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Signs of Illness in Birds

January 15, 2018

Do you have a pet bird? Polly is a very charming little pet! However, birds are quite fragile, and can get sick very quickly. As a good pet parent, it’s important for you to know what to watch for. In this article, a Glen Ellyn, IL vet lists some common signs of sickness in our feathered friends.


Birds that are sick often stand in a hunched, awkward position. Polly may also wobble, lose her balance, tremble, sit on the bottom of her cage, or walk in circles. Unusual wing positions can also indicate sickness, as are strange movements or postures.


Ruffled feathers can definitely be indicative of health issues in birds. Unkempt, wet, matted, or dull feathers are also warning signs. Other indications include bald spots, broken or misshaped feathers, and/or discoloration.


If Polly is sick, her eyes may look red, runny, dull, or sunken. Visible lumps, lesions, or swelling are also warning signs, as is discharge from the eyes or nares. An overgrown or discolored beak can be another red flag.

Respiratory Problems

Polly should breathe smoothly and quietly through her nares, only sneezing on occasion. Respiratory issues, such as frequent sneezing, wheezing, and breathing difficulty, are all signs of trouble. Shortness of breath can also be indicative of illness. Your winged pal may also sound different if she is ill.

Digestive Issues

A lack of appetite is often a symptom of illness in our feathered friends. Sudden increases in appetite can also be indicative of health issues. Tummy troubles, such as vomiting and diarrhea, are more warning signs, as are changes in the color, texture, or odor of your bird’s waste. (Note: dark, discolored, bloody, or rust-colored waste is a serious symptom in birds, and should be treated as a medical emergency.)


It can be very easy to miss some of these symptoms. Pay attention to your bird every day, and take time to just observe her. The better you get to know Polly, the easier it will be for you to spot something amiss. If you do see any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately. It’s also important to do plenty of research on your pet’s particular breed, and get some more specific information.

Please feel free to contact us, your Glen Ellyn, IL pet hospital, for all your bird’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!