Ask Lafeber


January 20, 2023

Sudden death of a 3 year old scarlet macaw at the vets for a well visit ?

My 3 year old well taken care of scarlet macaw was at the vet for his well visit. Vet checked him over said he looked great. Now let’s cut his nails. He fell to the floor due to te assistant not holding him properly. The vet towed him picked him up and showed her how to hold his neck. After a minute no response vet ran for oxygen ect. My parrot was dead. Could the fall kill him or holding his neck wrong ?


Hi Don,

I am so sorry about your tragic loss. What you described is very disturbing. I can’t say for sure because I was not there, but it sounds preventable. A hard fall can certainly kill a bird, especially if he lands hard on the breast bone. Improper handling can also cause a bird to die. And in rare cases, a bird can become so stressed during an exam or grooming that he can suddenly die. But given what happened, I feel like the Vet should have suggested that another Vet perform a necropsy to try to determine the cause of death. It’s only my opinion, but as a professional bird groomer, I would never allow an inexperienced handler to restrain a bird, because a bird can be suffocated if held wrong. Nothing will bring him back, but if this happened to my bird, I would want answers, and would want the clinic to offer some form of compensation if a necropsy revealed that the fall or restraint caused his death. Sadly there is a shortage of experienced Avian Vets and Vet techs in general. Good exotics techs are hard to find right now. A macaw is very hard to restrain, and perhaps the Vet should have held off on the nail trim until a more experienced tech was available. If this has just happened, it may not be too late to request a necropsy if your bird’s body is still at the Vet. Please understand I’m not saying there was any neglect here, but I do feel you need some answers and possibly some accountability.

Take care,


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