The sooner you seek help for your ailing bird, the better the outcome; however, your personal Tweetie is unlikely to show symptoms until she’s gravely ill. That’s because birds, by nature, will pretend to be healthy no matter how sick they are as a matter of survival. You see, in nature, a sick bird drops to the bottom of the pecking order and is dropped from the flock to protect it from predators.
Go with your gut — you may not see any symptoms at first, but if you intuitively sense something is wrong, it’s OK to bring your pet to the vet even if you can’t point out any specific symptoms. Remember — the earlier your bird gets treated, the better, so be proactive and get help.
Early on when your bird is ill, the symptoms may be subtle. She may eat, eat and eat until she’s ready to drop. When she’s healthy, start weighing her on a gram scale at regular intervals (or ask your vet to do so) and record her weight. If you detect a drop in weight, something is probably wrong and a visit to the vet is in order.
Another way to detect if your pet bird is eating less is to keep a daily record of how much food and water she fully ingests — cracking nuts and hulls without eating the kernels doesn’t count. If there’s a sudden drop off, call your vet.
Your bird’s droppings provide clues to her health, so if you detect prolonged changes in the color, amount or texture of her droppings, something may be wrong. Also, if you see that droppings are confined to only one or two sections of the cage, be concerned because a healthy, energetic will be all over the cage and so will her droppings.
If your bird’s behavior suddenly changes — she starts taking more naps or she doesn’t preen, scream, talk, play or sing the way she used to — she’s exhibiting early warning signs of feeling under the weather.
Fluffed-up feathers, droopy wings, lots of head flicking, swelling anywhere on her body or appearing tired are a dead giveaway that your bird is ill. If your pet sneezes, loses its voice, breathes loudly or with great difficulty, breathes through her mouth instead of her nose, has a discharge from her eyes, pants or makes clicking sounds, falls off her perch, bleeds anywhere, has constipation, vomits, constantly chews on her feathers, experiences muscle spasms, has ragged feathers or develops bald spots, call your vet.
If your bird starts to perch horizontally with its neck extended as she holds onto a cage bar with her beak, your bird is having problems breathing and should be taken to the vet.
You may be tempted to try to diagnose your bird’s illness, but that’s best left for a vet to do because a lot of diseases have similar symptoms.
Finally, if you have a cold or the flu, don’t breathe on your bird lest you make your bird sick.