may make the difference between life and death in these cases and should be aggressively pursued. If hemorrhage is unapparent in an animal with a history of recent trauma, serous ongoing internal hemorrhage should be assumed to be ongoing until proven otherwise the patient should be hospitalized for several hours for observation.3 External hemorrhage is not difficult to diagnose. Volume of blood loss may be estimated with the aid of history, blood on the cage or carrier floor papers or in the materials used to wrap the patient prior to presentation. Diagnosis and/or assessment of blood volume loss is much more difficult with internal hemorrhage. Patients presented with a history of trauma along with signs of hypovolemia or hypotension should be assumed to have sustained internal hemorrhage. Hemorrhage into the bird’s abdomen and into bone and muscle compartments are the most common in the authors experience. Discoloration or bruising of the abdominal wall, especially along the ventral midline and caudal on the ventral abdomen, may give a clue to hemorrhage. Radiology and endoscopy may aid in locating the site. Removing the feathers from a traumatized limb or the trunk area may aid in locating hemorrhage in those locations. Bruised or swollen areas should be evaluated for an increase in the size of the swelling or diameter of the limb. Definitive location of internal hemorrhage may require exploratory surgery.

These cases must be treated by a veterinarian, preferable one familiar with avian patients. Treatment must be initiated early and progress rapidly if the patient with significant hemorrhage is to survive. Direct pressure should be applied in those situations where it will not interfere with respiration. Clamp or suture vessels that are readily accessible. In some cases, the application of elastic bandage wraps to produce counterpressure to pelvic limbs may be possible to increase systemic vascular resistance and venous return to the heart. The resulting influx of blood acts as an “autotransfussion” of blood pooled in the limbs. The degree of stress created by wrapping the limbs must be weighed against the benefits of increasing blood pressure. Counterpressure pneumatic “garments” are not available for avian patients and counterpressure may not be applied to the abdomen to avian trauma patients due to their need to expand abdominal air sacs for respiration. An intraosseous or intravenous catheter should be placed for the rapid administration of fluids to restore systemic pressures. Whole blood, plasma, colloid plasma expanders, hypertonic (7.5%) saline or crystalloid solutions have been recommended. Fluids should be continued until systemic pressures are at or slightly greater than normal. The single heterologous blood transfusion has been shown to be safe and anecdotally demonstrated to be efficacious.30,31 Studies of radio-labeled (51Cr) red blood cells administered as either homologous or heterologous transfusions have suggested the half-life of the transfused cells to be substantially shorter than previously thought. These studies imply that heterologous transfusions (blood from different species) may be of little or no benefit and homologous transfusions (from a bird of the same species) of only limited benefit.

Anemia

As with bleeding, a bird presented with signs of anemia must first be evaluated to determine the cause of the anemia, the degree of blood loss as well as the site or the reason new cells are not being produced. Gastrointestinal bleeding, genitourinary bleeding along with hemolysis may be difficult to diagnosis. Hematochezia (red blood in the stool), typically from lesions in the lower GI tract, and melena (black tar-like digested blood), associated with gastritis, enteritis and ulcers of the gastrointestinal tract, GI foreign bodies, primary and secondary coagulopathies and hepatopathies. Cloacal bleeding may be associated with severe cloacitis, cloacal or uterine prolapses, papillomas, and other cloacal masses, and egg laying. Heavy metal poisoning (see lead or zinc poisoning) and chlamydiosis may result in hemolysis or bone marrow depression anemia.

Bite Wounds

Scratches and bite wounds very often lead to a fatal septicemia if not treated aggressively. The patient should be evaluated for its overall condition and treated appropriately for blood loss or hypotension. The extent of wounds should be evaluated. If the patient’s condition allows, wounds should be thoroughly flushed and fractures stabilized. Aggressive antibiotics should be begun early in treatment. Piperacillin or cefotaxime combined with amikacin or tobramycin are a good choice and should be continued for a minimum of 5 days is indicated in these cases. If septicemia is suspected treatment for septic shock should be instituted (intravenous fluids, rapid acting steroids, and intravenous bactericidal antibiotics).

Fractures

Fractures should be splinted as soon as the birds condition is stable to prevent further complication. Simple bandaging techniques may be employed to provide adequate stabilization until definitive treatment is possible. Fractures of the distal wing, including the radius and ulna, carpus, and manus, may be immobilized with a figure-8 bandage. Humeral fractures, shoulder luxation and fractures of the shoulder girdle should be splinted to the birds body utilizing a figure-8 bandage followed by wrapping the limb to the body in such a manner as to support the limb but not restrict respiration or interfere with the birds legs. The opposing wing should be left out of the wrap. Fractures of the leg below the stifle may be immobilized with an Altman tape bandage or a modified Robert Jones bandage with or without an acrylic half cast. Fractures of the femur require a Spica splint if they are to be splinted externally until surgical repair can be accomplished. See chapter TT on Hospital techniques.

Burns

Burns are not uncommon in avian medicine. Most common burns result from contact with hot liquids, water (scalds) or cooking oil, electrical burns from chewing on electrical wires and from being fed hot formula in pre-weaning bird. Burns resulting from entrapment in burning buildings or inside containers (chick incubators with burning bedding) are not as common but are much more difficult to treat with the complication of smoke inhalation.

The burns of avian patients may be classified by their severity, superficial, partial thickness and full thickness burns. Superficial burns, where only epidermis is effected, resulting in transient erythema and desquamation of epidermis and the site is highly sensitive or hyperesthetic. Clinical signs include hyperemia, desquamation, and pain. Partial thickness burns are those where the burn depth extends to the mid-dermis. Loss of epidermis is complete, capillaries and venule in the dermis are dilated, and congested, and they exude plasma. The site may be painful (especially feet, legs and facial skin), but sensitivity is decreased. Clinical signs include exudation, pain and decreased sensitivity. Change in ease of feather pulling (as noted with hair in mammals) may not be effected due to the depth of the feather follicle. Full thickness burns, result coagulation of epidermis and dermis so that they are no longer vital. Severe edema of the subcutis develops from the increased permeability of deep vessels and necrosis of the damaged tissues occurs, resulting in dry, leathery eschar. Feathers may be easily pulled if the burn is deep and scaled skin may peel easily. Clinical signs include necrotic tissue without sensation, subcutaneous edema, little or no pain and feathers that are easily pulled. Other signs of burns may include respiratory signs from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, hypovolemia and hypotension (“shock”) may be present in animals with severe burns, dehydration from loss of fluids, anorexia, and polyuria secondary to stress or inability to eat in the case of crop burns.

Diagnosis is typically made based on history and clinical signs. Smoke exposure should be expected in situations where smoke accompanied the burn, especially in an enclosed space or involved materials with a likelihood of producing toxic fumes. A through physical examination may revel the involvement of other organs. If greater than 50% of the body surface is involved in the burn with partial or full thickness burns the prognosis is grave and the client may want to, consider euthanasia. It is important to advise the client that the condition of the patient may become much worse before it improves. Look for signs of hypovolemia or hypotension. Evaluate for signs of infection and pain. Diagnostics testing should include radiographs, in cases exposed to smoke, to evaluate pulmonary injury. Hemogram, serum electrolytes are indicated in severe or extensive burns.
Initial observation and evaluation should include evaluation to determine the level of therapy required for the extent and depth of the burn. Birds with severe or extensive burns need emergency treatment. Dyspneic birds often have laryngeal edema and upper airway excretions benefit from an air sac tube and oxygen. An intraosseous catheter should be placed and the bird treated for shock. An initial bolus of fluids using Lactated Ringer’s solution or some other balanced crystalloid electrolyte solution. A short-acting glucocorticosteroids such as hydrocortisone Na succinate or Prednisolone Na succinate may be given. Systemic bactericidal antibiotics, such as Piperacillin, should be initiated in patients with severe burns that may complicated by infection or any burn that will not be treated in the hospital environment.

If the burn is recent, treating the site with cold water or compresses to minimize coagulation and minimize the extent of the burn and decrease the burn depth by dissipating heat. Continue cold compresses period of 20-30 minutes after the time of the burn. Body temperature must be monitored during this procedure, especially in very small patients. Superficial burns should be gently cleansed using saline with 5% povidone iodine (Betadine) or chlorhexadine (Nolvasan, ) solution. Partial and Full thickness burns should be gently cleansed and necrotic tissue and any foreign material removed daily then treated topically with a water soluble antibiotic dressing such as silver sulfadiazine. The lesions may be covered with a sterile dressing or left uncovered based on the likelihood of contamination and injury by the patient. This procedure is very painful and should be performed under general anesthesia. Early surgical intervention may shorten the course of therapy of some small partial and full thickness burns.

Burned birds should be monitored for blood loss and loss of body proteins. Plasma or colloidal fluids may be required in patients where total solids and hence osmolality drops below 1.0 g/dL. Renal function should be monitored by number of droppings and urine volume, uric acid and serum electrolytes. Continued fluids and judicious use of diuretics is indicated in birds with decreased urine output. White blood cell counts are commonly increase within 24 to 48 hours and persist for 5 to 10 days (in the authors experience). Pain medications (analgesics) are indicated in cases where the bird is in pain (see above).

Complications most likely to occur include circulatory collapse, decreased renal function (oliguria), renal failure and sepsis. Circulatory and renal complications are most likely to occur within the first 24 to 48 hours. This emphasizes the need to monitor hydration (PCV and TS) and renal function (uric acid, electrolytes and urinalysis). Infection is a common cause of death in birds surviving the initial injury. The most common agents cultured from the burns of avian patients has not been reported but is assumed to be the same opportunists that infect the burns of mammals, Pseudomonas, Streptococcus, Proteus and Candida. Prevention of burn sepsis involves early wound cleansing and closure when indicated; topical antibiotics, isolation of the patient in a clean, or if possible sterile, environment and maintaining sterility of the burn site. It is similarly important to monitor the patient’s WBC and note any discharge or odor from the lesion. Wet dressings should be changed often using sterile technique and early initiation of parental antibiotics if evidence of infection develops. Other potential complications include pneumonia, complications of scaring or difficulties of healing, especially in areas where tissues move.

Crop burns

Crop (thermal) burns in young birds and chemical burns in adult birds are not unlike other burns. Superficial burns may result in the chick refusing food and lead to secondary bacterial and fungal (yeast) infections. Partial thickness and full thickness burns may be identified early by edema of the tissue overlying the crop. Many partial thickness burns will result in the formation of an eschar that will later open to a fistula. Full thickness burns may result in the death of the chick. Partial and full thickness crop burns should be treated as any other burn.

Poisonings

Poisonings are not common presentations in avian emergency medicine, but do occur and involve a wide assortment of toxins. In principal the treatment of poisonings in birds are same as for other animals. That is treat the patient, not the toxin.31,32 The patient presented with abnormal clinical signs should first be stabilized, an airway established, and respiration initiated if necessary. Cardiovascular needs should be addressed. In general, fluids should be administrated to maintain circulatory volume and pressure and support renal function. Seizures or other problems involving the central nervous system should be addressed, and body systems and general metabolism supported. Further exposure should be prevented and further absorption prevented or delayed. Soiled birds should be bathed, crops may be lavage and absorbent or cathartics administered. Specific antagonists or antidotes are available for a few toxins and should be used in those instances when a safe dosage is known. Lastly treatments that may facilitate the removal of the toxin, such as diuresis, should be instigated.
Zinc and Lead Poisoning / Heavy Metal Toxicity

Heavy metal toxicity is the most common form of poisoning reported in avian medicine. Lead is ubiquitous in the environment, and psittacine birds (parrots (Psittacidae) seem to be attracted by the malleable nature of the metal. Common sources of lead exposure in pet and aviary birds include: curtain weights, leaded glass lamps and windows, fishing weights and lead shot, lead solder in electronic appliances and costume jewelry, lead foil from wine bottles, lead in paint, putty and caulking products and linoleum. Some large cities with old water systems may have high levels of lead in the drinking water that may lead to accumulated lead toxicity. Sources of zinc include: Galvanized cage wire, staples and nails and food containers, zinc containing products such as zinc oxide and US pennies. Other metal toxicities reported in birds include copper, iron, mercury and arsenic.32

Lead Poisoning

Lead is a systemic, heavy metal poisoning that adversely effects every body system to which it is distributed. Abnormalities and clinical signs may vary with species, and dose and duration of exposure. Signs may be vague and nonspecific causing lead poisoning to be added to many lists of differential diagnosis. Neurologic, hematopoietic, gastrointestinal, renal and immunological systems are most often involved. Central and peripheral nervous system signs include dull or poorly responsive mentation, wing droop, incoordination, muscle twitches and seizures. Central nervous signs are the result of perivascular edema, increase in cerebrospinal fluid, necrosis of nerves, and changes in neuronal metabolism. Peripheral neuropathy results from competition for calcium at neuronal junctions acutely and in more chronic cases, lead induced demyelination.34 Frequently symptoms are associated with the central nervous system. Incoordination, poor balance, muscle twitches or fasciculation, and (occasionally) seizures may result. Many of the clinical signs and laboratory findings result from lead damage to red blood cells leading to premature destruction. The anemia, polychromasia and anisocytosis is secondary to disruption of the formation of heme. The premature destruction of RBC’s results in biliverdinuria (yellow-green to green-black coloration of urine and urate). In amazon parrots (Psittacidae), and occasionally other species, hemoglobinuria which presents as a classic “chocolate milk”-to-blood colored dropping, may occur.35 With or without CNS signs lead should be suspected in these patients. Many birds with lead toxicity are polyuric. Polyuria results from renal tubular damage caused by both the lead and hemoglobin. Gastrointestinal signs include anorexia, regurgitation, gastrointestinal stasis or ileus including proventricular dilatation. Gastrointestinal signs are the result of both local effects of the lead on the gastrointestinal tract and neurological pathology.

Radiography may or may not show metal in the ventriculus or elsewhere in the gastrointestinal tract. Other changes may be those related to ileus. Laboratory changes hematological effects of lead include mild-to-severe anemia, changes in red cell morphology, including margination of hemoglobin, polychromasia, hypochromasia, and anisocytosis. See chapter HH on hematology. Serum chemistries may show elevations of LDH, AST, CPK and uric acid. Blood lead levels greater than 20 ?g/dL (0.20 ppm) is suggestive of lead toxicity, levels greater than 50 ?g/dL are diagnostic. Delta-amino levulonic acid dehydratase (ALAD) is inhibited by lead. ALAD levels have been used to diagnose lead toxicity in waterfowl and occasionally in cage birds. See chapter on Toxicology.

Initial therapy consists of supportive therapy along with chelation. Supportive fluids SQ, IV or IO, depending on the degree of dehydration and volume of polyuria, thermal support, anti-seizure medication if needed, make up the supportive care. Chelation of circulating lead forms nontoxic complexes that are excreted in the bile or by the kidneys. Removal of circulating lead leads to equilibration of lead from tissue and bone for further chelation. Calcium disodium versonate (CaEDTA) is the treatment of choice for initial therapy.32,35 D-penicillamine (PA) may be added to the therapy and has the advantage of oral administration.32, 36

Other therapeutics, Diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA) and Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) have been investigated as treatments for lead intoxication but lack the experience of use of CaEDTA and PA, and DTPA requires a special FDA permit. Therapies to remove metal fragments from the gastrointestinal tract have been suggested but have not proven successful. Cathartics, such as sodium sulfate (Gluuber’s salts) or magnesium sulfate (epsom salts), have been recommended to precipitate lead in the gastrointestinal tract. Large lead object, such as fishing sinkers, or other large fragments, may be removed using a rigid or (in large species) flexible endoscope, once the patient is stabilized. Surgical removal is indicated only as a last resort.

Zinc

Zinc toxicity is similar to lead and the combination of lead and zinc toxicosis is not uncommon. Zinc toxicity differs in pathology and clinical signs in that the kidneys, liver, and pancreas are target organs for zinc. Often poisoned psittacines present with generalized weakness and no other signs. Tentative diagnosis may be made based on history and the presence of metal in the gastrointestinal tract on radiographs. Definitive diagnosis is made based on blood or tissue levels greater than 200 ?g/dL and 75 ?g/dL respectively, although clinical signs may not be noticed until levels are as high as 1000 ?g/dL. Samples should be submitted in plastic containers as the rubber stoppers may leach zinc from the sample giving a false low result. Treatment for zinc toxicosis is the same as for lead. In the author’s practice, zinc intoxication carries a poorer prognosis than lead.

Other metal toxicity

Iron and copper toxicity are not common in avian medicine.

Pesticides: organophosphates and carbamates

Pesticides seen most often in avian emergency and critical care include insecticides, and rodenticides. The most common insecticides are organophosphates including diazinon, dichlorvos, dieldrin, dursban, and malathion and carbamates (carbaryl). Intoxication generally results secondary to ingestion through contamination of food or water, although secondary poisoning of wild insectivorous species may occur. Pathology and clinical signs result from binding of the insecticide to and inhibition of aetylcholenesterase (AChE) and the resulting accumulation of acetylcholine (ACh) at ganglia and neuromuscular junctions. Organophosphate bonds are irreversible but carbamate bonds are slowly reversible. Signs include anorexia, weakness crop stasis, ataxia, muscular twitching, prolapsed nictitans, increased respiratory secretions, dyspnea, bradycardia and death. Tentative diagnosis is based on history of exposure, clinical signs and response to therapy. Bradycardia not responsive to atropine at 0.02 mg/kg given IV is suggestive, but not established in avian medicine. Definitive diagnosis is based on cholinesterase assay from blood, plasma, or serum, paired with an analogous subject.

Specific therapy includes atropine, for carbamate and organophosphate toxicity. Pralidoximechloride (2-Pam) is effective early in organophosphate toxicity and should be given in cases that are presented soon after ingestion and continued providing that there is a positive response. 2-Pam is contraindicated in carbamate toxicity and has been reported to be toxic in raptors.
Anticoagulant rodenticides

First generation (warfarin) and second generation (brodifacoum and bromadoline) rodenticide intoxication or suspected intoxication caused by both primary and secondary exposure (carnivorous birds) are not uncommon presentations. These agents are vitamin K antagonists that deplete and block the synthesis of prothrombin, accessory factors VII, IX, X. As noted earlier, extrinsic clotting factors are not important in avian patients, and low levels of factor VII may decrease the effects of these products. Clinical signs include depression, anorexia, feather follicle and subcutaneous hemorrhage, petechial hemorrhages of oral and cloacal mucosa and bleeding from nares. Many of these patients will present with no history of exposure and no specific symptoms. Once hemorrhage is noted the prognosis is grave.

Treatment involves Vitamin K supplementation and, in critical cases, fresh whole blood transfusions. Vitamin K1 is administered by injection until stable then given SQ, IM or PO daily33 or fed in the diet at a rate of 800 g/kg of food. IM administration has been reported to result in hematoma formation in dogs with clinical signs of coagulopathy. This problem has not been reported and may or may not result in birds. Supplementation of menadione (K3) is not effective in counteracting anticoagulants. Due to increased potency and slower metabolism (at least in mammals) of the second generation agents, it may be necessary to administer vitamin K for several weeks to control bleeding.

About Dr. Jenkins

Comments

  1. I bought a parrot (sun conure),named Coco, last week. Since the first day, I’ve found her digestion was slower than other baby parrots I bred before. I went to the shop and ask, amazing, the shop use “CLUMPING LITTER” directly under the baby parrots, so they would eat the litter anytime. The shopkeeper said it’s safe, even the litter is eaten, after a few days, it will be decomposed in the crop by itself. After a few days, yes, the litter is decomposed, but, coco is gone,too. I’ve looked for several info to prove the clumping litter isn’t safe for bird, but all info are just online. The shopkeeper is also a vet.(even i don’t believe it) so, please help me find some academical information to prove my opinion is right and coco was murdered and innocent. Please!!!!!
    I beg you on my knees with my sincerity to help me, and prove it.
    Thanks!

    • Richard
      I do not know of any published case report on parrot chicks impacted with cat litter, however, I have seen several cases of both clay and walnut shell litter impactions.
      You might want to check with State Veterinary offices as they often keep data on the results of post mortem examinations (necropsies) that may prove your case. In California the California Animal Health and Food Safety (CAHFS) Laboratory System (http://www.cahfs.ucdavis.edu/) would be the people to contact. Other states have similar services.
      If you were to go to court (Small Claims would typically work) you would need a veterinarian to go with you to support your opinion. There are several veterinarians with experience with birds that provide this service for a fee.

  2. I just got my Cinnamon Green Cheek two weeks ago. She makes little squeaky sounds that sound like a human who is congested. She has no nasal discharge, and she does not do this constantly, only when she is put back into her cage, or at night when she is covered. She will talk to herself and make squeaky breathing noises. She acts normal when she is out of the cage. But in or out, when she screams, she seems to lose her “voice”. Is this something to worry about?

    • Ally
      I’d assume that your little friend is making baby bird noises. That said, I’d recommend out take her to have a “post purchase examination.”
      A post purchase examination is always recommended. We don’t always get to do them with less expensive birds (budgie’s, cockatiels, lovebirds) because of financial reasons, but the theory of looking for problems in new birds is always a good idea and especially so when your new friend is making strange sounds!

  3. I have a sun conure that I adopted over 15 years ago. She has always been healthy. Last year we took her on a road trip and shortly after that she started losing all her feathers. We took her to a vet who prescribed antibiotics. She seems pretty healthy but her feathers never grew back and she seems to always want to peck at her body. Can anything be done to bring her back to normal??

    • Paula
      Your conure likely has an obsessive-compulsive feather picking problem. It is not unlike a person who cuts herself or someone with a compulsive tattoo problem or even compulsive shopping.
      These problems are rooted in the bird being hand-fed (and not raised by its parents). We treat them just as they would be treated with people with a combination of drugs and behavior modification.

  4. My rosie bourke passed away last week, and he was only 1 and half years old. He seemed to be doing fine until he started sneezing 20-30 times in a row, so we put him in the cage to calm down since he has done this before multiple times and he is back to normal in no time. Well, this time he became fluffy for 2 hours and when we tried to take him out of the cage, he was very weak and either had his wings away from his body (or had lost weight so it seemed that way). We rushed him to the ER and he died within 3 hours at the vet. It is so hard to find closure from his death when I don’t know what killed him. I know he died of the general symptoms of any sick bird which is dehydration and starvation, but is there any suggestions as to what may have been the cause??

    His death report says that he had normal cloaca, no murmurs/arrhytmias, eupneic, normal BV sounds, no nasal/ocular discharge, no scales/crusts/erythema/ectoparasites and he had a good coat.

    • I don’t know that I can help much, especially at this time. Birds the size of Bourkes and cockatiels can inhale millet seeds and block their airway and that may present much as you discribe.
      This also gives me a chance to recommend that others have post mortem exams / necropsies done. Most state labs will perform necropsies inexpensively and I feel that knowing is worth any cost.

  5. I have a 9 year old Amazon that I dress in sweaters or hoodies that I make and take walking on a leash. He was cage bound for 5 years before I got him. I live in upstate NY and we go out all year on reasonably good days. We have been doing this for 2years. His feet are blanketed if needed.

    Is this a nature versus nurture or am I dodging the inevitable bullet? I am asking all avian specialists for their opinions because I have many styles of attire for my bird and wonder if others would benefit from this socialization as I have.

    • Nancy
      It’s a special parrot that will allow its owner to dress it in a sweater or hoodie. I can’t think of any reason that that would be a problem and, like you imply, there are certainly social and physical benefits of getting out and getting some exercise.
      I’d love to see pictures of your friend dressed and ready to go out on the town. Post one on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/AEAHSD
      Dr. J

  6. Hi, I have a 30 year old African Grey. My cleaning lady was cleaning the cage with a water spray outside which I was unaware of, as my bird hates water being sprayed at her.
    I was called to find the bird lying motionless at the bottom of the cage with her neck in an awkward position and her wing caught in the bottom of the cage. I took her out and she was unresponsive with her head lying limp and her eyes moving rapidly from side to side. I wrapped her in a blanket and have her in a box.
    She is moving a bit more now but still in a very groggy fashion. Can you advise on what this is and what to do? There is no Avarian vet near us. It looks like she has had a stroke. Do birds ever recover from this?

    • Best thing would be to get her to a veterinarian that is willing to work with her and have them call us to consult on what to do if they are uncertain.
      Until then keep her warm in a box or tub (no perches). Once she becomes more aware try to get her to eat / drink a little at a time.
      Best of luck. Dr. J

  7. I recently found a parakeet, he is a sweet bird. I’ve had him for about week and half and over the last week I’ve noticed minor discharge from his cere and sneezing. He is also puffy much of the time. He still very active and chatty, no change in appetite although his droppings have changed in color (which I assume is from a switch from millet to pellets). Any advice?

    • I hope your Budgie friend is doing well. If he still has his nasal discharge he should be seen and treated with antibiotics (budgie’s do not have a clinically important viral upper respiratory tract infection).
      Cheers, Dr. J

  8. Dear Dr.,
    I have had my cockatiel for two years thinking “Stinky” was a He-until she layed eggs! She is the only bird, so I know the eggs are unfertilized. I have done a little research online and realize that I have to wait until she loses interest to remove them. How long does this take generally? Also, the cage is getting pretty smelly and I am not sure if it’s because it’s the eggs (one is missing a bit of shell) or the cage that I have not cleaned since she laid. I am nervous to touch or move the eggs because I don’t want her to continue to lay. Is it okay to handle them to clean the cage and put them back? I have also bought small round wooden balls to replace the eggs as some suggested but again, am too nervous to touch them. Won’t she know if I replace them with the wooden balls? She has laid 7 eggs. When do I become concerned enough to bring her in to see if she is maintaining proper nutrients and calcium after these eggs? How many eggs is too many? Please help, Nervous Grandma

    • Now is the time !!!
      If you wait too long she will be more likely to go back to laying (and that is what we dont want to happen!).
      Complications to egg laying is the number-one cause of death in cockatiels. In the wild, a cockatiel would lay 3-4 eggs once a year and would be eating the perfect diet. In captivity, most will lay clutch after clutch eating a calcium and protein deficient seed based diet. No wonder they have problems!
      We would like to keep her from laying more eggs and we’d like to do it without using drugs if we can. Wild birds need 4 things to lay: the right season (most often associated with day length), a mate, a nest, and a safe “adequate” environment. If we can take these from her environment we can get her to stop laying.
      Cockatiels have been selected by bird breeders to lay multiple clutches year round. Day-Night cycles still have an influence on egg laying. Try reducing daylight hours to 10-10 1/2 hours. Make the place that she thinks is her “nest” uninviting. Try using wax paper or aluminum foil on the bottom of the cage if that is where she wants her nest. Put rubber mice or dog chew toys on the floor. Be careful how you (her likely mate) interact with her and don’t do anything that evokes “hormonal behavior” including petting her back. Lastly, now is a great time to work on changing her diet. Try introducing a pelleted diet, soft foods, etc.
      If all else fails, a knowledgeable avian veterinarian will be able to administer a depo-lupron injection that will safely turn her hormone off for 4 to 6 weeks.
      Best of luck, Dr. J

      • Thank You so much for the information! I am still a little confused. So remove the eggs or replace them with the wood? I will be cleaning the cage an removing all toys that entice her and placing foil on the grate. I have already been limiting her daylight and I know now to include more calcium into her diet to replace which is lost.

  9. I recently adopted a rescued Timneh African Grey, Edvard. The people he was rescued from trimmed all of his primary feathers, including the blood feathers. His left wing is okay. Feathers on his right wing has bled. His balance is off due to the major trim Edvard has had. Because of his imbalance he falls and bumps his right wing. I noticed tonight that his right wing is swollen. Will it heal on it’s own? What do you suggest?

  10. As a follow up: I took Edvard to the Veterinarians office today. He does having bleeding that is due to his wings haven been cut too short. However, the swollen bump he has is actually a cyst the Vet believes to be an ingrown feather. We are waiting for the wound to heal. In two weeks Edvard will go in for a surgical removal of the cyst. Thank you for your article, in many ways it has been helpful and educational!

  11. Our African Grey was taken to our Avian vet as he has a problem with is private parts where he poops from. The vet has stated that it was hard, kept him in for observation and gave us some cream to put on that area. We have been doing so religiously. It has improved. He was at the vet about 2 months ago. I put cream on his little private part now when I discovered that just above that, there are two hard lumps and they look like they have yellow heads on them. Maybe I am just imagining it, but it is two lumps, one on each side above his private part. We are taking him to the vet on Tuesday but just wanted to know if anyone knows what this can possibly be. I have thought that it might possibly be cancer but I pray to God that it isn’t so I will be thinking positively about this. His behaviour has not changed and he still talks consistently and is as happy as ever. I am so worried and can’t wait till Tuesday. Does anyone have any idea what it could be besides cancer?

    • Sharon
      Sorry, your post got lost in the pile.
      Hopefully you have and answer and all is well by now.
      Any new lump or bump should be checked out as soon as possible.

  12. Hi Dr.. Jenkins,
    We have an African Grey and she is about 17-20 years old. We also just found out a year ago that she was female as she laid eggs (unfertilized of course). She tends to lay every 3 months or so about 3 eggs. This time she has laid four eggs and we removed each one as it happened. She is very sad and depressed it seems. She is hanging at the bottom of the cage and will only come out and socialize if she is coaxed with a peanut. I worry for her and I would like to help her….any advice?

    • Lauren
      Find a good avian veterinarian (preferably one that is board certified) and get her seen. Typically we weould tret her with an injection of Lupron Depot (leuprolide acetate) to shut down her hormone production for a time. You also want to work on the environmental stimulus for her laying.
      For your
      grey to lay an egg she needs four stimuli, season (lengthening / long days), a mate, a nest, and an abundant, safe environment. We can change things in her environment to make her less likely to lay eggs after the Lupron wears off. Shorten her days. Cover her cage with a heavy cover after 10 hours of light. Figure out who or what she thinks is her mate. That person will likely need to change how he/she interacts with the bird. No stroking her back, etc. If the “mate” is an inanimate object (mirror, toy, perch, etc.) remove that (she will get over it). Take her nest away. If she is using the floor of her cage, put something there she doesn’t like: a rubber rat, a dog toy with big eyes, cover the floor with wax paper or aluminum foil. To address her abundance, change her diet. If she doesn’t eat pellets, now is a great time to work on that project. I think you get the picture.
      What you must do is stop her from laying. If she continues it will be the end of her!

  13. Dear Dr Jenkins,
    I have a 13 year old African Grey who began falling off his perch with seizures in December. He was treated for a calcium deficiency until blood analysis indicated it might be chlamydia. He has received 4 weekly injections of Psittavet and since he had lost weight and passed small seeds, the vet decided to change his meds when subsequent blood analysis indicated bacteria and possible yeast infection. He is now on 0.4ml of diflucan and Zithromax each and the vet is considering celebrex for suspected PDD. He has not had any seizures for four weeks now and seems the picture of health. I have beeb adding apple cider, echinacea and St John’s wort to his water in addition to Harrison’s booster. he is now eating well again and is maintaining his weight. My question is whether seizures can stop in birds suspected of having PDD or would that cast doubt on the diagnosis. I do not want to consider a crop biopsy because of the high rate of false negatives. I have read that ginkgo biiloba can help with nerve generation, would it be safe to try as a means of limiting nerve damage caused by avian borna virus suspected of causing PDD?

    • Dr Jenkins,
      My Grey parrot just had a bad seizure, and I gave him 0.01ml Valium as prescribed by the vet. Should I consider euthanasia? I work during the day and the idea of him having seizures while I cannot help him is very diificult. What can be done?

    • Salome
      The only successful PDD treatments we have had are using COX-2 inhibitors, celecoxib (Celebrex) and meloxicam (Metacam). I’d have your grey tested for the borna virus and consider a crop biopsy (both have their proponents and detractors but I feel both are worth doing). If his tests are positive and he fails to improve with treatment his prognosis is grave.
      Hopefully something else is the problem.

  14. Dear Dr Jekins,

    We recently added a parakeet to our home! We have had him about three weeks and everything is going really well. Except the yesterday, I was standing in our doorway where the sunlight was pouring in, and all of a sudden our bird started acting really weird. He flew back into the house and was perched on a stool, not moving. He wouldnt respond to me, or his favorite treat and when I went to pick him up he was cowering in my hand. He wouldnt jump back onto his little playground when I brought him near it (which he always does) and I ended up having to place him in the cage where he sat in the bottom corner for the next couple hours not moving. He has moved since, seems to be eating and drinking water but he is still acting very strange. He is sitting only in one spot for most of the day, and doesnt not want to be held. Its hard to tell if this is normal since he is a new bird, and he seems to have days where he is really hyper and engaging with us and then days where he is very moody and not wanting to be played with or held. I have no idea if I should be concerned or not. My boyfriend things I am being paranoid and that the bird is just in a mood. What do you think?

    • Sounds as if something frightened him (although I doubt it was just the sun light). Is there a chance that he got over heated?
      If he continues to act abnormally he should be seen.
      Best of luck, Dr. J

  15. I have a ten year old cockatiel- she has a lump on her stomach near her rectum? it is the size of a very large grape- I took her to the vet and he said Liver failure– since then it is larger and now she has a black spot on her tongue- any ideas?

    • Honestly, I’d have to see her to be sure. Liver disease is common in cockatiels and is often manifested as fluid (ascites) accumulating in the birds abdomen (ceolomic cavity). This may make the abdominal wall distended and it would look dark red to purple in color if it became large enough to protrude through the feathers.
      Diagnosis of liver disease is typically made based on blood tests (high liver enzymes or poor function tests (high bile acid levels), ultrasound / radiographs (x-rays), and biopsy.

  16. I have a 14 days old baby parrot indian ringneck.
    It has some red veins like normal blood veins on his crop.
    I am hand feeding for the first time.
    Is it ok or its a sign of burn crop that i might have fed him with hot food although i care alot about it but still
    Please any help.

    • It could be either. Featherless skin is thin enough that you can see the blood vessels on the surface of the crop. If you burned your little guy by feeding formula that was too hot, the blood vessels would be more prominent.
      Best if you have an avian veterinarian take a look at your new little baby bird.

  17. Hello. I have a fledgling chick of alexandrian species and she eats well but has yellow bumps around her eyes. She has a big yellow bump right on top of her eyelid and this prevents her from seeing properly. Sometimes I see in a state where it looks like she is about to die because she closes her eyes and lies there motionlessly. This has been going on for 2 weeks but thankfully she is still alive. I dont know what to do with her bumps. Its really worrying me.
    Please help asap and tell me what i should do?

    • The knee jerk answer is that your little chick has a bacterial dermatitis, but there are other possibilities. We don’t see many cases, but the skin lesions could be caused by Pox virus or a Papilloma virus. Best if you have a qualified avian veterinarian take a look. They may want to culture the lesions (if they look like they are abscesses or dermatitis) or biopsy then if they look more like a viral caused problem.

  18. I own a two year old Quaker parrot. The other day I noticed a small spot of blood on his upper left chest. I thought it was a blood feather, but I didn’t see anything specific. I kept watching it, but then when I checked back on the spot about ten minutes later, it seemed to have stopped completely. Today I can’t even find the spot where he was bleeding the other day. Our avian vet is out of town for three weeks, and no one here knows anything about birds. Do I need to be worrying, I keep checking, but don’t see anything. If you could get back to me, I’d appreciate it.

  19. i have a 7 year old sun conure she lays eggs every few months but she hasnt in a few weeks but just recently she has been haveing trouble pooping her poop looks normal but she seems to be constipated

    • Sorry for the slow reply, I’m having problems with this page notifying me when questions are posted. (I think the problem is fixed).
      There may be many causes for the signs you are seeing. It may be that your conure is laying eggs normally, it could be that she is egg bound or it could be that she has been laying the eggs internally and has egg peritonitis. If this problem has not resolved you should have her seen by a qualified avian veterinarian.

  20. Anyone have any words of advice to help an African Grey parrot who has severe anemia? Blood is at 20%, should be 45-65%.

    • Sorry for the slow reply, I’m having problems with this page notifying me when questions are posted. (I think the problem is fixed)
      Hopefully you have found and fixed your Grey’s anemia problem.
      Anemias are characterized based on their cause, blood loss, production issues. The cause is diagnosed based on physical exam findings (e.g., blood in droppings, etc.), clinical data (CBC, differential, red blood cell cytology), and bone marrow examination.
      Treatment is aimed both at correction of the underlying cause and supplementation of lost blood cell components (iron, B vitamins, etc.)

  21. My domestic ring necked dove just had a strange thing happen… Blood came from her mouth/nose area for a minute… Now stopped. It’s obviously really scaring me. She seems a little weak, but has been moving slightly around her cage with mother dove. (there is just the two of them now). I don’t think there was any trauma (she hasn’t crashed or anything). I have had them on a cockatiel blend seed for a while… They have been fine, but another post from a pigeon website said I should switch. My girls are about 7-8 yrs. old. I am hoping you can help give me any advice as I live way up here in N. County and it is Sunday. On a forum, a user suggested I put a heating pad near her. Please help. Thank you

    • Sorry for the slow reply, I’m having problems with this page notifying me when questions are posted. (I think the problem is fixed)
      There are many caused of nasal bleeding in birds, much like the myriad of reasons that could cause your nose to bleed. The most common is trauma. Other common causes include foreign bodies (most often seed hulls) in the nose of sinus, infections and vitamin A deficiency. Less common causes include clotting problems (once very common in conures) and cancer / tumors in the nasal passages or sinus.
      If all else is normal, I would not get too excited about a single bleeding event providing that the amount of blood lost was small and the bleeding resolved in a short time. Recurring bleeding, large volumes of blood loss or sustained bleeding should be treated as an emergency.

  22. Sarah P. says:

    I have a 14 year old, single, female African Grey. She started laying eggs up to 2 x per year (spring and fall) when she was 10.
    She skips some seasons, but is looking ready to lay eggs for the 2nd time in 2012. Of course I have tried to note the onset of “Hormonal Hannah” behavior. One of the things I noticed is that about a week to ten days before the first egg there are small drops of blood in the cage…usually in a small spray pattern of 4-5 drops and not directly under where she sleeps (they seem to be there in the morning. I never see them fall). Is this normal in the ovulation process? I never see blood drops at any other time and I can’t see any place that she is bleeding from. She is otherwise healthy, eating like a tiny horse, and providing her regular constant commentary.
    Also, I have identified her inanimate “mates”. But if I take it away and later give her a new toy, she makes the new toy her mate; or, in one VERY odd case she made the new toy her “nest of eggs’ and spent a month trying to hatch the darn toy. Is she to have no toys to play with in order to stop her from laying??
    Please advise! Thanks!

    • The blood droplets are unusual and I’m not sure of their origin either.
      Egg laying is dangerous business. It is more dangerous in a 14 year old parrot (although she could, with luck, lay fro the rest of er life). We see many “older” birds laying eggs but they are much more likely to experience problems that younger birds.
      I would do everything you can to prevent her from laying. I’d start with removing her “love interests” when any sign of hormonal behavior, as well as making her “nest” inhospitable.
      The easy way out is to treat her with an injection of Lupron Depot which will safely turn her hormones off for 4-6 weeks (and typically miss that laying period).
      Cheers, Dr. J

  23. Hi Dr Jenkins,
    I just received a brand new Hamilton Beach Rice Cooker and Steamer. The pot is made of teflon coat and aluminium. Is this going to be harmful to my african grey if I prepare food in it? He is about 18 feet away from it (cooker in kitchen, he is in living room).

    Please advise….thank you!!

    Lauren

    • Lauren
      Your parrot should be fine. Teflon is a brand of Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). There are many other variations (silver Stone, etc.) that vary slightly. The danger of PTFE is that it becomes a gas at temperatures greater than 450*F. PTFE gas acts to disrupt the gas fluid interface in the lungs of birds causing body fluid to fill the lung and suffocate the bird. (Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA / C8) which is used in the manufacturing of Teflon pans was thought to be part of the problem as well in the past but no longer).
      Most Teflon coated products do not reach a temperature where the Teflon will burn or become gas without significant abuse. Further, the products that were problematic (such as Teflon coated drip pans).
      All that said, thousands of bird owners, including myself, use Teflon coated cookware and have done so for over 40 years of bird ownership.
      It is important not to burn NOT ONLY your Teflon pans, but any pan. We see many more birds die when the owner burns a conventional or wrought iron pan than Teflon.
      Enjoy your new rice cooker!
      Dr. J

  24. Grisell says:

    Hi Dr. Jenkins
    I have an african grey that is about 7 years old and we found out a couple of months ago that she has a collapsed lung. Since she became sick she is trembling and is breathing with her mouth open, sometimes she stops breathing for around 2 seconds, her breathing is very loud and she is not talking or singing as much as she used to. She also likes to be touched more than usual, she even allows people who she would normally bite to touch her. I know that she is suffering, she has been sick for about a year now and is getting worse. The vet told us that if the medication did not improve her health that there was nothing that can be done to save her. A family member told me that we should put her to sleep but I have not been able to do it, would that be the best thing for us to do in order to end her suffering? please help.

    • Birds lungs are rigid, so they can’t collapse. That means that there is disease of her respiratory tract (lung or air sac). I’d be concerned that she has pneumonia or a fungal granuloma (Aspergllosis).
      Chronic pneumonia and aspergillosis are severe problems. They are diagnosed using a combination of radiographs (“x-rays”), blood tests (white blood cell count, globulin levels and protein electrophoresis) and laproscopy (where we use a needle like scope to look into the air sacs).
      Some of these problems are curable but require months of treatment.
      Best of luck, Dr. J

  25. We have a hawk eagle that flew into a fence. He recovered and flew again the next day, but started regurgitating all his food since then. He is losing weight. We tube feed him (hills a/d), he is on anti-emetics (clopomon) and antibiotics (metronidazole). Crop smear seemed normal, faeces are copious and watery green, no blood/helminths/coccidia. Any suggestions/ advice/further tests required?

    • I’d be concerned that he damaged his esophagus or that he has a food item or foreign body that has impacted or perforated his upper GI tract (maybe as a result of his impact).
      A barium study should help show why things aren’t moving along as they should.

  26. I’ve noticed that my one year old male African Grey has a hard lump between his tail and cloaca. It appears painful if i touch it. He did groom last night and what appeared to be scabs fell off.
    I will be taking him to the vet on Monday, any thoughts in the mean time?

    • I would have to see it to be sure, but I think what you are seeing is a wound caused be your Grey falling and bending his tail back so far it tears the tissue in that location (hyperextention of his tail). It commonly occurs in Greys who’s wings are over trimmed.
      Your veterinarian well need to do some minor surgery to close up the lesion. Out will heal witout surgery but out takes much longer and has a bad habit of tearing open repeatedly.

  27. Rick DeVore says:

    We have a Yellow naped parrot about 15 yrs old, don’t know the sex. For the several months, the parrot has had bright red stool droppings, and sometimes the stool looks like minced meat. We have taken the bird to our vet, who has been trained in dealing with birds. We have done x-rays, ultra-sounds, and even a barium ingestion test with xrays afterwards. it appears the birds has polyps in the croup and in the lower GI tract. Because the stool is red, that means it is oxygenated and their may be issues in that lower part of the intestional tract. But now we are stuck – can’t seem to moved towards any other conclusion or potential treatment. Any thoughts on your part would be greatly appreciate. If you need other info, let me know. Thanks in advance.

    • That sounds like a lot of blood loss!
      The common polypsof Amazons id caused by a Herpes virus.the lesions are most often found in the cloaca and the throat (around the opening of the airway).
      Using anesthesia, polyps can be removed, we freeze them using a cryotherapy device made for human gynecological procedures.
      In addition, blood loss should be monitored and addressed with an iron supplement

      • I also have a 25 year old yellow nape female with a similar problem that seems to be worsening. I have a good local avian vet who has been giving her vitamin k shots about once a month, this seems to help for a week or two, but the bleeding is getting heavier and more frequent. My vet has scoped the vent area and says it appears clear and is leaning toward kidney or bladder problems.
        As a second opinion, do you have any comments or suggestions on what to do next. In some cases my bird will have medium to dark blood in her droppings for 6-8 hours before finally turning to a lighter pink or clear liquid which still seems excessive. Thank you for your comments.

  28. I have four African Grey parrots who have been with me ten years. Sixteen months ago one flew out the window and I was only able to find him today. He was in a nearby home but being kept in a small cage. He was never released. He appears depressed and despondent. His voice is weak when he use to be very loud hence his Swahili name Makelele. I have begun by placing him in a cage next to the other birds and letting them out together under supervisin but he is distant and unresponsive to them. How can I help him?

    • Freida
      Sorry for the slow reply, your post apparently got lost in my WordPress!
      By now I’d expect Makelele should be back to his old self by now. If not, he needs to see an avian veterinarian and have some test done.
      Warm wishes, Dr. J

  29. Lois Part says:

    Hi Dr

    We recently (Saturday) adopted a Grey who was abandoned and dehydrated, we agreed to take him on and we have a cockatoo ourselves.;

    We got him to an avian vet who reckoned he is anywhere between 2 – 5 years old he has done bloods (no PBFD) as he wasnt sure it was warranted due to his age.

    The results have come back and avian vet says he has low red blood, fine white blood, calcium deficiency and low PSV?

    He said it is possible one of 2 things either due to his diet as no one knows how long he was wandering alone or what happened to him or it could be PBFD, he has no damaged beak or feathers missing and looks in fine health.

    Can i ask your opinion please?

    We are keen to help this fella with a good start and he is slowly coming around not screaming as much when you go near him.

    Thanks

    Lois

    • Anemia (low red blood cell count and PCV) are common in debilitated African Grey Parrots. I’ll bet that it’s protein levels are low as well (and the cause of his low calcium levels).
      It’s a good idea to do his PBFD sometime (not a priority) but your friend likely needs a good diet and clean, low stress environment.
      Recheck his blood tests in 10-14 days. I’ll bet things are much improved.
      Best of luck, Dr. J

      • Lois Part says:

        Thank you so much, we will do that, we have had a bad experience with PBFD previously and on the advice of an avian vet put our little girl to sleep, not realising we could have had her re-tested as it may have been an error :(

        We really want to give this fella a good chance and he is showing all signs of being a faithful friend.

        Thanks for the advice.

  30. Sara Mosier says:

    Hello, I’m really worried about my African-Ring necked dove, he is 17 years old and just recently, when I went to trim his nails, I found a large yellow lump on his bottom, like right where I believe his pelvic bone would be. This cropped up in a month’s time! I’m really worried, and there are no aviary specialists where I live please please please help!

    • The yellow lump may be something as simple as fat or a fatty “tumor” (typically encapsulated fat, the parrot equivalent or cellulite). Here is a HUGE lipoma on a budgie.

      Lipoma on budgie

      Because your friend is older, the mass may be a change of his skin where cholesterol accumulates in the cells and makes the skin thick, yellow and cheesy feeling called “xanthoma.” Here is an xanthoma on the elbow of a cockatiel.

      Xanthoma

      Lastly, that is a common area for older parrots to grow a locally aggressive tumor called a squamous cell carcinoma. These tumors often arise from the uropygeal gland or from the feather follicles of the tail.
      these tumors start out looking like thickened skin and are often yellow in color but rapidly become dark and the tissue dries to a black crust. Squamous cell carcinomas respond well to cryosurgery. Here is a picture of a squamous cell tumor.

      Squamous cell

  31. We have a new african grey about 8 weeks old. We notice that half of both his eyes are covered with blood. What could the cause be of something like this. We took him/her to the vet and they say they don’t know what’s wrong with the bird. Can anyone help?

    • The blood is most likely inside the anterior chamber of his eyes called hyphema. Hyphema is bleeding into that chamber of the eye and can occur when there is trauma to an eye (less common that it would happen in both eyes at the same time if trauma is the cause) or when blood pressure, especially in the head and eyes, rises. The common cause is something obstructing blood flow back to the heart, such as being strangled.
      If there is a Board Certified Veterinarian in your area, you should see him / her. If not, you may have a veterinary ophthalmologist that could take a look and rule out disease inside the eyes. Here is a picture of Hyphema in a Great Horned Owl caused by trauma.

      GHO Hyphema

      With time the blood settles to the ventral aspect of the anterior chamber as in this person’s eye.

      Here is some anatomy to help you tell where the blood is in his eye.

      • I have a male normal grey cockatiel who is about 15 or 16 years old. Over the past two years he has been regurgitating his food pretty much right after he eats it. A year ago this happened occasionally but over the past few months its been constantly happening.
        I have been to many vets and have had numerous tests run on him including blood chemistry, a full blood count, test for PDD, X-rays, etc. He has been on pretty much every medicine imaginable, from Baytril, Celebrex, meloxicam, cisapride, metaclopramide, and vibramycin injections.
        Normally he would get the vibramycin injection and be okay for awhile, but here recently it has gotten worse so the vet gave me the injections to give him at home one a week for a few weeks since the drive up to my exotic animal vet is 2 hours away from my house. I gave him his 3rd one last Monday and he isn’t getting any better so I’m not going to give him the injections anymore.
        No one can give me a definate diagnosis to his problem. He’s also been tested for Avian Gastric Yeast a year ago and that was negative as well, however the medication was given in case of false negatives.
        It seems I’ve tried everything imaginable including driving 2 hours for each vet visit. He appears to have slow crop like you see in baby birds, but his isn’t going away with any treatments. The food he eats doesn’t even have time to make it past his crop, it comes right back up and he tries to eat again because he is hungry. He keeps enough food down to not get weak, but I don’t want him to starve either. He has lost a few grams, I weigh him everyday.
        This isn’t a behavioral thing and he hasnt swallowed a foreign object either, he just seems to have something wrong with his digestive system. He was also tested for PDD because of the regurgitation and he sometimes twitches his foot on rare occasions. I just don’t want him to starve because he regurgitates so much.

        • Ashley
          Wow! You’ve done a great job having him worked up.
          The one last thing I’d have you do is a barium series and have the veterinarian that does it make a special effort to examine the outflow from the crop. That means that there cannot be any pressure on the barium as it empties fro the crop. It may be best to mix barium with hand feeding formula to give it a thicker consistency. If the veterinary hospital is well equipped or if they have a referral radiology group or a human hospital that will let them do a special project, the best thing would be to use fluoroscopy (x-ray video if you will) to observe the emptying of the crop.
          If there was a stricture or obstruction at the outflow from the crop or or the thoracic esophagus (between the thoracic inlet (by his collar bone) and the top of his stomach (his proventriculus) the result would be regurgitation. Another possibility is that he has a problem with the nervous stimulation to that part of his GI tract or “esophageal achalasia.”
          In the picture below you can see that the esophagus is surrounded by lots of other important things, the trachea, thyroid and parathydroid glands, major blood vessels, etc. as it passes through this area. We commonly see thyroid and parathyroid gland tumors in some species of parrots and abscesses / granulomas are common in this area as well.

          GI tract

          Let us know what you find out.
          Dr. J

          • Thanks for your response! I haven’t had the barium done yet. He started to keep food down for a few months. But now I am back to square one again. He is much much worse. He is regurgitating everything I feed him..nutriberries. Harrisons mash. Bread. Cooked pasta. Etc. I am considering the barium study but I am afraid to put him under anesthesia. He’s weak. And I’m not sure how the whole process works. My mom wants me to consider euthanasia if it gets worse. I don’t want him to suffer but I just can’t bring myself to that. I don’t know if it would be painful or how it is done to a bird, I guess I should know just in case it comes to that one day. I keep having hope and I’ve done so much for him. I really don’t want to give up. I’ll ask my vet about the barium study. Currently I can get him to keep some food down to avoid starvation. But he has lost a few more grams and is starting to regurgitate mucus in his sleep. In addition to the mucus he will regurgitate food he had eaten 6 or 7 hours earlier before he went to bed. His crop isn’t emptying properly I just wish I knew why. I dont want to put him through a lot of stress and discomfort. He is so strong and has been through so much :/

          • I think you need to have the barium series done. Good news or bad, the answer will be better than not knowing!

  32. One of My African love bird is not flying properly and she cant use her right leg. She stands with one leg alone and can’t speak properly; very lazy too. Can anyone help me? What should I do?

    • Naren
      The signs you describe sound neurological but could be signs of general weakness associated with many diseases. The best thing for you to do is to take her to a veterinarian. Try to find one with experience with birds.
      Meanwhile, move her to a supportive environment, a flat bottomed container with good footing (towel or paper towels) with food and water within easy reach. Keep her between 90*-95*F (32*-35*C). She may allow you to “hand feed” her. Us a commercial hand feeding formula (we prefer LeFeber Nutri-Start)
      Best of luck, Dr. J

  33. The night before last, our Sun Conure had an encounter with a Coopers Hawk through his cage. We know this because the hawk broke a wing and was still in the yard the next morning. Our bird had a talon torn off and a small injury to the side of his head (probably from a talon from the hawk). He’s been almost completely immobile since and can’t hold himself up. He eats when given food at his beak and will take water with a dropper. He’s been breathing very heavy and appears to be inflating only one side. I listened with a stethoscope and can only hear respitory sounds on his left side. My guess is that he got a talon into a lung (air sac) on his left side.
    My questions is:
    Can a conure recover from a damaged or collapsed lung?

    • Bruce
      Hope things are going well with your Sun Conure.
      Yes, parrots are tough and do well with a variety of nasty trauma.
      Actually, their lungs do not collapse. They are rigid and do not expand and contract as do the lungs of mammals. My concern would be getting him adequate supportive care, to get him through till he can care for himself (eat, drink etc.) and infection. He likely needs antibiotics and may need the lesions cleaned and treated.
      Good luck! Dr. J

  34. Our family parrot, an 11-year-old female budgerigar parakeet, has a developed a lump around her anus about a month or so ago, with poop stuck to it. Some time after that she started to make squeaking sounds whenever she tried to massage her feet or reach lower feathers or the tail. Last week, I’ve noticed that she wouldn’t sit on one leg anymore and her tail bobbing, so I took her to a vet this past Saturday. After an exam, I’ve agreed to have her x-rayed (but no blood test, figured she’d be too weak for that) to determine if she was egg-bound or not. Turns out she has either a testicular cancer or an infection of some sort. She was prescribed with both Ciproflaxine and Flagyl, to take 0.02ml of each, twice daily. At first, I was leery of the antibiotics, but after getting a second opinion from another avian vet, I finally decided to give her the medicine on Tuesday morning. A few more things I’ve noticed, whereas before the visit to the vet, she would at least fly when exiting the cage to the top of the cage, now she is too weak to do that. She does seem to poop easier, but the poop itself is more “watery” (for lack of a better word), and she seems to reach the back feathers a little easier without that squeaking sound, but her tail is bobbing even more now. What I’m most worried about is the respiratory problem she’s having and what I can do in the meantime to help her. Should I continue with the medication, do a blood test, or something entirely different?

    • Andre
      There are many things that could cause the signs you are seeing from just being obese (common in Budgies) to abdominal tumors / cancer (also common in Budgies). Other possibilities include ascites (fluid in the abdomen) and egg laying or egg laying problems (egg binding, etc.)
      I’m surprised that an avian veterinarian would be unable to make a diagnosis from an x-ray, but sometimes fluid and tumor tissue can be difficult to tell apart.
      If it is a tumor, we are often limited in choices for treatment and most of those birds die or are euthanized. Some of the other problems can be managed or cured.
      Hope things work out.
      Sincerely, Dr. J

  35. Dear Dr. J,

    My parents adopted a blue crown conure in 1986. At that time, we were told he was approximately six years old. Last year when my parents retired, Pokey came to live with me and my husband. He adapted fairly well to the change but when our new baby was born, Pokey started overgrooming. I’ve seen some feathers growing back but how likely is a full feather recovery? He does get a pellet-seed-dried fruit and nut diet supplemented with fresh fruit and veggies. He was at the avain vet about six months ago for a general check up and she had no specific advice.

    One additional thing I’ve noticed it the appearance of unusal feather pigmentation. On just a few wing feathers, the tips are growning in yellow and he has one small red wing feather now too. How unusual for a predominantly green bird! Is this normal for a blue crown of his advanced age?

    Finally, in the last couple of weeks, Pokey makes a bit of a wheezing sound. I am concerned that we may have sprayed him with warm water in a bottle with mold particles. Could the wheezing be advanced age or mold in his lungs?

    Many thanks from us and our geriatric family member!

    Felicia

    • I’m mostly worried about Pokey’s wheeze. Respiratory tract infections are always bad in birds and even more worrisome in an older patient. I’d suggest getting him back to the avian vet asap for tests and antibiotics.
      The changes in his feather color may be from nutritional problems (common in birds fed seed based diets), or from repeated damage to feather follicles (this takes years of feather picking and may be inconsistent with his history of only picking for a few months). At 30(ish), nutritional problems would be more likely. The long term answer to that problem is to change him to a pellet based diet or pellet/soft food diet. At his age you will need to be thoughtful but persistent to get him to change.

  36. I just adopted a 7 year old Cockatiel 3 days ago and he is very aggressive and flys out at me when I open the cage any suggestions on taming

  37. Hi, I have a 1 and a 1/2 year old lovebird called Tweety. For the past two weeks, I’ve noticed that he doesn’t fly. He’ll fly if he wants to get away from the cat but not like his normal self (he hovers rather than flies and that too for short distances). This happened 6 months ago too and he got better himself after a week. But this time its taking longer. He also is fluffy. He eats a lot and is drinking water as well. He seems to sleep more now as well. Also this time around, his stomach is upset, i.e. large stool which is gooey in texture). I took him to my vet (not avian) and he said to give him a vitamin powder and a bit of powdered milk (he said this would give him energy). He’s also said to give him a bit of boiled egg. It’s been 3 days and he’s still the same. What could the cause be? I’d be very grateful if you could give me some advice. Thanks.

    • Nida
      I think you need to find another veterinarian or convince this veterinarian to do a consult with a Board Certified Avian Veterinarian (we do phone consultations with veterinarians).
      Without seeing your friend it is hard to give you a cause but some of the possibilities include:
      Soft tissue injury. He may have hurt his wing or shoulder and the pain limits his flying and causes the stress that has upset his GI tract.
      GI tract infection or disease. He may have picked up a bacterial infection in his stomach or intestine or he may have a metabolic problem that caused the symptoms you are seeing.
      Generalized disease. He may have some other problem that makes him weak and also has an effect on his GI function.
      Best of luck! Dr. J

  38. My parakeet had a small lump on her wing and she can’t fly. Now, that lump is the size of the first section of my thumb. I didn’t take her to the vet because I’m out of work and I can’t afford it. I can now see some blood and I’m panicking. Please give me some suggestions..

    • Most or these are xanthomas and the “inexpensive” (and sometimes only option) is amputation. That is much less expensive and safer if we can amputate at the wrist area. If the mass gets too large we need to amputate higher, typically at the shoulder. Here is a picture of an xanthoma on the manus (hand) of a cockatiel.

      Xanthoma

      Small xanthomas can be treated with freezing, but it sounds as if your friends mass is too large.
      Start with an exam and that’ll give you options and costs. then you can decide what is best for the two of you.
      Cheers, Dr. J

  39. Hi Dr Jenkins,

    Im currently handraising two 3 week old indian ringnecks. Just this week i noticed one (chick A) isnt putting on much weight and its brother( chick B, which was the smaller chick) has grown bigger. Then last night, out of nowhere something went funny with chick (A) neck.Its these to bumps that look like this oo
    I got really worried and though maybe chick A had broken its neck or something because chick B has these bumps too but farther back into the neck, it seems to me its the vertebra or something similar? Chick A’s neck isnt swollen and it can still stand and move its head. Its protruding right under the beak and constantly bobs up and down and reminds me of an Adams apple in a human, it feels like bone.
    The chick doesnt sem to want to eat much and maybe even has difficulty swallowing, this bump seems to affect his tounge or something.
    What could this be?
    Thanks, Kat

    • I think what you are seeing is the chick’s cervical (neck) vertebrae. They may be more prominent because his crop is empty or because he is dehydrated. It is unlikely that this is the cause of his stunted weight gain.
      Common causes of reduced appetite and weight gain in chicks include: low environmental temperature, low formula temperature, burns (from hot formula), bacterial and fungal (yeast) infections, etc.
      It would be best if you took your chick to an experienced avian veterinarian for an exam.
      Best of luck, Dr. J

  40. A friend of my dad’s gave us two parakeets last week and we’ve noticed that one of them tends to get food stuck in the corner of her beak, is that normal? The other one doesn’t have that problem, which is why we’re worried something may be wrong with her. As far as we know, she hasn’t been to a vet before and is only about 2 months old. We’re also wondering if her tongue is supposed to have white at the end of it and if something natural grows on a parakeet’s tongue or again if something may be wrong with her. We’d like to find out if possible if this is normal before we spend money taking her to a vet when it may be a natural thing. Please help me if you can, we want to make sure our parakeets are healthy and well taken care of. Thanks.

    • Your parakeet would need to be seen by a veterinarian and a swab taken from the material examined microscopically to be certain, but, the most common thing that look like what you are describing is an oral yeast infection (similar to Thrush in children). These are treated with topical or systemic antifungal medications and do well if treated.

  41. My cockateil is 3 months old and has been healthy. This morning it started to limp and is not taking any food or water. What should I do?

    • You should research and find a good avian veterinarian in your area and have it seen. Young birds, especially smaller species, like your cockatiel, do poorly when they are not eating.
      Call the veterinarians in your area and ask the receptionist “who in this area is is the best bird vet for me to take my cockatiel?” You should get a consensus. That is the guy you want to take your little friend to to have it evaluated and treated.
      Best of luck, Dr. J

  42. Michael Zedzik says:

    So my 9 year old cockatiel passed away today. and its causing me concern as to what was the cause of his death. We gave him a very healthy life style, proper food, veggies, meats, seeds etc. Yesterday night, when we put him to bed, he was perfectly fine, singing chirping and a rascal to put in the cage. Typical behavior from him. This morning and all of today, i noticed he had cold feet, and a black tongue. His urge to eat was low to none at all. He had no desire to sing, or fly around, or even bath. I went to the store to buy some medicine, and I left him near a heat source, thinking he might be cold hence the cold feet. When i returned, he had shuffled a few centimeter into a corner near the tea kettle (heat source) and passed away. He just froze like that, his eyes are normal no change, and no signs of any cuts or blood feathers or anything. This is really bothering me, and I feel as though I could have done something rather than drive off for medicine. Any idea or thoughts on what might have caused his sudden death?

    • There are a handful of problems that occur in birds that move fast but have no specific signs. The most common is lung damage from breathing respiratory irritants or toxins that damage the air-fluid interface and result in body fluid filling the air exchanging portion of the lungs. This included the fumes from over-heated Teflon (PTFE gas), fumes from other overheated pans or ovens, oily fumes from room deodorizers, carpet cleaners, scented candles, etc. These would make yor cockatiels mucous membranes (mouth and tongue) appear dark (cyanotic) and toes cold. Most of these birds have difficulty breathing, however. Older birds die of heart failure. Most common are problems associated with atherosclerosis, which is associated with a bad diet. T here are a few other heart diseases (cardiomyopathy, valvular insufficiency, etc.) that may have nothing to do with diet. These birds slip away rapidly and may or may not show signs of respiratory distress. We see strokes in older birds and sometimes in birds that are ovulating.
      If you still have your little friend, I would urge you to take/send her to a state or county diagnostic slb and have a good complete necropsy done. That is the best way (maybe the only way) to get an answer to your question. If you live here in Southern California we are happy to help you.

  43. Hi
    I have a cockatiel and have noticed when i kiss her back (a regular exercise she enjoys) that she seems to have one pointed bone on the top of her wing to the left side and the other side is normal. Does this sound like something she was born with or something i need to get checked out? she doeesnt seem to have any pain but she does seem to fly slightly to the left and when she lands she has a little hissy fit then calms down – is this normal. Shes a very happy bird i just have concerns.
    Any advice would be great….

    • I think what you are feeling is her elbow, but they should be symmetrical! Look carefully again and see if you think it’s normal. If they are not symmetrical, you should have an avian veterinarian take a look.

  44. Dr. Jenkins,
    First, thank you so much for maintaining this site! People do not realize that having a sick bird is just as upsetting as a sick dog or cat. We purchased a hand raised lovebird from a hobby breeder in Sept. (at 8wks.) She has seen an avian vet for initial exam, and wing/nail trim. Last week my daughter took her from her cage, and our bird held on of course. It appears as though her foot and leg is sore. She is getting around with help of her beak, still eating, but sleeping more. I am praying that she is healing, but one concern is she also having labored breathing. I know that respiratory infections normally do not present until the bird is VERY sick, and she has had this going on 3 days. Could the labored breathing be due to the injury and stress?

    • The combination of respiratory signs and the leg pain is worrisome. I wonder if she bleed into her abdomen or air sac(s) when she was injured. I’d recommend that you have her checked. If it’s just soft tissue damage (sprain/strain) they will get you some pain medication and she’ll feel better.
      Meanwhile I’d keep her in a flat bottomed container (off the perch). A plastic container of small aquarium will work.
      Best of luck! Dr. J

  45. Dr. Jenkins

    My one year old yellow lutino peach face Jellybean, keep rubbing his beak in the cage back and forth, he is doing it a lot, not only to clean his beak. His beak is becaming purple ( bruised ) because all the rubbing. What it could be? What should I use on his beak? I put Heal X Soother Plus Topical Cream, that I got from his Vet, for a little cut, but he cleans it out really fast. It could be some kind of allergy or sinusitis ? Please help me, I am very worried about it! Should I put Mineral Oil in his beak ? Or what would you suggest ? Thank you very much. Alex Curvello – NYC – NY.

    • Alex,
      Sorry for the slow reply . . . I’ve been fighting spam on the web site. So much that it makes the real posts hard to find!
      I’d be worried that there is a problem in the sinus that fills the inside of the beak. Does Jellybean have any nasal or choanal (the opening in the top of his beak) discharge?
      Best if you have an avian veterinarian take a look.
      Let us know what you find.
      Cheers, Dr. J

      • Hi, Dr. Jenkins

        No, Jellybean does not have any discharge in his beak, it’s normal,he is eating pellets and drinking fine, no signs of any sickness, feces is fine too. So do you really think that could be a sinus problem ? not a fungus ? etc … He has a Vet. appointment Saturday. Please reply if you have a chance. I’m just worried. Thank you ! Alex NYC

        • They can have bacterial or fungal infections in that “arm” of their perioccular sinus that extends into the

            beak. Most of the time, however, you would see a nasal or choanal discharge.
            We also see bleeding and bruising of beaks (from a good knock on the beak).
            Best of luck and let us know what they find.
  46. David Valiquette says:

    Dr. Jenkins: First as others have mentioned Thank You for the time you put in to answer our questions! I have a 28 month old Timneh Grey that was “potentially” diagnosed with Aspergillosis by my local Avian Vet this morning. I say potentially as we are waiting on CBC results as well as an endoscopic eval. He seemed fine until Friday (today is Monday) when he was very quiet, he is normally talkative and loves to wolf whistle and he appeared weak. I also noticed occasional “little grunts” when I cuddle and rub his neck. He eats and drinks fine. I travel for work and when I returned Sunday, he appeared again weak and quiet still I also noticed a limp when he walked, so I brought him to the Vet first thing this morning. The Vet noticed he wasn’t gripping tight with his right foot on my shoulder, and he was fluffed. He wanted to take blood and to give him gas anesthesia/X-rays. The X-rays showed what looked like a mass in his right (lower?) air sac which the Vet thinks may be a Granuloma (blood work shows normal kidney/liver function but a very high reading for a muscle enzyme (??). He gave me oral itraconazole to get started on and wants to do the oral endoscope and I think something invasive to exam the growth. My question is, have you experienced this problem and what is the usual prognosis/end result. I don’t want to give up hope as I am very attached to him but I want to be realistic as these are not inexpensive procedures. Thank you again in advance!. David

    • David
      Sorry for the slow reply, I have been away from the computer for a couple of days.
      I’m hoping that your Timmy is doing well. It is possible that he has Aspergillosis, although the presenting sigs of limb pain or weakness is not common. The nerves and blood supply to the legs sneaks behind the parrots kidneys at the lower rear portion of the abdominal air sac, so it is possible that a fungal granuloma in that area could put pressure or cause inflammation to those structures.
      Aspergillosis is more common in African Greys, Eclectus and Pionus parrots that many other species. If caught early and treated for long periods (we treat for 6-12 months) they do well and live a normal life. If the disease has progressed too far the patients often do not have the strength to survive the treatment and or the granuloma may cause respiratory blockages as it breaks up with treatment.
      Best of luck. I’m hoping that the initial diagnosis is wrong.
      Dr. J

  47. I have a 6 year old African grey. He has never had any health problems. Tonight while I was holding him his legs curled up under him and he became completely unresponsive. This lasted approximately 2-3 min before he started to “wake up”. It was another 5-10 min after that before he was able to walk or perch. Nothing in his diet has changed. Any advice you could offer would be very appreciated. Possible seizure? There was no wing flapping or convulsions just limp and unresponsive.

    • Val
      Yes, the most likely cause of the behavior you saw is a seizure. African Greys are prone to both “excitement seizures” and seizures brought on by low calcium levels. We see many Greys that seizure when restrained for grooming or physical examination. Most of these are managed by avoiding stressful situations, pre-treating with Valium family sedatives (that reduce the potential of having a seizure as well as reducing stress) and using anesthesia when stress is unavoidable.
      Hypocalcemia seizures are much less common and much more dangerous. In the 1980s, seed based parrot diets were very low in calcium and this problem was common. Improved diet and awareness has made them “a thing of the past” for the most part.
      Lastly, there are rare parrots with seizures caused by a myriad of other problems. In may ways, a seizure is like a cough. It is a sign of the patient’s brain being irritated or damaged. These range from something as simple as an irritation to as complex as cancer. Luckily these types of seizures are uncommon.

  48. Hi Dr.,
    I have a 6 year old Umbrella Cockatoo who has developed what looks like blood bruises on on the lower part of his eyelids. The bruises are more reddish than blue or purple, resembling blood just under then skin. One eye also has a small area on the upper part of the eyelid. I wondered if he might have rubbed his face too hard after a bath and bruised himself. I can’t figure out what else it could be. I do blow-dry him with the dryer on medium, from about two feet away, and had done that recently. He absolutely loves it and screams when I stop. Could the air have irritated his eyelids?? He does have an outdoor cage and spends some time out there, during the day. I also have an Indian Ringneck.

    I hope it’s not a sign of some avian disease. Thank you for your time!!

    • Alisa
      I cannot think of a disease that would look exactly as you describe your birds lesions. If the areas of discoloration increase in size or if he acts as if they irritate him or they developed a discharge, you should have him seen.

  49. Tami Meyer says:

    Dr, I have a beautiful white pigeon she showed up at my house 4 years ago she was full grown at the time so I don’t know how old she is .She flies around my home freely but nests and rests in a small closet. She lays 2 eggs at a time every few weeks, a year ago she had trouble laying, she ended up laying both eggs but had a piece of flesh that looked like an anus hanging off her body after about a week it just disappeared and she was fine until a week ago it happened again this time it’s no going away. She still uses the bathroom but it is hard and small, she eats and drinks a lot. She leaks a clear liquid from the area. Other than the chunk of meat hanging out of her she seems fine. Have you ever seen this before?

    • Tami
      I have a similar white pigeon. Most of them are homing pigeons used for weddings, etc. They make wonderful pets and are a joy to have around. Here is a picture of my daughter with our “Shalom.”

      Your bird most likely prolapsed her oviduct (uterus if you will). The short term problem is that the damaged tissue may become infected and may effect her ability to pass urine (the opening of her ureter from her left kidney is adjacent to the opening of her oviduct).
      The long term problem is that scar tissue from the damage to her oviduct may prevent her from laying her next egg, and that could be life threatening.
      You need to find a good avian veterinarian, preferably one that is Board Certified to take a look at her. She may need to be “spayed” (salpingohysterectomy).
      Let me know if we can help you find a veterinarian.
      Best of luck, Dr. J

      • Bnai Silverbush says:

        Dear Dr. Jenkins:

        I would be so grateful if you could find the time to reply to this message.

        My questions include:
        - AUTOPSY ON A BUDGIE?? How extensive would they examine her? Do they perform labs? Or just visually inspect?
        - What was her illness (duration; course; signs) most indicative of?
        - What caused her illness and death?

        Thanking you kindly and with tremendous admiration for you and thanking you for anything you might kindly offer in reply.

        Bnai
        Syracuse, NY
        RIP “GiGi”–my light lemony angel cupcake of a sweet Budgie.

        • Bnai
          Most states have a Veterinary Pathology Department that will do a complete necropsy (autopsy) and will find an answer if that is possible. These necropsies are often subsidized by tax dollars making them more affordable.
          Check with your regular veterinarian and or county veterinarian.
          If that is not offered in NY, there will be commercial sources available as well.
          Hope you find the answer you are looking for.
          Cheers, Dr. J

  50. My african grey is very sick. She has completely stopped talking and she is dropping yellowish poop. She has lost a lot of weight (she used to be very heavy). She is loosing feathers. She sneezes even. Sometimes vomits and has a strange sound when she breaths. Her eyes are red and swollen and hava a discharge. her feet is even having dandruff. She use to move her head around wit no meaning. hWat to do. we dont have a vet in maldives.what to do pls help me

    • Aminath
      You need to do as good of supportive care as you can. Keep your parrot in a plastic tub or glass aquarium. Keep the temperature in the tub at 90*-95* F (32*-35* C), feed him baby cereal (or baby bird hand feeding formula if available) with a spoon or syringe.
      Ne most common disease with all those symptoms is Psittacosis. we treat that with tetracycline. if you can get a doctor or vet to help you get medicine we can help you with a dose.
      Good luck, Dr. J

  51. I currently have a 1 year old sun conure and we had her since she was about 2 weeks old and all of sudden she has been biting me really hard and not letting go for no apparent reason and I’m scared to hold her because when I play with her she’s fine but then out of no where she would bite me really hard !!! Can you please help ASAP thanks

  52. mudita dennett says:

    My mother recently bought an 8 month old cockateil from a pet store. Now the bird is bleeding from the butt area. She said first it was just a little blood around the anus and now he is chewing it a lot and the blood is on his tail feathers. She cant afford a vet. The bird is eating fine but wont eat soft foods or vegetables, and it is still playful and talkative. Its feet are still pink but it just wont stop messing with the feathers down there. Any advice?

    • Mudita
      Young cockatiels are very clumsy and slip / fall from slippery perches.
      When the fall the often bend their tail back and cause the skin to tear between their vent and the feather follicles of their tails. These wounds will bleed repeatedly and take a long time to heal if not stitched.
      If your bird is still having problems you need to find a veterinarian to sew him up!
      Best wishes, Dr. J

  53. Hi Dr. Jenkins,

    I have a 6yr old Sun Conure who is very sick. I am hoping you can give me advice on ways to get his weight back up. The first symptom I noticed was weight loss. When I felt he was going light I weighed him and he was 100 grams. Two days later he was only 85. I took him right in to an avian vet and he had fluid injections and a bunch of tests that showed GI infection. I picked him up he was back up to 90 grams but quickly dropped again to 85. He came home with antibiotics.

    About 6 days after the first visit a new symptom started where it hurts for him to go to the bathroom, he strains and there is blood. So I took him in right away again and at this visit the avian vet found a tumor in his cloaca. She took a biopsy yesterday and we should have results next week. She also gave him fluids again and he came home at 90 grams again. This morning he was all the way down to 76 grams. I have been hand feeding formula to him. I also started to mix unflavored clear Pedialite into his water 50/50. He is on 4 medicines including a pain med, anti-inflamatory and antibiotic. The fourth coats his digestive tract to sooth it.

    Any advice you can give on how to boost his weight would be greatly appreciated.Thank You.

    • Yesterday I fed him by hand 4 times and used the pedialite instead of water in the formula. He also ate a bunch of fruit and spinach. His weight went up to 85 grams again before bed. This morning I walk in to find him vomiting! Weight was back down to 76 grams too. I gave him his antibiotic and pain med and then he vomited again. Hoping to get the meds down on a second try here in a while. Then to try to feed him again and get that weight back up.

    • The results are back. Sadly it is cancer. I am crushed, just sitting here holding my sweet Lono. They wern’t sure what kind. Either a carcinoma or lymphoma. It really doesn’t matter which one. He is down to 72 grams and I don’t think he will be with me much longer. He just wants to cuddle in my clothes.

      • Amy
        I am so sorry not to get back to you sooner. I’m behind here due to our moving the Hospital.
        I feel so bad about your friend, but it sounds like you have done a great job caring for him and making him comfortable.
        If you have questions about his cancer or anything else about his care I’d be happy to get back to you.
        Dr. J

  54. José Adrião says:

    My lovebird, who has lived for approximately 9 years (and is female) is suddenly developing a large growth at the bottom of her body, is she just fat? Is it something I should worry about, It is now so big, poop is attached to it from wherever she sits or lays. I’m freaking out. Could you please help? Also, 2 of dorsal feathers are sticking out (symmetrically, one on either side of her).
    I’m wondering if I could get some pointers.
    Thank you.

    • Jose’
      If the growth is right at the base of here tail, and / or around her vent, it could be fat. If so the skin should have a yellow color and the swelling of mass should feel rubbery. Other possibilities include fluid in her abdomen or a neoplastic mass (tumor) growing in that area.
      It would be best to have an avian veterinarian take a look at her. Once you have a better idea what it is you can make good decisions as to what to do about it.

  55. Devika Lall says:

    Dr. Jenkins,

    I hope all is well.

    I have an African Grey, who will be three in May. I took him to the vet this past Monday for his yearly check-up. The vet recommended a blood test just to make sure everything is alright. She called me last night and said that Johnny has a high white blood cell count. She said it was a little too high to be a temporary elevation of stress. She recommended two options: first to do further testing, or to just put him on antibiotics and test later to see if the count changes.

    How serious is a high white blood cell count and what exactly does that mean? Also, which of her options would you recommend?

    She also said that Johnny is over grooming his feathers primarily the outer wing feathers. Is this something to be concerned about? How can I prevent him from doing that?

    Thank you,
    Devika

    • Devika
      There is an old adage in medicine . . . Treat the patient, not the test.
      If Johnny was mine I’d recheck his CBC in 10-14 days and include a Protein Electrophoresis (PEP) that will show better what his immune system is doing.
      African Grey Parrots commonly have anxiety issues that might lead to his over grooming (another subject we can address) and may push his white blood cell count (WBC) a litter higher than some “non-anxious” birds.
      If the WBC persists and his PEP is abnormal then I’d recommend looking further to diagnose the cause.
      On the subject of “Preventative Testing.” We do similar testing, however at 5 year intervals in most large parrot species. We do find sub-clinical problems and that does save the lives of parrots. That said, I think it is important to know what it is that you are treating, rather than just throwing antibiotics at the patient.

      • Devika Lall says:

        Dr. Jenkins,

        Thanks for the advice. I am taking Johnny back to the vet this Saturday and I’ll be sure to mention the PEP.
        If Johnny is indeed anxious, is there anything I can do to calm his anxiety?
        Devika

        • Let us know how the PEP turns out.
          We treat lots of anxious psittacines (parrots) with haloperidol with good success. Since the early 2000s we have had hundreds of anxious, OCD, and feather-picking birds that now live happy lives with the help of this treatment.

  56. Christine says:

    My budgie flew, even though she is clipped she can still fly pretty well, on top of my Quakers cage and he bit her before she could be caught. He bit her so severely that he amputated the top portion/joint of her toe. She was taken to the emergency vet and he cauterized the wound and gave her a shot of antibiotics. She came home but I am worried about her not eating. I am calling our regular avian vet in the morning. Is there anything else I should be doing? Anything else I can do to help her recover?
    Thank you.

    • I’m surprised that they did not send home pain medication. That would definitely be in order with a wound like you describe.
      Meanwhile, keep her warm (90*-95*F) and on a flat surface (a plastic box / tub or glass aquarium works well).
      Discuss your options with your veterinarian. It may be best for her and you to amputate the toe rather than try to save it.

  57. We have a new male red rumped parakeet who is five months old and we have had him 5 days. Last night I noticed he has bubbly poops. The poop itself was well formed and normal colour with no odour but there were definitely bubbles. He has been sneezing quite a lot but with no discharge or wet sneezing. His breathing is fine and he is eating really well and drinking. We have booked a vet appt but we have now read that it could just be gas. He is quarantined from our other bird, he is eating Harrison’s mash and cockatiel seed mix. The only other thing is he seems a little sleepy but he is alert to sounds and other noises and movements.

    Is this just gas or something else?

    • Often gas in droppings is caused by bacteria and or yeast fermenting the material in the feces, much like the bubbles in beer. The bacteria responsible may or may not be a problem for your bird. They are more common in birds eating a diet high in carbohydrates such as grains, pasta, rice, sweet fruit, etc. Best bet is to have him seen by your veterinarian who can better discern if this is a problem.

  58. Hi, I raise TAG’s and this is the first time I have ever had this type of problem. But the baby I am currently feeding keeps continually growing some sort of white substance under it’s tounge it causes the area under his beak to swell. I have taken it to the vet several times now and they have removed it it was put on an antibodic but that didn’t help with in a day of him going to the vet and the thing removed it comes back. The vet has sent it off to the lab so we should get results next week some time. Any ideas what it could be. I have also taken it to an avian vet in OK city when she got some stuff out she thought it was an abscess. She showed me a small part of a seed hull thought maybe the baby got it stuck and it became abcessed but after taking him/her back to our vet with it growing again I don’t know what to think.he/she plays fine is about 17 weeks old should be weened but until we can figure out what is wrong with this baby vet advised to continue formula and soft foods, so I have been giving her formula and fresh veggies with noodles and rice.

    • Samantha
      My guess is that your little grey friend has a yeast infection (in a human child we woould call it “thrush”).
      The high carbohydrate content of hand feeding formula supports the growth of yeast well. If you have any damage to tissue (from too warm formula, a scratch from syringe of feeding spoon, bite from another begging chick, etc.) the result is a yeast infection. Most of these are caused by Candida sp. But other yeast may cause similar looking lesions.
      cases caught early may be treated with nystatin, that works topically and is not absorbed into the birds system. In longer standing cases (like yours) we find we need a systemic anti-fungal, such as fluconazole (Diflucan).
      The diagnosis can be confirmed with fungal cultures and or cytology taken from the interface between the white cheesy discharge and the mucous membrane.

      • Thanks for your reply we are waiting for test results to hopefully come back with in the next couple of days. My vet here is not an avian vet may I refer him to you if he needs a consult after the findings from the test results? He was given enrofloxin and Probiocin from the vet in OK city but neither seemed to help the problem. Thanks again for your response

  59. Dr. Jenkins,

    I have a 2-year-old female lovebird that has a problem with one of her wings. This started about two days ago. She is digging at the under side of the wing with her beak constantly. The wing is also trembling and held a little out from her body. She is eating and drinking normally. Nothing different with her feces. She has a cage mate (another female) and she isn’t exhibiting any similar symptoms. I am in the process of taming her and can’t hold her without traumatizing her severely. She has not been a great flyer, but she does get exercised out of her cage frequently. I don’t believe she has been injured. Although, she will close her eye (on that side only) and it definitely seems to be bothering or hurting her.

    Would you suggest that I catch her and examine the wing more closely? I am a little afraid if it is injured to further injure her. Any suggestions as to the cause of the behavior or what should be done would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Yes, you and your veterinarian should take a look at her. Hopefully it will just be a bruise or sprain and not a fracture (shoulder , coracoid and clavicle fractures are pretty common in birds fighting restraint).
      When you do catch her, use a towel to protect you and her. Get her wings folded into normal position as fast as you can. Your veterinarian can give her a bit of gas anesthesia prior to doing his/her exam and save her the fear and possible trauma.
      Providing she is OK, check our Barbara Heidenreich at Good Bird Inc. or Hillary Hankey at Learning Parrots for help with your training.

  60. Hi, I volunteer at a parrot rescue, and I have noticed one of our double yellow headed amazons appears to have brain damage-slow processing speed, attention/focus issues, difficulty learning new things, aggression, etc. I asked one of the staff about it, and she agreed. She believes the bird came from a house where they possibly smoked meth. I’ve looked around, but I haven’t been able to find anything on signs or symptoms of methamphetamine poisoning in companion parrots. The only reason I noticed is because I have a rabbit I got from the Humane Society that displayed several of the PTSD symptoms as this amazon, and, unsurprisingly, my bunny came from a meth house. Any suggestions on where to find info about this? Or how to treat it if it is recognized in time?

    • Unfortunately, parrots are not uncommonly found in situations where they are exposed to the chemicals of meth manufacturing and or smoking. I do not know of any scientific published study, however, that documents the pathology found in these cases.
      Treatment would be supportive along with that aimed at specific signs. Tests may reveal if there is inflammation (high white blood cell count (WBC) and high creatinine kinase (CK) levels).

  61. I have a 17 year old Sun Conure named Maggie that I got as a baby after she was weaned. I believe she is a female but she has never laid eggs nor have I mated her. She has never been sick in all her years. Suddenly she became sick over night. Squatting, head moving up and down with eyes closed, feathers fluffed and little periodic squawks. I took her to the only exotic pet vet in my area. He diagnosed her with a heart murmur, possible inflammation around the heart, and possible infection of a heart valve. I thought she might have had a respiratory infection because I had a cockatiel many years before Maggie that had one. The vet prescribed Ciprofloxacin 7.5 mg/ml and Fursemide (diuretic) 0.5 mg/ml both at 0.2 ml each every 12 hours and to return for a follow-up in 2 weeks. It has been one week as of today. There have been good and bad days. However, tonight she was on the bottom of her cage, and suddenly began flapping her wings and throwing herself about. She ended up on her back and would not move. I took her out immediately but it took about 1 minute for her to acknowledge me and begin slowly moving. Would a heart murmur cause her to seem like she is having a seizure? She is acting like it is day one all over again with the same body motions, eyes closed but making peeping noises. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Sorry for the slow reply. Your message got lost in the works of the internet.
      I hope Maggie did well, although her signs sounded grim.
      Keeping my fingers crossed! Dr. J

  62. Hi,
    I have a TAG she is 11 years old and molting she recently had twitching in both her left leg and wing. It appeared to be a muscle spasm…but after further reading i’m wondering if she had a Seizure? In the middle of this spasm she was able to perch on my hand and after this so called spasm she was able to stand on various size perches and on a counter only her foot would twitch intermittantly then stopped. This then ceased until last night when she was falling asleep her foot started to twitch in 1.5 to 2 minute intervals….which then ceased… she naps during the day without any twitching ? ( there was a 6 day gap between episodes)
    I thought becuase this is happenign at night it was a red mite issue … i dont see any of them.. could this be hypocalcemia ….she eats well and has a good appetite..

    • Sara
      30 years ago, when bird seed was 90+% grey stripe sunflower seed, I would have said that hypocalcemia would be high on my list. Hypocalcemia in African grey Parrots sas very common through the early to mid 1990s. It is still a possibility, however we rarely see it in parrots eating modern seed based diets (still not adequate for your bird), soft / fresh food diets or pellets.
      That said, you need to get your grey friend to an avian veterinarian and have some tests done.
      If you bird is eating only sunflower or safflower seed diet, get him on a suppliment and get to changing to a better source of nutrition.

  63. Alex Taylor-Bradshaw says:

    I took my budgie Lightning in to an avian vet about a month or two ago due to her losing feathers on her chest and abdomen area and she was diagnosed as possibly plucking a brood patch but gone too far.

    Her feathers are starting to come back even if tatty looking

    Sometimes when preening there she lets out a high pitch shriek. I think that her chest may be quite sore.

    Due to losing my job I cannot afford to bring her in until I get another, which I hope is not too long. I wish I could afford to bring her in.

    Is there anything I can do?

    The only things I have are bird rain and soother sprays.

    I hope you can help.

    Regards

    Mr Alex Taylor-Bradshaw

    • Alex
      I cannot be sure without seeing your bird, but the most likely cause id obsessive compulsive behavior (behavioral feather picking). Other possible causes could be: Primary skin disease (bacterial or fungal (yeast, dermatophyte) skin infections), these typically have an exudate or crust on their skin. Viral disease (psittacine beak and feather disease (circovirus), polyomavirus), these cause problems with all the feathers on the bird, not just the areas they can reach or pick. Poor nutrition (vitamin or protein deficency), also would effect other areas of the skin.
      Birds with behavioral feather picking problems get a benefit from causing pain at the time they pull their feathers. We think that the epinephrine (adrenaline) that is released when they hurt themselves changes chemical levels in their brains that relieve their feeling of anxiety as with people that cut themselves, have obsessive tattoo or piercing behaviors, obsessive shoppers, gamblers, etc.
      Look to see if your budgie has other signs of illness, work to change its diet to a more healthy pellet and fresh food diet and find toys that occupy its time. Once you can afford to see a vet, find a board certified avian veterinarian who really understands these problems to help you.

      • Alex Taylor-Bradshaw says:

        Thanks Dr Jenkins. She is already on Harrison’s Pellets. I will try to see a vet when I get a bit of money in.

  64. Hi we have a three year old parakeet He has been puffed up, shaking like his heart is racing, he hasnt tweeted for a week. He is holding his back tail funny like it keeps bobbing. Initially I thought it was because his beak was getting too long. We had his beak clipped & his not getting any better Is this something that will pass or should we take him to the emergency vet. We dont have many avian vets in our area. The ones we do have very limited hours.

  65. Hi Dr. Jenkins, I have a 3wk old cockatiel that is being fed by parents. I noticed baby cockatiel has a large patrution in the lower end toward butt. Im not sure if that is a blockage. Causing baby not to be able to poop. It kinda freaked me out. Im not sure what to do. Please advise…Regards, Sharon

    • I hope your little ward has pooped and all is well.
      Sometimes chicks will get droppings stuck to their vents preventing them from passing droppings. A warm washcloth may be all it take so solve that problem. If that is not the case you need to have him seen.

  66. Kimberly Stewart says:

    I saw a CAG at a shelter that did not have any feathers on his front or back. His tail and wing feathers looked bitten to shreds. I was told that he was previously abused and that he was a feather picker. I brought him home and noticed that he was rather picking his skin than pulling out feathers. I had him tested for PBFD and it came back positive. I am confused because this bird has been at the shelter like this for a year. He is growing new feathers, I see them, although I am not sure if they fall out or he picks them out. He does not have any feathers on his neck but has some- very thin – on his head and he still has powder down on some of them. I see a couple feathers growing under his wing and on his back. He does not have any flight feathers- they are missing. He is at a good weight, eats a lot and is active and vocal. I read this disease kills. I am wondering if it is possible than he can recover? I do not know how old he is or when he got the disease, but I know he is at least three years old. Also, we have another CAG that is free of disease that we have had for a year and a half. We got him at a shelter also and he is at least three years old if not more. I read that birds of this age fight off the PBFD if it comes into contact with them. What are the chances of him getting the PBFD and what are the chances of the infected bird surviving?

    • It’s hard to give you concrete answers without seeing your grey friend, but the following are things you should know:
      1. Feather picking (behavior) is MUCH more common than PBFD. PBFD has virtually disappeared in large species of parrots since reliable testing has become available.
      2. It’s possible that he has PBFD, but most CAGs do not have whole body feather loss (as is common in cockatoos). It is also possible that he has both PBFD and behavioral feather picking.
      PBFD
      3. It’s possible to have a false positive test. We see many birds that are exposed to the virus (in a pet shop, boarding facility, shelter, etc.) that have a positive DNA test that converts to negative in 6-8 weeks. The assumption is that they have inhaled feather dust / dander with the circovirus that then shows up in the blood test but does not infect the bird. I know of no research that proves that theory, however.
      4. If he does have PBFD, he will be infectious. To the best of my knowledge, young (hatch to fledgling) are at risk of catching the virus and developing clinical disease. The prognosis of infected birds depends on species.
      Hope that helps. I’d have him retested and evaluated for behavioral feather picking. Even if he does have PBFD, he may benefit greatly from treatment with haloperidol.

      • Kimberly Stewart says:

        Dr. Jenkins,
        Thank you so much for your reply. The picture you posted looks exactly like the shelter bird except he is naked on front and neck. Is this a picture of a bird with PBFD or a feather picker. I live in Dubai/UAE so a lot of medications are not available here. Here, PBFD is very common as the UAE does not have the same regulations when it comes to animals and breeders as the U.S. I plan to retest the bird in 90 days and as of right now, he is separate from other birds. Can you suggest any anti-fungal and immune booster medication that he can get on a regular basis? Then I can ask my vet if it is available here. Thanks!!

        • Kimberly
          The bird in the photo has PBFD. There is no cure for this disease, however, they will live comfortable (often short) lives with good care and nutrition. Remember that the virus is shed in urine, feces and feather dust from these birds and the disease is highly contagious to baby (pre-weaning) birds, especially Old World specie.

  67. Patricia (Pat) Crawford says:

    My african grey conga is a happy bird except when I cover her at nite. She hates being covered. She won’t talk if anyone is in the room, but as soon as we leave the room, she won’t stop talking and laughing out loud.
    My question is, she seems happy but she has started scratching above her right eye, to where she has 2 tiny bald spots a bit larger than pencil lead, even though it is small, you can see it. Why is she doing that? Also, why does she puff her feathers when I go over to talk to her.

    • Pat,
      Your Grey bird is still embarrassed with her talking ability. She will talk in your presence when she feels that she has it right.
      The feather loss above her eye is likely molting. It will get larger then you will likely see new pin feathers growing back in.
      She fluffs her feathers when you come to her cage because she likes you!

  68. Dr. Jenkins – I hope you can shed some light on my question related to my greencheek conure’s weight.

    I’m well aware that weight loss is an alarm sign for birds, but what about about weight gain? My 7yr old greencheek weighed in at 78g at his last vet visit about a month and a half ago. This compares to 72g the year before. Generally, I weigh him biweekly or monthly, unless there is a trigger for more regular measurements (stress etc). Well, I’ve been weighing him daily since the last vet visit, and he’s climbed to 84g now (earning him the lovely nickname “Chunk-Butt”). We’ve been cutting treats in half (and he doesn’t get many to begin with, but now even the half peanut treat has turned into a quarter peanut, and almonds are carefully cut in half as well), and I’ve started doing some toss-and-fly exercise (I could be more vigilant there).

    He’s had his yearly vet checks since he was 3 months old, and he never had any issues other than overlooking a pillar once giving him a light concussion. His blood panels were always normal, and in his last vet visit everything came back okay as well. The vet noted the weight gain but commented that he’s physical appearance is not alarming. Also now, I can feel his keel bone and his breast muscles appear pretty normal.

    I appreciate your feedback!
    Best regards,
    Bea

    • Bea
      Could your Green-Cheeked Conure be female? One possibility is that it could be thinking about laying. There is typically a 10-15 gram increase in weight in that species from the changes associated with laying.
      Other possibilities might include accumulation of fluid in his abdomen (ascites). Ascites is associated with liver disease, heart disease, tumors, etc. Let’s hope that is not what is happening.
      And, it could be that he is just getting fat. If he is eating a seed based diet, now is the time to wean him onto a pelleted diet.
      Good luck! Dr. J

  69. Sir i an from India. I have an Alexiandrian Parrot baby around one month old . My baby bird got some illness and pet doctor in not available in my area.

    “Will notice its eyes will be only half or three quarters open and their wings are usually dropped down. The vent (bottom) is usually matted with dry poo from diarrhoea and the bird is usually limp in hands when pick it up and in box not taking food properly”

    Please suggest any antibiotic treatment or some thing else. Sir please help me.

    • Sorry for the slow reply, I hope your bird is still alive and well.
      Most important is to keep the bird warm, hydrated and eating. Feed it using a commercial hand feeding formula or find a receipe on line for one. Good hygiene is important when feeding baby birds. Mix only enough food for what you need at one feeding and feed it at 10*F (38*C).
      You may be able to find antibiotics sold for poultry or people.
      My first choice would be the trimethoprim-sulfa combination for human children. The dose of the oral solution wound be 1 ml/kg twice daily.

  70. I have baby African Grey Parrot, about 3 months old. When I bought him he was suffering from diarrhea. I gave him theraprim for 6 days and now the diarrhea stopped but i found another problem, he is suffering from swelling in the abdominal area. I don’t know if its normal in baby african grey or if it is a problem.
    Grey

    • Jensen
      Young parrots commonly have large abcomens, especially pre-weaning. If everything else is good I’d continue feeding a quality hand feeding formula and see what happens.

      • Thanks Dr
        after 6 days from using theraprim diarrhea stopped but when i stopped give him the antibiotic i feel my parrot not good and all day sleeping
        and my friend have one dnt have swelling in the abdominal area its normaly
        and today i feeding him the first formula i bought it and the diarrhea starting again i think its bad and corrupted

        so what i can do give him traitment again ? i know its not good to him antibiotic for long time

  71. Carol-Lynn says:

    I recently adopted 2 cockatiels (one 3 year old male, one 8 month old female). They were in separate cages, after consulting with an avian breeder/vet, she told me to keep the cages close together so they get familiar with each other. They will show interest in each other in time, she said. After about a week I noticed they showed great interest in each other so I tried them together and they went great! Both were healthy and no signs of illness were shown by either of them. I got them a nesting box which I introduced to their cage. I started them out with a few hours every once and awhile together then a day here and there just to be sure they would get along. In a week they were inseparable. I’ve had them about 2 weeks at this point.
    A few days after I started noticing that the male was glued to the bottom of the cage. He wouldn’t be on his stand closer to the top of the cage like he usually was doing and he would put himself in the nesting box and would stay long periods of time. The very next morning I found him stiff in the bottom of the cage. I quickly disinfected the cage and put the female in another one. She was fine so I thought maybe she was becoming territorial and was about to lay eggs and killed him. Within days she started gnawing at herself, she would chew her feathers, rip some out and she would always rub her head sideways.
    It’s been about 3 weeks since I had them. Today when I woke up, I noticed she too was attracted to the bottom of the cage and the nesting box. but she still loved attention and would chirp away and talk up a storm to us. Tonight she seemed less lively. I cleaned her cage and had her socializing but she wasn’t as interested, it was like she was distracted and started pecking herself and rubbing her head sideways like she was before. It’s been an hour and she’s becoming less social by the minute it seems. She’s cuddled to me and opens her eyes to peek at me then closes them. I slightly wrapped her with a hand towel to help keep her warm (she seems cold which isn’t like her). I looked her over and I found a lump on her chest. it’s featherless. she never had that before… anyone have an idea as to what could be wrong ?

    • Carol Lynn
      Birds go to the floor of their cages because they are weak (it take a lot of energy to stand on a perch). The signs you are seeing in this and your male birds are signs that she is sick and no longer able to care for herself. She needs to see an avian veterinarian and get the medicine and supportive care she needs.
      Best of luck!

  72. Laura Hanbridge says:

    I have a female Indian ring neck (2 years old). I noticed today that she has a large lump just above her wing about the size of a small coin, it is the same shade of skin color so wasn’t noticeable. The lump is hard, is it cancer or could it be a cyst. In which case is treatment expensive? At the moment it doesn’t seem to bother her.

    • You need to have the lump seen to be sure. There is a non-cancerous mass that they get as well, an xanthoma, but the treatment is the same.
      Let us know how things turn out!

  73. Hello Dr. Jenkins. My Tiel has been evaluated by two different vets and they both initially believed him to have an upper resp. infection but after different medications, he still continued to pick. Medications were stopped but I always wondered if he could have had a seed hull stuck in the choana. The last Dr. who saw him suggested an X-ray to check for foreign objects but at the time I couldn’t afford to pay for the procedures. So I set up a humidifier in his room, increase the frequency of his showers and toward the end of February, he had stopped picking. About a week ago, he started picking at his beak again and has drawn blood from the frequency.

    He has been admitted to the hospital for observation and to undergo several nasal flushes per day. He has had about 5 flushes and no foreign objects have been drained out. Although on the first flush viscous mucous was flushed out. Is that a sign of a foreign object in the choana? He will be put under anesthesia for further observation. I asked if they can use and endoscope during the procedure, unfortunately, they don’t have one flexible enough to do the job. What else besides a dental mirror could they use to diagnose his problem.

    What would you recommend to help dislodge any foreign objects in the choana. Is there something that they may be missing? What questions should I be asking the Dr.’s? How can this situation be avoided in the future?

    Thank you

    Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

    • I can think of a couple of possibilities . . . Your cockatiel could have a Bordetella sp. infection. Bordetella is difficult to culture and treat. It is more common in cockatiels than other species of parrots and may present initially as a sinusitis.
      Another possibility could be that there is something irritating in her diet or environment. I would expect the nasal flushes to corrrect this however.

  74. My blue crowned conure has what looks to be a dark sack on his neck I don’t know what it is I have had him a little less than two months and it only appeared two days ago what should I do?

  75. I have 2 white cap pionus parrots. They are 2 yrs and 3 yrs old. I have only had them for 4 months. When I first got them I treated them with a oral general antibiotic.
    I have noticed that my male has a few symptoms: He droops his wings, has wing and chest tremors, may or may not be plucking but he has a ring around his neck of top feathers that are missing. His down feathers show through. He does not have as good coordination or balance as my other pionus. Also he has a slight cough. These are the only symptoms I have noticed.
    He does not tail bob, open mouth breath, his droppings are normal (white, no smell, no whole seeds etc.), eating and drinking has not changed at all. No discharge of any kind from anywhere. Beak peeling is normal, does not sleep on the bottom of the cage. Not really that many symptoms and that is why I am confused.
    My other pionus is fine, she has not developed a cough, tremors or any of these issues. I give them two different types of pellets, a large parrot mix with whole nuts, iodine solution, vita sol, grit, fruits and veggies, I really don’t know what is wrong with him.
    Their cage is clean, water gets changed daily, do not have cold drafts, get direct sunlight everyday, get lots of sleep, they have toys, interaction.
    Please help my parrot.
    So the symptoms: bad balance, wing drooping, tremors on wings and chest, cough.

    • Jennifer
      Feather picking and other (anxiety) behavioral problems are uncommon in Pionus species, but not impossible.
      I think the best advice is to have him seen by your veterinarian and have a CBC checked. If he is ill his white cell count (WBC) will be high.
      While your are there it would be a good idea to have him tested for Psittacosis (just good medicine).
      Best of luck! Dr. J

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