The following was
kindly provided to me by Wanda Elder firstname.lastname@example.org:
New Bird In The House
So you bought a new bird. Whether this is to be an only bird or added to an existing
flock, you should take it to an Avian Vet. Quite often an Avian Vet is not available and
we have to rely on the knowledge of a practicing veterinarian. The following is meant to
give you a basis for an exam. Birds, unlike other animals, have a knack for
hiding the fact that they are sick. This is a form of preservation in the wild. A sick
bird soon becomes someone's dinner or in the case of chicks, does not get dinner. Survival
of the fittest. Keeping this in mind you need to be watchful for any changes in appetite,
water consumption, droppings, appearance, etc. With birds, by the time they are sitting
fluffed up, quite often it is too late. Be alert and observant.
New Bird Exam
The purpose of a new bird exam is to rule
out common problems and diseases that would make the new bird a poor pet as far as health
and diseases and to protect other birds in the household, present or future, from common
The most commonly recommended basic tests
and exams are as follows:
Fecal Parasite Check and examination of droppings
Fecal and Choanal Gram Stains
Beak and Feather Disease Testing
Complete Blood Count
Blood chemistries (i.e., ALT) and total
serum proteins are also occasionally run at the discretion of the attending veterinarian.
If abnormalities are found in the above data base, further diagnostics such as complete
chemistry panel, culture and sensitivities, urinalysis, and radiographs may also be
Well Bird Exam
The well bird exam is used to confirm that
the bird is free of any problems. It is impossible to guarantee that a bird is free of all
diseases possible, but it is used to determine that the bird is displaying no detectable
physical or physiological evidence of disease and is in reasonable good health. The basic
well bird exam consists of the following:
and Fecal Gram Stain
Fecal parasite check
Other ancillary tests may be performed at
the discretion of the attending veterinarian. Such as a Complete Blood Count, Serum
Chemistries, Cultures, etc.
Reasons for different examinations and some
of their uses:
1) Physical Exam - The physical exam is used to guide the veterinarian to any
part of the bird that may be diseased, injured, malformed or malfunctioning. This is an
extensive thorough procedure that can detect a wide array of diseases and conditions in
multiple body systems.
2) Fecal Parasite Check - The fecal parasite check is used to rule out infestation
with intestinal parasites such as worms, coccidia and giardia.
3) Examination of Droppings - Since the droppings are a combination of urine and feces
they serve as an indicator of both gastrointestinal and renal health.
4) Gram Stains - The Gram stain is used to detect gram-negative bacteria
and yeast. A vast number of birds are either ill because of gram-negative bacteria or have
become immunocompromised from other disease processes and have become invaded by
opportunistic organisms such as yeast or gram- negative bacteria. Identification of such
infections aids treatment and recovery of the patient.
5) Complete Blood Count (CBC) - The complete blood count is a sensitive indicator of the
general health of any animal. The parameters routinely examined include a total and
differential white cell count (WBC), hematacrit, red cell characteristics (RBC),
Thrombocyte count, plasma characteristics and the presence or absence of blood parasites.
Changes in many of these parameters are indicative of many different disease processes and
are often noted before any other sign of disease is present.
6) Chlamydia Testing - Testing for Chlamydia psittaci is used to determine if the
avian patients may be a carrier of 'psittacosis', 'ornithoris', or 'parrot fever', a
disease that can be spread from bird to bird and bird to man. This is a treatable
7) Polyomavirus Testing - Polyomavirus causes budgerigar fledgling disease (BFD) and
can cause high mortality in aviary conditions amongst young birds. Birds with this virus
should not be exposed to other birds or bred at all and often have a greatly shortened
life span. There is no effective treatment for this disease at this time.
8) Psittacine Beak & Feather Disease - Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) is a virus that
can affect many organ systems at many stages in a birds life. This disease can cause acute
death, dystrophic malformed feathers, immunosuppression and oral lesions. Birds with this
disease usually have a greatly shortened life span and should not be bred or exposed to
other birds. There is no effective treatment of this disease at this time.
The information on the New & Well Bird Exams was provided by Shannon McGee,
DVM at Collierville Animal Clinic, Collierville, TN through Wanda Elder