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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24468
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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My 1 year old female budgie is molting heavily and listless.

Customer Question

my 1 year old female budgie is molting heavily and listless . Has never appeared this way before. She looks disheveled and lethargic. She's usually very active and kissing me and my friend. Always into mischief and happy and active. I'm very concerned.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Veterinarian will know how to help the bird. Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about the bird?
Customer: not that I can think of.
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 5 months ago.

Molting is a very demanding and draining time for budgies particularly if they've been eating seed as the majority of their diet. Nutritional imbalances are a common cause of illness in our pet birds. What has her diet consisted of, please? Seeds should compose less than 20% of her diet. A diet of mainly seed and nuts has excessive fat, carbohydrates, and phosphorus; marginal protein; adequate vitamin E, and are deficient in amino acids, calcium, available phosphorus, sodium, manganese, zinc, iron, vitamins A, D3 (necessary for efficient absorption of calcium), K, and B12, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, choline, and available niacin. Ideally, a balanced pelleted diet such as can be found here: www.harrisonsbirdfoods.com or here: www.lafeber.com/pet-birds should be fed as well as hard boiled egg yolk, pancakes and cornbread, the tops of fresh greens, dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, fresh fruits such as apples, pears, melon, kiwi, and berries, vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, beets, asparagus, cabbage, sweet potato, and squash, and even tiny pieces of meat.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I feed her bagged bird food for parakeets. oats. tripled baked crunch sticks.
Also she shook her head and sprayed water or some kind of clear fluid.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 5 months ago.

Thank you for the additional information. The great majority of those foods consists of seed. Her shaking and spraying crop contents is likely to represent vomiting (rather than regurgitation) and that's worrisome.

A bird that bobs its head up and down in a sort of pumping motion, beak open and then a purposeful delivery of partially digested food is regurgitating. This is something they would do to feed offspring or a mate. It’s done by some birds to objects (toys, mirrors, people) they are particularly fond of - especially if they’re in a breeding season, when a bird wants to please their owner and/or is of a nervous temperament. Regurgitation that is unusual enough for you to make note of it like you have, might be a symptom of crop infection/impaction and a bird losing ingesta in that manner will become malnourished.

Vomiting is more of a head “flicking” event. The bird will often seem uneasy, pacing or uncomfortable and although the head bobbing might be similar to the regurgitation action, it’s usually more of a shaking and the end result is a very splattered, sticky substance that may or may not include food. When there’s blood showing in the vomitus it may indicate esophageal or proventricular ulcers.

An avian vet (please see here: www.aav.org) will take a look into your bird’s mouth as part of a thorough physical examination and is likely to examine a swab of the oral cavity for abnormal numbers of either bacteria, yeast, or parasites. A good exam will also check for any growths or tumors.

Vomiting is a more serious symptom and seeing a vet as soon as possible is important.

There are far too many possible diseases to list here, but as in any case of illness, getting it evaluated, diagnosed and treated right away is often the best outcome at the lowest cost. I would be more comfortable knowing that she was examined by an avian vet.

A common cause of vomiting in domestic birds is gram-negative bacterial infections which may have proliferated after a bird is stressed. Stress can involve molting, changes in their environment, being frightened, having their sleep hours reduced or other changes in schedules or even a difference in food. Another possible cause is contamination of food or water by fecal matter. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

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