Article 

Avian Emergency & Critical Care Summary Page

Although the principles of emergency medicine critical care are universal for all species, this approach must be balanced with an understanding of the unique aspects of avian medicine. Use this summary page to review the basic approach to the avian patient and select additional links to supplement your knowledge base.

Article  Video 

The Parrot Brain On Shapes: Similarities with Human Visual Processing

Objects are often not fully visible in everyday life. Human beings are capable of processing the complex visual information related to “incompleteness” because our visual environment is primarily composed of opaque objects that can overlap and partially hide each other. Scientists believe that many nonhuman species are also able to deal with “incompleteness”…

Article 

Wait For It…A Grey Parrot Demonstrates Self-Control

“Griffin”, a grey parrot in Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s animal behavior and avian cognition lab, could wait up to 15 minutes for a better quality reward, even though both treats offered were preferred food items. Griffin displayed delayed gratification for longer than any previously tested avian subject including Goffin’s cockatoos. Fifteen minutes was the longest time evaluated, not necessarily the longest length of time Griffin could wait.

Explore the history of similar research in children and animals as well as the specific results of the study led by Adrienne E. Koepke of Hunter College and Suzanne L. Gray of Harvard University. Also learn more about Dr. Irene Pepperberg and the fascinating work of The Alex Foundation.

Article 

Avian Bornavirus and Proventricular Dilatation Disease: Facts, Questions, and Controversies

Proventricular dilatation disease or PDD is one of the most frustrating avian conditions encountered today. The recent discovery of a causal relationship between PDD and avian bornavirus has not simplified the challenges that are faced. The detection of avian bornavirus infection is common in birds with PDD but is also detected in birds with other chronic diseases that are not diagnosed with PDD. Proventricular dilatation disease was first reported in the late 1970s…

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 

Nutritional Management of Renal Disease in Birds

There are a number of potential nutritional problems that can promote renal disease. Excess dietary protein, excess dietary calcium, hypovitaminosis A, or hypervitaminosis D may lead to nephritis or other degenerative renal changes…

Article 

Expert Panel on Companion Bird Nutrition

In 1998, an expert committee met to discuss the nutritional needs of companion birds. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and develop nutrient profiles for companion birds, focusing on profiles for formulated feed.

The expert panel developed maintenance guidelines for two broad groups of birds: psittacines and passerines (regardless of size or genus). These conservative, generalized guidelines are extrapolated from the National Research Council requirements for poultry and…

Article 

Iron Storage Disease In Birds

Hemochromatosis, “iron overload”, or “iron storage disease” is the excess accumulation of iron within parenchyma, especially in the liver and eventually in the heart and spleen. Elevated iron stores eventually lead to hepatocyte damage and fibrosis.

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 

Seeds Commonly Fed to Companion Birds

There are two types of seeds fed to pet birds: oil seeds and non-oil seeds. Oil seeds are a rich source of energy and vitamin E. Oil seeds such as sunflower seeds contain at least 50% fat and are low in calcium. Non-oil seeds such as millet are much lower in fat when compared to oil seeds and the energy present is stored as starch.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Upper Respiratory Signs in the Bird

Rhinitis or sinusitis in the bird can include a host of clinical signs including congestion, sneezing, oculonasal discharge, exophthalmos, as well as non-specific signs of illness such as reduced appetite, lethargy, and weight loss. If disease extends lower into the lower respiratory tract, cough, tachypnea, and…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Voice Change in Birds

Change in bird song or loss of voice can be valuable diagnostic clues. When a bird is presented for a change in or loss of voice, this will localize lesions to the…

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 

Passerine Anatomy: Ten Key Facts

Perching birds or songbirds belong to order Passeriformes, which makes up the largest taxonomic group of birds. Passeriforms make up nearly 60% of all birds with over 5,000 species belonging to this group. If you are comfortable with psittacine anatomy and physiology, then you are well on your way to understanding passerines. LafeberVet has listed ten interesting, clinically significant facts about passerine anatomy and physiology…

Article 

Salmonellosis in Songbirds – Five Key Facts

It is important for animal health care professionals to recognize the potential hazards of working with passerine birds so that appropriate measures can be taken to minimize the risk of contracting disease. Wild bird isolates of Salmonella enterica serotype typhimurium may not represent a large zoonotic risk to the general population, however the vast majority of sick and dying songbirds harbor this microbe.

Article 

Diseases of Songbirds: A “Cheat” Sheet

Approach to the passerine relies on the same concepts of “One Medicine” used as in all animals. Nevertheless many of the infectious agents diagnosed in songbirds are relatively unique to this taxonomic group, or at least much more prevalent when compared to parrots or birds of prey.

Article 

Avian Polyomavirus Primer

Signs of avian polyomavirus type 1 in the budgerigar parakeet can be quite variable. Feather dystrophy or abnormal feather growth can lead to deformed flight feathers. Affected birds are unable to fly and are called “runners” or “creepers”. “French molt” is a term sometimes used for this slow, debilitating disease in parakeets characterized by progressive development of abnormal feathers. Bleeding is another hallmark of clinical avian polyomavirus infection…

Article 

Diseases of Songbirds: A “Cheat” Sheet

Approach to the passerine bird relies on the same concepts of “One Medicine” used in all animals. Nevertheless many of the infectious agents diagnosed in songbirds are relatively unique to this taxonomic group, or at least much more prevalent when compared to psittacine birds or birds of prey.

Article 

Songbird Housing Checklist

When hospitalizing any wildlife patient, the goal should always be to transfer the animal to an experienced, licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. In the meantime, it is imperative that the passerine bird be housed appropriately to promote recovery and prevent injury.

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: Finch

Finches are found worldwide. The Zebra finch, Owl finch and Gouldian finch are originally from Australia where large flocks may be found, mainly in arid grassland areas. Owl finches are also found in woodlands and scrublands.  The Bengalese or Society finch is a cross between the sharp-tailed munia and striata munia and was never found in nature.  Of family Fringillidae, only the Red Siskin and the Yellow Siskin are listed in Appendix I and Appendix II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) listings respectively. Appendix I species are threatened with extinction, and commercial trade is prohibited and importation/exportation for scientific research requires special permits. Appendix II species are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless their trade is strictly regulated.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Canary

Originating from the Canary Islands, the canary’s song captured the attention of Europeans, who started importing these birds in the late 1500’s. Although breeding for desirable traits has produced many variations, the wild canary is a small, green bird. Free-ranging populations are strong and are found in a wide variety of habitats, which is why the canary was placed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List category of “Least Concern”.

Client Education Handout 

Avian Bornavirus Infection

Avian bornavirus was identified as a cause of proventricular dilatation disease or PDD in 2008. Avian bornavirus infection is one of the most frustrating diseases encountered in avian medicine…

Article 

Nutritional Strategy: Nectarivory in Birds 10 Facts You Should Know

Although nectar is considered a nutritional reward for pollination, it is probably the most nutrient-dilute food consumed by birds. Nectar meets less than 15% of essential amino acid requirements and is particularly low in methionine. In fact nutrients other than sugars, such as protein, vitamins, trace minerals, and lipids are present in nectar at levels considered inadequate for growth, reproduction, or even maintenance activity…

Article 

Fast Facts on Family Corvidae

Just in time for Halloween, get fun facts on the much maligned, much misunderstood, but always interesting family Corvidae.

Client Education Handout 

Egg Laying Problems Client Handout

Reproductive problems are a common problem in many small pet bird species, particularly cockatiels, budgerigars parakeets, lovebirds, finches and canaries. In this client handout donated by Dr. Eric Klaphake, egg laying problems from egg binding and egg yolk peritonitis to chronic egg laying are briefly explained to the companion parrot owner.

Article 

Basic Cytology of the Avian Gastrointestinal Tract

Historically, routine Gram’s stains were performed in apparently healthy birds. As our understanding of avian medicine has grown, avian veterinarians have questioned the reliability and validity of Gram’s stain cytology as a screening test. Cytology is indicated when specific problems are reported during a detailed medical history or when…

Article  Video 

Passerine Handling and Restraint

Manual restraint is required for virtually any medical procedure in the songbird or passerine. Warn owners of the inherent risk of handling the critically ill bird. Minimize handling time so the bird does not overheat or become overly distressed, and monitor the bird closely for any change in strength, breathing, or attitude. Use this video clip or text with still images to review equipment needed as well as handling and restraint techniques.

Article 

The Nutritional Content of Pet Bird Diets

Little is known about the nutritional requirements of companion bird species. Dietary recommendations for pet birds are extrapolated from domestic poultry nutritional requirements; however these parameters are generally calculated to minimize cost while maximizing meat and egg production.

Article 

Restraint of Wild Birds

In the best of captive situations, wild birds are still subject to significant stress. This is particularly true during phases of rehabilitation that require frequent capture and treatment. Experience with individual patients will dictate your approach to capture and restraint, but be aware that a slow, careful approach to capture followed by restriction of vision during restraint will generally yield best results.

Article  Video 

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.