“Article by Victoria Ballard”

When humans are ill, it seems our nature to let others know. When our feathered friends get sick, their natural instinct is to hide the fact. Predators in the wild quickly pick up signs of weakness. Evidence of sickness is cautiously concealed until the bird is physically unable to do so. To you and me, an illness which has been festering for days, weeks, or even months seems to suddenly appear. Often, by this time, it is too late.

Responsible bird owners need to educate themselves on how to recognize signs of trouble. Most symptoms of illness which birds display can already be classified as acute (usually during the first few days of illness) or chronic (the bird has been sick for 5 days or more). Very early signs of illness in a bird are very subtle and difficult to detect.

If any of the following symptoms are noticed in your pet bird, it is time for a visit to a veterinarian with avian experience:

  1. Squinting appearance to the eye instead of full eye ring
  2. Constant shaking or vibrating as if shivering to the bone
  3. Abnormal respiration or sounding likes breathing through a straw, or clicking
  4. Tail bobbing as if having trouble breathing
  5. Trouble perching
  6. Reluctance to feed or change in feeding habits
  7. Drinking more water than usual
  8. Discharge from nostrils
  9. Weight loss (know your bird’s normal weight)
  10. Inactivity or no preening activity
  11. Eyes closed most of the time or sleeping at unusual times
  12. Unusual aggression or behavior changes (such as vocalization stops or Unusual tameness in a usually aggressive bird)
  13. Frequent sneezing
  14. Color change of feet or beak
  15. Unusual screaming or vocalization
  16. Vent soiled or pasted with droppings
  17. Bleeding anywhere
  18. Visual protrusion from vent
  19. Feathers lost in unusual amounts or lost and not replaced
  20. Swelling anywhere on bird
  21. Self mutilation of feathers or body
  22. Regression to infantile behavior
  23. Bird preferring to be on bottom of cage
  24. Excessive or too long molt
  25. Stress marks or dark barring on feathers or change in feather color
  26. Unusual smell on bird
  27. Frequent flicking of the head or head movements such as twitching
  28. Running around in a circle with head to one side
  29. Dis-colored or runny droppings – decrease or increase in number of droppings
  30. Any change on beak
  31. Lameness
  32. Bird stretched out supporting self-hanging on cage side
  33. Debris in mouth
  34. Sitting constantly fluffed (not to be confused with periodically fluffing out)

Remember that you are in the best position to recognize changes in your pet!

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