Small Cage and Aviary Birds – The Cherry on the Cake

Presenter – Neil Forbes Dip ECZM(avian)FRCVS; RCVS and EU Recognised Specialist in Avian Medicine, Great Western Exotics

After covering fish diagnostics, swiftly followed by the top ten reptile conditions, ‘The Webinar Vet’ has given us the cherry on top of the three tier cake ‘Managing Small Cage and Aviary Birds in Practice’.  Canaries, cockatiels and lovebirds are all included within this category along with vastly under rated budgies which, according to the speaker, Neil Forbes, have massive personalities and generally make excellent pets.

Neil also advised never to under-estimate what owners are prepared to do for their sick birds. It is easy to assume the little old lady with Percy the budgie will not want to spend a lot of money on diagnostics but this is not always the case and we should always give owners all options so they can make an informed decision.

Prior to this veterinary webinar I’m not sure what else I could have offered diagnostically for that little old lady with Percy, other than taking a history and performing a physical exam. I may have considered performing faecal analysis or possibly a skin scrape but it turns out there is an awful lot more which can be done. My first lesson from Neil starts with how to successfully catch and restrain a bird, and performing this in a darkened room is absolutely key. Imagine how scary it must be for a prey species to have a large unfamiliar hand chasing them around the cage. If they can’t see that hand then life becomes a lot less stressful and the bird becomes much easier to catch.

Once successfully caught Neil explains that crop swabs can be very useful, especially in the vomiting bird. Vomiting must not be confused with regurgitating through courtship which most commonly occurs when the bird is looking in the mirror or at its owner. Vomiting birds will usually vomit their food directly after eating. A crop swab can be performed by wetting a swab in saline and then passing it into the mouth from the left and passing over the top of the tongue into the crop where it can be rolled around. The swab can then be used to look for organisms such as trichomonas and candida.

Blood samples can also be taken and Neil recommends sedating or anaesthetising birds for this, either by placing midazolam directly into the nares or mouth, or using inhalational anaesthesia with isofluorane. Once sedated the jugular vein or medial tarsal vein are accessible, but you must always consider that the amount of blood that can safely be taken from birds is only 1% of their body weight, which includes the amount of blood likely to accumulate within a heamatoma. With this is mind, it should be safe to collect 0.5ml of blood from an 80gm bird (the average size of a budgie in this country).

I haven’t even touched the surface of this excellent webinar within this blog. For example did you know that using oral baytril in the water of budgies is completely pointless as they were originally desert dwelling animals requiring very little water to survive. Medication has to be given directly to this particular species. For more really useful advice, tips and information like this on caged and aviary birds, this veterinary webinar will provide you with exactly what you need.

The Stethoscope (MRCVS)

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