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Warning Signs of Illness in Birds

October 1, 2015

Do you have a pet bird? Our feathered friends can make adorable and charming pets. Part of being a responsible bird owner is monitoring your winged pet for any signs of illness. Birds are quite fragile, and can get sick very quickly! In this article, a local Rowan County, NC vet lists some common symptoms of illness in birds.


Keep an eye on your pet’s posture and movements. If Polly is lurching, tucking her head in, bobbing her tail, sitting on the bottom of her cage, staggering, or off-balance, she could be ill. Birds that are sick sometimes walk in circles, act aggressive, tremble, preen excessively, or sit in unusual positions.


A change in appetite is often a red flag with animals. Monitor your pet’s food intake, and contact your vet right away if Polly loses her appetite. Use a scale to check for weight changes.


Healthy birds should breathe smoothly and quietly. If your winged pal is breathing through her mouth, losing her breath easily, or wheezing, she could be sick.

Eyes and Ears

Swelling, redness, or discharge in or around the eyes or ears can be indications of sickness in birds. Sunken eyes can also be a sign of illness.

Changes in Droppings

Always check your feathered buddy’s droppings when cleaning her cage. Changes in the color, amount, or texture of your pet’s waste can be warning signs of sickness. Diarrhea, constipation, undigested food in your pet’s droppings, and bloody stools are also red flags.


Your bird’s feathers should be clean and bright. Feathers that are abnormal in shape or tattered can be indicative of illness in birds. Feather pulling is another sign of sickness in our feathered friends.


If Polly’s beak is overgrown, discolored, flaky, asymmetrical, or swollen, she could be sick.

Other Signs

These are just a few possible signs of illness in birds. Ask your vet for more information on signs of sickness in birds. We recommend researching your bird’s species, so you know exactly what is and is not normal. In general, always keep an eye out for any changes in Polly’s appearance, behavior, or vocalizations. If you notice any of these symptoms, or if your bird just isn’t acting like herself, contact your vet immediately.

Call us, your local Rowan County, NC veterinary clinic, for all of your bird’s veterinary care needs.

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