Weak, thin, eyes closed, puffed up, generally looking
1. Rehydrate with warm
gatorade as often as the crop empties. Generally give 10% of body weight
at a time of a bird can stand that much. First 24-72 hours, sprinkle
little formula in gatorade so watery. If bird starts perking up, slowly
thicken formula over 1-2 weeks, depending on how sick the bird is.
2. Keep in incubator (bin with heating pad underneath) -like
warmth at first!
3. Keep covered and quiet to decrease stress and allow bird to
4. Usually put bird on baytril in case a bacterial infection is
causing the sickness-2x per day for 14 days.
5. If a zebra dove, mtn dove, or pigeon, especially if eyes are
red and swollen also put on metronidazole in case of trich and nystatin
to avoid yeast infection. If eyes are affected see “swollen eyes”
If you see a bubble somewhere on the birds' body, usually under the
wings or high up under the legs (can be rarely seen in the crop area
pushing the head back), it is a burst air sac just under the skin.
1. Use a sterile needle tip -safety pins right out of the pkg,
work fine to poke a hole in the bubble. Go in and out to make 2 holes,
then squeeze the air out. Do this as often as possible throughout the
day, as it will usually fill right back up again with air as the bird
breathes. Eventually (one bulbul took 6 days, but it’s usually less) the
sac will heal and no more bubbles.
2. Put the bird on baytril as precaution against infection.
Discontinue after 5-7 days if air sac has healed.
This is not uncommon in baby birds when they fall out of the nest. I
have never seen it in an adult bird.
Starts as small red bumps on soft tissue areas- around eyes, ears,
mouth, legs, feet and under wings. Can remain mild with just a few
bumps, but usually progresses to a more serious condition. This is a
virus that must run its course usually several weeks or months. There is
no cure (yet).
Treatment is supportive:
1. Baytril to guard against secondary infections.
2. Good nutrition- hand feed young ones, add vitamins (poly vi sol
-direct drops into mouth) if eating seed.
3. Plenty of fresh water.
4. Keep cage clean, especially if feet are affected.
5 As pox lesions turn dark yellow or black and harden, they can be
gently pulled off and a drop of betadine put on fresh exposed area to
-Contagious to other birds if sharing body fluids (eating drinking,
pooping together), so keep in separate cage or put in with another pox
-If pox gets into mouth “wet pox”, it gets harder for the bird to fight
it because this is a more serious form just be aware, there is nothing
we can do to stop it.
Minor skin abrasions are okay and usually don’t need treatment. However,
they may be a sign of a cat or other predator attack, so:
1. Put on baytril (5 days only if clearing up).
2. If dirty or definitely from a cat, flush with water and 10% hydrogen
peroxide and/or betadine once or twice, then should be okay.
Deeper wounds, punctures wounds, infected (black) skin:
1. Pull debris out with tweezers-only after bird is stable- be careful
as some species will stress easily- you may need to do a little at a
time after 2-3 days to stabilize bird.
2. Flush wound with above solution until it starts closing up. You may
need to pull out debris every few days if not closing up.
3. Keep on baytril until wounds are healed.
Skin split on skull: (Common on young birds who get picked on)
1. Dab aloe from microwave table (fresh from plant is best) with Q-tip
on exposed skull 2x per day- small holes will close themselves, bigger
ones need to be stitched.
2. Keep on baytril until healed.
TWITCHES AND TREMORS
A twitchy bird or tremors through the body can be the result of
poisoning, virus infection or trauma. Something is affecting the
1. If poisoning seems likely, crush one charcoal tablet (Long’s sells at
Very fine and mix in gatorade and give like for a dehydrated bird. Do
once a day for 3 days.
2. Give supportive care- heat, fluids, baytril and extra vitamins (poly
3. Support in towels to keep bird upright and stable.
-It usually takes a very long time, as in several months, for a
neurological problem to work through the system. There is usually some
improvement, but not always full recovery. Some birds have to be handfed
much of this time until they finally feel well enough to feed
themselves. After the first couple of weeks, give them as much freedom
as possible in a safe environment to practice walking, getting balanced
back and flying if possible.
Sometimes baby pigeons’ crops will stretch too far, hanging down low and
unable to move the food through the system.
If this happens, make a “support bra” by wrapping a piece of ½ inch
first aid tape around the very bottom of the crop, just above the
breastbone, and bring it up and under the wings, overlapping behind the
neck. Feed the bird smaller amounts more frequently so as to not keep
stretching the crop, and because the crop area will now be smaller and
able to hold less food. The food sitting in the crop initially might
need to be flushed out if the crop does not empty the first few hours
after putting on the support tape. The tape can usually be removed in 2
weeks, after the crop muscle has regained its normal size.
HOLE IN CROP
Doves and pigeons of all ages can have holes in their crops from trauma,
trich, predator attacks, pellets, darts, or burned from too hot formula.
Crop holes are often discovered when the bird is given Gatorade or
formula and it runs out over the front of the bird.
1. Assess the extent of the damage and gently clean off debris or
formula to reduce risk of infection.
2. Put bird on baytril and keep on heat (inject baytril so it stays in
3. The bird must be given fluids if it can’t see a vet right way. If the
hole is up high, insert crop needle down past the hole and give small
amount of fluids or food. Repeat every 2-3 hours. If the hole is near
the bottom of the crop is too large, fluids won’t stay in, so birds must
be injected with lactated ringer solution on the breast muscles and/or
near the skin on the back of the neck.
4. A very small hole can sometimes heal itself, but generally the bird
will need to see a vet for stitches ASAP.
This condition is commonly found in doves and pigeons. Food sits in the
crop fermenting and developing bacteria because it cannot pass through
the digestive system.
Causes can include:
1. Bacterial infection in the crop or elsewhere in the body.
2.Eating something that makes the bird sick, like spoiled or soured food
from someone’s picnic.
3. Dehydration- this often happens after intake when birds are fed
formula before they are rehydrated with fluids, or are given formula
that is too thick, too soon, or are given too much for their size,. The
birds’ body pulls the liquid out, leaving thick formula in the crop with
not enough moisture to move it along the digestive system.
4. Any other condition that causes the bird to get sick and slows down
the digestive process (e.g. virus, egg binding, trich, pox, poisoning,
1. The best treatment is to pull out the sour food or liquid with a crop
needle, then put warm water in the crop and massage it gently before
pulling it out again. Repeat the process a few times. The whole process
may need to be repeated at each feeding until the crop is emptying
2. An alternative treatment is to give the bird warm apple juice and
massage the crop gently to help with digestion. Gatorade or warm water
can be used if apple juice is not available. At the next feeding repeat
the process if the crop has not yet emptied and check if poop are coming
out normal-keep in mind that the longer food stays in the crop, the more
it will sour and make the bird sick. If this method does not work within
several hours (24 at most) the crop needs to be flushed out as in
treatment # 1.
3. Feed the bird a much thinner formula in smaller amounts until the
crop is emptying better. Check the poop for formation and color to also
indicate digestion is working properly.
4. Put the bird on baytril and nystatin in case of yeast infection for
5. The bird needs to be on heat until its condition stabilizes.
Swollen, puffy, redness, irritated eyes-
A. If baby or young sparrow, mynah chick or any other species, or
adolescent/adult mountain dove- this is often eyeworms (can be found in
1. Lift eyelid high and observe for squiggly worms or squeeze a couple
drops of saline solution (for contact lenses) in eye and the salt will
bring worms to surface.
2. Treat with one drop Ivermectin solution (diluted in water) in each
eye. Worms should disappear within 24 hours.
3. If eyes are badly damaged, treat bird with triple antibiotic eye
ointment (like vetropolycin-(Dr. Myatt sells it) twice a day for 10-14
B. If adult mnt dove or any other species, it can be caused by upper
1.Treat with baytril twice a day 10-14 days and eye ointment described
2. In mnt doves, trich often goes up into the sinuses and seems to
affect the eyes, so it is advisable to also treat with metronidazole and
nystatin 2x/d for 14 days.
*When using eye ointment, just the smallest dab is adequate. Squeeze a
little extra on a Kleenex after finished if using on another bird.
Usually just one eye is either traumatized by hitting car, window,
building, etc or pecked at by another bird.
If the eye is swollen shut, do not attempt to pry it open at least the
first 24 hours, because the bird will be very stressed.
1. Put the bird on baytril twice a day for 10-14 days.
2. Gently squeeze sterile saline solution on eye, even if it appears
swollen shut as some might seep in.
3. As eye opens over the next few days, or as you can gently separate
the lids to check for damage, stop flushing and switch to putting small
dab of vetropolycin in
eye twice a day until if gets better. You can also use gentamicin eye
drops 4 times
per day instead of the ointment- be sure to get eye drops w/o steroids (dexamethasone).
*Use the smallest dab necessary- it will spread out over eye. Do not
cross contaminate another bird’s eyes- wipe a little off the end of the
Using on a different bird.
Wet feathers around opening usually indicate drainage from an ear
infection, also look
for the hole being slightly enlarged compared to the other one. Other
symptoms are odor
in the ear or whitish/yellowish substance in the ear.
1. Treat with baytril 10-14 days, 2x per day or until cleared up if no
longer than 14 days.
2. If symptoms do not clear up, or get worse, continue on baytril and
add one drop
Gentamicin eye drops w/o steroids, 2x per day.
Pox birds often have the lesions inside the ears. As lesions dry and
turn dark yellow or black, they can be pulled off so ears can drain
1. Keep bird on baytril until lesions are mostly gone and ears are
Greasy- from oil, often french fries or barbequed food that birds shake
around and get
themselves splattered. A greasy bird cannot fluff out its feathers and
keep itself warm, and flight can be greatly compromised.
1. When stable, usually at least 24 hours after admission if healthy
bathe bird using Dawn dish soap. Make a diluted mixture and work into
feathers using warm water. Avoid drafts and chilly air while bird is
wet. Rinse thoroughly and dry with blow dryer on low or put back into
heated container. Sometimes more than one bath is needed to get rid of
all the grease (space a few days apart).
Glue Trap- Birds caught in glue traps will be extremely stressed. It is
important to let them stabilize before working on the glue stuck in
-Victoria has researched this situation and successfully cleaned up a
canola oil to neutralize the glue. I believe it then needs a dawn bath
out the canola oil, but best to call Victoria or look on the internet.
Gum- Throw chewing gum in the trash in a wrapper!
-Again, check the internet. It is recommended to use something citrusy.
lady blended shaved lemon rinds with water and got the gum out. Try not
to cut the feathers so the bird will not have to be held until they grow
Broken bones- sometimes they are obvious, sometimes not.
1. If bleeding, it is a compound fracture (bone has broken through the
Put on baytril. If bird is small, pull the leg straight and often the
realign inside the skin. Use stiff tape (1/2 waterproof first aid tape)
immobilize the leg and allow for healing for 2 weeks. See vet for
2. If skin is not broken , you can attempt to splint if you feel
doing so and know what you are doing. Usually the joint above and below
the fracture should be immobilized,
3. If the break is up high near the body, it cannot be splinted, so try
the bird as immobile as possible until healed (2-3 weeks). All birds with fractured legs need to be in a flat container, no
perches and kept quiet. They will start putting pressure on the leg as
it begins healing- 1-3 weeks. Splints usually come off after 2-3 weeks.
4. Put on Baytril for compound fracture (#1), or very swollen, badly
bruised,or swollen joints, or of bird appears sick, or has other wounds.
Bird cannot stand on legs, they are not broken but are weak- if you
pinch the toe and the bird can still pull back a little it is usually
not broken, just unable to support the bird. This can be caused by a
virus, (most common in doves), a bacterial infection, environmental
poison, contamination or inadequate nutrition- especially in a young
bird. Often adolescents are affected because their immune system is not
developed enough to fight off the virus. Doves and pigeons most commonly
affected, but can happen to other species too.
1. Baytril 2x per day for 14 days.
2. Good nutrition- handfeed formula as the bird will be dehydrated and
3. Add vitamins/minerals (one drop of baby vitamin liquid, like Poly Vi
Sol) once or twice per day, or other good bird vitamin supplement and
can give extra calcium.
4. Support between rolled towels so bird is upright and less stressed.
5. Check butt frequently and keep raised so bird does not develop skin
from sitting in poop. Change paper towels frequently.
6. Worm the bird! (strongid and droncit).
Baby /young birds that have one or both legs growing out at an odd angle
or just slightly turned- are usually caused by slippery surfaces, where
the legs and feet can not stay tucked under the body where they belong.
1. Legs must be kept in place- for small babies, use a makeup wedge-
seek information on line or call Diana, who has done this procedure
2. Keep bird in small container or secure nest like shape to limit
movement for two
Avoid this problem by using sturdy paper towels and nest lining and cup
the nest so the baby/babies are supported. Especially mynah babies with
long legs- can use
twigs or straw like lining to keep legs in place.
Older or bigger babies with more developed problem may need to see the
vet for a stronger support to correct the splay (if possible).
This looks like a splay leg, because the lower part of the leg is turned
out at the joint. Often there is redness or swelling around the joint or
along the leg. Happens in babies/youngsters. The joint needs to be taped
in a figure 8 style to hold the tendon in place, usually for two weeks.
Treatment is only successful about 50% of the time-according to Dr. Ako.
1. Bird should probably see an avian vet until we get more experienced
at diagnosing and wrapping the slipped tendons.
2. Housing is a cone-shaped nest out of stiff paper towels so the body
and the legs hang down without putting pressure on them.
MITES AND LICE
All birds should be checked for mites and lice upon intake. These
parasites can drain health and strength from the birds by biting them
for their blood; sick and weak birds are particularly susceptible. Also,
mites can quickly migrate to other birds and are also happy to exist in
furnishings and take itchy nibbles off people.
Mites commonly come in 3 types:
a. Teeny black specks that move quickly and are frequently found on
small babies and in old nesting materials.
b. Oval-shaped brownish creatures often found on pigeons- and love to
bite people too!
c. Black fly-look-alikes that are rather flat and hide in pigeons
feathers- can transmit pox by biting one bird then flying to the next.
d. Feather lice are long, thin, brownish and move slowly. Commonly found
on the undersides of pigeons’ wing and tail feathers, they stay on the
feathers and don’t bite, but can cause little hole specks on the
1. Adult and older adolescent birds can be carefully sprayed with mite
and lice spray. Avoid the eyes. Pull out the wings and spread the tail
underneath to get the parasites hidden there. Work some of the spray
into thick feather areas. The black fly mites can hide really well.
Spray pigeons outdoors when possible so mite can fly off instead of
going on other birds. Do not spray on bare skin.
2. Babies need to be treated carefully. Do not get spray on bare skin as
it is a toxin.
Spray tissue or cotton balls and rub on feathers only, or wrap the body
the tissue for a few minutes, leaving the head out. Or put small babies
on white tissue and the mites will migrate to the paper. Change tissue
frequently until mites are gone.
Trich has many different appearances in birds:
-White cheesy-like spots in mouth, at corners, on roof of mouth, in
throat; bird may have seeds or debris in mouth or spilling out if throat
is getting blocked with debris buildup from trich.
-Swelling in throat or crop, redness on outside of throat sometimes (javas
have been known to get it in their crops) hard patch of whitish skin on
crop is usually debris from trich- do not pick at it or crop will open.
-Bleeding in mouth- seen in pigeons, clean out with Q-tip rolling
through mouth to keep airway open, but do not go further back in the
throat or bird will stress.
-Slight swelling around one or both eyes-common in zebras and mtn doves.
-Red bump pushing out on tender skin around beak, side of mouth-
sometimes trich gets encapsulated inside bump and medication needs to go
longer than 2 weeks.
-Small debris accumulation at corners of mouth or excess saliva in
mouth- also sign of infection.
1. Treat with metronidazole 2x per day for 14 days.
2. If debris in mouth, do nothing if bird is very sick and until bird’s
Once bird is stable and stronger use a Q-tip to clean out mouth once or
twice (roll across debris area to dislodge) a day. Do not over stress
the bird by trying to get it all out at once. One, two or three times
with the Q-tip is sufficient each day.
3. Wash hands carefully before handling other birds.
4. Trich can be transmitted via saliva and feces, so treat all birds
5. If lump in throat, massage gently once or twice a day to dislodge.
*Trich can push the beak out of alignment, so we end up with
unreleaseable birds that have scissor beaks or lose part of their beak
to the infection. Very deep food dishes help “scissor beak” birds to be
able to eat on their own, but check frequently that the bird is eating
enough and not losing weight. Beaks need to be trimmed about once a
month because they will not naturally keep trimmed.
If poop is smelly, poorly formed, greenish rather than brown:
1. Put on baytril 14 days 2x per day in case of bacterial infection.
2. Give plenty of fluids and good nutrition –hand rearing formula at
3. Keep clean.
If poop is quite watery, or diarrhea-like, and /or has unusual smell
(hard to describe):
1. Treat for coccidiosis with Albon once a day for 5 days, skip 2 days ,
then once a day for 5 more days.
2. Give plenty of water.
3. Wash hands carefully- contagious if transmitted via body fluids to
other birds- not
to humans. Don’t pass between birds!
If poop accumulated around vent, or feathers at vent are stained or
1. Worm the bird with strongid and droncit.
2. Put bird on baytril as this could be sign of infection-especially is
poop is quite smelly and not formed properly.
3. Rinse the vent area under warm water once the bird is stabilized and
relaxed. Check frequently for cleanliness.
When a pink part of the bird’s intestinal system has come out through
the vent, often due to trauma or worms:
1. Rinse with a sterile solution and gently push back into the vent
using a Q-tip- be sure all debris is cleaned off first.
2. Worm the bird with droncit and strongid.
3. Start on baytril immediately-for 10 days if no more problems.
4. Keep bedding clean-change frequently.
5. If it prolapses again, repeat the cleaning and pushing back in
process. If it continues to happen, it will need a couple of stitches to
hold the vent partially closed while still allowing poop to pass
If one wing is droopy, it is very likely broken. Pull out the other wing
and observe how it snaps into place. Then pull out the droopy one- if it
does not snap back close to the body, it is probably fractured.
1. Look closely at and under wing for open wounds, bones sticking
through the skin, swelling and bruising.
2. Active bleeding needs to be stopped immediately. Apply light pressure
(heavy pressure prevents clotting) until bleeding stops.
3. Simple fractures can usually be splinted by wrapping a piece of
masking tape halfway up wing. Wing should sit in place at side of body,
with tip over back like the other wing.
4. For complicated fractures, stabilize wing to prevent movement and
pain by taping both wing tips together over the birds back until a vet
can see the bird.
5. If a lot of swelling or open wounds, do not restrict with tape.
Sometimes swelling has to go down for a couple days before splinting.
6. Put bird on baytril if compound fracture (bone through skin) or a lot
of swelling or bruising.
7. Linda can demonstrate wing splints done by different veterinarians.
Although worms can be found in all species, they seem to be especially
common in ground feeders like doves and pigeons. Tapeworms and
roundworms are the most common types:
1. Tapeworms are long, flat, whitish and faintly segmented. They will
quickly absorb the birds’ nutrients, especially in babies and
adolescents, and can be cause of death of bird gets too thin. They can
be anywhere in the intestinal system, causing crop slowdown.
2. Roundworms are round, pointy at the ends, and slightly pinkish in
color. They are most common in mnt doves.
Worms sometimes hang out of the birds’ vent or small segments can be
seen in the poop. Other indications include a thin body and /or poopy
feathers around the vent area. However, birds can harbor worms with no
1. It is recommended to worm every dove and pigeon with droncit for
tapeworms and strongid for roundworms. Keep an eye on bulbuls and mynahs
too, especially adolescents who are not putting on weight in spite of
2. Droncit can be injected in the breast muscle or given by mouth; worms
usually come out in a few hours. Strongid is given only by mouth, and
can take up to 24 hours to eject the worms.
3. Doses should be given 2 weeks apart, especially if worms are seen
after the first dose. Droncit and strongid can be given at the same
COMMON PROBLEMS OF DIFFERENT SPECIES
ZEBRA DOVES: Trich, tapeworms, feet tangled in hair, starving
weak leg syndrome, greasy feathers.
MOUNTAIN DOVES: Trich, eye problems eye worms, roundworms, thin
adolescents, weak leg syndrome, cat attacks, hit by car, broken wings,
abrasions and wounds, coccidiosis.
PIGEONS: Trich, pox, tapeworms, feet mangled by ligatures (twine),
malnourished babies, babies with skin split on skull, crop slowdown, hit
by car, broken legs and wings, weak leg syndrome, coccidiosis, starving
at all ages.
BULBULS: Babies- leg problems, poor feathering, burst air sacs. Adults-
MYNAHS: Eye problems, tapeworms, hit by cars. Babies- dehydrated, eye
and splay legs.
SPARROWS: Eye worms.
HOUSE FINCH: Pox on face and feet.
JAVA FINCH: Pox on face and feet, trich in babies.
CHICKS/CHICKENS: Eye worms