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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 23852
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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We have 2 cocketiels....we found one dead at the bottom of

Customer Question

we have 2 cocketiels....we found one dead at the bottom of the cage this morning. I suspect based on what I'm reading that she died of liver disease. The bottom of her beak was starting to grow up the side and I had the number of an avian vet where we were going to take her. My husband is blaming me for not getting her in there soon enough. She was perfectly fine when I fed them this morning, I left for half an hour, came home and she was dead. Now I'm wondering is she died of starvation? Could it be that she wasn't eating? I'm also worried about the remaining bird. Should we adopt another cockatiel for him? I think we need to be feeding him pellets instead of just seed...
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about the bird?
Customer: No....the remaining bird is fine....he's 17. I am afraid that he might get depressed without her companion.
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: 4 months ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 months ago.

My condolences for your loss. I'll address your concerns as you presented them...

Liver disease is just one differential diagnoses of many when peracute (sudden) death occurs in our pet birds. We do see beak softening and overgrowth when hepatic lipidosis ("fatty liver") is present but those changes aren't pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of liver disease.

You mustn't be blamed. Birds will mask their illness until they're gravely ill and can't do so any longer. This is a protective action as ill-acting birds in the wild will be attacked by other birds.

Yes, she could have died of starvation or, at least, of malnutrition. What had her diet consisted of please? Seeds should have composed 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: or here: 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.

I like the idea of getting him a mate and, yes, as mentioned above, pellets should be considered. It can be a challenge transitioning these birds from seed to pellets but here's a good site that explains how that might be done:

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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