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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29829
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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I have a cockateil that I inherited. I believe the bird must

Customer Question

I have a cockateil that I inherited. I believe the bird must at least be 10 years old and has probably never visited a vet. This past week I noticed that his right claw is not gripping the perch. His outside two toes have curled up under and over the other toes. Today I noticed that he was closing his left eye more than usual. When I looked a little closer, there is a white spot on the innermost part of the eye. Not singing to me much today. He normally starts singing immediately after I uncover him in the morning. Just a bit concerned.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm concerned as well. It's important to note that once a cockatiel acts ill they're quite ill and in need of the attention of an avian-oriented vet (please see here: This is a protective mechanism because sick birds are attacked by other birds in the wild. Angel's symptoms of claw deformity and lack of function, ocular disease, and being more quiet than usual are important symptoms but they're not pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one disorder.

The nerve supply to his foot may have been interrupted by trauma or neoplasia (cancer) anywhere along his leg/hip. He may suffer from a nutritional imbalance - a calcium deficiency, e.g. I can't envision the white spot but if you could upload a close-up pic of Angel's eye I'd be pleased to take a look. Can you upload a photo to our conversation? You can use the paperclip icon in the toolbar above your message box (if that icon is visible) or you can use an external app such as I can be more accurate for you if I can see what you're seeing.

Nutritional imbalances are a common cause of illness in our pet birds. What has Angel's diet consisted of, please? Seeds should compose less than 20% of his diet. 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.

Please respond with additional information and further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I do not believe that he has ever been fed anything but seed. If I introduce the other things to his diet, will it be okay? And should that occur slowly at this point?
I am not technical--at all. I am going to try and figure out how to send I pic of his eye to you.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the additional information. That's worrisome because these birds are vitamin A, B12, D3, and K deficient as well as deficient in the mineral calcium. You've got to try to balance out his diet or his lifespan will be considerably shortened. Take a look here: on how you might move Angel over to a balanced diet. For now, add a water soluble avian vitamin such as Oasis brand to his water at half of the recommended dose so as not to make his water distasteful. Add a calcium supplement such as Calcivet or Calciboost to his water. These supplements are available in pet/feed stores.

I understand. It can be difficult getting a good close-up of an eye even if you were a technical pro. Don't hesitate to have an avian vet give Angel a good look-over. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I live in a smaller town. There are no vets that tend to birds of any sort around our county. Possibly in the DFW area. I will try to locate one. Photos attached.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Well done! Thank you. I can see that that eye has been draining as well; note the discoloration reaching from the eye to his nostril. The pic isn't in focus but there appears to be a growth on the cornea which might indicate persistent corneal infection and chronic scarring or perhaps a keratic (corneal) precipitate - a fatty deposit, e.g. This finding alone should prompt having Angel seen by an avian vet. Check here for such a vet in your area: I'm certain there are a few in the DFW area.

You described the claw well. I hope that it can heal with good nutrition. I can't set a follow-up in this venue and so would appreciate your returning to our conversation with an update - even after rating - at a time of your choosing.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Hi Rebecca,
I'm just following up on our conversation about Angel. How is everything going?
Dr. Michael Salkin