It's instinct: Birds hide their illness so they don't get kicked out of their flock. So, by the time you see signs of sickness, your bird is probably very ill. That's why it's important for you to find an avian (bird) veterinarian now, before your bird gets sick, so you don't have to waste precious time searching for one later.

How do you find a good avian vet? Ask an assortment of bird owners, your pet store and members of your local bird club. Make a list of vets names which come up over and over. Then make an appointment to see one or more of these veterinarians without your bird to check out the vet and his/her facilities. Ask questions. Is he/she a member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV)? Does he/she attend annual AAV conferences to keep up with the fast-changing science of avian medicine? What diagnostic tools does he/she use? Does he/she have all the equipment necessary to handle an avian emergency?

If you are comfortable with your selection, bring your bird in for its first annual physical. Your new vet will perform a series of routine tests to ensure that your bird is in good health and make specific care and dietary recommendations. If you bird ever does become ill, the information your vet gathered during this exam may help him/her make a diagnosis.

Bathing is Necessary For Optimum Bird Health

Just as with our human species, bathing plays a significant role in the maintenance of health and contentment for avian species.

With baby birds, fill a glass pie pan with warm water (to ankle depth) and begin splashing it gently with fingers when baby Conures, for example, are nearby, and chances are you will have wet, bathing Conures in a jiffy. Teaching fledglings about baths at an early age will create pet birds who associate water with fun! Mature pet birds may make a habit of comically diving under a running tap when owners are washing hands or vegetables. Caution should be taken, however, around such "water birds" because pouring hot water or a bubbling saucepan can present irresistible danger to pets!

Cockatiels, budgies, princess, bourkes and rosellas, being more the prim and proper types, may prefer warm mist from a clean spray bottle. Put hot tap water--perhaps a squeeze of citrus juice or a drop of eucalyptus oil--in the spritzer so it comes out warm mist.

Cockatoos love the same method, though the older, wiser ones often want to get their beaks right down at the spray nozzle, while macaws taught to bathe as babies seem to want every part of their anatomy wetted including their tongues.  When they spread their great wings, it proves handy to have a sprayer in each hand.

It matters little how baths are offered to an amazon--as long as it resembles rain, they will contort, strut, babble and shake-wet their feathers to dark saturation. Eight week babies, even before flying, love a supervised sprinkler on the lawn or your bathroom shower.

One must be careful when allowing a bird to bathe to such wetness that it is in no danger of becoming chilled while drying. Some of the conditions under which bath time should be postponed are : 1) In the afternoon after the sun has reached its high point and has begun to descend, 2) If air conditioning is on, 3) With fledglings or birds not yet totally feathered, 4) For birds not acclimatized, and 5) If a bird is not feeling well.

It is of vital importance with many species to offer baths when the hen is setting on eggs. Wetted breast feathers help the female control the humidity in the incubation chamber, and hence the evaporation rate of moisture from the eggs, especially in dry climes and during the week prior to pipping.

As with canaries and finches, lories will bathe every day. To keep these birds in enclosures with only a pipette watering system denies them one of their primary joys in life.

If owners wish to provide pets and breeders with supreme happiness on bath day, try going out and cutting clumps of leafy branches (known plants away from toxin-sprayed roadsides, please!) and after rinsing them, offer them to your avian subjects sopping wet.  All small hookbills, parakeets, canaries, finches, etc. seem to love this natural way of bathing. It has proven to be a means of coaxing timid birds who retreat from the mist bottle to bathe themselves. Amongst wet greenery, something instinctual seems to happen, prompting hesitant birds to get wet.

 More Reading on Bird Health

Avian Health Care Tips - Barton C. Huber, DVM; HotSpot
Complete Blood Count - Scott McDonald DVM; Beakers 
Emergencies ("ER") - Macaw "ER"; Majestic Macaws
Feather Mutilation in Cockatoos - Carol Highfill; Cockatoo Heaven
Gillian's Help Desk (Hazardous/Safe Substances) - Gillian Willis; Majestic Macaws
Parrot Nutrition - David Poole
Pet Bird Health FAQ - at Bittacus
Poisons, Litter Materials, Pest Control - at Bittacus
POOP-OLOGY - David J. Kersting, DVM; ACS
Quarantine Programs and Treatments - Vetafarm Pty Australia
Role of Aloe in The Eclectus Diet - Parrot Pharmacy in a Leaf - Carolyn Swicegood; EE
Symptoms of Bird Illness - Jolynn Chappell, DVM; Rcreation
To Necropsy or Not To Necropsy - Jackie Burns; Springville


Articles on Diseases