Recognizing Signs of Illness in Birds

Respiratory Difficulty

Respirations should be hardly noticeable in the normal, calm bird. Signs of respiratory difficulty or dyspnea in the bird include open-mouth breathing, increased sternal motion, and tail bobbing. Additional signs of respiratory distress can include . More subtle signs of respiratory difficulty can include exercise intolerance, wings held slightly away from the body, and a prolonged respiratory recovery rate.

Video credit:  Dr. Susan Orosz

For additional information, view the R.A.C.E. webinar recording Avian Respiratory Anatomy, Physiology & Diseases and visit the review article Avian Respiratory Emergencies.

Signs of illness in birds are often quite subtle until disease is advanced. Fortunately, quite a bit of information can be gleaned from a detailed history and careful observation. View this brief slideshow for tips on the visual examination . . .

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To cite this page: Pollock C. Recognizing signs of illness in birds. April 6, 2011. LafeberVet Web site. Available at