This is not the most enjoyable topic to write about but nevertheless one of the most important. Being able to help your birds when sick is going to be your number one task, but I think that the more important issue is knowing what the signs of a sick cockatiel are.
Cockatiels strength is also a weakness
Being able to notice suttle diferences in your cockatiel are key aspects in the care for your cockatiel. Be vigilant and understand the daily routine of your bird. If you have a very close bond with your cockatiel, you will be able to pick up on slight changes, and react quickly. However if you have not such a close bond then your bird is at risk. A cockatiels strength is being able to hide the signs of illness almost untill the illness is to far developed that anything can be done to save them. This is a natural defence mechanisum that they have which protects them from other birds in a way that they show no signs of weekness. Cockatiels may be sick for sometime before they actually die. This not only makes it very difficult to care for your cockatiel, it also makes it very important that we as owners become very observant of our birds activities and traits.
Is your cockatiel sick?
Let us take a closer look at a few of the most common signs that we must look out for.
- Excessive feather picking
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Droppings changing
- Constant screeching
Excessive feather picking
All cockatiels pick feathers and preen themselves. However over grooming and pulling out of feathers to the extent of revealing bald patches is a sure sign that something is not right. Slight bald patches can be hereditary and is common in the Lutino breed. If your cockatiel is plucking feathers heavily it may be suffering some kind of infection, it could also be a sign of stress. Maybe a new surrounding for example. Do not underestimate the removal of feathers as a normal procedure.
Weight loss or weight gain
Your cockatiel will not weigh much at all, between 70 – 120 grams. Not the sort of weight that you can estimate by holding them. To do this accurately you will need a small scales. Always make sure that you visibly watch you cockatiels eating and how often. If they show little or no interest in the food that is a sign that you have a sick bird, and they are probably loosing weight. Also if your cockatiels seem that they are constantly eating that is also not a good sign. Always offer your cockatiels a healthy selection of foods, not just seeds. Remember to check your cockatiels weightregularly.
Like us, if you are vomiting it usually means that something is definately not right, maybe we ate something untoward and our body is rejecting it or we are suffering some kind of internal illness. It can be the same with your cockatiel. They may have consumed something that is leathal to them or some toxic fumes in the air. Any bird that is vomiting is in serious trouble. If they are not passsing any dropings it could also be a sign of a blockage. Either way if they vomit you will need to get to the vet ASAP.
Keep an eye on the frequency, size and most important the colour of the droppings. If any of these change in a way that is different than normal, you can be sure that something is not right. Poo-ology is a very good way to detect early signs if something is not right in your birds.
Your cockatiels will sneeze and clear there nostrils now and then. So constant or excessive sneezing should be easier to notice. Look to see if the nostrils are moist or showing signs of discharge, if so then your tiel is showing signs of a sinus problem, caused by bacteria. This will require veterinary attention.
Understanding the general behaviour of your cockatiels is key to spotting any difference. One that will be the easiest to notice will be the types of sounds they make. Normal daily beeps and whistles are common, but constant screeching as if in pain is not. It could be something visible to you or not. They may have hurt themselves and show signs of distress through sounds and activity. It could also be an infection. Check to see any visible sign of bleeding or hurt feet, wings, beaks and claws, if nothing appears to be the cause then it maybe internal. The key to keeping safe and healthy cockatielsis understanding their behaviour and providing a safe environment. If you can master these two elements then you will be able to enjoy many years with your feathered friends.