Signs of A Healthy Bird
Birds have a way of hiding signs of illness; a healthy bird will display the following:
• Behaves normally for their species
• Perches without problems
• Moves with agile coordination
• Bears weight with all four toes and in proper position
• Is alert and responsive
• No sign of labored breathing or tail bobbing
• Eyes, ears and nostrils are free of dirt
• No evidence of feather plucking and has healthy plumage and color
• Normal droppings and no waste sticking to anal area
• Appropriate weight for build

Never use store-bought medicines on your bird, whether they are meant for birds or not. You may be treating the symptoms but not the cause, and could inadvertently kill the bird. It is better to take the bird to the vet and find out what's wrong, than take that risk.

Behavior Problems
Behavior problems are common place with various species of birds, some can be changed others can not. First understand what are typical problems that you may encounter with your bird and what steps you can take to solve the problem.

Feather Plucking
At the first sign of this behavior, seek your vet counsel. There may be a medical condition underlying this behavior.

What you can do if not a medical condition:
• Keep your bird’s environment moist and humid
• Change out toys, this should be done weekly anyway
• Change their cage location
• Keep a radio or TV on during the day when no one is home
• Cover the cage for 12 hours to ensure adequate rest
• More interaction with your bird

Birds have a strong powerful beaks and will bite the hands that feeds it out of
• Fear
• Territorial possession
• Re-directed aggression- they want something and can’t have it so they bite what comes in closest contact
• Dominance

One simple way to ward off the behavior, when your bird is on your hand distract it by dropping your hand or wobbling your arm slightly.

Screaming or Load Vocalization
Some species are worse than others and it is just part of their nature. Birds tend to be the most vocal in the morning and prior to bedtime. They will also be more vocal to get your attention if bored, under stress, or just want their “mommy”. Never yell at your bird! This will only act as negative reinforcement if they just want attention. A simple solution, cover the cage when your bird starts screaming for a short period of time or provide more attention.

Common Diseases
• Aspergillosis in a mycotic disease more commonly affecting the blue-fronted Amazon, African grey parrot, and mynahs. Treatment is usually long-term and serologic testing is needed to monitor progress.
• Candidiasis, another common fungal disease of pet birds, is caused by an opportunistic yeast,
• Candida albicans, commonly infecting the gastrointestinal tract.
• Chlamydiosis affects nearly all species of pet birds, usually young birds. South American species appear to be affected more commonly than Asian, Australian, or African species. Because of the potential of passing the disease to humans, appropriate testing and control is recommended.
• Pacheco
• Papillomavirus is suspected to be associated with benign epithelial (skin) tumors on un-feathered skin and gastrointestinal tract (cloaca). Treatment consists of surgical or cryotherapy, cauterization, or radiocautery.
• Hypovitaminosis A plays an important part on the overall health of birds. Diagnosis is based on dietary history, physical exam, and cytology.

You should keep your birds nails and wings clipped.

• Nail Clipping
If nails are too long they can catch on items and cause damage. You will need a pair of fingernail or toenail clippers and syptic powder in case of bleeding. ). Birds only have a few tablespoons of blood in their veins; so beware that any bleeding can be life threatening.

• Have someone hold the bird in such a manner that it can't flap its wings or get loose (be careful not to hold the chest too hard-birds need to expand their ribs to breathe. If you hold too tight, the bird will suffocate!)
• Nail clipping can be made much easier if you can teach your bird to lift one foot at time.
• Make one small cut above the blood vessel line

• Wing Clipping
Flying can be dangerous to your pet bird so it is important to clip their wings.

Prior to trimming, check your bird's wings for blood feathers. A blood feather is a new, growing feather, which has its own blood supply. The feather shaft (base) is cloudy and purple or red colored, and the feather is all or partly covered with a white, paper-like sheath. If cut, this feather will act as a straw to pump blood out of the bird. The only way to stop a blood feather from bleeding once it starts is to pull it out with needle-nosed pliers (from the bottom of the feather, not the end). If your bird needs its wings clipped, and has blood feathers, you can carefully cut the feathers around the blood feather, and go back later to cut the blood feather when it grows in.

Your bird will molt periodically.

Steps to Clip Wings
1. Hold the bird securely and gently extend one wing.
2. Clip the first seven to ten long feathers up to the bottom of the next layer working one feather at a time. Trim so that your bird will be able to fold its wings.
3. Move to opposite wind and trim the same way
4. Always clip both side the same so your bird is not flying in circles
5. Your bird will molt. When the new feathers are growing back they will grow to full length so you will need to clip as new ones come in. It takes about 4 weeks for a wing feather to grow in completely.

Just like your bird’s nails, its beak will grow. Your bird will need something hard to chew or have its beak filed (only professionally!) in order to eat properly. Cuttlebones works well or place a mineral rock in its cage.

Bathing helps maintain their feathers, keeps the skin moist and dander free. Your bird should be bathed about twice a week to maintain their health as well. You can bathe your bird in a bowl, spray with a spritzer, or even place in your shower. Amount of water will vary as well so experiment with what your bird likes. Its always easier to get your bird accustomed at an early age.

Tips for Bathing in Sink or Shower
• Use cool water
• Thoroughly wet your bird, especially for Cockatiels, Grey’s and cockatoos, which have a lot of feather dust.
• Bathe your bird in an area with no draft and is warm
• Wrap your bird in a towel and stoke in the feather directions to aid in drying
• Never use a hair dryer on your bird

Tips for Using a Bowl in the Cage
• Place a shallow bowl of cool water in bottom of clean cage.
• This is the best method to use with breeding birds and also small birds such as canaries and finches, which usually are not taken out of their cages. But larger birds also enjoy a bowl of water. Be sure that the temperature is not too cold and that there are no drafts. It is best to remove the bowl at night, when it is cooler and also dark.
• Bedding on the bottom of the cage often needs changing after a bath is taken. Wet bedding is a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus and mold.
• Using a heavy bowl helps avoid it being tipped over.

Tips for Bathing with Spray Bottle
• Fill the bottle with slightly warm to cool water and set the sprayer on a fine or mist setting.
• Mist your bird
• Bathe your bird in an area with no draft and is warm
• Wrap your bird in a towel and stoke in the feather directions to aid in drying
• Never use a hair dryer on your bird

  Bird owner's checklist:
What you need prior to bringing home your new bird
  Species Information  
  Links to other sources of bird information  
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