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Patricia, Parrot Consultant
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 1759
Experience:  Published author, free lance bird behaviorist, adviser to the parrots at Sarasota Jungle Gardens.
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my cinnamon green cheek conure smells like vomit, although

Customer Question

my cinnamon green cheek conure smells like vomit, although he is not vomiting. He seems more tired than usual-he closes his eyes a lot, even when I hold him, and his dropping are much runnier than normal. they (I have two) belonged to my room mate, who also has an african grey, and we all just moved and she asked me to take them about a month ago. His appetite and noises are normal. He sounds a little congested sometimes, but has no discharge. ? They eat high quality bird food (Goldenfeast, ordered offline b/c it can''t be found in any local pet store) and they are fed a variety of fruits and vegies daily. Any advice on what may be wrong? I''ve known him for about two years, and he''s only three and a half, but something just seems off to me?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Patricia replied 9 years ago.

Hello. I'll sure do what I can for you but a bit more information will help me do my best.

Does the vomit smell seem to be mostly "bad breath" or is it all over the body? If he is friendly and will allow it, give him a good sniff down his back and wings to see if it's coming from all over or one place.

Do the two of them cage together? Are you absolutely positive neither one of them may have vomited when you weren't around?

How long have the droppings been runny? Is there any change in the color of the feces or the surrounding liquids?

How recently did you make the move? Did you go into a new place or was there any painting or remodeling done, prior to you moving in? New floor coverings, any new furniture?

The more information I have, the better I can help. I'm going to have to sign off here pretty quickly so I'll be back with you tomorrow, as soon as I get notice of your reply. IN the meantime, keep him from getting chilled and keep his stress level down. The closer you can keep him to 85F the better.


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
It is his back and feathers that smell like vomit. His head and neck smell fine- it is his back and tail end that smell stronger. I seperate them at night and only put them together during the day when I'm around because the other one is healthy as a horse but every once in a while picks on this one and chews his feathers. They mostly act like "boyfriends" though. The other bird is the dominating, strong personality one, while this one is the cuddly, never biting, "please pet me all over" one. I am ABSOLUTELY positive neither is vomiting. The last two days his feces are a little runnier- but they get corn and peas with every feeding. It's just that the last two days there is no white in his feces- it is green with A lot more clear liquid than normal. We moved them here about a month ago. They came with the same cages, dishes, toys, and bird cage cleaner that's always been used. I am using paper grocery bags for the bottom of the cage instead of newspaper, however. Two weeks ago there was some painting in the very basement of the house, but the door to the basement stayed closed because the main entry down there is through the garage & the other bird seems unaffected. The birds are in a bedroom, kiddy corner, but not so close to allow drafts, to a window. The bird in question has always been kind of beat up, less shiny, and smaller than the other. The bird in question is a cinnamon green cheek while the other is a normal green cheek-so comparing feather "shine" & "gloss" may be pointless. What worries me is he trained to make a "kissing" noise, but he seems to do it all the time so I'm thinking it may not be kissing noises but respiratory noises. He has NO drainage from the nostrils-they look great, and his eyes look fine. I'm a new bird owner, but like I said, I lived with them for a year and spent a lot of time with them. From what I've read respiratory problems are common and serious. Should I call their vet to make an appt.? I've also read that birds hide their symptoms till it's serious?
Expert:  Patricia replied 9 years ago.

Okay, thanks for all that good information. It's very helpful. And I appreciate your patience. I apologize with the delay but it seems I've been swamped with emergencies today. Yes, on the symptom hiding thing, for sure. It is one of their strongest instincts because it is a critical survival tool in the wild and it holds over in our cage birds. That's why we need to always stay alert for the smallest symptom. Most important it to always be aware of what a bird's normal dropping look like. That is one thing they cannot hide and any change in the appearance of the droppings that lasts more than 24 hours and cannot be accounted for by diet, is cause for concern. Other things to watch for include sitting with feathers fluffed, any change in behavior or vocalizations, going to the cage floor instead of the perch and sleeping an inordinate amount of time during the day. Now, for the odor issue. Regardless of their gender, it is spring time and hormones are surging. That causes all manner of mating rituals. You don't need one of each gender to see some of this. One of those behaviors is regurgitation. Not to be confused with vomiting. With birds, they mean two totally different things. Vomiting is signs of an ill bird. The food will come up with little or no advanced warning, they will shake their head, usually slinging it all over. Regurgitating is what they do when trying to feed young, a mate, a cage mate, their favorite human or even a bird friend, as in your case. That is easily distinguished from vomiting by the pumping action of the head and neck, then the bringing up of partially digested food. In most cases, if they have no one to feed it to, they swallow it again. And I can tell you from personal experience, it can smell just like vomit. A bird who is heavy into it for awhile, can have terrible breath also. I'm sure you are not able to keep you eyes on them 24/7 so there is a good chance that some regurgitation is going on, likely when you are not looking since that would be their nature. The one that is smelly may be the one doing the regurgitation, has the "bad breath" that goes with it, and is getting it on it's own feathers when it preens. Or, it could be the other one bringing up the food, and could be getting the odor on the other bird as they allopreen. Since of course I cannot diagnose anything for you from long distance, I'm going to suggest for the moment, unless you have seen any of those symptoms, to assume it's nothing serious. I don't know what their bathing habits are but they need the opportunity to bathe at least 2 or 3 times a week. If they are not, it's not unusual for them to get somewhat stinky. Unless they already have a way they prefer to bathe, I suggest you set up a pan for them, outside the cages, on a parrot stand or play gym or whatever works for you. You will want to protect the area because if they really get into bathing, they will splash it everywhere. For birds this size, a shallow, rectangular pan used for baking cakes works great. Fill it with luke warm water. If they are reluctant at first, try running your vacuum. For reasons known only to parrots, the sound of a vac running seems to inspire about 90% of them to take a splashing good bath. So, your approach is going to be observing for symptoms while giving them the opportunity to have some good bathes. See if the odor get less or goes away after a few good baths. It sounds like you are doing a better than average job with their diet so good for you on that. As for that noise you are hearing, I'd take a wait and see attitude on that also, for now. However, you know them better than anyone so if your gut tells you it may be more than a good imitation of something they have heard, then by all means, go in for at least a well bird check up and have the vet listen to the breathing. Yes, we do have to be careful about their respiratory systems because they are so very much more sensitive than ours. We all have tons of dangerous product around that we must never use around a bird. It's tough to keep up with because they are things that are harmless to us and most other pets. But they can be deadly to a bird. I'll give you some links below to those lists and you will want to use them to do detective work around your place and make sure you aren't using any of them. If you have been, then you will have to reconsider the wait and see, and go ahead and get that appointment made. Some of the hints we may get when a bird is in respiratory distress is a clicking sound as they breathe, open beaked breathing and tail bobbing. Which is exactly what it sounds like; the tail feathers will bob up and down in rhythm with the breathing. I hope this helps you out but if you have any more questions about any of it, don't hesitate to ask. I want all your questions to be answered and I want you to be comfortable with the information. Patricia

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