Article 

Body Condition Scoring in Birds

Body condition scoring or BCS is a useful tool for assessment of a patient’s general health status and evaluation of a patient’s food supply. The BCS system described below is based on scores between 1 and 5, with 1 being emaciated and 5 being obese for the “generic” bird. Currently there is no universally agreed upon BCS system for the avian patient due to…

Article 

Avicultural Medicine: Visiting the Facility

The site visit allows the veterinarian to appreciate intricate facility details. Unless there is an emergency, schedule visits during the non-breeding season and only visit one site daily to prevent potential iatrogenic contamination of facilities. I usually schedule appointments in the morning prior to going to the clinic. An aviary map or blue print of the aviary layout will help you visualize where birds are in relation to each other.

Article 

Fungal Disease in Avian Patients

Fungi are among the most common causes of infectious disease in captive birds, and fungal diseases can be challenging to diagnose, as well as treat. Because fungi are typically opportunistic, causing non-contagious disease in susceptible individuals, prevention and treatment require an understanding of etiology as well as predisposing factors.

Article 

Physical Examination of the Chick

Pediatrics is one of the most fascinating and rewarding fields of avian medicine. The key to hand raising healthy psittacine chicks is a strong preventive medicine program based on sound husbandry practices. Physical examination is an important part of preventive health care.

Article 

Pediatric Avian Medicine: Husbandry-Related and Developmental Conditions

The key to hand raising healthy psittacine chicks is a strong preventive medicine program based on sound husbandry practices. Hygiene, hand feeding protocols, incubation and brooder parameters, environmental temperature in the nursery, and pest control are just a few of the husbandry practices that; if mismanaged, can lead to serious adverse consequences.

Many experienced aviculturists follow strict husbandry protocols that result in few health problems. When problems do arise…

Article 

Diagnosing and Treating Avian Neurologic Disease

The cranial nerve exam differs little from that of mammals, however there are differences in innervation. As in mammals, menace and pupillary light response (PLR) require use of cranial nerves II (optic) and III (oculomotor), however menace is difficult to interpret in birds. Also, PLR may be overridden in birds due to the presence of striated iridal muscle. Evaluate PLR early in the exam using a sudden, bright light directed toward the medial canthus. Consensual PLR is absent due to…

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Nutri-Berries and Foraging: A Neuroanatomic Perspective

Foraging for food is a basic behavioral repertoire for birds in the wild. The lack of opportunities for companion birds to engage in this behavior may play an important role in the development of abnormal behaviors. For example, Snyder et al documented that Puerto Rican Amazon parrots spend approximately 4–6 hour per day foraging and that they routinely travel several miles between sites. In contrast, companion birds in our homes like the orange-winged Amazon parrot spend approximately 30–72 minutes per day eating a pelleted diet without traveling, manipulating food items, and not attempting to balance their own diet. It has been suggested…

Article 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Atherosclerosis in Birds

What is atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is characterized by fibrous plaques between the tunica intima and the internal elastic lamina of the vasculature. The heart, great vessels, and peripheral vessels of all sizes can be affected. Atherosclerosis begins with the formation of fatty streaks, which can eventually progress into fibrous plaques and complicated lesions…

Article 

Nutritional Management of Obesity in Birds

Unfortunately the sedentary lifestyle of the companion bird makes obesity one of the most common forms of malnutrition seen in clinical practice. Pet birds are fed too much food or they are fed diets rich in sources of fat, such as sunflower seeds .

Article 

Normal Body Weights in Birds

“Normal Body Weights in Birds” is a collection of normal reported weights in common companion birds and birds of prey presented in table format. Keep in mind that reported normal body weights for a given species can vary significantly…

Article 

Grooming Companion Birds: A Review

Grooming in the bird can refer to clipping wing feathers, trimming nails, and smoothing and/or trimming the beak. Grooming can be performed by the veterinarian or an astute, skilled veterinary technician, however before the procedure begins one must always ask should the bird be groomed and should the bird be groomed at my practice?

Article 

Physical Examination of the Avian Patient

Be prepared for your next bird patient. Review the basic approach to the avian physical examination, including history, review of signalment, and visual examination. Key parts of the exam will vary, but generally include a body weight in grams, the oropharynx, crop, sternum, coelom, and vent. The fundus should be routinely evaluated in trauma patients…

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Amazon Parrot

Amazon parrots originate from a large portion of the Amazon Basin in South America although species-specific ranges vary. Habitats range from savannah, palm grove, scrub forest to rainforest. Wild Amazon parrots are incredibly active, foraging and flying in flocks…

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Fascinating Facts on Foraging and Enrichment

Foraging, the act of searching for and finding food, makes up a significant part of the wild parrot’s day. In the wild, most animals, including psittacine birds, spend a significant part of their daily activity on foraging. In fact, many free-ranging parrots regularly travel several miles between feeding sites in search of food. Once wild parrots arrive at a feeding site, a wide variety of foraging behaviors are observed including searching, manipulating, as well as consuming food. Depending on the species and the season, time invested on these behaviors can range from…

Client Education Handout 

Vitamin A Client Handout

Techniques to introduce healthy foods are described in this client educational handout donated by Dr. Larry Nemetz. Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most common problems in pet bird medicine, especially in South American species like Amazon parrots, conures, and macaws. At least one vitamin A-rich food should be fed to your pet bird EVERY DAY. Remember, birds can discern color and texture, as well as taste, so changing the form and presentation of the food can make a big difference in acceptance of the new food. Be patient when it comes to new foods with your pet bird!

Article 

Understanding the Illegal Parrot Trade

While there are more parrots than ever before in captivity, there are fewer parrots in the wild now than at any time in recorded history. In fact, psittacine birds are the most threatened group of bird species in the world today. The situation is particularly dire in the neotropics where at least 46 out of 145 species are at risk of global extinction. Although the cause of declining parrot populations worldwide is complex, the most important factors include habitat loss, culling, and capture of individuals for the pet trade…

Article  Video 

Foraging as a Means of Behavior Modification

Foraging is the act of searching for and finding food. Many wild birds spend more than 50% of their day foraging and feeding, particularly in the morning and evening. Because foraging occupies a significant portion of a bird’s daily activity, it likely has social and behavioral importance.

Bird behaviors can be divided into four categories: foraging, socialization, grooming or self-preening, and sleeping or resting. In a captive situation, normal behaviors are likely disrupted including foraging. If the ability to forage is removed, that leaves socializing, grooming, and rest…

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Avian Respiratory Emergencies: An Approach to the Dyspneic Bird

After recognizing a dyspneic bird, the clinician’s initial response should be: Hands Off!! Dyspneic birds can die soon after presentation with the additional stress of restraint and handling. Therefore minimize handling and place the bird in an oxygen-rich cage. Humidify air and provide 40 to 50% oxygen. As in mammals, oxygen therapy is potentially toxic if given for prolonged periods at high levels.