Unfortunately, occasionally accidents happen while birds fly through the house or even in the cage when something (e.g. a flashing light or an unknown sound) scares them during the night and then they flatter in panic. Such situations are typical; often it comes to heavy injuries. Even though a bird might be used to glass doors or windows, something can cause a panic reaction and then the flight instinct is stronger than anything else. Without remembering what they usually know about their surrounding birds crash into walls, windows or similar obstacle. In many cases the after-effect of such a violent collision is a head injury or a concussion. Some birds even break their necks and die immediately.
If a bird is unconscious after a collision or is in sorry state (unable to move), it's most likely that the animal is heavily concussed or even suffers from internal bleedings (cerebral haemorrhage). Even avian vets have no ability to heal the latter, but a severe concussion can be healed in general.
Some birds remain conscious after a collision but are not able to fly or tumble on the floor. It's also possible that they convulse, show sudden palsies or twitches. Often birds turn their heads about 180 degrees or even move in circles; sometimes the wings are dropped.
All these symptoms can be observed in case a bird suffers from a medium grade concussion.
Typical symptoms for a light concussion are ataxia and uncoordinated flight. Furthermore the bird isn't able to keep its balance. Regurgitation is another symptom of a concussion.
Birds who are concussed are extremely photo-sensitive, they need much sleep and often fall off their perches. They have no appetite and obviously seem to be very ill. Their plumage is fluffed up and they instinctively behave very calm.
What you should do first
Normally, my first advice is to bring an injured bird to an avian vet immediately. But a concussed bird might not be able to survive the transport and therefore one should be very careful. If your bird is suspected of having a concussion you should phone your avian vet and ask him what to do next. Maybe you can convince him or her to come to your home and have a look at the feathered patient.
Safe transport to your avian vet
It is likely that your vet will tell you to bring your bird to his medical practice. You should prepare a small cage like this: You should cover the bottom of the cage with a soft tissue. Please do not use any material with nooses since the bird could get caught up in the tissue with his claws (toe nails). Remove all perches and twigs from the cage and place the bird on the tissue. The cloth should be thick enough to enable the bird to lean against it. Then cover the cage with a dark cloth. This is important because concussed birds are very sensitive to light. If it is cold outside the bird has to be kept warm, but not too warm (see below). I know from experience that for example cherry pip packs that are fixed outside the cage are perfect to keep a bird warm during a transport.
Depending on how severe the concussion is the avian vet will decide which drug is necessary. Back home, you should bring your bird into a calm room that can be shaded. The temperature should be around 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit). Please note: In case of a concussion you should never try a warmth therapy (infrared lamp) without discussing this step with your avian vet! Indeed the warmth therapy is good for most sick birds but when the brain is injured/damaged it can make the disturbance of health even worse!
Heath intensifies the blood circulation and this will increase the pressure inside the brain. This will cause more pain and sickness to the bird or even kill him in the worst case.
In addition to the drugs your vet has handed you there are some further things you can do for your bird. Some homeopathic drugs are helpful; you should contact a traditional healer and ask him or her for further information.
A bird who suffers from a concussion in general has no appetite during the first days after the accident. Also sickness makes him starve. You can help your bird by serving food that is easy to digest. Fresh fruit and vegetable are fine for your sick bird. Oily seeds should not be given to the bird. Soaked seeds and grains or even sprouted seeds are easy to digest, too. None of my sick birds ever refused to eat half-ripe millet. Therefore it is advisable to store this food in late summer, see special chapter.
In order to strengthen the bird you can add dextrose or honey to the drinking water (1 table spoon for 1 litre of water). Since the bird loses much
water due to his sickness there should always be enough drinking water. Please note: Birds who suffer from infections with megabacteria or candida are not allowed to eat/drink sugar (honey, dextrose)!