Bird Disease Signs

Breeders usually know signs of illness in a bird, but for new owners it could be difficult to see whether a bird is healthy or not. While ectoparasites like Dermanyssus gallinae could be easily found on feed balls, perches or on the removable bottom sand tray, other pathogen could be too small to identify with a naked eye, although a yellow stain of bird droppings could suggest campylobacteriosis, and a liquid consistency could refer to salmonellosis or other enterobacteria infections.

Broken feathers or feather-loss could indicate severe itching and discomfort.

Lying at the bottom of the cage, apathy, ruffled feathers, isolation from the group, bulging of the eyes, discharge from the nares or eyes, and open beak are all signs of illness.

Can Bacon Kill Your Pet Bird?

Technically, it can, in particular if you overheat the frying pan. Birds are highly sensitive to inhaled toxicants such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a synthetic polymer that is used in various products, including nonstick cookware, ironing board covers, and heat lamp bulbs. It is commonly marketed under the trade name Teflon. Most of these cases have been due to overheated frying pans within the household. At temperatures above 280°C, PTFE-coated surfaces begin to emit harmful products. Subsequent inhalation of these by-products by birds can result in various clinical signs, including open-beak breathing, chirping, incoordination, convulsions, and death.

Clinical Signs of Zoonotic Diseases in Pet Birds

Pet birds are potential carriers and transmitters of zoonotic diseases. Most important bacterial diseases include:

  • Chlamydophilosis is one of the most threatening zoonotic diseases transmitted by birds to humans, also known as chlamydiosis, ornithosis, psittacosis or parrot fever, caused by the intracellular bacterium Chlamydophila psittaci. Human symptoms come from mild respiratory signs to severe pneumonia, with localization in several organs leading to diarrhea, conjunctivitis, arthritis and genital organ infection.
  • Salmonellosis. Clinical signs in pet birds: diarrhea, multisystem disease, blood poisoning, osteomyelitis, depression, crop failing to empty at a normal rate, dehydration, and loss of appetite.
  • Tuberculosis has only rarely been reported in birds, and essentially in parrots (green-winged macaws). Clinical signs in pet birds: lethargy, osteomyelitis, panniculitis, and granulomatous hepatitis.
  • Campylobacteriosis is a frequent zoonotic disease. The causative agent, Campylobacter jejuni , is frequently isolated from migrating passerine birds which transmit the pathogen to humans and domesticated animals, including cattle. However, transmission from pet birds to human plays a minor role.
  • Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria transmitted by ticks that can infest songbirds.

There are numerous other potential zoonotic bacteria also identified in pet birds, including multiple gram-negative bacteria such as Pasteurella species, Klebsiella, Yersinia, Pseudomonas, and Escherichia coli.

Pet birds may also transmit parasitic and fungal diseases, such as:

The following clinical signs in pet birds are associated with zoonotic diseases:

Nestlings: weakness, anemia, death; Adults: appetite loss, respiratory distress, depression. Cause: Blood-sucking mites. Species: All.

Ruffled feathers, standing at the bottom of the cage, depression, appetite loss, diarrhea, nasal discharge, dehydration, eye signs. Cause: Chlamydophilosis. Species: Canaries, finches.

Appetite loss, weight loss, diarrhea, mild respiratory symptoms. Cause: Salmonellosis. Species: All.

Progressive appetite loss, weight loss, respiratory symptoms, long bone lesions. Cause: Tuberculosis. Species: Canaries.

Apathy, yellow feces (solid or liquid). Cause: Campylobacteriosis. Species: Waxbills, munias.

Sudden death, SBS, respiratory and neurological signs. Cause: Avian Influenza. Species: Passerines.

Ocular and neurological signs. Cause: West Nile fever. Species: All.

Ruffled feathers, standing at the bottom of the cage, depression, appetite loss, weight loss, ocular, respiratory and neurological signs. Cause: Newcastle disease. Species: All.

Ruffled feathers, standing at the bottom of the cage, depression, appetite loss, weight loss, respiratory and neurological signs, blindness. Cause: Toxoplasmosis. Species: Canary, finch, budgerigar minah.


  1. Zoonoses in pet birds: review and perspectives. Geraldine Boseret, Bertrand Losson, Jacques G Mainil, Etienne Thiry and Claude SaegermanEmail author Veterinary Research201344:36 DOI: 10.1186/1297-9716-44-36
  2. Epidemiological Evidence That Garden Birds Are a Source of Human Salmonellosis in England and Wales Becki Lawson,1,* Elizabeth de Pinna,2 Robert A. Horton,3 Shaheed K. Macgregor,4 Shinto K. John,1 Julian Chantrey,5 J. Paul Duff,6 James K. Kirkwood,7 Victor R. Simpson,8 Robert A. Robinson,9 John Wain,10 and Andrew A. Cunningham1, Axel Cloeckaert, Editor PLoS Onev.9(2); 2014
  3. Chlamydiosis in British Garden Birds (2005–2011): Retrospective Diagnosis and Chlamydia psittaci Genotype Determination. K. M. Beckmann,corresponding author N. Borel, A. M. Pocknell, M. P. Dagleish, K. Sachse, S. K. John, A. Pospischil, A. A. Cunningham, and B. Lawson Springer Open ChoicePMC4368850
  4. Polytetrafluoroethylene Toxicosis in Recently Hatched Chickens (Gallus domesticus). Katherine A Shuster,1,* Kristie L Brock,3 Robert C Dysko,1 Victor J DiRita,1,2 Ingrid L Bergin1 Comp Medv.62(1); 2012 Feb


Bird Disease Signs

Diseases of Amazon Parrots

First Aid for Birds

Heavy Metal Toxicity

Pacheco's Disease

Feet Care


Veterinary Parasites



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