Bird and Exotic Pet Wellness Center

5166 Monroe St. Suite 306
Toledo, OH 43623


Bird Care Facts - Health Concerns for Birds


Since we love our feathered friends, we need to know when they are sick so that they can get medical care when necessary. By the time that they are obviously ill, sitting on the bottom of the cage, it may be difficult to treat them successfully. It is difficult to recognize signs of illness in companion birds because they often hide them. In the wild, obviously sick birds could be driven from the flock or be selected for attack by a predator. So, sick birds tend to disguise their illness until they are no longer able to do so. Despite the difficulty, early detection of subtle signs enhances treatment success.

  • Signs of Illness
  • Changes in general appearance and posture
  • Changes in the feathers
  • Changes in the appearance of the head
  • Dullness to the Eyes, eyes sunken into the skull, indicating dehydration
  • Swellings around the head, suggesting an upper respiratory tract infection or tumor
  • Nasal discharge resulting from an upper respiratory tract infection
  • Fluid, clear or purulent, above the nares or on the cranial margin of the carpus or the wrist on the wing
  • Rubbing the head or the bird “wiping its nose” to clear discharge or to relieve pressure exerted in the sinuses
  • Feather loss around any part of the head particularly the area around the nares or nostrils
  • Scratching at the nares or the side of the head frequently
  • Sneezing often, particularly with a discharge

Any of these signs and those listed below should be addressed with your avian veterinarian.

  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in droppings
  • Changes in eating/drinking/digestion
  • Changes in the legs, feet or beak
  • Increased size of an organ
  • Changes in breathing

    Serious Signs of Illness

    It is important to seek care quickly from your avian veterinarian when your bird exhibits these signs.

    • Eyes closed with long periods of sleepiness
    • Drooping wing or wings
    • Falling off the perch
    • Noticeable and noisy breathing
    • Vomiting/regurgitation
    • Bird remaining on the bottom of the cage
    • Frequent sneezing with or without a discharge
    • Discharge from the nostrils or nares, eyes, mouth or any other part of the body

          Other serious signs include:

          • Fluffed and ruffled feathers
          • Bird sitting horizontal posture on the perch
          • Any abnormal posture
          • Not vocalizing
          • Not eating or drinking
          • Tail bobbing with each breath
          • Bleeding
          • Soiled vent
          • Standing on only one leg
          • Open-mouthed breathing
          • Seizuring or any abnormal behavior


          Article Index

          Bird Care Facts - Gram Stains - Enrichment for Birds - Health Concerns for Birds - Understanding Psittacosis - Formulated Diets - All Pages