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Assessing Bird Health

This article is a brief overview of the topic, and is not intended to replace expert care by your Avian Veterinarian. If your bird is displaying signs of illness, seek appropriate medical assistance.

The next time you attend a birdmart or bird show, make a point to look at the vendors booths that are selling birds of the same variety you are keeping at home. Compare how the birds and the cages they are held in at the vendor booth look:

  • Cages clean of waste other than normal droppings as would appear from just one morning of being in the cage? Vendors sometimes crowd more than a good number sale birds in for ease of transportation to and from the show or birdmart.
  • Bird's feather condition
  • Bird's clarity of eyes
  • Bird's smoothness of their feather coat
  • Glossy or dullness of their coat
  • Clean clear looking feet
  • Clean clear looking beak
  • Breathing freely and easily - not labored 
  • What is the difference between "Yawning" and open mouth labored breathing? If a bird keeps the mouth open constantly they may be suffering from airsac mites.  It is usual for finches to sometimes give the apprearance of brief yawning - no need for alarm if you see this sometimes.
  • Flying freely  not sitting heaily on their perch (lethargic) or worse on the bottom of the cage.
  • Note: the smaller a bird is, the more rapid its heart-beat will appear in its chest, this is normal.

Are the feathers looking like they have been pecked at a lot (can be from too many birds living in too small of cage.

What do their feet and legs look like? Are they a healthy pink (or black) if that should be the natural color on your variety of birds?

Are there built-up layers of scaley skin on their feet or near their beeks and eyes?

Are their toe-nails overgrown and curling back on themselves?

Are the birds trim and fit looking or puffed and lethargic?  Birds will naturally puff up their feathers a bit if they are chilly - but if they are very round and the puffiness never goes down, this can be a sign of illness. A bird's physical appearance and behavior can tell you a lot about what their regular living conditions are probably like.

Look for these vendors selling finches at our local Bird Marts - most of them are usually at both the San Jose Bird Mart and the Northern California Exotic Bird & Supply Expo  in Pleasanton.

Norcal Exotic Expo vendors   

Make your next trip to the bird mart, or local pet store a birdkeeping learning opportunity.


Additional health reference

Avian First Aid

Avian Microscopy Yahoo Group

Avian Care, Feeding & Reference articles by Robert G. Black


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Earthquake Prep For Birdkeepers


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    Planning Help

    Updating your Home Eq Preparations - Must Have Items



    Water Storage Ideas

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