Educational Articles

Birds + Emergency Situations + English

  • Birds of all species are innately designed to hide symptoms of illness until later stages of a disease process. Any signs of a change in appetite or behavior should be brought to the attention of an avian veterinarian. If an avian patient stops eating, this becomes a life-threatening situation quickly.

  • Blood feathers are a normal maturation process for all feathers on birds. When feathers first erupt from the skin they contain blood. Injury to the feather as it grows may cause the blood feather to become broken causing blood loss that at times may require emergency treatment by an avian veterinarian.

  • Candida is a type of yeast that may cause problems in the digestive tract of birds. In young birds, immunocompromised birds, or birds that have been on antibiotics for an extended period, candida may overgrow in the digestive tract and cause various problems, such as 'sour crop'.

  • Egg binding is not uncommon in birds and may be resolved easily if treated early. Egg binding occurs when the female bird is unable to expel the egg from her body. If a prolonged period has elapsed since the bird began attempting to lay the egg, she may become critically ill. Birds with egg binding may or may not have passed an egg more than 2 days ago, are usually weak, not perching, often sitting low on the perch or on the bottom of the cage, and are straining as if trying to defecate or to lay an egg. Treatment varies depending upon how sick the bird is, as well as the location of the egg and the length of time the bird has been egg bound. Critically ill birds are first treated supportively for shock, and then attempts are made to extract the egg. If your veterinarian cannot see the egg through the vent, surgery under general anesthetic may be necessary to remove the egg from the abdomen. A hysterectomy (removal of the oviduct and uterus) is typically the last choice therapy, when medical and egg extraction through the vent are not possible.

  • Birds are naturally mischievous and if not properly supervised, will get into many predicaments. It is crucial that you bird proof your home. The bird's cage is its house and the confines of your home represent the bird's environment.

  • If your pet had an emergency crisis, how would you manage it? Ask your veterinary hospital how they handle after-hour emergencies. Use this handout to help you plan ahead and be prepared in the event of a pet-health emergency.

  • Kidney disease is relatively common in birds, especially budgies, and may present as an acute or chronic problem. Some of the clinical signs are very characteristic of kidney disease but many others are non-specific. This handout explains these signs, as well as how kidney disorders in birds can be diagnosed and treated.

  • Liver disease can occur in any avian species but is most common in cockatiels, budgies, Amazon parrots, lories, and mynah birds. Because the typical clinical signs are non-specific and descriptive of many different diseases, diagnostic tests are highly recommended. Treatment options depend on the diagnosis and can range from diet modification to hospitalization.

  • Many birds naturally eat plants as part of their diet. Some birds will chew on and possibly consume plants out of curiosity or during play. Many toxic plants will just make a bird sick if they ingest them, but some can kill them. Fortunately, rather than ingesting plants, most birds shred and play with plants with which they come in contact. This handout catalogues many of the indoor and outdoor plants that are considered to be potentially toxic to birds.

  • In the wild, a bird will endeavor to uphold a strong appearance when sick. This is called, survival of the fittest. By the time a pet bird actually shows an owner that it is unwell, it has likely been sick for some time. Many things contribute to ill health. This handout provides bird owners a categorized list of signs that should alert them that their bird is sick.