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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7626
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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Why might parakeet have discharge/discoloration on feathers ...

Customer Question

Why might parakeet have discharge/discoloration on feathers around eye?

My parents' parakeet, who is around a year and a half old, has what seems to be discharge coming from one eye. The feathers around it are discolored (darker, reddish-brown, tan whereas her feathers are white), and seem kind of wet/matted. It seems to be between the eye and cere. This is only with one eye. Behaviorially, she is acting normal. What could it be? Should we bring her to a vet asap? Any other options?

Optional Information:
Age: 1; Female; Breed: Parakeet / Budgie
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 9 years ago.

Very good description. How long has this been going on? Any sneezing or wheezing? Is it just this one eye?

Has she been with your parents from the beginning?

What does she eat?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
She has been with my parents since she was very young. They found her in their front yard, and she was obviously young. My dad says he has just noticed the discoloration within the past week. Now that I think about it, it does seem like she has had a slight wheezing sound sometimes when she's sitting in her cage or on your shoulder. It wasn't all the time and I didn't really think about it until now.

She eats a seed/pellet/dried food diet--a parakeet blend.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I guess it's possible that the discoloration is caused by discharge from her nostrils and not eye, but it seems more around the eye and betwen eye/cere.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I can upload a picture that my dad took of her today.
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 9 years ago.

Sorry for the delay, my computer lost the connection.

If you'd like to try sending a photo it might help, but remember, all I can do is give you my impressions and suggestions. Only a hands on vet visit will actually be able to make a diagnosis.

Also, remember to add whatever details you can about how long this has been going on and any other symptoms. How are the droppings, what does she eat, etc..


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I can not find the way to post a picture. It says to look for a tree icon, click on it, and upload my file. However, I don't see this.

From the information I've given you, what ideas do you have? An eye infection possibly or something more serious?

Her droppings, behavior, and eating habits seem normal. According to my parents, she's also still been playing with her toys and such.
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 9 years ago.

Let's not think anything really serious, but let's take every precaution ok?

Many times this symptom is the result of a respiratory infection. It doesn't have to be accompanied by sneezing or wheezing and perhaps your parents caught this really early and that's why there are no other problems.

What is encouraging is that everything else is normal. Healthy droppings and behavior is a very good sign, though with birds, as you obviously know, even one symptom is important to take seriously.

There's a slight chance this could be a mite (very slight chance given the description of care she has). No matter what, never use those pet store products for mites.

It could also be an allergic reaction to something in the air. Perhaps fumes, air freshener, even smoke in the air (I'm in California and we've got a terrible problem with wildfire smoke).

If she's near a window, even things your neighbors do might effect her.

Is she an only bird in their home or are there others? If so, what are the living arrangements?

If you'd like to try the pic again, there should be a 'show toolbar' option to the top left of your reply box. Once the toolbar shows - you should see a 'tree' near the yellow happy face.

It's really not vital though - I'm pretty sure you've done an excellent job with the description.

Do your parents have a vet established for her?


August Abbott, CAS and other Bird Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.

Thank you for telling me how to show a picture.

My parents only have one bird. However, I have two. Though I live an hour away, I go home often and of course my birds come with me. The three play together throughout the day, going from cage to cage, but mine sleep together at night while my parents' bird sleeps in her cage.

One of my birds has been treated for scaly face mites which I brought him to the vet for just two weeks ago. He is definitely getting better. My parents' bird Snowflake does not look like mine did with the mites. However, I guess it could be just the start of it, and the mites are looking differently on her than they did on my bird.

Her cage is on a stand next to the fridge, in between living room and kitchen. My parents often bring her cage outside to the covered porch, where they sit to drink wine in the evening.

I suppose it is possible that she has either a respiratory, sinus, or eye infection, or that she is having allergies from something in the air. Is this conjunctivitis? I will definitely tell my parents to watch out for this, although they do not burn candles since they got her.

I read about something called Psittacosis , and I hope she doesn't have this, although it appears to come with other symptoms. What do you think about these things?

Thank you for your help. Do you recommend I make a vet appt. for the soonest time? My parents don't have an avian vet for her. She has never been to the vet. I live in Baton Rouge, and I brought my bird to the LSU Animal Clinic, which has a great avian vet. I will probably have them bring theirs here, as well.

If you could just reply and let me know what your final thoughts are with this info, I would appreciate it. Thank you for your help.graphic

Customer: replied 9 years ago.

Please let me know what you think. Thank you.

Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 9 years ago.
Good job on the photo!

It does look like she's got mites. Given the info about your bird and the exposure, the pic does look like it. They don't always present the same way in different individuals.

Psittacosis (Chlamydiosis/Parrot Fever/Ornithosis) is now (officially called) Chlamydophila .

It is transmitted via ingestion or inhalation of the bacteria. Birds may be nonsymptomatic , asymptomatic (just one symptom is noticed) or be unmistakably ill with respiratory distress, lethargy/bottom sitting, diarrhea and urates being yellow or a lime green.

It's not likely without exposure to other birds you don't know - and while she might have brought it from her breeder's, after this length of time without any symptoms it's not something I'd suspect. Anything is possible, but not everything is likely.

Now, just in case it is psittacosis, remember, you've caught this early and that's excellent.

Psittacosis is a reportable disease in most states. You need to notify your CDC (Center for Disease Control) or have your vet do so. If your vet diagnosis and is treating this problem, they'll have to notify the CDC.

Testing techniques are varied, but the most certain is a PCR DNA and my recommendation is to simply start with that one instead of trying others (and ending up with the PCR DNA anyway).

The only treatment is supportive care and probably a course of antibiotics. It's vital that you administer the medications exactly as prescribed and for the entire duration of the med, not just until the symptoms let up.

That is IF it's this problem.

Conjunctivitis is a result of something, not a condition that occurs by itself. It's possible to see conjunctivitis in a bird with a fungal infection, bacteria or viral problem.

She's really a gorgeous bird and I understand why everyone is concerned. It would be a very good idea to have her seen this week and please let me know how it turns out ok?

Just re open this question - do not press accept again - I'm anxious to know how it goes. Would love some good news (and I expect it will turn out fine).

Customer: replied 9 years ago.

Good news -- my mom found an avian vet in Lafayette and was able to bring their parakeet in today! The vet told my mom that it appears like Snowflake has an eye infection, so he put an ointment in her eye and told my mom to put this ointment each night for the next ten days. Then, she will bring Snowflake back to get checked again. Hopefully she will get better soon.

I will still remind my parents to watch out for fumes or things that could irritate her eyes or lungs.

Thanks again. I will update you in ten days.

Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 9 years ago.

You're right - this is good news and I'm truly relieved. You and your family are responsible, caring and big hearted. This is a very lucky bird.

Check back to let me know how everything is going any time by re opening this same question.

Remember, do not press 'accept' again.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
If I accidentally didn't leave feedback right after I "accepted" the answer, but I want to leave feedback for you now, how would I do so? I can't find a way to do this. Thanks!
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 9 years ago.

That's a good question. I only see this end of it so I really don't know.

For me, across the top part of the page is a 'feedback' option. You might want to ask [email protected]

You'll be saying lots of nice things right Wink

(no pressing 'accept' again - and follow up anytime )