Educational Articles

Birds

  • Mynah birds (Gracula sp. and Acridotheres tristis) originate from Africa, India and Southeast Asia and are best known for their ability to talk and to mimic any and all sounds.

  • While sick birds can occasionally be treated by their owners at home, any bird showing signs of illness should be examined by a veterinarian. Birds that are gravely ill will require hospitalization, while those that are still eating or that are only mildly affected may be treated by their owners under their veterinarian’s direction. For your bird to have a good chance of recovery, medication(s) must be administered as directed. Most pets recover faster when kept at the upper end of their normal environmental temperature. If your bird is ill, do not change his normal day/light cycle. Sick pets need extra calories to fight illness and recover, and cage rest is often best while the bird is recuperating. A bird that is ill should be isolated from other pets, preferably in a separate room. While not often the case, some bird diseases can be transmitted to owners.

  • Obesity is a major problem in older birds on seed-based diets and can contribute to diseases such as atherosclerosis (fat deposits in major arteries) and fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis). Unlike their wild counterparts, pet birds are not given as much opportunity for daily exercise. Pet birds often burn off very few calories in their daily lives. Many bird owners incorrectly feed their pet birds by offering a diet consisting mostly, or totally of high-fat seeds. Obese birds are extremely susceptible to heart attacks and strokes and have a higher anesthetic risk than normal-weight birds. Switching birds from all-seed diets to a more suitable diet consisting mainly of pellets, with smaller amounts of fresh vegetables and fruit, will decrease its overall daily intake of calories.

  • Pacheco's disease is caused by a herpes virus. Many species of birds are susceptible. Cockatoos and Amazon parrots are very susceptible to the infection and usually die, whereas conures, such as the Nanday and Patagonian Conures seem to be resistant to the disease.

  • The papilloma virus causes non-cancerous tumors (warts) in many pet birds. The virus belongs to the family papovavirus, the same family as the polyoma virus, which also infects birds.

  • Parasites are not commonly diagnosed in pet birds; however, when present they can cause generalized debilitation in birds. With external parasites, your veterinarian can often make a diagnosis based on the results of a physical examination and a microscopic analysis of the skin lesions. Intestinal parasites are usually discovered when the feces are examined microscopically. Blood parasites are typically found during a routine blood count. External parasites are often treated with specific topical or oral antiparasitic medications. Internal parasites can be treated with a variety of oral or injectable medications.

  • When a bird is not flying, it is standing. It is rare to see a bird lying down or sitting. Perches are therefore very important. They are used for standing, rubbing and cleaning beaks, chewing and entertainment.

  • Our knowledge of bird nutrition is constantly evolving. This is due both to heightened awareness of the importance of nutrition and to increased research into birds different needs. As with all other animals, birds need a proper balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. Different species of birds often require different foods.

  • The domestic pigeon (family Columbidae) includes over 300 breeds, all descending from the Rock Dove (Columbia livia). They originated in Eurasia, but are now found all over the world.

  • When a feather is pulled out or falls out during a normal moult, a new feather is stimulated to start growing right away. As the new feather (pin or blood feather) emerges from the skins feather follicle, it looks like a spike, quill or much like the feather shaft itself.