How to Tell if My Bird Is Sick?

sick parrot at hospital

There are numerous signs of illness in birds that you’ll want to know about if you have one as a pet. 

The sooner you are able to determine if your bird is sick, the sooner you will be able to get it medical attention from a veterinarian.

Common Signs of Illness in Birds

1. Changes in Your Bird’s Droppings

One of the more definitive signs that something is wrong with your bird is a change in the appearance of its feces. If their droppings suddenly become tar black, yellow or a deep brown color, you’ll want to get them to the vet.

Changes in the way your bird’s droppings look can be a sign of something very serious, such as internal bleeding. Any changes in the way they look is cause for concern, so you’ll need to keep that in mind over the years.

2. Problems with their Eyes

There are numerous signs of illness that can show up in your bird’s eyes. This includes redness, inflammation and puffiness. Any discharge from the eyes is a sign of illness as well.

If your bird’s eyes have a cloudy overall appearance, there is most likely something very wrong with them. This can be an indication of many different diseases and health issues, so you don’t want to take any chances.

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3. Lack of Appetite

If your bird has started to eat less than normal each day, there is probably something wrong with it. A lack of appetite is one of the most common signs of illness in birds and most other animals. It could indicate that your pet bird has an intestinal blockage, which can be fatal if it is not treated right away.

You’ll want to make a point of cleaning the floor of your bird’s cage prior to feeding it. You will have a much easier time recognizing this sign early on, allowing you to get them medical treatment for whatever is wrong. This is definitely not the sort of thing that you want to ignore. If your bird’s appetite doesn’t improve within 24 hours, you’ll want to take it to the vet.

sick little bird and doctor

4. Behavioral Changes

You’ll also want to pay attention to any changes in your bird’s behavior, as it could be a sign of illness. This includes a sudden increase in aggressiveness and/or vocalization.

If your bird has started acting more aggressive than usual towards you, there could be something serious wrong with them. A sick bird might vocalize more or less than usual, depending on the species and the problem.

Lethargy is another behavioral abnormality that you should look out for. If you notice that your pet bird isn’t moving around like it normally does, it could very well be ill. Sudden lethargy is not normal and almost always an indication that there is a problem with your pet’s health.

Some birds that become ill start sleeping more or less than usual. This can be difficult to notice at first, especially if you and the bird are on different schedules.

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5. Problems with Your Bird’s Feathers

If you ever notice your bird’s feathers falling out or becoming dirty, there could definitely be an issue with their health. When a bird’s feathers suddenly start getting increasingly dirty, it means that they aren’t cleaning themselves regularly. 

This can indicate that they are sick and unable to do this. Any strange changes in the look of your bird’s feathers are a reason to go see the veterinarian.

6. Weight Loss

Sudden weight loss is not normal for birds, so you’ll want to look out for this as well. This is a very common sign of illness that you’ll need to keep in mind. If your bird is getting visibly slimmer without any change in their diet, something is definitely wrong with them.

sick chicken looking horrible

How to Prevent Illness with Your Birds

There are a number of things that you can do to help keep your bird from becoming seriously ill, including:

  • Proper diet: It is crucial that you keep your bird on a healthy diet that satisfies all of its nutritional needs. This can go a long way towards keeping your bird in good health over the years. An unbalanced diet can lead to all sorts of health problems down the line.
  • Regular vet trips: You also need to make a point of taking your bird to get regular checkups at the vet. This will make it easier to spot serious health problems that may be developing. The sooner you catch these things, the easier they are to treat.
  • Supplements: There are lots of different foods that you can give to supplement your bird’s diet, including cuttlebone and mealworms. These foods are very nutritious and can help prevent illness over the long term.
  • Good hygiene: Make sure that you keep your bird’s cage clean on a daily basis. Poor hygiene can quickly erode your bird’s health. It doesn’t take much effort to clean out your bird’s cage each day, and it is well worth the effort.
  • Look for the signs: When you know some of the most common signs of illness in birds, you’ll know what to look for each day.
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  • Any sudden changes in the appearance of your bird’s droppings should be cause for concern.
  • You’ll also want to check your bird’s eye for signs of irritation, including redness and swelling, as this is also a sign of illness.
  • If your bird suddenly isn’t eating as much as it normally does, there is a good chance it is sick.
  • Other changes in behavior like increased aggression or vocalization can also indicate serious illness in birds.
  • Check your bird’s feathers each day to make sure they aren’t unusually dirty or falling out.
  • Sudden weight loss is yet another sign of illness that you’ll want to take very seriously.
  • You can help to keep your bird as healthy as possible by taking them to the vet for regular checkups.
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