Signs of Illness in Pet Birds: Top 5 symptoms of sickness in pet birds

Birds are masters at hiding illness, because of this many pet birds die without their owner realizing that their beloved pet was sick. This is a very sad but true fact.

I recently spoke to my friend Laura, I lovingly call her the “bird lady”. Whereas I plan to be the “crazy cat lady” on the block she plans to be the “crazy bird lady”, in all truthfulness we both love our pets very much and try to remain educated about our chosen pets. I picked Laura’s brain recently and she gave me her top 5 signs of illness in a bird to watch for, so in no particular order:

  • Squinty or almond shaped eyes – Healthy birds have clear, round eyes. If your bird’s eyes appear squinty or cloudy call your veterinarian. Also call your veterinarian if there is discharge from the bird’s eyes or nose or if the eyes appear swollen. These could be symptoms of a respiratory problem for your pet bird.
  • Not eating and weight loss – If you suspect your bird is not eating or has lost weight call your veterinarian immediately. Birds need a lot of nutrition and can lose weight rapidly if they stop eating. This is a sign of intestinal blockage or impaction and should be taken seriously.
  • Ruffled feathers – Birds like to stay clean and neat, if your pet birds feathers remain ruffled or are dirty then make an appointment to see a veterinarian. Ruffled feathers can also mask weight loss.
  • Changes in droppings – If you notice a change in quantity or color in your bird’s droppings contact your veterinarian. Bird droppings should never be bloody, yellow, tarry black, or rust colored. Healthy birds will have a lot of droppings; a sick bird may have few or have only liquid or white droppings.
  • Sitting at the bottom of the cage – A bird that won’t or can’t perch is serious. A bird with zero energy is in trouble, see your veterinarian immediately.

This is just a sampling of symptoms to look for in a sick bird but if your pet bird displays any of these signs it should see an avian veterinarian immediately. An avian veterinarian is someone who is experienced with birds. Many veterinarians will not see birds so call around until you find one. Transport your bird in a carrier that is draped with a towel to reduce stress, never carry your bird perched on your arm or shoulder, this maybe too stressful for the bird.