Nobody knows your bird as
well as you do. If you
notice any unusual
behaviour pattern or strange new habits, please keep in mind that this
can indicate a health problem. If your pet birds aren't
tame it may be more difficult to recognize a disease in its early stage. Therefore, you
should observe your birds very closely, because pet birds are very good
at disguising any health problems or unease.
But even though it
is important to keep an eye on your birds regularly, you should not
frighten them. Most predators share an important body feature: The
position of their eyes on the head is typical - both eyes point to the
front what ensures a binocular vision. Humans also show this eye
position and therefore some birds feel uneasy in case they are watched
by humans. You can prevent this kind of stress if you slightly turn
your head away from your birds and just watch them by moving your eyes
But what exactly do you have to look for if you
want to learn more about your bird's health? This chapter provides
information on this important topic.
Never show weakness!
If a bird is suffering from a
(beginning) infectious disease or any other kind of illness, it will usually
try to make a healthy impression. In fact, this is innate behaviour and
it is driven by the bird's survival instinct. Wild birds are always
threatened by enemies such as birds of
prey. Those predators look for sick and weak flock members. Therefore it is essential for
a sick bird to hide any kind of weakness as long as possible and avoid
being noticed by a predator.
The above mentioned behaviour occurs in pet birds as well, because for
the birds it is very essential for the
survival of their kind. You should keep this in mind each and every day.
Your pet bird will act like this because he or she follows the inborn
instincts. Therefore bird owners tend to notice diseases in an advanced
stage when the bird isn't able to hide it any longer. You should
therefore be prepared for it and be trained in noticing the inconspicuous details a
bird cannot hide.
That's odd, the bird has never done this before...
you notice something very unusual and if you think your bird might feel
weak, you should be alarmed. Something may be wrong if for example a bird
who normally sleeps standing on one leg suddenly perches on both legs.
And sometimes you can observe an even more alarming sign: Birds who are
very exhausted can hardly stand on their perches. Therefore they sit on
the floor and take shelter in a corner (see photo on the right). You
should take their weakness very seriously. Another example is a change in
a bird's eating and drinking
habits. If a bird drinks significantly more than usual, this may happen
due to a kidney problem. Another alerting signal can be the fact that a bird eats a lot
while constantly losing weight. In most cases an infection of the
digestive tract is responsible for this symptom.
When birds are living together as a pair and one of them is currently not as interested in
its mate as usual and wants to be left alone, this can also mark an
early stage of a disease. If the bird shows aggressive behaviour, this
can be a hint as well, because many birds who suffer from pain or who
feel unwell start biting if they feel harassed.
From bundle of energy to lazybones
If your bird sleeps more than usual without any obvious cause, it is a
good idea to
have a close eye on your animal. A bird sleeping the whole day may be ill or it simply can't
sleep in the night because blood-sucking mites plague the bird at night.
Nocturnal disturbances can be detected by the distribution of
excrements on the cage floor. And by the way: Another reason for sleepless nights may simply be that
the cage or aviary is located in a place with too much noise.
Hey, little fatty!
a bird's plumage is fluffed the whole day - thus looking round as a ball -,
this behaviour may indicate a severe weakening. The situation is even
worse in case your bird won't pay attention to its environment and mates,
you most probably have to deal with an acute or chronic disease. So you
should always keep in mind: A bird with ruffled feathers, dull eyes and without any interest in its
flock mates is definitely sick! Birds also often fluff their feathers
when they're sleepy or feel very comfortable. But they look different
then! In case the feathers show no perfect silhouette and you can see "edges" like on the photo on the right, your bird's health is poor.
Shaky, cold and a bobbing tail
tend to have a low body temperature, in fact it is often less than 105.8 degrees Fahrenheit
(41 degrees centigrade). Some birds are even shaking from feeling
cold. You can easily notice it by having a close look at the fluffed feathers. If your bird is tame, you can check
the body temperature wicht the help of the bird's feet: In case
they are extremely cold, the bird most probably is ill.
Depending on the actual disease, birds may breathe heavily and move their tail
feathers up and down at every breath. Such bobbing of the tail feathers
indicate that the bird may suffer from a
(beginning) infection of the respiratory tracts. Another reason that
could lead to this tail bobbing is a swelling inside the body that
impairs the respiratory system: If there is for example a tumour, it
may squeeze the lungs or air sacks. Thus the affected bird can breath
only with some efforts.
Take your bird to a vet immediately!
After you have recognized that your bird
shows typical signs for sickness, you shouldn't waste any time and take
it to a
competent vet at once. In addition, the bird
be separated from its mates. Please don't lose any time by writing
messages on internet forums, asking other people for help. Always keep
in mind that only a vet is able to examine the bird adequately and
make a specific diagnosis. Don't hesitate to go to a vet because most diseases
can be cured best when recognized in an early stage.
German version of this text: Gaby Schulemann-Maier,
translation of this chapter: Stefanie Demandt
and Gaby Schulemann-Maier