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Ask August Abbott, CAS Your Own Question
August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 2624
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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My African Grey baby about 7 months old has what appears to

Customer Question

Hi my African Grey baby about 7 months old has what appears to be an infected uropygial gland
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 1 year ago.

What exactly are you seeing that leads you to believe there's an infection ? Try to describe what you see and where, exactly it's located on the bird.

Do you think you may be seeing a feather follicle problem instead?

Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 1 year ago.

​Greetings, I am Dr. Pat. I have worked with birds exclusively for many years.​

You can upload a photo and I might be of more help.

Doubtful you will aspirate much. The uropygial gland is not a cystic structure and the secretions are dense and oily. If there is an infection and/or impaction, very unlikely that aspiration would help.

Can you tell me more about the bird?​

How long has this been going on?

How long have you had him?

Where is he from?

Any accidents or trauma?

Interactions with other birds/pets/children/guests?

What is the usual diet? has it changed recently?

Has the bird gotten into anything?

What is your geographic location

If there is an issue with the gland it will need proper diagnosis and a sensible treatment plan based on the diagnosis. In a 7 month African Gray, nutritional problems are the most likely cause related to proper secretory function. Changing nutritional basis will be necessary to ensure long-term healing, regardless of etiology.

Impaction of the gland usually requires surgical excision or debridement and drainage. As you can imagine, this is a painful procedure and must be performed with anesthesia and pain management.

Please do no use ointments, as being oil-based they can injure the delicate avian skin (anatomy is not similar to mammalian) and cause inadvertent oiling of the feathers. Since Grays use the head and beak to spread secretions from the gland to the body, putting petroleum-based products on the gland can lead to oiling of the feathers, which leads to hypothermia and require an "oiled seabird" type bathing. Very stressful as you can imagine.

Infection of the uropygial gland is usaully most responsive to antibiotic injections, surgical debridement, and topical use of products such as silver sulfadiazine cream. I will include dietary guidelines below. Vitamin A deficiency is the commonest problem associated with uropygial disease.

Of course, neoplasia, cystic feathers, trauma, self-abrasion, toxins, etc should be ruled out as well.

If you will share your geographic location I may be able to suggest some avian-experienced veterinarians to help.

You need to take your bird to see an avian-experienced veterinarian ASAP for complete examination, diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Check click on "find a vet"

If he was my patient, I would recommend complete blood work, and possibly pathogen analysis and even biopsy sample of the affected area. As routine work up, I do complete fecal analysis and direct smear, stained with Sedi-stain and unstained for multiple parasites, fungi, spirals; direct smear stained with Sedi-stain and unstained of the oral cavity; bacterial culture and sensitivity of the feces and choana. In his case I would add cytology of any aspirate materials, possible anaerobic and aerobic bacterial cultures of secretions or exudate. I might do a fungal culture. Routine blood work is necessary to rule out other issues and will determine the extent of any systemic infection or inflammatory response.

AAV recommended lab work

Here are a few suggestions that I give everyone: important!

The following guidelines help with basic issues such as nutrition, obesity, good immune status. Surprising how the following can make a bird healthy, and how infrequently birds are ill if they are on the following regimen. No amount of medicine is going to work if the birds' basic needs are not met.

​great resource link:​

AAV Guidelines

Birds should be on a high-quality, preferably prescription, pelleted diet: I prefer High-potency Harrison's

In addition, they should be offered dark leafy greens, cooked sweet potatoes, yams, squash, pumpkin; entire (tops and bottoms) fresh carrots and so forth. No seeds (and that means a mix, or millet, or sprays, etc. etc.) and only healthy, low-fat high fiber people food. A dietary change should be closely monitored and supervised by your avian vet.

Daily Maintenance

Birds should get 12-14 hours dark, quiet, uninterrupted sleep at night. Any less and they can suffer from sleep deprivation and associated illnesses. They should be covered or their cage placed in a dark room that is not used after they go to bed.

The cage material should be cleaned everyday, and twice a day if the bird is really messy. Paper towels, newspaper, bath towels are ok. Never use corn cob, sawdust, wood chips, or walnut shell.
Food and water dishes should be cleaned and changed daily. Keep one set cleaned while the other is in use.

Fresh, perishable food should be placed in separate food bowls. Remove fresh food from the cage after a couple of hours to avoid spoilage.

Change cage papers daily, and clean the grate and tray weekly.

Clean food debris or droppings from toys and perches as needed (which can be as often as once a day).

Grit is not necessary for birds, and will cause digestive problems and death. The best sources of minerals (and vitamins) are leafy greens. Never give grit, gravel sandpaper or cement perches. A bird will eat those to excess when it is not feeling well or if there is a nutritional deficiency. They do not need it at all (an old myth from the poultry days, even poultry do not need it). It can cause an impaction and lead to serious or fatal consequences.

Useful links: