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BUDGIE HEALTH ISSUES

Budgies can become ill when they are not cared for or fed appropriately. Providing good diet and right living conditions helps keep your budgies healthy and happy. Healthy bird is active, always alert, has good appetite, its feathers, eyes, feet and cere are clean, beak - smooth. Its droppings are dark green and white, toothpaste consistency. If your bird sits in one place, is not interested in its usual activities, its feathers are puffed up - it may indicate it's not feeling well.

 

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"

 

If you think your budgie is not well, make a vet appointment as soon as possible. Budgies are preys in the wild, so they can instinctively hide a sickness to avoid being taken as vulnerable by potential predators. They often look and act fine, even when ill and if you notice a change in your budgie appearance or behaviour, it probably means it's been sick for longer than it seems and needs medical intervention urgently.

Below - there are some common bird diseases or heath issues with symptoms. I'm deliberately not giving you ideas how to cure budgie illnesses, because that should be done by a vet, after detailed examination or tests.

 

Apart from the colour/shape/size/consistency of your budgie’s poops, it also matters -to spot an illness- how the poops are distributed in the cage (for that reason white paper towels are the best as a bedding in the cage, so that you can easily see if your bird’s droppings are normal). And now - what’s ok at night, is not ok during the day and the other way around. If your birds poops are cumulated in one place, in a pile, or very close to each other at DAY time, that means your budgie doesn't move too much. Budgies poop every 15 minutes so if you can see a lot of droppings in one place, it means you bird hasn’t moved from the spot for a few hours at least. And that’s the 1st indicator, something might be going on, health-wise. Budgies are naturally very active and move from one place to another every minute so if they sit in one place all the time - it’s unlikely a good sign. But when it comes to the NIGHT time - it’s good when the poops are just in one place. That means your bird has had a good, peaceful, undisturbed sleep. But if, after the night, you see their poops around the place, it means there is something that’s been bothering your bird at night. It might be feather mites for example. Normally, birds sleep through the night without the need to change a place. But if your birds are spread all over the place after the night, it suggests restless sleep and you should look into some other possible symptoms of an illness. Take a look at the picture below - hope it helps you visualise what I mean.

sick budgie poops
 

AVIAN GASTRIC YEAST (AGY) INFECTION

Causes: 

  • direct contact with infected food

  • contact with the droppings of an infected bird

  • the yeast microbes in the environment


Symptoms:

  • bird is fluffed up, lethargic

  • vomiting, clear slime may cover feathers on head

  • diarrhoea 

  • excessive eating along with a weight loss

  • slimy seeds are regurgitated

  • bird looks like it's eating but it's just grinding seeds (white powder can be found in their feeder)

  • undigested seeds in droppings

  • feathers around the vent often stained with droppings

  • in some cases - blood in droppings (black poop)

  • if the advanced stages - vomiting slimy material

  • In acute type - birds can die suddenly within 12-24 hours (may regurgitate fluid with traces of blood), is quiet and depressed

  • In chronic type - weight loss despite excessive eating, gaping, stretching their necks to try to swallow

  • some birds may sit on the bottom of the cage with closed eyes

 

AVIAN GOUT

Causes:

  • too much proteins in the diet

  • too much calcium in the diet

  • too much Vit. D3

  • salt poisoning

  • dehydration

  • internal defects

  • viral infection

  • exposure to pesticides, heavy metals or other toxins (e.g. from plants)

  • deficiency of Vit. A or B12


Symptoms:

  • bird looks puffed up

  • swollen toes 

  • creamy white nodules under the skin near feet joints

  • reptured swelling

  • feather picking from the lower back

  • excessive thirst

  • weakness

  • difficulty in flying and moving from perch to perch (bird may prefer to sit on the floor)

  • lost apetite

  • diarrhoea

  • excess of urine in droppings

  • wet vent

 
budgie gout
 
sick budgie
 

IODINE DEFICIENCY / GOITER

Causes:

  • all-seed diet 

  • excessive consumption of soybean, flax, rapeseed, kale, cabbage, broccoli - as they contain substances interfering in the normal production of thyroxine by the thyroid gland

Symptoms:

  • respiratory wheezing

  • breathing difficulties

  • 'squeaking' sound heard during breathing

  • often change of voice

  • male's cere turns dark brown

  • bird may be holding its head upright

  • weight loss and poorly looking feathers

  • swelling around the neck area

  • regurgitation or vomiting

  • lethargy

  • sudden death due to heart failure (enlargement of the thyroid gland can place enormous pressure on digestive system, lungs, heart and the air sacs)

 
iodine deficiency budgie
 

VITAMIN 'A' DEFICIENCY

Causes:

  • all-seed diet

Symptoms:

  • breaching difficulties; wheezing, clicking sounds, sneezing

  • nasal discharge

  • crusted or plugged nostrils

  • lethargy

  • depression

  • diarrhea

  • tail-bobbing

  • weight loss

  • swollen eyes and discharge from the eyes

  • gagging

  • "slimy mouth"

  • prone to infections (body unable to heal itself)

 

TESTICULAR TUMOR

Causes:

  • errors in the DNA of cells / genetic

Symptoms:​

  • cere turning brown (looking greenish-brown - looking like on the picture above, similar to the iodine deficiency symptom)

  • weight loss

  • sometimes shortness of breath

  • difficulties in standing, walking - curling up one leg

  • a lump/mass between legs

  • might be mistaken for an injured leg

 
budgie testicular tumor
 

FATTY LIVER DISEASE

Causes:

  • poor nutrition, all-seed diet

  • high-fat diet (e.g. sunflower seeds are very high in fat)

Symptoms:​

  • obesity (enlarged abdomen) - normal budgie weight is: 35-45g. Obesity starts when budgie weighs: 60-70g

  • overgrown beak

  • difficulties with breathing

  • green poops, often diarrhoea

  • poor feather quality

  • in advanced stage - disorientation or seizures

  • bleeding into the upper beak (or claws)

 

Droppings suggesting liver disease (below)

liver%20disease%20budgie_edited.jpg
 

Obese budgie may or may not indicate liver disease (it might be boredom, lack of exercises, or too fat diet), but it's worth keeping an eye on a budgie that is overweight (below)

obese budgie
 
obese budgie

Above, again - obese budgie which may (or may not) suggest fat liver disease (Obesity is never good for your bird's health)

 

Overgrown beak suggesting liver disease (below)

overgrown beak budgie
 

Bleeding into upper beak, suggesting liver disease (below)

bleeding into beak budgie
 

PARROT FEVER (PSITTACOSIS)

Causes:

  • Contact with an infected bird or its dropping (highly contagious)

Symptoms:

  • Swollen eyelids and/or feathers missing around eyes

  • Ruffled feathers

  • Depression

  • Weight loss

  • Appetite loss

  • Respiratory problems

  • Discharge from eyes and nostrils

  • diarrhoea (bright green, watery, messy poops)

  • Sneezing

  • Runny nose

  • Sometimes vomiting

 

Parrot Fever (Psittacosis) droppings

Parrot Fever (Psittacosis) poops
 

FRENCH MOULT

Causes:

  • Stress, weak immune system

  • Poor hygiene, dusty environment

  • Poor nutrition while breeding

  • Over-breeding

  • Insects and a mite infestation

  • Virus transmitted from other birds

Symptoms:

  • Primary and tail feathers missing

  • Other feathers broken due to mechanical stress

  • In extreme cases - most or all feathers missing

  • If nestling chicks are infected - they have swollen abdomens, bleed easily, reddish body colour, slow growth (very high mortality), sudden death

 

French moult

french moult budgie
 

French moult

french moult budgie
 

PSITTACINE BEAK AND FEATHER DISEASE (PBFD)

Causes:

  • caused by Circovirus

  • contact with an infected bird

  • contact with the virus in the environment

  • also known as French Moult (look above)

Symptoms:

  • virus affects keratin (beak and feather protein)

  • may suppress the bird’s immune system

  • damage to feathers (partial or total loss) and beaks

  • loss of appetite and weight

 

Budgie with PBFD (below)

PBFD budgie
 

Budgie with PBFD (below)

PBFD budgie
 

GAS CROP (SOUR CROP)

Causes:

  • yeast infection

  • spoiled hand-feeding formula

  • unhygienic hand-feeding methods (incl. unclean feeding utensils)

  • ingesting foreign material

  • in baby budgies: baby formula is too thick, too hot or too cold; also overfeeding babies

Symptoms:

  • diarrhoea 

  • apetite loss

  • fatigue/exhaustion

  • throwing up sour smelling vomit

  • swollen crop - balloon-like shape

  • regurgitating food and smelly mucus

  • in baby budgies: crop puffy and unnaturally enlarged

 

SCALY FACE (MITES)

Causes:

  • Contact with an infected bird (highly contagious)

  • transmission between parents and babies (may start to appear even 6 months after)

Symptoms:

  • white crusts around the beak, nostrils, eyes, and sometimes legs

  • legs and beak may become deformed and crooked if the infection is not treated in time

  • in the early stages, it looks like bright white deposit that becomes thicker and crustier over time

  • restless bird

  • scratching very often

 

Scaly face

scaly face budgies
 
 

Scaly face (mites)

scaly mites

Early stages of scaly face (mites) in a budgie (below)

scaly face mites budgie
 

COCCIDIOSIS

Causes:

  • cause by a microscopic parasite called coccidiaa

  • bird eats droppings of an infected bird

  • bad hygiene in a cage (soiled water/water container)

  • often in rainy season, with high humidity in the air and high temps

Symptoms:

  • severe diarrhea (watery droppings)

  • dark, green droppings, sometimes with blood (may look dark green/black)

  • sometimes blood around vent area

  • vomiting

  • lack of appetite

  • fluffed up bird

  • weakness and drowsiness

  • fresh warm faecal smears of the droppings display the eggs (oocysts) - not always

  • sudden decrease in noises and activity

  • sudden death within days

 

AIR SAC MITES

Causes:

  • mites eggs spread by coughing, they are coughed, swallowed and passed in infected bird's droppings

Symptoms:

  • shortness of breath 

  • coughing

  • sneezing 

  • nasal discharge

  • breathing with open beak

  • sometimes presence of eggs in budgie's droppings

  • tail bobbing

  • clicking and groaning breathing sounds

  • choking movements followed by head shaking

 

ROUNDWORM

Causes:

  • budgie becomes infected by eating worm eggs passed in the droppings of an infected bird

  • common in outdoor aviaries, where droppings mix with earth

Symptoms:

  • diarrhoea or dark sticky droppings (may contain blood)

  • weight loss and listlessness

  • possible swollen stomach area

  • problems to the bird's central nervous system; paralysis of some part of budgie's body and unnaturally looking turning movements of its head

  • droppings around vent area

  • appetite loss

  • inactive bird

  • budgie may strain to pass droppings

  • sudden death may occur when a large quantity of eggs is eaten and they hatched at the same time and caused blockage in birds digestive system

 

SALMONELLOSIS / SALMONELLA

Causes:

  • contact with an infected bird or its dropping (highly contagious)

  • spreads via droppings (budgie eats droppings of an infected bird)

  • common in large flocks of birds

  • poor hygiene around feeders

Symptoms:

  • budgie may appear thin

  • fluffed up

  • may have swollen eyelids

  • lethargic and easy to handle

 

EGG BINDING

Causes:

  • seed-only diet

  • calcium deficiency

  • vitamin deficiency

  • protein deficiency

  • lack of exercise, obesity

  • bad living conditions, e.g. too hot or too cold, not enough food/water

  • excessive egg laying

  • very mature female, too old for breeding (over 4 years)

  • female too young for breeding (under 1 year old)

  • poor breeding practices (eggs or babies taken away too soon, breeding birds out of condition)

  • most common in single females (without a male mate)

  • few sources also say a strong bond with an owner or a mirror/toy might be one of the causes

  • previous issues with passing eggs

Symptoms:

  • tail bobbing

  • open mouth breathing

  • fluffed up appearance

  • difficulty in balancing on perch (paralysis of a leg)

  • lethargic, depression

  • sitting on the bottom of a cage

  • all-white poops (less droppings than normal or lack of droppings)

  • straining

  • bulging of the vent

 

Egg bound budgie (below)

egg bound budgie
 

BUMBLEFOOT

Causes:

  • diet low in vitamin A, biotin, calcium, D3

  • diet high in fat

  • poor hygiene (spoiled food or droppings caked to the perches)

  • trauma to the foot from an injury

  • bad perches material/shape (plastic/smooth wooden perches, all the same size), or unnatural perches made of material hurting budgie's feet

  • rough floor surfaces

  • damp bedding

  • obesity (excess pressure placed on the feet and lack of physical activity)

Symptoms:

  • lameness (in later stages)

  • swelling

  • reluctance to walk

  • reddened feet underneath

  • blister-like changes (ulcers) on the soles (in early stages)

  • scabs on feet

 

Bumblefoot (below)

bumblefoot budgie
 

FEATHER MITES (RED MITES)

Causes:

  • poor hygiene in the cage/nest

  • infected birds or other animals in the household

  • mites in the bird's environment

Symptoms:

  • budgie restless at night

  • constant preening or feather destruction (irritated bird tries to get rid of the mites)

  • loss of blood causing anaemia

  • baby budgies dying in the nest

  • you can see tiny spots crawling on your budgie's feathers, usually around the base

 

Below - red mites; can be seen in the corners of the cage, or in the breeding box (less than 1mm long)

Red-Mite-feat_edited.jpg
 

It's hard to list all possible diseases or conditions that can affect your budgie, but the ones I mentioned above are the most common. If you happen to have a sick bird and its symptoms are not listed above, please contact me and I'll try to help. However - if you think your budgie is not well, please seek professional, vet advice and help.