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Music For Your Enjoyment

parrotI’ve always been fascinated by birds.  They are so beautiful and I love to hear them sing their beautiful songs.  I don’t know much about birds so I thought I’d do some research.  One thing I do know, all pet owners should educate themselves about the needs of that particular pet.  They also need to find a veterinarian who has had training with those animals.  Many vets say they “see” certain animals until they get really sick.  Then you find out they don’t know as much as they stated.  Here is what I found out regarding birds and their health.

Pet birds should be examined ever year by an avian veterinarian.  If their behavior or personalities change for the worse get them to the vet as soon as possible.

Why Is That?

It is because most problems in pet birds can only be solved when they are caught early and corrected. Most problems presented late in a disease cannot be solved or corrected. Be sure the veterinarian you choose has specialized post-graduate experience with birds or is himself/herself an experienced aviculturalist.

Many birds that we keep as pets are basically wild creatures. Wild things disguise or mask early signs of disease so that they will not be eaten. Even though your pet appears healthy to you it’s no guarantee that problems are not brewing.


What Are Some Of The Signs That I Should Look For?

1) Weight loss
2) Change in Dropping Color or Consistency
3) Discharges From the Eyes, Squinting or Swelling
4) Discharge or change in Shape and Diameter of the Nostrils (nares)
5) Ruffled Feathers
6) Sneezing
7) Lack of Appetite
8 ) Inactivity in a Normally Active Bird
9) Carrying the wing(s) drooped below the body
10) Blood in the Cage or On the Bird
11) Open Mouth Breathing and Tail Bobbing (rhythmically going up and down)
12) Lumps on the body
13) Swollen Feet and Joints
13) Decrease in grooming and preening
14) Decreased talking, calling and singing
15) Sitting motionless on the floor of the Cage
16) Falling from the Perch or Limping or Perching on One Leg


Taking Your Pet To The Veterinarian:

When you bring your pet bird to a veterinarian, the vet will begin by taking a detailed history from you. He/she will wish to know where the bird was obtained. Imported birds have different diseases than those domestically bred. The vet will ask you detailed question about the bird’s diet. Birds on seed-based diets have a much higher incidence of nutritionally-based disease than those fed a pelleted diet. The vet will examine the cage looking for evidence of abnormal stools, abnormal urine (the clear liquid portion of the stool) or toxic products within the birds grasp. The vet will also check to see if perches are appropriate for your pet. The bird is weighed. Birds of a single species tend to have very uniform weights. The cause of thinness or increased body weight should be explored. The technician will prepare the bird’s stool for microscopic examination. Intestinal parasites, such as Giardia can cause weight loss, loose stools and feather picking.

Unless the bird is exceptionally ill, the veterinarian will grasp and examine it. The vet will examine the eyes for evidence of intraoccular abnormalities infection or degenerative disease. He/She will examine the nares or nostrils and the surrounding cere for evidence of infection or vitamin deficiencies. The vet will listen with a stethoscope for the sounds of raspy respiration or fluid within the respiratory tree. He will examine the plumage carefully to look for evidence of external parasites, stress related feather abnormalities (stress bars), over grooming or viral plumage disease (PBFD). The vent or cloaca will be examined for signs of chronic diarrhea, papillomas or cloacal irritation. The vet will palpate the bird for evidence of superficial tumors and examine the abdominal area for evidence of increased intraabdominal pressure due to conditions such as egg-yolk peritonitis, liver enlargement or intraabdominal tumors.

Lab Tests That Might Be Run:

Because birds are such experts at masking the signs of disease, a yearly examination may also include laboratory testing of a sample of the bird’s blood. The cellular portion of the blood is examined to determine the number and nature of white cells present. Increased white cell count can be evidence of stress or infectious disease. Decreased number of red cells called anemia can be evidence of blood loss, metal toxicity or malnutrition. The liquid portion of the blood (serum) will be examined for evidence of liver, kidney, pancreatic or intestinal disease. The dark, granular portion of the stool represents the feces. It will be examined under a microscope for proper digestion and visible parasites. A slide is then prepared from this material or a cotton swab of the cloaca and stained with Gram Stain to determine the type of bacteria living in the bird’s intestine. The clear liquid portion of the stool represents the urine. This can be examined for clarity, specific gravity, and the presence of sugar (diabetes), protein or blood.

When any of the previous tests suggest the presence of a disease, other tests are available to specifically diagnose them. These diseases include bacterial infection, viral Infection, hypothyroidism, diabetes, Chlamydiosis, Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, papillomatosis, and tumors.

Many veterinarians do not see enough avian patients in their practice to be fully aware of all the conditions and treatment options that are available so please find the proper vet before getting your bird.

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5 Responses to “Birds Make Wonderful Pets and Beautiful Music”

  • Louise Roys says:

    You might want to caution bird owners to make sure they take their beloved feathered ones to an avain vet. All regular vets do is clip claws and wings. I have five boys, a Blue Front Amazon named Buddy, a Nandy Conure name Hank, and three cocktiels named Opal, Sunny and Issac. My cocktiels are thri generation. My son raised them and hand fed them for 4-H. My conure is 8 and was taken in after his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Buddy is almost 21. He has been my baby since he was too little to perch. Before he could perch has use to sit in my lap and watch TV. He played video games and watched cartoon with my son when he was little. All of my boys don’t just sing, they also talk. Bud and Hank will carry on conversations with you or emand you answer the phone when it rings. I always make sure they have theporper medical care, just like any other family member. I also make special snacks for them and share plain popcorn with them. The unsalted, unbuttered popcorn is a favorite TV snack for all of us. If you want to see my pet photos visit facebook and look up Louise Roys

  • Michele says:

    Birds, like dogs and cats, can be found at rescue organizations. One such site that has been recommended to me for birds is

  • Jennifer says:

    I think you could also mention to readers to be aware of the pet bird trade and how corrupt it can be. If someone wants a bird, there are birds out there who need to be rescued … or at least find a reputable breeder. : )

  • Jaoquin says:

    Honestly I prefer to see the birds in the sky and painting our forests and jungles, not in cages. Jaoquin Mexico City

  • Michele says:

    Hi Donna, Nice blog post. I have been doing a bit of reading about birds and birders lately. I just read Olivia Gentile’s book: Life List, which I highly recommend. I’m currently reading Alex and Me, which tells the life of this remarkable bird.

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