We often read or hear from the experts, that if your bird is sick, he will hide any signs of illness until its to late.
Although I have yet to have that experience with Max my Blue and Gold Macaw, I do think I know him well enough by now, that I would notice any subtle changes quite easily. Ultimately, this did get me thinking and I decided to do some research.
These are some of the signs of illness i discovered while doing my research. I’m sure there are more, but i think that these ones would be the most important.
A change in your birds sleeping habits:
This is a very good indication that your bird may be sick. I noticed that when max sleeps, he tucks one foot up into his chest. A sick bird might sleep on both feet with his feathers fluffed up for warmth or he may crouch on the bottom of the cage.
A change in attitude:
In this instance, there is a possibility that something could be wrong as healthy birds are for the most part active and playful. If your bird is listless, withdrawn, or laying on the bottom of it’s cage all of the time, it’s time to call the avian vet.
Excessive sneezing or nasal discharge:
This is a sign that something may be wrong although that isn’t always the case. It could just be an allergy. Discharge of bubbles from the nares are probably a sign of a respiratory infection. Either way, this is a warning sign that its time for a visit to the avian vet.
(Not to be confused with regurgitating), which is what birds do when courting or feeding their young, is another sign of illness. Vomit will usually stick to the chest feathers or around the face. Take your bird to the avian Vet.
Lack of Preening or plucking:
A healthy bird is always preening his feathers. If your bird is starting to look ratty or disheveled, its time for a visit to the avian vet.
Birds lack a diaphragm to separate their chest cavity from their stomach. Their tail muscles help them to breath. Respiratory disease will result in Their tail muscles working harder than normal. Common sense will tell you whether the tail bobbing is a sign of a possible respiratory disease or just a little to much excitement or exercise. If your bird displays this behavior while at rest, take him to an avian vet right away.
Air sac mites:
This is more common in canaries or finches, but it has been diagnosed in other birds. A sign of this could be a clicking sound from the beak as he breathes.
If you have more than one bird in a cage, the sick bird will usually be the one who gets picked on or even killed. Separate the sick bird right away and give him a warm safe place to rest until you get him to the avian vet. Don’t wait to long.
Changes in Vocalizations:
Although this may be a little harder to diagnose, you should still be able to pick up on this. Sick birds are usually less talkative and you may notice a change of frequency in their tone.
Birds will usually ruffle their feathers for warmth when they are sick so you may not notice any weight loss. Weight loss can be devastating to your birds health. A loss of strength is a good sign. Weigh your bird regularly and you will know if he is having trouble maintaining his weight.
Cloudy eyes are a good sign of respiratory, nervous, or muscular disorder. Take him to a avian vet immediately.
Depending on what you feed your bird, the color of his droppings will most certainly vary. What you need to look for is yellow, rusty brown or tarry droppings. They could be an indication of internal bleeding or other serious problems. Look for changes in consistency. If they are too runny or firm, it is time for a visit to the avian vet.
For the consciencious bird owner, these signs should be immediately recognizable. Examine your bird everyday and make sure you keep a good relationship with your avian vet. Your bird is depending on you to keep him in good health so make sure you keep tabs on any behavioral change he may display. After all, you want your beloved bird to be around for many years to come.