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The First Sign Of Illness In The Aviary Bird


Careful observation and an understanding of the normal behaviour of your bird is by far the best method of detecting and managing potential illnesses.


At the first signs of illness, the observant owner will notice changes in the condition and behaviour of their bird. Important changes to look for include:


  • Abnormal droppings


  • Less talkative


  • Out of character


  • Fluffed up


  • Cold feet


Abnormal Droppings


The droppings reveal a wealth of information for the observant owner and are a good indicator as to the health of the bird. With experience, you can easily monitor the health of your bird by observing for any dropping changes. The early recognition of a dropping change allows you to implement an immediate recovery plan that protects the health of the pet bird. A Water Cleanser or Megamix is used as the first line of defence against illness and works well at the first sign of a change in the droppings.

Normal Bird Droppings:


  • Small with a white cap.


  • Usually have a down feather attached to it.

  • Have no sign of wetness surrounding it.

  • Have no smell.

Abnormal Bird Droppings:


  • Increased size.


  • Discoloured to a shade of green. Any colour from khaki to forest green.

  • Are often wet.

  • Carry a smell.

The above characteristics are good indicators of a dropping of top health. These droppings should be seen in the bottom of the cage first thing in the morning. The character of the droppings may change from day to day dependent upon many factors, including the food given and the humidity of the air.

A change in the colour, consistency or smell of the droppings should be viewed with caution. The discolouration of the dropping is abnormal in pet birds fed a dry seed mix. Birds fed on soft foods and greens may produce a larger, green coloured and watery dropping for a short time.


Emergency Treatment for the Ill Bird at Home


The following instructions refer to emergency treatment to be given at home, prior to hospitalisation. Veterinary attention should be sought as soon as possible to determine the exact cause of illness and specific treatment methods.

Provide warmth.


The ill bird requires warmth (about 30-35 degrees Celsius). A hot water bottle or bar heater is the best form of heat. Do not use fan heaters or lights.


Give energy fluids by mouth.


The ill bird has low blood and energy levels that must be restored rapidly. Force-feeding is necessary when the energy levels drop so low that the bird does not eat or drink and is in danger of dying. A bird with cold feet needs this type of heating. Give 1 ml of very warm water containing 10% glucose NV Powder using a dropper. Crop needling using ER Formula is recommended for those who are confident with the crop needle technique. This procedure is technically difficult and should not be undertaken by those who are inexperienced, as it is potentially fatal if done incorrectly.


Give sterile seed and remove all other foodstuffs.


In my experience, poor quality feed is the single most common cause of illness in the pet bird. At the first sign of illness remove all other foodstuffs from the cage, including seed, seed bells, millet sprays, grit or sand, fruit or vegetables. Grit and minerals are removed until recovery is complete because the ill bird will over-engorge on grit and become ill with an obstruction problem. Continue with NV Powder that contains plenty of useful minerals.


Clean out the cage and disinfect with a cage cleaner.


It is very important to keep the germ count in the cage and water containers as low as possible at all times but especially when the pet bird is unwell. Cage cleaner cleanses the cage of the ill bird and is repeated each week as part of the regular cleaning process.


Give NV powder in the water.


Vitamin and mineral levels also drop with illness and supplementation of the diet is needed for recovery to take place. NV Powder is rich in the immediate energy source of glucose and also vitamins and minerals. Give NV Powder in the water for three days to the ill and recovering pet birds.


If possible give the appropriate medicines by mouth.


Finches, canaries, doves and some parrots drink enough water to ensure that they get the correct medicine dose each day, but other small parrots, especially sick cockatiels or budgies may not drink enough of the medicated water to be fully effective. For this reason some medicines are best given by injection, crop needle, nostril or by dropper in the mouth.


After the bird starts eating on its own, follow this programme:
Convalescent Programme for Recovering Ill Aviary Birds or Wild Birds

Quik gel is a broad spectrum first aid treatment that is given whenever you feel your bird is tired or unwell.

Emergency rescue formula is best administered using a crop needle, but it can also be given by spoon or syringe.

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