Puffed-up feathers - Birds fluff up their feathers to keep warm, relax for sleep and also when sick. A bird who sits puffed
up much of the day is likely in trouble.
Tail-bobbing when breathing - Birds who sit there puffed up, bobbing their tails, mouth open, may be sick.
Not eating their favorite food - Maybe the bird's full, but they need to eat often. If after a day the favorite food is untouched, something's likely
Half-closed or closed eyes - Alert and healthy birds usually have both eyes wide open while awake.
Sleeping excessively - Like
people, birds who sleep a lot more than usual may be in trouble.
Discharge/wetness around the nose - It may be hard to see the nose, but it's usually at the top of the widest part of the bill, right near or under the
feather line. Watch for moisture/discharge there. An occasional sneeze is OK, but if it stays moist....
Throwing up undigested food - Can be mistaken for harmless courtship-related regurgitation. New owners should play it safe and check with a vet.
You can eventually learn to tell if it's nausea, but watch very carefully.
Poop sticking to the vent feathers - This is a common sign of possible sickness, especially if it keeps happening.
Discolored, undigested, or runny poop - Watch for changes in the shape/color of the poop. Runny poop can happen if you've just given your bird a bath or
if it just drank lots of water, but those effects only last for about an hour with small birds. Color changes can mean a change
in diet (seed diets usually produce greenish poop, pellets usually produce brown), but off-colors or unusual colors are a
warning sign (black is usually a bad sign). The poop should also look well-digested -- no lumps in it that can be identified
as what they used to be. If your bird eats seeds, there should not be whole, undigested seeds in the poop
Ragged, poorly preened feathers - A sign the bird isn't feeling up to caring for its feathers, which is a bad sign, since feathers are vital to a
bird's survival in the wild.
Sneezing - Especially
if it's frequent.
Lack of energy - If a normally
playful bird doesn't play very much any more, it may well be sick.
Sudden temperament change - A
normally mellow bird may get grouchy and nippy, or a rambunctious bird might just get very quiet and mellow. It might be just
hormones or a bad feather day ... or it could be something else.
Weight loss - Dangerous
especially to small birds, who don't have much in the way of bodily reserves. Most casual bird owners don't weigh their birds
very often, so it's important to work with a vet to check a bird's weight. Sometimes you can tell by feeling the keel bone,
the bone that runs down the center of the bird's chest -- if it sticks out like a razor, the bird is starving! In a healthy
bird, there's so much flesh on the chest you can hardly feel the bone.
In budgies, crusted-over nose (cere) and/or feet - A possible sign of mites.
Dull feathers/feathers with unnatural banding Many possible sicknesses here! With cockatoos and cockatiels, also watch for a lack of "powder" (though
young birds don't seem to have as much of it). If the bird's appearance is gradually getting worse, see a vet!
Plucked feathers - This
can sometimes be due to parasites or other problems, not just boredom.
Any sign of blood - Bad
sign. If your birdie is bleeding, you need to stop it immediately. Call your vet if you're not sure how. If it's a broken
pin feather that's bleeding and it needs to be pulled out. For other cases, you need Quik-stop or other styptic (bleeding-stopping)
powder (cornstarch or flour will work too) . It's alarming to see big drops of blood falling from a tiny bird.
* If you suspect that your bird is sick, seek medical attention at once, as time is an issue.
Please do not wait.