Signs Of Illness In Your Pet Bird

In the wild a bird will hide any signs of illness for as long as possible. If a bird is ill, and the other flock-members know it, they will kick the ill or injured bird out of the flock, because they know that one ill or injured member will be a threat to the rest of the flock. Instinctively, a pet bird will try to do the same thing to avoid being booted out of his flock (even though, of course, we would never do such a thing to our feathered friends!)


Signs Of Illness Or Injury In A Bird Are:

  • eyes closed most of the time
  • feathers fluffed all of the time (to preserve body heat)
  • "droopy" wings
  • low, almost horizontal, posture on perch
  • talking and vocalizing stops
  • noisy breathing
  • frequent sneezing
  • discharge from nose
  • tail bobbing with each breath
  • perching with neck extended and beak grasping wire of cage (bird does this to keep breathing passages straight to make breathing more effortless)
  • vomiting (when truly vomiting, a bird will regurgitate, and sling his head back and forth, to clear the matter from his beak; when a bird vomits on you as a show of love, he tries to feed it to you, as opposed to slinging it around)
  • soiled vent
  • feathers lost and not replaced
  • bleeding
  • weight loss
  • swelling
  • changes in water consumption
  • changes in routine and habits
  • change in droppings
  • change in activity level
  • decrease in preening activity
  • frequent flicking of the head
  • self mutilation
  • regression
  • dehydration (weakness, sunken eyes, feet cool, ridging of skin over sides of toes)
  • remaining in bottom of cage (It has been my experience that if a bird huddles at the bottom of his cage, it is very serious indeed. Both birds that I have seen huddled at the bottom of their cages have died soon afterward)

If your bird should display any of these symptoms, please contact your certified avian vet, and let him/her decide if your In the last case I saw of the bird huddling in the bottom of the cage, the owner tried every way in the world to convince me that her bird was fine, because_____________ (fill in answer here). I am SO not anywhere near an avian expert, but I have researched tons and tons of information concerning birds since I have become a bird owner, and misinformation and ignorance can harm or kill a lot of our feathered friends. As always, when in doubt, give the vet a call or take your friend in; remembering that birds hide all signs of illness until it sometimes is too late. It is up to us, as guardians, to pay attention to all signs that all could not be as it should be with our feathered friends.


The bird in the picture has a liver problem. Liver problem is evidenced by yellowing of feathers, and severely overgrown beak (scissor-beak). This bird's picture was taken after a visit to an avian vet and the beak has been treated. It is unknown at this time what the future holds for this bird, due to the neglect of his medical condition.

By one.of.a.kind from Al

July 16, 20100 found this helpful


I worked for a Certified Avian Veterinarian and the advise that you gave is right on the money! Good job. Thank you for posting all this important information for bird lovers.

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July 17, 20100 found this helpful

Thank you for posting. I am so glad to have this information at hand in case my bird is acting in this way. My little Perry is small too, as most parakeets are he could do this and no one would notice, I am glad u wrote this very informative article. A bird care book with this info would cost money and I am glad I learned it for free!

Give the little Cockatoo a hug for me, what a darling this sweetie is!

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July 16, 2010 Flag
0 found this helpful

Have a certified Avian Veterinarian's telephone number and location on file BEFORE you have need of it and please pay attention to your feathered friends body language. His life could depend on it.

  1. Odd changes in sleeping habits: Sleeping more during the day, sleeping with both feet down, sleeping on the bottom of the cage is an especially bad sign.
  2. Fluffed-up appearance: A fluffed-up parrot is trying to stay warm.

  3. Loss of appetite.

  4. Change in attitude: listless, not behaving normally, cranky, lethargic.

  5. Panting, or labored breathing: may indicate respiratory problems.

  6. Change in droppings: more liquid than usual, dark, or an odor (if no change in diet could possibly have caused a difference; eating blueberries, beets, or something else dark-colored in a significant amount.)

  7. Debris around face or feathers: indicates poor grooming or vomiting, potential signs of illness. Feces around the vent area are especially not a good sign.

  8. Severely overgrown beak: generally indicates a liver problem, due to years of a poor diet.

  9. Feather-discoloration: again, possible liver problem.

Common Health Disorders Of Parrots:

  1. Nutritional disorders - obesity, which can lead to tumors, liver, and kidney problems. A severely overgrown beak is an indication of a liver problem.

  2. Bacterial infections: Mycobacterium avium, Psittacosis.

  3. Viral infections: Psitticine Beak And Feather Disease, Polyomavirus

  4. Fungal infections: yeast (can infect mouth, digestive, and respiratory), Aspergillosis. (Fungal infections most often affect undernourished birds, emphasizing the need for correct nutrition.)

  5. Foot disorders: gout, lameness, Bumblefoot (infection)

  6. Feather disorders: self-mutilation, beak-and-feather disease.

  7. Reproductive disorders: calcium-depletion, egg-binding.

Bird in photo is "Birdy"; he is approximately 29 years old.

By one.of.a.kind from AL

Signs Of Illness In Your Pet Bird


Signs Of Illness In Your Pet Bird

Can't help but to be curious :-o What is wrong with Birdie that he has no body feathers and very few wing feathers? (06/10/2010)

By Deeli

Signs Of Illness In Your Pet Bird

He was actually caught in the wild, and his wings broken so that he couldn't fly. A lot of other issues in his past lead him to feather-pluck, (poor diet, abuse). Parrots react in this manner when they have things such as this happen to them, and poor Birdy has feather-plucked for so long, that the feather follicles are damaged, and he will never be able to regrow them. His picture is on this post to demonstrate what neglect, improper diet, and abuse can cause a parrot to do. So sad. (06/13/2010)

By one.of.a.kind

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