Pet and Aviary Birds


What if my bird is sick?

Early signs of illness in birds can be hard to spot as they deliberately mask any symptoms. This is because potential predators will target sick or weak animals.

So, when your bird is showing visible signs of illness it can already be very unwell.

Signs of Serious Disease in Birds

  • Change in the number or appearance of the droppings.
  • Vomiting or discharges from eyes or nose
  • Increase or decrease in food or water intake
  • Sitting fluffed up or sleeping more
  • Increased breathing effort or noises
  • Tail bobbing
  • Decreased vocalisation
  • Abdominal enlargement or other swellings or lumps
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding or other injuries.
  • Feather plucking

Because your bird may be quite ill, it is important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. We recommend examination and laboratory testing to quickly find an answer and start effective treatment. In some cases further tests may be required, but we will discuss these options with you before taking further steps.

We can test or treat for chlamydia (or psittacosis). Chlamydia is important as it is very common in parrots and can spread to humans. Birds may show signs such as sneezing, weight loss and/or green watery droppings, or no signs at all.

Other reasons to take your bird to the bird vet:

  • Post purchase health checks – should be done within one to two weeks of purchase
  • Behavioural problems
  • Beak trimming
  • Wing and nail clipping
  • Worming

 What to feed your bird
Correct diet is vitally important in maintaining the health of your bird.  Most of the diseases we see can be related to poor nutrition.  See the information sheets on feeding different types of parrots.

Regular health checks

We recommend annual or twice annual health checks to ensure that hidden diseases do not become serious and to provide you with the latest information on caring for your bird. We can provide reminders for this service.

Sex determination

In many species of birds, males and females look identical. In these species, a blood test can be done to “sex” the bird.


Try to provide the largest cage possible if your bird is going to be confined most of the time. Remember, width is more important than height if you want to increase space for your bird. Birds need to be able to perch without their tail or spread wings hitting the bars. Cage construction needs to be non-toxic.  Exposed galvanised metal and shoddy soldering need to be avoided, as this is poisonous.

Perches made from natural branches are best.  Perches need to be big enough that the bird can only get three quarters of it’s foot around it, to ensure nail wear and prevent foot injury. Sand paper and dowel perches commonly cause foot problems. Use eucalyptus or Casuarina branches. Beware: many non-native shrubs and trees may be toxic.  Perches need to be placed so droppings don’t fall in food or water containers.

Clean cage and utensils regularly as droppings are a common cause of disease. Replace perches regularly. Newspaper is ideal for cage bottoms as it is cheap, absorbent and non-toxic. Avoid wood chips and kitty litter as they can cause intestinal obstruction, especially in young birds.


Many birds become bored easily and toys that can be played with and chewed are important. Make sure they do not have easily chewed wire, chain or string components. Bird Kongs, which contain food treats are ideal. Human baby toys are also a safe option for parrots to chew on. Constructing little play gyms with ladders, mirrors and bells work very well.



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