Sick Birds

Birds get sick.
What follows here are suggestions and hints to get your bird through injury or illness but I am not a professional. I have over 15 years of experience raising clutches of cockatiels but that's no substitute for professional care, so....

First things first:
If your bird suffers an injury or is sitting on the bottom of the cage, can't perch or is feeling listless - just not acting right - take them to the vet.
Take them to the vet.
I don't care how much human behavior your birds mimics, your bird is not human.
Without professional attention, most birds do not get better in a couple of days. Within a few hours, they get worse and die.
The problem comes when your nearest emergency vet service is 40 minutes away and it's 2AM on a Sunday morning (believe me, these things always happen when you can't get anywhere for hours).

A huge signal for me is that I have, right or wrong, trained of my cockatiels to understand that my shoulder is a safe zone.
When one isn't feeling well, they invariably try and get as close to my neck as they can.
This isn't a "Seal of Approval" as much as they are in a safe zone and the arteries of the neck are close to the skin which gives them extra warmth.

You need to strike up a relationship with a local avian vet when you get your bird. This is done for much the same reason you have a relationship with a primary care physician. If at all possible, avoid first encounters in an emergency situation.

Bird First Aid Items to Keep in Stock

Good Bird Reference Book
    I use Gallerstein's Bird Owner's Home Health and Care Handbook and most of what I am suggesting to you, I originally picked up from that book.
Everything else is from personal experience.

    Cornstarch is the best way to stop bleeding. I once had a female who had a broken blood feather.
Common sense tells you to pull out the feather.
Well, there was so much blood, I couldn't even tell which feather was broken as they were all sticking together.
The first thing I did was douse the area with cornstarch.
That stopped the bleeding enough for me to calm her down, clean her up, and then and remove the broken feather.
She was soon back to being her diva self.

One thing to keep in mind: You want to be sure you keep your cornstarch in a container that can be easily opened and dispensed with one hand. If you have an injured bird and it is panicking, screaming, and possibly even biting, you've already got one hand securing the bird and it's life could depend on that cornstarch being easily accessible.

Styptic Pen
    Same reason you want the cornstarch but it's more accurate if there's a head injury and you don't want to suffocate your bird in cornstarch.

Pepto-Bismol, Gatorade, Kaopectate
Diarrhea is a big issue because it is usually a symptom of something else. These are things you can use to help give relief to the crop and rehydrate your bird.
Dehydration can quickly lead to shock and death.

I had one sick female that wouldn't keep still unless she was on my shoulder. She hated the Pepto but it did the trick while I sat up with her.
You haven't lived until you've comforted a bird that suffered with diarrhea on your shoulder all night (use an old blanket you can toss later).
If that isn't enough to convince you to take the bird to the vet in the morning, nothing will.

Eye Dropper and Eye Drops that contain no corticosteroids.
Artificial tears will work, too.
    Eye issues - especially pink eye - can be quite common in parrots and can usually be cleared up with antibiotics.
Excessive tearing and injuries all need to be addressed by a professional but in the meantime, washing the eye with a little warm water, followed up with the eye drops can give the bird a little relief while you're getting it to the vet.

Heating Pad or Hot Water Bottle
    I use both and my reasons are part of the next item.

Pet Carrier
    If the bird is ill or in shock, it needs to be kept quiet and warm.
I have a pet carrier - a regular carrier for a small cat or dog - that I use to carry my birds to the vet instead of a small cage as is usually recommended.
Because frightened birds try to reach the highest possible perch for safety, so every time I used the cage and took out it's high perches, every single one of them would still try and climb the sides of the cage to the top while it was in the car.

I line the bottom with wax paper and then put shavings on top of that and use straps to secure a  feed and water dish to the wire door.
It's quiet and I can put a soft light at one end to keep it company and a heating pad underneath at one end to keep it warm.
I'm not trying to make a hospital bed. I'm trying to keep the bird calm and comfortable until I can get through to the vet and in the middle of a snowstorm, those carriers hold a blanket and block wind better than any cage.
You can fashion your own custom cover with hole for the handle.
When I transport the bird in winter is when the hot water bottle goes in with it.
Wrapped in a soft hand towel, the bird doesn't get spooked.

Those are just some of the things I've dealt with.
I'll bring in more as I re-discover them.

Holistic Solutions

Okay, I'm not living in a cave. I KNOW there are people out there that love their parrots and I KNOW they have absolutely no money to put aside when their bird gets sick. They sit there heart-broken and feeling like losers because their dear feathered family members are suffering and they don't have a dime to do anything about it.

I had a friend that took her cat into the only emergency clinic within 40 miles on a Sunday night and it set her back $400.

Plus, there are those that would rather treat a parrot without heavy antibiotics if at all possible.

One word of warning here. There is a site up that lists holistic solutions and raves on about the miracle of a Naturade product called, "Aloe Detox." There was even a regular link (as opposed to an affiliate link) so that others could purchase it.

If you go there now, you'll see the link is dead. You can still find Aloe Detox but this is where I want to caution you.

The singular difference is blue versus black cohosh.

One is safe for parrots (old version) the other, according to Gallerstein's Handbook, is toxic to parrots (new version). Do you want to chance the difference?

I have something that may help but I'm not an avian vet and there are no guarantees here (that's my disclaimer). If you've been scouring the internet looking for an answer, I tried this one and didn't kill the bird.

This all started with a friend who just couldn't afford to get her cockatiel to the vet when it developed some respiratory distress and called and asked me what I knew about the Aloe Detox she was going to buy.

That's when I did the research and found the new formula being released with the suspect ingredient.

Since my friend was desperate, I did some reading and came up with this version.

Basically this is what I did:

I have a mortar and pestle set that I use in my kitchen.
I mixed together a capsule of echinacea, Siberian root (used to be called ginseng but they can't anymore because of FDA rules) and milk thistle. This is all stuff you can get at a vitamin store or maybe even the local pharmacy.

I took a small Pyrex dish and added about a tablespoon of food grade aloe vera juice and a couple of drops of bird vitamins (there's just no getting proper nutrition when the bird doesn't want to eat). I then added about 1/8 teaspoon of the herb mix to it. I then added about 1/8 teaspoon of regular cinnamon to the mix and stirred.

When my friend brought her cockatiel over,I brewed a cup of decaffeinated green tea. I added less than a teaspoonful of honey and then added about 3 tablespoons of the tea to the aloe mix.

How to administer it is another problem. It turns out that the flavor isn't all that unpleasant to a cockatiel and if I just soaked a Q-tip, the bird would grab at the object and then, finding it pleasant-tasting would hold on long enough that I could squeeze a few drops into its mouth. I wasn't thrilled with the possibility of cotton ingestion but I really wanted that tea to be warm. I did this with both sides of 2 Q-tips. There was a lot of the mixture left over.

I sent the mixes and extra dried herb capsules home with my friend. I suggested not making a "batch" because I know aloe juice needs to be refrigerated and green tea doesn't hold well after 2 days. She told me she mixed up the liquids daily.

My friend said she gave her cockatiel this mix twice a day for a week. Within 2 days, it was eating on a regular schedule again and she added the dry herb mix to his food.

Within 2 weeks, the bird was back to his old, ornery self.

There's no telling what, if anything, actually worked and what we could have skipped. Most of what I picked, I had on-hand and seemed to jive with the holistic guide when stacked against the Aloe Detox ingredients. I added the small amount of honey for its antibacterial properties and to get some calories into the bird. I wanted the tea to be warm (not hot) because it opens sinus passages in humans and I was hoping the same "steam" treatment would help the bird.

That's my only experience with holistic treatments. If you have any experiences with this or know of a site I can link to for stronger information to share with everyone, feel free to reach me through the contact page.