Poorly Bird

MINOR AILMENTS, Illnesses + Injuries
+ Tips to help keep your Birds Fit and Healthy 

We have Avian Vet - Vikki Temple of Millcroft Vets Cumbria, as a Hon Member of the Club. 
She is only too willing to help and advise if any of you have any problems.
Email if you'd like any help or advice.

We also have a wealth of Bird-keepers who keep and breed most species of Birds and  can advise
on Bird management/breeding problems - so get in touch if you need Help - we are here for you!

Click on Links

●  Aspergillosis

●  Air Sac Mites

Symptoms of Vet A Deficiency

●  Vet's Tip 

How to stop Bleeding

●  Budgies (Calcium Overdose)

●  Budgies need Iodine

●  Bumblefoot
Calcium deficiency- A. Greys
Colloidal Silver
●  Corn-on-cob substrate problems
●  Crop-tube sizes

●  How to insert a Crop Tube

●  Meds/Feed via Crop tube

●  Crop Impaction

●  Crop Impaction + problems

●  Cutting your Birds Claws
●  Trimming Overgrown Beak
●  Dead in Shell (D.I.S.)
 + Early "Infant  "Mortality
●  Wet or loose droppings   
●  E-COLI - Bacterial infection

Signs of Egg-bound hen

● Egg-binding in Pet Birds

●  Feathers showing "stress" marks (photos)
●  Feather Mites
●  Gapeworm symptoms
●  Giardia (the Parasite that can cause Feather Plucking)
●  GOITRE - Thyroid Deficiency- Swollen Neck
●  Make-shift Hospital Cage
●  Intradene
●  Links to useful Websites
●  How a Birds Mouth differs from a Humans
Poisonous plants/Household products
●  Psittacosis (Ornithosis)

●  Red Mite  (the basics)

●  RED MITE (in depth)

●  Scaly Face (mites)
Splayed legs in Chicks
●  Ticks

Zinc Poisoning  

Zinc & Lead Poisoning
in depth
● Useful Link to List of Ailments + Treatments
(Avian Tuberculosis)
Common Canary/Finch Symptoms/Treatment Chart

●  How to Neutralize Zinc mesh 

































































































































































































































































































































































Pop+Perky.collar..sml.jpg (47725 bytes)

Petra.prolapse.jpg (9964 bytes)

Kaki.poorly.foot.sml.jpg (28051 bytes)

This bird had a minor injury to it's Keel" (breastbone). Which must have started to itch as it was healing. She started to chew the area, so the collar was put on to stop her chewing and help the injury heal faster.
This it eventually did - once the 'itch-chew'
cycle was broken!






This poor budgie ended up with this awful prolapse after straining to lay an egg. The owner was wrongly advised to give a Calcium supplement when Breeding!
They get what they need from Cuttlefish and Grit - they take what they need when they need it.
- you can overdose with disastrous results!!!

under the microscope.
I have created an
in-depth page on


Red Mite










This poor bird got it's foot caught in a "V" of a narrow Branch.  When found, it was hanging upside down in great distress. Caged + Bathed + Anti -Biotic dressing. Sadly, it lost it's foot eventually, as the circulation had been cut off for too long but continued to be a prolific Breeder.



This Photo was sent in by an Owner who was at a loss as to what had caused the problems with this Finch's crusty Feet.  Our members suggested poss. "SCALY FOOT" or a fungal infection and recommended Ivermectin Spot-on and soaking in a warm Vaseline solution to sooth feet and suffocate any mites.



Please also note that all the information on this website is provided
 in good faith but the Webmaster cannot
be responsible for any mis-information wheresoever or howsoever provided.  All opinions, suggestions and
Advice are also given with all good intentions and in good faith but if in doubt  should be verified as to their validity  prior to accepting./implementing.
 Any Medical Advice should never take the place of consulting with your own Avian Vet.


  • Once you see a bird looking poorly you can guarantee it is already VERY POORLY,  as in the wild they have to hide any signs of illness for as long as they can to prevent predators attacking them. 

  • Their metabolic rate is so much faster than a mammal's, this also means they go downhill
    a lot faster.

  • A chick in its embryo stage inside an egg has a heartbeat of 240+/-  b.p.m.  as opposed
    to a human who's heartbeat is 60 - 80 b.p.m. 

  • The birds' rapid heartbeat also helps to keep the bird warm but it also means that it has
    to constantly re-fuel with food to keep it's metabolic rate up and running healthily.

Signs to Watch for :

  • Bird sitting looking fluffed and/or shivery

    • this shows the bird is finding it difficult to keep warm and has fluffed its feathers out to try and keep warm.

    • When the bird is like this it doesn't tend to eat and drink freely.

    • If it's feeling cold it's digestive system is slowed down, so that anything it does take on board doesn't pass thru the digestive tract at the normal pace and you then get digestive disorders.

    • YOU MUST WARM THE BIRD UP - Hospital cage/Brooder/Garden Propagator/Heat Lamp  to a temp of : 29.5 - 32.5⁰C (85-90⁰F)

    • Don't forget to keep the air slightly humid - put water in with the bird

      • a) becos it def needs to drink

      • b) to give moisture into the atmosphere to keep the breathing easier.

      •                                               ^Top

Obvious changes in behaviour

  • i.e. quieter than normal

  • lack of interest in surroundings

  • lack or loss of interest in food (esp. when usually feeds well).

  • won't or reluctant to take favourite treats (esp. in case of tame birds)

  • Do make sure it is drinking - essential!

  • Lethargic - esp. when usually full of life

  • Not alert

Sleeping on 2 feet (esp. when head tucked under wing) instead of resting on one foot.

Resting on one foot is NORMAL - sleeping on 2 feet IS NOT!

  • Not perching in usual place in Cage or Aviary

  • Sitting on floor of cage/Aviary

    • In a hen bird this could be a sign of Egg-binding, as they lose the ability to balance on a perch.

    • Zinc or other heavy metal poisoning could also find the poorly bird on the floor.

  • Loss or change in voice

  • Difficulty in breathing

    • Either gasping for breath

      • Check Gapeworm - as well as other causes.

    • or Tail bobbing - which is diagnostic of Breathing problems i.e. lungs

  • Disinterest in surroundings

  • Eyes - look dull / droopy / ˝ open or lemon-shaped rather than round, bright, wide-open and alert

  • Loss of weight - the breast-bone should be well covered with flesh and not like a chicken-breast!

  • Wings droopy and not held tightly against sides - unless they have old injury which would explain this.

  • Dirty under tail esp. if with moist droppings/stains.

  • Abnormal discharge from eyes, nose, mouth, ears or vent-area.


- could be Heavy Metal Poisoning or other Poisoning (slimy-type of vomit)

  • Do not mistake regurgitating food to feed a mate or babies with Vomiting

    • This is very normal and the bird will look healthy and alert while it does this.

Change in droppings - colour or consistency unless Diet would effect the colour 

  • i.e. orange if fed carrots - this is normal.

  • If the droppings smell sour - they shouldn't - this suggests digestive upset.

  • Bright green droppings could denote heavy metal poisoning i.e. Zinc or lead.

    • Be very careful with new mesh - paint with vinegar and water to neutralise the zinc

    • Also, a recent case taken to the Vet was a B&G Macaw with heavy metal poisoning symptoms.

      • The owner had recently painted it's cage with "Metal paint" - they'd read the tin first to double check there was no Lead in the contents - however neglected to see "Zinc" in the small print

Condition of feathers speaks volumes about a birds' health

  • The saying "Water off a Duck's back" is a good analogy - i.e. if your bird was sprayed with water or got wet under the rain - would it's feathers look as if they were absorbing the water or would they look as tho the feathers were oiled and the water rolled off in globules?

  • It goes without saying that healthy feathers are Sleek and glossy and will repel water and moisture - like a "Duck's back"!

  • Dry, broken, plucked or tatty feathers, that seem to absorb the moisture - show signs of stress or poor diet and therefore poor health.

  • You can find "stress lines" on a birds' feathers that has been either stressed or in poor health for a while.

Plucking sometime accompanied by Screaming

  • This could be caused by Giardia >  (Panacur Wormer is the treatment)  which makes the bird itchy and they pull feathers a bit like you or I would scratch if we had a really itchy skin - the screaming is like us scratching until we bleed with pain.  or it could just be that the bird is unhappy of stressed or in an unhealthy environment i.e. in a smokers' house

  • Here the bird could pluck and scream cos it hurts when it pulls it's feather out.

Mycobacterium, avian tuberculosis Principally weight loss accompanied by either diarrhoea or shortness of breath. Usually Gouldians affected Microscopic examination of droppings following special staining may be suggestive of problem. Biopsy of suspect lesion Autopsy, pathology Medication available for individual birds of value. Infected birds often euthanised. Long-term quarantine



ZINC POISONING (Click for more "in Depth" descriptions/treatment)

  • Someone I knew had a poorly bird, a couple of years ago, that they thought had been chewing the zinc mesh on it’s Aviary and had possibly ingested some. 

  • They went onto the Internet to research Zinc Poisoning and learned that the 

  • Symptoms are: excessive urine (the white part) in the poop (Polyuria), gastrointestinal problems, Polydipsia (drinking a lot), weight loss, weakness, anaemia, seizures and even feather plucking! 

  • You must be very careful with new mesh, 

  • esp. if it is of cheaper quality and has little globs of zinc in the corners of the mesh, 

  • which inquisitive beaks can (and will) bite off and poss. ingest. 

  • Obviously, the first thing you do is take your bird to the Vet  a.s.a.p. and they will take a blood test to confirm that it is heavy metal poisoning and then they will administer a Chelating agent which adheres to the H.M. and then it can be safely passed out of the body (usually via the urine).

    • - which they did and it is now fine - and apparently did breed last year. 

  • But you can also take the preventative measure of helping to neutralise the effect of new zinc by putting some vinegar into a bowl and painting it onto both sides of the mesh with a paintbrush. Lemon Juice also works , as they are both acidic 


 : is sulphur based and made up with 3ml to a litre of water it helps prevent birds/chicks going “light”. 

VET's Tip : Intradene is an antibiotic but also effective against Coccidiosis

                  (probably why it is used a lot when birds going light)

Also, using a proprietary pro-biotic in the water once or twice per week helps to populate the birds digestive system with healthy bacteria.

(A bit like a human drinking Actimel).  
(Click ►
www.birdcareco.com for a range of Supplements)


  • If you keep smaller birds i.e. Budgies / Canaries / Parakeets / Finches and you spot one fluffed up and don’t have a Hospital Cage. As you know, the first thing a poorly bird needs is Warmth and the sooner the better!  You can use a Gardeners’ “Seed Propagator.” You can get a smaller 12 watt one or a bigger 22 watt version for a fraction of the cost of a Hospital Cage.  Line them with Newspaper or Magazines, (minus the Staples from the middle), then you can just roll the top sheet of paper up each day to keep the base clean or, as in the photo you can use Easibed. Then jam a piece of wooden Dowel diagonally, so the bird can “perch” just up off the floor. They have sliding Ventilation holes in the top of the Perspex Lids. You can buy them from B & Q or Focus etc.                          

  • The Picture above shows a Budgie in a 22w Seed Propagator - a thin layer of "Easibed" to absorb droppings - not so deep that the heat  ▲
    can't get thru the base.  A length of rounded doweling with flat base to perch up off the floor. Vents in the top to allow stale air to escape.


IMPORTANT INFO. ON PERCHES (to help prevent Bumblefoot)

  • Your parrot will spend most of it's life perched on her feet. Providing safe and comfortable perches is paramount to good foot health. Not only does a properly sized perch keep your parrots' foot muscles in good condition, it can also prevent problems such as Arthritic feet or “Bumble Foot” -

    • (an inflammatory or degenerative condition of the foot. In mild cases, redness or swelling on the plantar (bottom) surface of the foot, while severe Bumble Foot involves deep-seated abscesses and infection of the bone.

    • (Urgent Treatment / Anti-biotics from Vet reqd). 

There are numerous styles of perches to choose from including natural wood, plastic, acrylic, dowel style, and “Conditioning” (concrete/sandy).

The diameter is the most important thing to consider.

Your birds' feet should rest round the top half rather than wrap completely around the perch.

Perches that have a variable, uneven diameter and surface, such as natural wood,

  • (i.e. clean, non-poisonous tree branches—fruit tree /
    Elder / Willow etc.) allow your parrot to choose the most comfortable spot to rest.

  • They encourage safe chewing, as well as helping to exercise it's feet and improve foot strength and dexterity.

  • Just using smooth Dowel Rods of all the same diameter (usually too narrow) contributes to the onset of medical conditions, as mentioned above.

  • Keeping the Perches clean and free of caked droppings is also essential.

Don’t forget Caged birds will also appreciate appropriately-sized, clean branches, instead of dowel rods, to help their feet and encourage safe chewing but not so they clutter the cage—they must still have plenty of room to move / fly about.  

Sandpaper sleeves you can buy in pet shops to cover Caged Birds perches can be quite damaging to a birds' foot. 

  • They are meant to keep the nails trimmed and the perch clean but in fact they serve to irritate and abrade the bottom of the foot. 

  • (Imagine if you had to stand barefoot on a sandpaper-covered pole and keep your balance - you'd soon have sore feet!!)

  • The ridged plastic perches which tend to come in most cages, when you first buy them, are not much better.    


  • As a breed, can suffer from a deficiency in Calcium & Vet A. 

    • (see page on A. Greys for more in depth info).

    • Lack of calcium effects bony growth and egg production

    • Lack of Vet. A effects the respiratory system

  • They do need a Calcium-rich diet or supplementation

    • (i.e.. Calcivet or a good Vet/mineral supplement, which is high in Calcium and Vet A.) fed in soft food or water. - follow the directions on the package religiously, as over-dosing is sometimes worse and more dangerous than the deficiency you are trying
      to rectify!!

    • (Depending on how much your A. Grey drinks) Carrots are high in natural Vit A.     

    Be very aware on over-supplementation esp. of Vet A. as this is a "Fat-absorbed" vitamin and is stored in the body rather than B vitamins which are "Water absorbed"

    • B vitamins and have to be replenished on a daily basis as they pass through the body and out.

    • Because Vitamin A is stored in the body, if you give too much in extra supplementation then it is stored in the liver and can be toxic to the body


  • XMAS Poinsettia  

  • WINTER CHERRY - with it’s orange-red berries-can be deadly if eaten by parrot-like birds. 

  • Chocolate

  • AVOCADOS (deadly to most birds) 



  • AEROSOLS  any and all (Polish and Air Fresheners etc.)

    • (a birds' lungs are not the same as ours and can't tolerate any type of aerosol being sprayed anywhere near them!

  • PLUG-IN Room fragrances - once again lethal to birds

  • VAPONA Fly repellents (the ones you hang with the yellow insides)

  • Cigarette SMOKE


  • ANY BULBOUS PLANT -  Hyacinths and daffodils

Fumes off TEFLON (non-stick coated) Cookware can KILL

  • your bird in a very short time after exposure!  

  • Once the pans are heated they give off LETHAL FUMES which can permeate the house - 

  • So keep the Kitchen Door SHUT if you are using Non-stick pans, esp. Frying Pans 

  • NEVER have your Bird in or near the Kitchen, esp.  when you are cooking.  

Be wary of FROSTY Weather —  NEVER let a bird eat frosted Fruit or Veg

I have created a more in-depth page on Red-Mites - CLICK HERE

  • **Red-mite live in small cracks and crevices of Aviaries, cages and Nest boxes and only come out to feed
    at night-time.  

  • You rarely see them during daylight, so you are often unaware you have a problem. They can reek havoc on a
    nest of chicks.  

  • They are called red-mite 'cos they suck the blood, which turns them red.

  • If you suspect you may have mites in your Bird Aviary, place a bunched up white handkerchief on top of the
    cage at night. 

  • Mites come out to feed at night and then retreat to dark crevices at daylight.

  •  In the morning, carefully unfold the handkerchief and look for the mites. 

  • They will appear as small black or red MOVING dots on the fabric.

  • To keep Red Mite out of your Nests/Nest Boxes/Aviaries - You can make your own spray by adding 20 drops
    of Eucalyptus natural Oil and 20 drops of Tea Tree (both can be bought from Health Shops or Chemists)  into 250ml of warm water in a (clean) spray bottle then spray your nests/boxes etc. before you put the bedding in.    (DO NOT SPRAY if EGGS in the Nests) .

  • The Tea Tree is a Natural Antiseptic, as is the Eucalyptus which also has the added advantage of being good for the birds’ breathing and an effective germicidal and anti-bacterial.    

  • Another important point to note re: Budgies is that they can be overdosed with Calcium, they don't seem to need the same extra  supplementation that other Birds do.  So, be aware of this at Breeding Time, if you are using a Calcium Supplement (i.e. Calcivet) for your other Birds. 

  • Over-dosing can be just as bad as a deficiency and creates it's own problems.  

  • However, BUDGIES DO NEED IODINE in their diets.

  • So putting an Iodised Block (the Pink cubes you can buy at Bird Sales) in with them gives them free access to use it, as and when they feel the need. (see Goitre Below)

    Vet's Tip:  

  • Budgies - 

  • I've always been advised to feed Trill as only diet with iodine already in it. I've certainly seen budgies with iodine deficiency when only fed pink iodine blocks.


  • Goitre (or enlargement of the thyroid gland)

  • This can be a problem in adult budgerigars.

  • In pet budgerigars the result of lack of iodine in the diet  is a common cause.

  • Feeding a nutritionally complete diet will prevent this.

  • Sluggishness, and laboured breathing accompanied by a high squeaky voice

    • (this is because the thyroid gland enlarges and presses on the voice box.) are the symptoms.

Goitre can be treated, so contact your veterinarian if your bird exhibits these symptoms.

www.birdcareco.com  for a range of Feed Supplements

One of our members recommended the above website, which they find very useful and will send you regular newsletters and can help with Avian medicine advice.  


Wet or loose Droppings (Diarrhoea)

You can get loose, wet droppings for all sorts of reasons:-

  • Too much wet, green food. (lettuce can often be a culprit if fed in large quantities).

  • Wild foods that have maybe been contaminated with weed sprays, dogs droppings etc.,

  • Bacterial infection. (Salmonella etc.)

  • Food poisoning

  • Chills or colds (often during damp, wet, windy cold, weather) 

  • Digestive upsets for multiple reasons inc. mouldy food

  • Pregnant Hens (normal) Their droppings are copious, in quantity and loose.

  • Egg-bound Hen (see above)

  • Any toxins (irritants/poisons - inc. "poisonous" plants etc. including those that may be growing near enough to the Aviary, so that the bird has access thru the mesh) that have disagreed with the birds' digestive system

  • Chewing Aviary panels that may have something on them that disagrees with the bird.

  • Chewing Aviary Mesh - Zinc poisoning (see above)

  • Frosted Fruit or Veg.


Diarrhoea is nature's way of ridding the body of something the digestive system isn't happy with. 
The droppings can be lots of different colours, which can denote, in many cases, what has caused the diarrhoea. (If it's really bad and you are worried - consult an Avian Vet
- Don't delay, as one days' illness in a bird is equal to 7 days in a human).  

  • Treating diarrhoea is not as easy as it sounds

    • esp. if it's bacterial problem, as Anti-biotics often cause more problems than they help fix.

  • Anti-biotics kill off bad bacteria which may be causing the problem but also kill off the good bacteria essential for the bird to digest it's food

    These bacteria have already been compromised by the bacterial infection and are now further destroyed by the Anti-biotics

    So, you really do need a vet's advice and help on this one.

    You can end up with dehydration and a depleted population of good bacteria in the birds digestive tracts which can cause major problems.

Abnormal droppings

  • A healthy budgerigar's droppings are firm and black (with a small white component - the urates).

  • If the droppings become green, the budgerigar has diarrhoea, which may be caused by eating too much green food.

    • Or it could be the sign of a bacterial infection.

    • Esp. if the droppings are sloppy or slimy.

  • In that case, stop feeding greens immediately and the droppings should return to normal after 24 hours.

    • If you have not been feeding greens, or the symptoms do not disappear after 24 hours,

    •  it is likely that your budgerigar has a more serious problem and you should seek veterinary advice immediately

  • Other abnormal dropping colours to look for are yellow, grey, red, all black or all white.

    • Completely white droppings indicate the bird has been starved for a period of time

      • the white is just urates (your bird's urine) with no faeces i.e. denoting food has not passed thru the system.

    • If this occurs check that your bird has had enough seed/food and that it has actually been eating it.

  • Yellow urates denote a problem with the Liver i.e. toxins

  • Red is shows blood is mixed with the urates - could be a potential problem


  • Remember birds won't show they are ill until they are really ill.  It's their way of protecting themselves in the Wild, when predators would pick off any bird that looked different to the rest + other birds would pick on them.

  • The last thing you really want to use to treat diarrhoea are Anti-biotics, as the guts' natural Good Bacteria is already compromised and using Anti-B's kills off bacteria - both good and bad. 

  • The best thing you can do if the bird appears unwell, as well as having loose droppings, is to keep it warm

  • When a bird is off colour, for whatever reason, it feels cold, that's why it sits fluffed-up.

  • The very act of sitting means it isn't keeping warm by flying around. 

  • It's usually off it's food too. 

  • It also will rest (usually with head under wing) with BOTH FEET on the Floor/perch

    • A Healthy bird rests HOLDING ONE FOOT UP UNDER ITSELF!

  • Once you have it in the hospital cage, make sure the atmosphere is not too dry,

  • (have a shallow bowl of water in the cage)  as the bird has lost body fluids in the diarrhoea, and will be prone to dehydration esp. if the atmosphere is too dry and it's not eating or drinking.

  • On the hospital cage floor, use layers of paper which are easily rolled up and disposed of, as they get soiled  or "Easibed"  which will absorb the droppings, so that the bird is not paddling around or sitting in them and the atmosphere isn't contaminated with them.

  • Offer tempting foods (depending on the bird species) - nothing sloppy - no fruit/veg at the moment. 
    Poss.  EMP egg food, lightly dampened with boiled, drained Sweetcorn. 

  • You can add a sprinkle of Electrolyte/Pro-biotic to this. 

  • Millet Sprays are taken by most birds and are easy to digest.

  • Putting a pro-biotic into the birds' drinking water (check the tub for quantities).

    • This helps replace lost body fluids + essential sugars, salts & minerals that the body needs to survive.  

  • It's like an electrolyte that athletes use after sweating a lot, to replace the body's essential fluids, that have been sweated out.  It also has the effects of Actimel, which replenishes the good bacteria in the digestive system.  

  • The Good bacteria are necessary to digest the food that the bird eats. 

    • Bad Bacteria kill off the good bacteria and the food doesn't get digested properly and starts to ferment (then you get Hubble, bubble, boil and trouble syndrome in the guts!) - hence the digestive upset.

  •  You could also add a little glucose to the water which will help encourage the bird to sample the drink and will also act as a food source.

  • Encourage the bird to drink.  If, and only if you are proficient in feeding a bird via a crop tube or feeding syringe,  should you dissolve some pro-biotic in warm water and feed it straight into the birds' crop. 

    • If you are not proficient, please don't even try!!  

  • You could try and tempt the bird with some of the above solution off a bent funnel spoon.  Don't tip it into the beak (keep the spoon horizontal or even tipped up bank and let the bird take it very slowly, becos. if you force it into the beak then the bird could aspirate

    • (i.e. choke becos the fluid goes into the lungs instead of into the gullet and then down into the crop).

  • There is a very fine line for error when feeding the bird via the beak, as the bird has to physically to shut off the access to it's trachea (windpipe) when it's feeding and drinking. 

  • If it's stressed becos it's ill and/or you are trying to get it to take liquids then, in it's panic, it could breathe the liquid in or the "shutting-off" process doesn't happen.

  • Either way the fluid could go into the lungs - or come out of the bird's nostrils. 

  • Neither of which is ever a good thing and can in some instances Kill the bird!!

  • If the bird has had digestive problems over a few days then squashy droppings can accumulate and clog the vent area. 

  • This can create it's own problems, as the bird then has difficulty in passing any more
    droppings, as the vent becomes blocked! 

  • This in itself can put a bird off eating, as it's digestive system becomes back-logged and has no outlet!

  • You must then catch the bird up and GENTLY soak the area with warm water

    • (never hotter than your blood heat - test the temp on your wrist first - it must not feel hot or too cool). 

    • Use a wadge of cotton wool and keep irrigating the clotted mass of droppings until they are soft enough to remove - never force them off as you can rip the skin and feathers off the birds' vent area.  

  • Once you have removed the droppings, thoroughly dry the vent area. 

  • Then apply Vaseline, olive oil or anything you would put on a baby's bottom for nappy rash.

  • This helps prevent droppings sticking in future and also soothes the area.  

  • Keep the bird warm until it dries out.

Loss of appetite

  • A bird may lose his appetite for many different reasons.

  • If your bird stops eating, you must treat it as an emergency because a budgerigar cannot survive without food for very long.

  • Droppings that are just white - denoting just urine and no faeces show the lack of food in the diet.

  • Lack of or sparse droppings show the bird is poss. not eating or drinking or doing so very little.

  • Birds may become seriously ill after only 24 hours without food.

  • Check for seed husks building up in the feed bowl from time to time during the day,

    • or watch that it is eating regularly, if you are concerned.

    • A healthy bird eats small quantities of seed at regular intervals.

NOTE: Sometimes birds can stop eating if they are given a sudden change of diet.

  • If you decide to change your birds diet, you must do so gradually.

  • Add the new seed mixture to the old in increasing quantities over a period of at least seven days.

  • The healthy bacteria that is in the gut to help digest the seed/food may not digest the new seed/food if it is very different to what the bird is used to eating and needs time to develop new healthy bacteria to digest the seeds/food properly

  • So the best way is to offer small quantities of the new seed/foods alongside the food your bird is used to eating.

  • This should help prevent digestive upset.

  • Adding a good Pro-biotic to the birds' water 2-3 times per week helps populate the gut with healthy bacteria.

Scaly Face (in budgies)  

  • Scaly face is an unsightly condition which effects mainly budgies, although. Kakis can also be prone to the condition, as can other parrots.

  • It can cause permanent malformation of the beak if not treated fairly immediately after being recognised.

  • Scaly face is cause by Scaly Mites, which can be seen under a microscope. 

    • They burrow into the Cere (the fleshy part above the beak) of the Budgie. 

  • The mites create snail-like tracks above the beak, which soon spreads to create coral-like encrustations around the side of the beak.

  • Scaly face is highly contagious (i.e. spread by contact). 

  • The mites can be passed onto other birds in the same cage/Aviary esp. amongst Budgies, who spend a lot of time feeding each other beak to beak and wiping their beaks on communal perches.


  • You can either get a proprietary treatment for Scaly Face from a  Pet Shop.

  • Smear the affected areas with Vaseline. (Petroleum jelly)

    • This kills the mites by blocking off their breathing tubes. 

  • Continue treatment for a few days after obvious signs of infection have disappeared

  • Get some PANOMEC (an Ivermectin-based solution) 

    • or IVERMECTIN 1% Spot-on (same as above)

  • Check out info on Panomec above for instructions on how to use, as it's systemic

    i.e. absorbed thru the skin (inc. yours as well - wear rubber gloves b4 use)!

    NB: Ivermectin is highly TOXIC to both cats and dogs - so make sure you never use any products containing this on them.  Also make sure you don't leave empty packages/containers  around that have contained Ivermectin - so they can't chew them.



  • If you have a good selection of branches and perches for your birds their claws should not become over-long. 

  • Pet Birds can benefit from man-made perches designed to help kept their claws trimmed - not to the exclusion of natural branches/perches.

  • These Man-made perches can be rough and irritate the bottom of the bird's feet and make them sore, if that's all they have to perch on. (they can even cause "Bumble Foot")

  • However, inevitably some birds end up with over-long claws that can effect their balance and even curl right round and back into their feet!

  • To cut a small birds claws, esp. those that are pale coloured is not a problem.

    Catch the bird up gently and hold it in a towel to stop it struggling.

    It's best if there are 2 of you - one to hold the bird and one to concentrate on cutting the claws.

    You ideally need nail clippers, (the ones used to clip Dogs toenails are ideal) rather than scissors and a bright light/torch.

    Hold the foot up to the light and look for the vein that runs 1/2 way down the claw.

    You can cut the claw just below the Vein.

    If you cut the vein by accident - have some flour, cornflour, un-perfumed talc or powdered anti-biotic powder to hand.  

    Dip the end of the bleeding claw into the powder - it forms an effective seal to stop the bleeding and aid the healing.

    If it is a bigger bird with a dark-coloured claw and you can't see the vein - you are much safer just clipping off just the very end of the claw and not taking much length away unless, of course, the claws are very long!  Better to be safe than sorry!

    Just remember that birds need the pointed end to their claws to help them grip onto perches/branches..

    So, if it's just that their claws are sharp and not necessarily too long but their claws are sticking in you when you let them perch on your hands etc., you are really not doing them any favours if you clip them , just yourself!

Cutting a birds' Beak

  • Sometimes a bird has an overgrown top or bottom beak.

  • The usual cause is a deformity they have been born with - similar to an undershot jaw
    or "Buck teeth" in a human.

  • This prevents the beak from wearing down in a normal manner, as the top and bottom
    beak don't meet correctly, as they should.

  • With a normal beak the bird keeps it naturally trimmed while it's grinding it's seed.

  • The beak grows continuously, so if the beak is out of line you can end up with the top or bottom over-growing which can become a serious problem in some cases.

    • Sometimes, it can be the after effects of an injury i.e. a bird climbing on the mesh
      of it's Aviary (esp. if it's only single-meshed - a good argument for making sure you have double-meshed adjoining Aviaries esp. for those breeds of bird that are protective over their Aviaries and Nest Sites.  (at least 1" gap but pref. "2).

  • In most case it is advisable to take the bird (on a regular basis) to your Avian Vet to get them to safely trim the excess.

  • However, if you do decide to  Trim the beak yourself be aware that, as with the birds' nails - there is a blood supply in the beak and you have to be very careful not to cut or grind too much off, as then you can end up with profuse bleeding.

  • As with nails, you will either need a pair of Nail Clippers - those used to trim dog's nails are ideal, as they have a leverage effect to give you extra strength.

    • I would discourage you from trying to use a pair of scissors, as they may not be
      sharp or strong enough and you could cause distress and discomfort to your bird.

  • You could also use a "Dremil" mini grinder that will take the excess beak off in a more controlled manner - this can also be used for bigger birds' nails, which are thicker and harder to cut that smaller breeds.

  • Don't forget to keep your bird quiet by wrapping it in a towel and having someone hold the bird very still in a calm manner, while you trim the excess.


Vet's Tip:  

  • I tend to advise using flour / cornflour in an emergency to stop bleeding.

  • Damaged blood feathers are best pulled out if flour doesn't stop them bleeding 

  • but best to see a vet within 24hrs as it is a common trigger for feather-plucking. 

    • I've seen 2 Feather-plucking birds which definitely started as blood feather injuries 

    • They usually need a painkiller. 

    • Obviously, blood feathers shouldn't be pulled out willy-nilly as this can damage re-growth.


(A contagious Fungal infection found inside the birds mouth/beak)

  • If your bird is having difficulty or seems uncomfortable eating and drinking :

    • If you look in the bird's beak and can see white lesions on the roof of his mouth

    • or white swellings 

    • These can be caused by a fungal infection 

    • which is usually caused by the fungus "Aspergillosis".

  • The fungus is spread by contact (contagious)

    •  i.e. parent feeding chicks or it's mate.

    • or wiping it's beak on a branch used by other birds doing the same

    • sharing food and water dishes

    • You need to get in touch with your Vet for diagnosis and treatment.

    • Medication is : Nystatin, an Anti-fungal Medication 

    • (the same medication as you would give to human babies, when they have "Thrush" in their mouths 

      • - looks like a white coating on the tongue in babies) 

    • to be given into the bird's beak, twice a day (follow dosing instructions on container)

    • Lamisil is also a fungal treatment


  • Air Sac Mites are truly microscopic. 

  • You cannot see them even with a powerful magnifying glass. 

  • You will need a microscope of at least 100x to see them. 

  • Furthermore, air-sac mites cannot be found on the outside of the bird, nor in its faeces or saliva generally. 

  • If the bird sneezes, (which may be a symptom if it's recurrent?) 

    • -some may be forcefully expelled out of the lungs into the air.

  • Air-sac mites do not cause any external change in appearance. 

  • They infest the alveoli, (the air-sacs of the lungs), where oxygen enters the blood
    and CO2 exits. 

  • The only symptom will be sneezing, laboured breathing, gargled song (cocks),
    and clicking sounds during the night. 

  • If you suspect air sac mites, hold the bird up to your ear and listen for a clicking sound

  • This is the easiest way to detect air sac mites.

  • In some cases, the birds' beak may have a calcified look about them during advanced infestation,

  • but this is neither a common indicator nor uniquely associated with air-sac mite

Ivermectin - a 'spot-on' Systemic treatment which kills Internal and External Parasites.

INTERNAL    : Worms, Air Sac Mites
EXTERNAL   :  Red Mite, Feather mites, Lice etc.,
SYSTEMIC   :  This means that it can be absorbed thru the skin into the blood stream and if You 
                    don't wear protective rubber gloves - it will be absorbed thru YOUR SKIN and into 
                    Your Bloodstream also.  This can give you a very unpleasant taste in your mouth 
                    - some people have quite a nasty reaction to the effects and it can make you feel
                     pretty ill.

  •  Once the Air Sac Mites have entered the respiratory system the need for Ivermectin Spot-on is apparent.

  •  Hold the bird in your one hand and either blow the feathers to the side or wet the feathers of the neck under the bill and "comb" them to the sides exposing the trachea or "windpipe". 

  • Sometimes upon careful inspection and the use of a light source on the side of the neck you may even see the mites as tiny black spots under the skin and located along the trachea, (depending on how bad the infestation). 

  • Place a healthy drop of Ivermectin directly upon this area and hold the bird until the Ivermectin has absorbed.    

    • Remember the rubber gloves!

  •  Do this once every two weeks for a total of three treatments in infected birds. 

  • This will help to kill mites in the larva, and egg stage, that may not be affected by the first application.

  • Placing Ivermectin under the wing or back of the head will only slow the eradication process down as it has to absorb into the blood stream and then be carried to the area of infestation.

  • Prepare a clean cage (clean thoroughly with vinegar and water and left in the sun to dry)

  •  Ivermectin to be used for birds should have  1% sterile solution obtainable from your Vet.

  • Horse wormers contain 1.87% of Ivermectin, which would be too strong for birds



  • There are quite a few species of feather mites. 

  • They are flat and live in the grooves of the feather barbules.

  • They don't suck blood. 

  • They live on the feathers and can ruin the quality of the plumage.

  • The smallest feathers on birds usually have some feather mites.

These tiny arachnids are so small that to the naked eye they appear to be tiny particles of dirt. 
On a Purple Martin's feathers, you can find "colonies" of them, esp. on their long wing and tail feathers and between the feather barbs.

The mites get their nourishment by chewing on the feathers.  Although these parasites are fairly harmless to the
Purple Martin, they can severely damage their plumage during heavy infestations.

Other species of feather mites, known as "Quill Mites" are "habitat specific" and live their entire lives within the hollow confines of the wing feather quills.  They feed on host tissue fluids by piercing the quill wall with sharp mouth parts.

In the same way Bird Lice spend their entire lives on their hosts, so do the feather mites, laying their eggs on the feathers.

Life cycle of these Mites is very similar to that of the RED MITE and treatment for eradication is the same
(Check the Red Mite page for full application instructions and precautions when handling).

Inside Birds Mouth and how it differs from Humans

  • At the base of the tongue, the glottis and the laryngeal mound are located. 

  • The larynx of mammals is used for vocalization, 

    • but it is the syrinx, located down much further, that is responsible for sound production in birds. 

    • The is located on the roof of the mouth. 

    • It is a slit that connects through some passages to the nostrils. 

    • One really neat difference that birds have is that the glottis will fit snugly into the choanal slit when the bird closes its mouth, 

    • and the bird will then have a closed connection from the nostrils to the windpipe. 

  • When a human breathes through our nostrils, 

  • the air goes through the back of the throat

  •  which is an open area to the trachea through the larynx. 

  • The Choana is a cleft in the palate thru which the oral and nasal cavities communicate.

In a bird however:

  • There are little projections, called papillae, 

  • that normally are found at the edges of the choanal slit. 

  • Other papillae, pointing towards the back of the throat, may be found in the oropharynx.

  •  A second, smaller slit is located behind the choanal slit. 

  • This is the opening to the middle ears in birds. 

  • It is called the infundibular cleft,  

  • This is connected by a tube, called the pharyngotympanic tube. 

  • Birds with middle ear infections often have a red, swollen cleft. 

  • This cleft is important for birds that fly at great altitudes, as it helps equalize pressure in the middle ear.

  •  I'll bet you never thought that birds ears might pop when they ascend during flight, like ours do when we humans fly or get up to altitudes.


  • An excessive amount of bubbly saliva may indicate infestation with gapeworms.

  • Gapeworms lodge in the trachea and sound like a respiratory infection (audible phlegm).

  • Without treatment for gapeworms, birds can suffocate to death.

  • Thick, white or cream-coloured material adhering to the mucosa of the mouth, oesophagus, pharynx, larynx or trachea  may denote a possible deficiency of vitamin A.


1 - Trachea   2 - Oesophagus  3 - Crop   4 - Laryngeal Mound   5 - Rima Glottis   6 -Tongue
For Crop-tubing a Psittacine (Parrot-like Birds)
  • Hold the bird upright with the neck in extension. 
  • The Cropping Tube is passed through the Left side of the oral cavity 
  • Roll the tube gently over the tongue
  • as you do so, the tube in your hand then moves around to the front of the beak 
  • so that it is only slightly on the left side of the bird as you pass it down the oesophagus 
  • and into the crop on the Right side of the pharyngeal cavity. 
  • You may have to slightly twist the tube as you pass it down. 
  • You should be able to feel the end of the tube with your left thumb.
  • The tip of the tube should be palpated gently, to ensure that it is in the crop 
    BEFORE delivering fluids, medicine or feeding formula. 
  • Gently apply pressure to the plunger of the syringe to place its contents into the crop. 
  • Do not try to overfill the crop, as it could aspirate (choke) if the contents come back up and accidentally go down into the wind-pipe.
  • Withdraw the tube gently.

** So, basically go into the beak from the Bird's LEFT and gently go down the 
RIGHT SIDE of it's neck

  • Use the correct sized crop tube for the bird as follows :
    • 18g -- Waxbills or similar
    • 16g -- Finches and Canaries
    • 14g -- Budgies, Lovebirds and Cockatiels
    • 12g -- Rosellas, Galahs, African Greys and similar-sized birds.
    •  8g -- Larger Parrots

  • Click this link to go to a very good site with photos on Crop feeding

The egg tooth is a dorsal process on the beak, which aids hatching in chicks and disappears soon after hatching. 

On a different note I would like to know if any of you have used 
Corn-on-the-cob substrate base in Nest boxes or in the containers holding your Hand-reared babies? I did once and panicked when I saw one of the young hand-reared chicks with a crop jammed full of lumpy corn pieces - read on as all was well . . . . .

  • If so, have any of your young (7-12 days old) chicks ingested the hard corn bits 
    and if so, did they come to any harm or did it get passed thru them safely?  

  • Panic over!! - Yes, they do get passed thru - eventually (over a few days) 

  • they must soften first b4 they can go thru the digestive tract -

  • they don't come out whole the other end, so must be digested or semi-digested, as they go

FEATHER STRESS MARKS : Stress in a Bird shows in lots of different ways (see below)

The bird in the middle shows distinct "stress lines" in her wing feathers and looks a poor shape, with poor quality feathers, compared to the other 2 birds. Compare shine on feathers.

Causes of Stress lines are mental and physical stress due to environment i.e. housing  inc. lack of fresh air and flying space. Poor nutrition and other stresses inc. lack of stimulation, company and possibly bullying in an Aviary or next door Aviary.

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