Looking first at conditions affecting the outside of the bird, one of the most common is scaly-face. This is caused by a mite which burrows into the flesh around the cere. Birds can carry the mite with no ill-effect for years and then something goes wrong and the mites very rapidly increase in numbers; scaly-face develops and spreads to other birds. Affected birds have crusty growths around the cere and possibly around the eyes, vent and feet.
The condition is easily diagnosed as the growths are studded with large numbers of small holes through which the mite breathes Any sort of cream applied to the growths will clog up the holes so that the mites will asphyxiate. There are also a number of proprietary medicines available at pet shops which will kill the mites and Ivomectin available from veterinary surgeons, is spectacularly effective.
Another external condition that affects most budgerigar studs is lice although these do not cause much in the way of illness unless the infection is heavy. The lice eggs can be seen on the underside of the wing particularly if the feathers there are black. Anti-mite sprays applied directly to the birds will clear this up; again Ivomectin is very effective.
Lumps and swellings
Lumps and swellings on the skin of the bird are usually either abscesses, feather cysts, hernias or tumours. Abscesses in birds do not point as they do in people, and all four of these conditions require surgery by your local veterinarian.
Budgerigars frequently suffer from fractures and dislocations; the bird may hold its wing oddly or have difficulty using one of its legs. These require rapid treatment; if they are left for any length of time in the hope that they will get better the result is often that the bird being is crippled for life. They will require splinting; if you feel confident you can have a go with match sticks and tape. Your veterinary surgeon can also do this and giving the bird an anaesthetic will make his job easier.
Another common condition in budgerigars is vomiting and this is often coupled with playing with the seed and grinding it to a powder rather than eating it.
Vomiting budgies show matting of the feathers on the "chin" and also on the top of the head as they flick their beak while being sick. Vomit may also be seen on the walls of the cage and in seed bowls.
There are three common causes of this Condition; a tiny parasite and two moulds. It is important to find out which condition you have as the treatment and outlook is different. Your veterinarian will be able to use some simple tests to identity them and tell which is which A useful guide for the fancier to follow is that if one bird is affected it is probably a mould infection of either the gullet, the crop or the proventriculus (the true stomach). To treat this will require medicine that is only available through the veterinary surgeon.
The crop and gullet conditions are relatively easily cleared up but the stomach condition is more difficult. If more than one bird is affected it is probable that it is the parasitic infection, which is called trichomoniasis. This condition is very easily treated; preparations against canker in pigeons (which is the same disease are available from pet shops and will clear it up, and there are also effective medicines available from your veterinary surgeon. The important thing about this disease is that all the birds must be treated at the same time as many will have the parasite but will not be showing signs of illness.
There is an important lesson to be learnt from trichomoniasis and that is that nearly every case we see has been introduced into the stud by buying in affected birds! They may look fine in the vendor's bird room but the stress of moving to a new home will set off the disease. New birds must be placed in quarantine for at least three weeks before being mixed with the rest of the birds in your stud. It is a good idea also to treat them for trichomoniasis while they are in isolation.
TREATING SICK BIRDS
The conditions described so far will generally not make birds look ill although some of the birds will die of these diseases. In some of the diseases that follow the birds look ill; they are fluffed up, not eating or drinking, are unnaturally quiet, and may sit huddled up in a corner of the flight or cage. In these cases, regardless of the cause of the condition, some first aid is called for or the bird will die.
The first thing a sick bird needs is warmth of about 80F. If you do not have a hospital cage a box in the airing cupboard will be satisfactory. Keeping the bird in semi-darkness will make it rest properly. In many diseases birds do not die of the disease but of dehydration and fluids must be given to counteract this. It is my belief that all fanciers should have a dosing tube and know how to use it; they are available from good pet shops. If the bird has not eaten or drunk for 24 hours fluids must be given 5 ml (a large teaspoonful) should be given daily in doses of l or 2 ml at a time. Adding two teaspoonfuls of sugar to a pint of the water will give the bird some energy.
If this type of treatment has to go on for some time fruit baby food, diluted with just enough water to allow it to just go through a dosing tube will provide fluid, energy and various minerals that the bird will need. If the bird is having difficulty getting on the perch put one
close to the floor; it will feel more at ease on it than on the floor. Food and water should be within easy reach and offering millet sprays and soft food may encourage the bird to eat.
Diarrhoea, some times called wet vent or enteritis, is common in birds. The droppings from affected birds vary widely in consistency and colour. However wet dark-green droppings only indicate that the bird is not eating and the problem may well not be in the intestines.
The first thing to do when you notice a bird with diarrhoea is to remove it from the flight to limit the spread of the disease to other birds and to examine it to see if there are other signs of disease. It the bird is obviously ill it will need the treatment described above.
If the only problem is diarrhoea there is the possibility that some change in management has upset the bird's insides. Has it recently come back from a show or been put into the flight or has it recently had a lot of green food? If so, it will usually sort itself out in a day or two particularly if you can correct the change that has occurred (e.g., cut out the green food, put it back in the cage.
If there has been no change in the way you look after the birds or if the problem persists some treatment is called for. Cold strong tea or pure kaolin in water (don't use kaolin mixtures for human diarrhoea as they have other things in) given by dosing tube will frequently settle the condition. If this produces no effect probiotics can be tried in an attempt to establish the normal germs in the intestines. There are several brands of probiotics for birds and these are available from pet shops and various other suppliers.
If none of these work the veterinary surgeon should be consulted and he will be able to arrange for tests to be carried out and the right antibiotic or other drug selected
Kidney complaints are quite common and are shown by the white part of the dropping being changed in colour or consistency; indeed the bird may pass the black part of the dropping surrounded by water. Your veterinary surgeon will be able to arrange for a blood test to be carried out and the presence of kidney disease confirmed. As yet there is little that can be done for this condition but it is important to differentiate it from diabetes which is common and can be satisfactorily treated; a simple test on the droppings will show if this is present.
Reproductive diseases occur in budgerigars but are not common. With the exception of egg binding which all fanciers will meet from time to time. There are several approaches to this . You can try holding the birds area over some warm water and then apply very gentle pressure behind the egg, having moistened the vent with water or cooking oil, and try to expel the egg. The egg must not be broken as this can lead to problems. If this does not work and the egg is not passed in a few hours your veterinary surgeon should be consulted as he will have a couple of drugs which will help; these have to be given by injection. Making sure your birds receive adequate amounts of calcium can help keeping this problem at bay
Diseases of the respiratory system are common, ranging from a cold in the nose to rapidly fatal pneumonia. As the birds' breathing system extends beyond the lungs to enclose all the other internal organs, which can in their turn be affected the diagnosis, it is not always easy. With respiratory conditions a veterinary surgeon should always be consulted in order to reach an accurate diagnosis of the disease and for the proper treatment to be given.
However there are things that the fancier can do to help. Firstly the bird should be removed from the flight and placed on its own in a warm place and treated as described above. Sometimes birds with breathing problems tend to fall off the perch and this is another reason for having it close to the floor. A humid atmosphere produced with a gently steaming kettle will help in many cases. Keeping the eye, and nostrils clear with moistened cotton wool will make the bird feel more comfortable; occasionally hard lumps of matter form in the nostrils and if these are seen, a needle can be carefully used to remove them.
There are many diseases of budgerigars which can not be covered in a short chapter but the application of first aid measures and veterinary attention with result in a cure in many cases.
Remember that your veterinary surgeon is there to help you and he will have in stock a wide variety of drugs which will sometimes be needed to cure birds. Even it he does not feel competent to treat the problem he will be able to pass you on to another veterinarian with special experience of cage bird diseases.
We should always have some form of first aid box. A few things they could contain are a dosing tube and a couple of syringes and the fancier should know how to use these. A set of nail clippers ,tweezers ,a small pair of wire cutters to remove rings .Other things should be a little kaolin, some emtryl or other drug for treating trichomoniasis , some anti-mite spray and perhaps a probiotic, some germolene , eye wash solution and a little cotton wool and buds. A set of scales to weigh birds during illness to check that the bird is not losing weight can sometimes be useful.
Your closed coded ring should be placed on your birds leg at between 5 and 10 days of age (I would rather try nearer to 5 or 6 days and risk it falling of rather than wait until later and not be able to get it on )
Make sure your hands are warm as cold hands could shock the chick
I ring my chicks in what is termed the 3 forward method as I find this the easiest way
As far as I'm aware it makes no difference which leg of your bird is banded, you will find which is easier for you
Finally after you have rung your chicks constant checks to make sure no muck has got stuck under the ring as the chick grows
PLACE RING OVER 3 LARGEST TOES AND SLIDE TOWARDS REMAINING TOE
GENTLY SLIDE RING BACK OVER REMAINING TOE AS FAR AS POSSIBLE
MAKE SURE REMAINING TOE IS BACK IN POSITION OUTSIDE OF RING (YOU MAY NEED A COCKTAIL STICK OR SIMILAR TO GET TOE OUT OF THE RING )
Copyright 2014 Honor Dickie