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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29741
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My cockatiel Cheekie just died. She seemed fine this

Customer Question

My cockatiel Cheekie just died. She seemed fine this morning, playing and whistling. Then I noticed she was laying on the bottom of the cage with her wings stretched out. I went to her and she seemed to perk up, but less than 5 minutes later she was dead. (On her back with her feet up). What do you think could have happened? She was only 4 years old and usually very active and verbal. I am heart broken....Please help.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. We don't have many avian vets on this site. Peracute (sudden death) in an outwardly normal bird who has maintained its weight is seen with cardiac disease - usually a "heart attack" secondary to atherosclerosis, stroke - also often due to atherosclerosis, and less commonly, a foreign body (seed, e.g.) inadvertently finding its way into my patient's trachea (windpipe) and obstructing it. Atherosclerosis is most common in birds who have been eating primarily high fat seed-only diets.

Peracute death in birds who have progressively lost weight can represent the end stage of many infectious, metabolic, and neoplastic (cancer) disorders. Although it appears as if a perfectly normal bird died unexplainably, these birds actually have been ill for quite some time. This occurs because an sick bird will be attacked in the wild and so birds will maintain "appearances" until they're quite ill.

My condolences for your loss of Cheeckie. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Could it have been possible that she was egg bound?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

An egg bound bird should show symptoms of egg binding. A bird in lay will often pass 2-4 eggs 1-2 days apart. Birds with egg binding may or may not have passed an egg more than 2 days ago, are usually depressed, fail to perch, often sit low on the perch or on the bottom of the cage, and may strain as if trying defecate or to lay an egg. Sometimes the egg will bulge in the area of the vent (cloaca) or may occasionally prolapse through the vent. If the egg is putting pressure on the nerves that control the legs, leg paralysis may result. Since the signs associated with egg binding are also seen in sick birds with other causes of illness, diagnostic testing is essential in formulating a proper diagnosis.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.