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Uploaded:2016-04-15
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Jessi shares 5 ways to tell if your bird might be sick. Featuring lots of the birds at Animal Wonders (that aren't sick, just happy to join in the fun of the day)

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Hey guys, we're here at Animal Wonders, home of many animals, including thirty-four birds.  I've cared for well over many birds in my career, and over that time, I've learned to easily spot if a bird is sick.

Bird behavior tends to be difficult for many humans to read, partly because they don't have any facial expressions, and their bodies don't move like us.  And birds are really good at hiding any symptoms of an illness, even if they're feeling really terrible.  And they have to be, in order to hide from any predator that might want to pick a slow, injured, or sick bird out of a flock.

But a combination of humans' inability to read behavior and the bird's ability to hide any symptoms of illness leads to a big problem of sick birds going without medical treatment, or dying from treatable ailments.

So, here are five telltale signs that your bird might be sick.

Number one, weight loss.  The best and easiest way to tell if your bird is getting sick is to monitor their weight.  Everyone who cares for a bird should own a small gram scale, with a perch attached--like this.  Weigh your bird first thing in the morning, after their morning poop, but before they eat breakfast.  This will give you the most accurate weight, and once you have this weight, you can weigh them daily, weekly, or monthly to monitor their health.  Now, their will be some fluctuation, especially if your bird is still growing, but if they ever drop more than ten percent of their normal morning weight, you know there's something serious going on--get them to a vet.  Birds can be very delicate when it comes to illness, so you have to be proactive in their treatment.  Make sure you have a veterinarian that's familiar with avian health. 

Alright, number two--watch the poo.  Birds have unique droppings, different than mammals, and (bird screeches) it can take a bit to learn how to read them.  But watching their droppings is a great way to tell the health of a bird.  It comes in three parts.  The feces, which should be cylindrical, well-formed, and a consistent color, the uric acid, which should be white or slightly yellow and chalky after it's dried, and the excess liquid which should be clear and only slightly dampen the area around the feces and uric acid.  If your bird's droppings are black, bright green, or red, that could be a sign of sickness.  If the feces portion of the droppings is not well-formed, that's considered diarrhea, and your bird needs medical attention to treat the illness and prevent dehydration.  Get them to a vet. 

Number three--take a breath.  Watch the bird breathe.  Their breath should be consistent without any sound coming from their nostrils.  If there's a wheezing, whistling, clicking, or rasp, that's an indication of a respiratory infection and they need medical attention as soon as possible.  While you're listening, watch their tail.  If it's moving up and down with each breath, that's a sign of labored breathing, which is also a sign of a respiratory infection.  Get them to a vet. 

Number four--pretty bird.  Birds only look pretty if they feel good on the inside.  The quality of their feathers tells you a lot about their nutrition and the health of their organs.  The feathers should be brightly colored and sleek.  Many birds have an oil gland that they use to shine their feathers.  Other birds have a downy powder used to coat their feathers.  Either way, the feather should look clean and vibrant.  If their feathers look dull or drab, it's important to re-evaluate their diet and make sure their getting the proper amounts of nutrients.  If their feathers have dark lines throughout them, that's a sign of malnutrition and either their diet needs to be revamped, or they're not absorbing their nutrients properly.  If their feathers are over-groomed, plucked, or frayed at the ends, that could be a sign of mental or physical distress.  If their feathers show any of these symptoms, get them to a vet. 

Number five, being weird.  If you've had your bird for a while, and you notice a sudden change in personality, it could be a sign that they aren't feeling well.  It's important to never 'wait and see' with a bird.  Once they start showing signs of illness, it's already quite advanced.  So, if you think your bird is acting weird and might be sick, you know what I'm going to say--get them to a vet. 

The bird in your care is depending on you, so it's a good idea to always have an emergency fund in case they need medical treatment.  I hope all of you are staying healthy and happy and you never need to use any of this advice.  But if you do, I hope for a speedy recovery. 

Thank you for watching, and if you have any questions for me, you can leave them in the comments below.  If you want to keep learning about animals you can go on an adventure with us every week by subscribing to our YouTube channel Animal Wonders Montana.  Have a great week and we'll see you next time.