Parrots and other birds are intelligent, curious and naturally active in the wild. The typical wild bird spends most of its day searching for food and being alert for predators. When it is not looking for food, it may be searching for a mate or helping take care of a nest, protecting its home from rivals, socializing with other birds, or preening its feathers, among other activities. As pets, birds no longer have to search for food, worry about predators, defend their home from rivals, or do many of the other things necessary to survive in the wild. Without these things to do, some parrots and other birds begin to engage in abnormal behaviors such as feather-plucking and chewing at their skin, pacing around their cages, back-flipping, eating their own stool, prolonged abnormal screaming, etc.
We offer full veterinary, boarding (AZ locations only), and grooming (beak, wing, and nail trims) services for pet birds. Veterinary services include thorough examinations specific for avian patients. We provide diet and nutritional counseling specific to your pet. Testing of blood, feces, and other samples can be performed to look for diseases and other causes of illness. We can perform many tests on patients as small as parakeets. We can perform endoscopy to look inside birds to look for certain problems that do not show up on X-rays, ultrasound, or other testing. If your bet needs surgery, we have special tools and equipment specific for avian patients. We have deslorelin implants available to manage chronic egg laying and other reproductive problems. We have climate controlled incubators with oxygen for critically ill patients.
Below are resources we've gathered that relate to birds and bird ownership. Drill down into specific breeds for more detailed information.
Screaming is the second most common problem noted by parrot owners. Normal parrot vocalizations include alarm calls and contact calls. Alarm calls occur when the parrot is feeling as if it is in danger or distress. Contact calls are vocalizations used to identify where other members of the bird’s flock are at any given time. Both of these types of calls are normal. It is also normal for some parrot species to call and scream for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day, especially in the morning, and may be a way that wild parrots tell other parrots from another flock to stay away. When a parrot begins to repeatedly vocalize for prolonged periods of time this is considered to be abnormal and may indicate stress or boredom. Studies on parrot behavior have shown that one cause of problematic screaming may be a lack of physical interaction between social partners (i.e., other birds or its human companions).
- Parrots require at least 10 hours of sleep time each night.
- Parrots need full spectrum UVB light daily if strictly indoors.
- Ideally parrots benefit from time outside in their cage.
- Parrots awaken easily from movement within the house.
Need for Light
You need to plan ahead before you bring a bird into your home. Part of that planning should include a same-day wellness visit to a reputable veterinarian since there is no way to be sure a bird is completely healthy just by looking at it. After a physical examination, the veterinarian may discuss screening your new bird with laboratory tests. Simple tests can be done at the hospital, such as looking at droppings and oral secretions for abnormal bacteria using a Gram stain or checking the droppings for parasites. However, additional tests are often needed particular for birds that have been around many other birds. The importance of this additional testing cannot be ignored -- one study using protein electrophoresis, a kind of blood test, revealed that 30% of seemingly healthy birds had undetected infectious or inflammatory disease. Specific tests for psittacosis (also known as parrot fever or chlamydophilosis), Pacheco's virus, and psittacine beak and feather disease may be important especially if you have other birds at home. If the Gram stain suggests abnormal bacteria are present then microbiological cultures and sensitivities should be performed so that the right antibiotic can be chosed to treat the infection. Your new bird can have its sex determined by saliva, blood, or feather samples to confirm that you got what you paid for or to learn what you got. When you are budgeting for a new bird, make sure you remember to include money for a thorough health check!
Behavioral disorders are a frequent issue identified in companion parrots and one study revealed that 36% of owners felt their bird had a behavioral problem. Feather destructive behavior, more commonly known as feather-picking or feather-plucking, was the most common behavior problem seen by veterinarians and the fourth most common behavioral problem identified by owners. This issue can result from both medical and behavioral causes.
Biting is one of the most common behavior problems noted in pet parrots.
To ensure the health of your bird and the safety of your household, Arizona Exotic Animal Hospitals and Colorado Exotic Animal Hospital recommends the following Wellness Program:
Birds can injure themselves quite easily in the typical household. It is important to "bird proof" your home so that you lessen the chance of serious accidents.
When a bird is very ill, it is often recommended that a “hospital cage” be created at home to provide an optimal environment for recovery. It is best to have a designated cage for this before an illness occurs in order to be well prepared. Your veterinarian will make specific recommendations for you based on your individual birds problem but the following information is often adequate for most basic at home hospital cages.