Sick Bird Symptoms


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    Primary symptoms and possible causes:

    Some of the avian diseases require direct or indirect contact with a diseased bird (viral / bacterial disases, for example). If a pet hasn’t been in contact with other birds for years, then one can exclude / ignore them for the most part.

    In those cases, it is more likely that nutritional factors or toxicities are involved in the disease process.

    One can narrow the possibilties further down by considering susceptibility of the species (as listed). If none are listed, then most birds may be susceptible to the disease.

    Index of Bird Diseases

    Bird Species and Their Respective Syndromes (Lists diseases specific bird species are most susceptible to)

    Most Notable Symptoms:

    Swollen Vent:

    Prolapsed Cloaca

    .Breeding-age Hens Only:

    Egg Binding – Swollen vent, weakness

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      Egg yolk peritonitisCommon / possible symptoms: Sudden death, loss of appetite/anorexia, weakness, depression, respiratory distress, lethargy, fluffed feathers, lack of vocalizations, yolk-colored droppings, swollen vent and/or abdomen (the swelling feels spongy to the touch), and ascites. Some of these symptoms also mimic egg binding. Most commonly seen in cockatiels, lovebirds, and waterfowl.

      Swollen, Possibly Runny Eyes

      Swollen Joints / Legs / Feet


      Bumble Foot


      Scaly Legs / Swollen Feet – Common in canaries and finches.

      Staph Infections / Foot Infection: The foot is likely to be swollen and may feel hot.

      Broken / Injured Legs / Feet

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        Respiratory Problems

        Deformed Beak (not caused by an injury)

        Scissors Beak – This is most commonly seen in cockatoos and macaws, but can occur in any species.

        Parrot Beak – Most common in cockatoos, but can occur in any parrot species.

        Deformed Wing (not caused by an injury):

        Angel Wing – common in waterfowl, such as geese, swans, and ducks


        Fatty tumors (lipomas and xanthomas)

        Marek’s Disease – Occurs mainly in chickens under 16 weeks of age. Symptoms: Leg and/or wing paralysis, high mortality, tumors on visceral organs.

        Lymphoid Leucosis (Poultry Viral Disease / Infectious Disease): Occurs mainly in laying hens between 4 and 10 months or age. Tumors in the bursa of Fabricius will spread to many other internal organs, especially the liver, spleen and kidney.

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          Voice / Loss of or changes

          Most commonly caused by an infection in the trachea. Most often fungal (aspergillus), but could also be bacterial.

          In budgies, cockatiels and some other species, goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland) is also known to cause sqeaking or crying sounds in addition to regurgitation and coughing. The enlarged gland compresses the trachea leading to voice changes and respiratory difficulties.

          The vet needs to run diagnostic tests, such as cultures and blood work.

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          Information contained on this website is provided as general reference only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought.

          Other Related Web Links:Symptoms and Potential CausesBird Species and Diseases They are Most Susceptible toAvian Pain Assessment & Management

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          Photo of author

          Jeannine Miesle

          Jeannine Miesle, M.A., M.Ed, Allied Member, Association of Avian Veterinarians is an important contributor to Beauty of Birds. Jeannine has done considerable writing, proofreading and editing for journals and newsletters over the years. She had taught English and music in the schools and presently is an organist at Bethany Church in West Chester, Ohio. She also administrates a Facebook group, The Science of Avian Health.

          Jeannine takes in rescued cockatiels and presently has twelve birds. When they come to her they remain as part of her flock.

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