We all want to know when our bird is sick so we can help it to get better. Birds hide illness very well and many times by the time we notice something is amiss it is too late. In the wild parrots are prey animals and therefore hide their illness to prevent the flock from leaving them behind or praetors knowing they are weak. It is important for you and your bird to be established with an avian vet and have baseline lab results so in the event of illness there is something for your vet to compare values to. It is also important that you regularly weigh your bird, as weight loss can be one of the first symptoms of illness.
Signs of illness can include, but may not be limited to the following symptoms. Changes in activity can include not singing/talking, sleeping a lot or sitting on the bottom of the cage. Your bird may also have a change in appearance such as ruffled feathers, weakness, distended abdomen and eyes glazed over or closed more than usual. You may notice breathing problems such as noisy respirations, heavy breathing, nasal discharge or the tail bobbing up and down with respirations. Changes in the digestive system can include vomiting, diarrhea, and undigested food in stool or not eating. Musculoskeletal changes can include lameness, droopy wings or sitting low on the perch. Abnormalities in your bird’s eye can include swollen eye lids, crusted discharge, increased blinking, cloudiness or squinting. Your birds can also present symptoms such as flaking more than usual, overgrown beak, bleeding from the skin or growths appearing as bumps under the skin. You may also note changes on the feathers such as excessive, prolonged molting, broken feathers or deformed feathers. Neurological changes can also occur, such as seizures, falling off the perch, unsteady gait, sitting flat on the bottom of the cage by resting on its abdomen, head flopping to one side or inability to hold its head up and lack of coordination. You may also notice changes in your birds stool such as change in color, amount or frequency. If you notice symptoms of illness it is imperative that you get your bird to the vet immediately.
Things you can do to increase your awareness of symptoms of illness are to, weigh your bird weekly, weekly or twice weekly showers. Take note of how your bird appears each morning before removing it from the cage and be aware of any difference in appearance as well as how it is breathing and sitting. Check the amount of food eaten each day, you should also feed reasonable amounts of food rather than fill the bowl to the top so you can better monitor your bird’s intake. Pay attention to the appearance of your bird’s stool each morning. Taking these simple steps may very well save your birds life!