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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29809
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My parakeet doesn't look good. He looks like s very short

Customer Question

My parakeet doesn't look good. He looks like his very short feathers around his beak have been pulled out or fell out. I have two birds but one had a very watery bowel movement. They have both just finished molting so I though it was that but the other bird looks final. I'm afraid if it is contagious, the other bird might get sick too.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Can you upload a close-up photo(s) of his head to our conversation? You can use the paperclip icon in the toolbar above your message box (if you can see the icon) or you can use an external app such as It's not unusual for that area to bald temporarily during a molt. The only contagious skin problem to consider would be the scaly leg and face mite but that mite causes crusty changes around the beak as can be seen here:

Is he the bird with the watery droppings? Has that persisted?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do you have an email address. I can email a picture to you
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Yes, you can email to***@******.*** and support will forward the picture to me. This can take up to 24 hours.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I just sent an email to you. IF you enlarge it a little bit you can see what I am talking about.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. I'll watch for the pic to show up. I regret that my state board of veterinary examiners doesn't allow me to speak to customers by phone in this venue. Please stay in this conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
i am on the phone
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I wish you could see my email. I don't know how to upload this picture. I can put it on Facebook. Anyway, I'm not sure which bird had the watery bowel movement. My problem is I am going away tomorrow and I hate to leave the person watching our pets with a sick bird. I tried to contact a local avian specialist but there is no one available at the moment. I just need to know if he is sick or is it just from molting. I would think the other bird would look the same but maybe not. I don't know.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm still here. Please let me know what you can tell me.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Unfortunately, that's what I can't know. I'm more concerned about the loose droppings which can often arise from bacterial infection in parakeets. If possible, I would separate your birds into different cages so you could tell which needed treatment.

Until they can be attended to by an avian vet, please heat up their environment to 85F by means of a 100W bulb shined into their partially covered cages (not at night when they needs to rest) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting to the sides of their cages. If they appears weakened remove their perches and put their food and water on the bottom of the cage along with them. Add a water soluble avian vitamin such as Oasis brand to their water at half of the recommended dose so as not to make their water distasteful. Add a calcium supplement such as Calcivet or Calciboost to their water. These supplements are available in pet/feed stores. Avoid over the counter antibiotics designed to be placed in their water. They won't be effective if only because an ill bird won't drink enough to medicate itself properly.

Nutritional imbalances are a common cause of illness in our pet birds. What has their diet consisted of, please? Seeds should compose less than 20% of their 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 further questions or concerns if you wish.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I just received the photo. Thank you. Most important is that he's fluffed and unwell. The feather loss isn't our primary concern at this time. Please follow my instructions as posted above and see if you can find an avian vet ( near you who can see him tomorrow.

I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience.