How To Tell if Your Bird is Sick and How to Help Them Along

Loss of appetite

  • Loss of appetite: There are several signs that indicate your bird is not eating enough. First, listen for the sound of your bird chewing or swallowing their food. If you notice any rattling noises in the throat area, this could be a sign that an excessive amount of dry food has collected there and is preventing your feathered friend from swallowing properly. Second, regularly look inside the crop to see if it feels soft or empty. If it appears soft and is not shrinking in size as usual, make sure they are eating by offering them their favorite foods several times daily, but only small amounts at a time to prevent over-eating. If dry food is stuck in the crop and you have been unable to remove it with your finger, try using tweezers to carefully pull out pieces of hardened food one small bit at a time until all of it has been removed from the crop area. Note: Overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health issues such as fatty liver disease which is common in pet birds with uncontrolled access to an unlimited supply of high fat/high sugar foods like nuts or crackers.

Making a mess

If your bird is healthy, he will usually keep his cage clean. Birds are generally very clean creatures who do not like living in a mess. However, if you notice a lot of droppings on the bottom of the cage or on the floor around the cage, this can be a sign that your bird is sick.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Is there more than usual white urates around his crop?
  • Are the poop stains brown instead of green?
  • Is it very different from what their poop normally looks like? (The color and appearance of your bird’s poop may vary depending on the foods that he eats.)

Choosing to be alone

While birds are primarily social animals, much like people, sometimes they simply want to be left alone. Birds usually just want quiet times in their cages and you should respect that as it is their sanctuary. If your bird generally enjoys your company and suddenly seems uninterested in you, it could be a sign that something is wrong.

Consider the context: has anything changed about your routine (ie less time home due to work) or theirs (a new pet or person in the house)? These changes may stimulate the bird’s natural flight response and cause them to hide.

If your bird is young and just learning to speak, they may put all their energy into training and not have as much desire for socializing with you. It’s important not force contact on your bird if they aren’t feeling up to it as they may bite out of fear or discomfort.

It’s common for birds who are sick to isolate themselves because they don’t feel well enough to be in the presence of others – this could include human family members. Your feathered friend might also be stressed, afraid, or experiencing pain which all result in an avian desire for solitude.

Sitting listlessly in their cage

A healthy bird is an active bird. If your bird sits in a corner, on the bottom of the cage, or hunkered down with its head tucked under its wing where you can’t see its eyes, this is a sign something may be wrong. A sick bird will also be less active than it normally is.

A feather clipped bird (a wing clipped so that flight is not possible) may not fly like it normally does even when healthy. The wing clipping procedure should be done by a veterinarian to ensure that dangerous flying movement is not possible while keeping safe maneuvering capabilities available to the bird.

Not grooming as well

When you notice that your feathered friend is not grooming as well as they should be, the first thing to do is take a look at their feathers. If they are not tucking themselves in, their feathers may look disheveled or less healthy than normal. They will have a dull appearance and may appear worn or ruffled. The bird’s feathers may also be missing on their whole body or in patches. The feathers may appear sticky looking or crusted with dried blood or pus.

If you see these signs of feather disrepair, it’s time to take your bird to the veterinarian for a medical checkup and treatment plan

Avoiding physical contact

If your bird is avoiding touch and physical contact, it could be a sign that something’s wrong. Birds who are sick will often prefer to be alone, avoiding physical contact with their owners in order to avoid detection of their illness. Sometimes birds will just not be as friendly as usual when they’re feeling under the weather, so pay attention if you notice this change in behavior.

Moving slowly and having trouble flying

Perhaps you’ve noticed that for a few days your bird has seemed to be moving slowly and having trouble flying. Maybe it even seems like the issue may be getting worse. Naturally, this causes you some concern, but how can you tell if your bird is sick? How do you know if your bird is just going through molt, or has gotten old? Could they be overweight? Are they afraid of something?

There are also several illnesses or conditions that can cause weakness in flight or mobility. Your bird could have an infection like chlamydiosis which would likely require a trip to the vet and antibiotics. Your bird could also have a respiratory infection which would likely also require a trip to the vet and antibiotics. Other than illness, there are several other reasons why birds might suddenly have difficulty flying or moving around normally. The most common cause is that they’re molting (and replacing their feathers). Molting can make wings heavy, which means certain birds will temporarily find it hard to fly during this time. It’s actually quite normal for pet birds to lose some flight ability when molting because molting makes their wings heavier than usual and thus harder for them to fly well with at first. If you notice that your bird cannot fly very well right now it’s important not to panic because there are many possible explanations for this situation; they might simply need time as they get used to new feathers growing in (that will initially make them heavy). Just as people shed dead skin cells so too do birds shed old feathers while regrowing new ones; it’s totally natural and normal!

Having a lack of energy/acting lethargic

Birds are normally very active. They love to interact with family members, they like to sing and chirp, they move around their cage often and they fly all over the house when let out of their cage. They are generally full of energy. When a bird is not acting like this, the first thing you should do is take it to an Avian Veterinarian for a checkup. If nothing serious is found, you should make some adjustments in your bird’s environment and diet. These changes may improve some of your bird’s symptoms:

  • Keep them away from drafts
  • Provide more exercise opportunities (provide toys)
  • Provide toys that require your bird to work at figuring out how to get food or treats out of them (feeders/foraging devices)
  • Try feeding your bird more fresh foods
  • Decrease the amount of sunflower seeds and nuts in their diet as these can inhibit their ability to digest proteins properly

Puffed up feathers, especially on a cold day (this is normal)

The most common cause of this symptom is that your bird is attempting to keep warm. As the temperature drops, a bird fluffs up its feathers in order to trap as much body heat as possible, similar to the way humans bundle up in layers when it’s cold outside. If you observe this type of behavior only on particularly chilly days, there isn’t anything to be concerned about. However, if your bird seems constantly puffed up, even on hot days, then there could be an underlying problem (we’ll get into those next). A quick solution is to simply move your feathered friend’s cage into a warmer room until he or she adjusts their body temperature. If you’re afraid they might catch a chill while they’re out of the cage and exploring in other rooms of the house, consider buying them one of those vests made for dogs and cats. To help prevent them from getting too cold in the first place, keep their cage away from drafts and add extra bedding for insulation if needed.

Rufous feathers

The first sign of illness is often ruffled feathers (although it’s not uncommon for birds to have ruffled feathers when they wake up). The feathers are typically puffed up around the head, neck and body. Other signs that your bird is ill include sitting at or near the top of the cage, a loss of appetite, droopy wings, an erect tail or closed eyes. If you see any of these signs in your bird, call a vet. You should also double check what might be causing this behavior by making sure there’s no change in temperature in their surroundings or if they’re acting differently because someone new came into the house (babies and small children can be noisy and loud for pets).

Sneezing, discharge from nose or eyes, coughing, or other respiratory symptoms (birds don’t typically have runny noses or watery eyes)

Sneezing, discharge from nose or eyes, coughing, or other respiratory symptoms (birds don’t typically have runny noses or watery eyes)

If your bird is sneezing, sniffling, or has a teary eye, this could mean that he is suffering from an infection. Respiratory diseases are common in pet birds and can be caused by various infections. Birds may also have swollen facial tissue from sinus infections. Don’t be surprised if your bird’s droppings are loose during a respiratory infection as well. It’s important to take your pet bird to the vet for any abnormal breathing sounds to rule out serious conditions like tumors or heart disease. Treatment will likely include antibiotics specific to the type of bacteria causing the illness

Birds can show us when they are sick in subtle ways.

Because birds are prey animals, they have a natural instinct to hide from predators by appearing healthy at all times. This means you may not always see obvious signs of illness, but that doesn’t mean your bird is perfectly healthy. You should be aware of your bird’s normal behaviors and habits so you can recognize when something is wrong quickly. If you notice any change in behavior or appearance, even if it seems minor, call your vet immediately. Birds may hide the fact they are sick at first, but if ignored will get progressively more ill until they cannot recover. Often pets with fatal illnesses show no symptoms until they are very sick and it’s too late.

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