by Ingrid Hernandez
One concern many bird owners have is how to identify when their bird is sick. What should they watch out for?
The tricky thing about birds is that when they are sick they will often hide their clinical signs until they are very ill, to avoid looking weak to their prey. So recognizing and addressing signs of illness early on is essential.
A normal bird’s behavior is active, vocal and interested in its surroundings.
Some of the first signs a bird owner will notice when their bird is “not doing well” are lethargy, not eating, puffed up feathers, sleeping more, and sometimes diarrhea. These signs are very general and can indicate a number of possible illnesses. If you do identify one of more of the following changes contact your exotics veterinarian so they can perform additional testing.
1. Behavior changes
• A sick bird will be fluffed up, sitting in one spot, appear sleepy, be quieter than normal or screaming, want to be handled and petted more or not touched at all. Other changes in behavior or patterns, that as an owner you alone can notice, can also indicate illness.
2. Reduced appetite and weight loss
• A drop in weight can be an early indication of illness. A bird that has lost weight has a pointy/bony chest. Many birds will maintain their normal appetite despite being ill. However some sick birds will become selective with one food type or stop eating all together.
3. Atypical droppings
• Normal bird droppings have a dark solid portion (which can vary in color depending on the diet), a white part (which is the urate) and clear liquid. Any changes in consistency of the solid part, urate color or amount of fluid are cause for concern and should be investigated.
4. Ruffled Feathers
• Sick birds will often have ruffled feathers for long periods of time. Sometimes the ruffled feathers can mask the appearance of weight loss.
5. Changes in eyes or cere
• Check the eyes for any discharge or cloudiness. Pay attention to changes in the cere, such as redness, swelling or discharge.