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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7611
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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My peachface lovebirds eyes are shut, possibly ...

Customer Question

My peachface lovebird''s eyes are shut, possibly swollen. She stays at the bottom of the cage all the time now, versus occasionally before. She seems to have a tiny bit of discharge or blood near her vent. Looking for a local vet that knows birds, hoping not to pay a fortune. Actually, one eye stays open sometimes now. Could it just be cold that she''ll get over?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 9 years ago.

How long has this bird been like this? Especially at the bottom of the cage?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to TheCaretaker's Post: She's up now. I sprinkled some water on her and she began to drink from the bottom of the cage. Then I put her up with her food while I cleaned the rest of the cage, and she ate some. She opens both eyes now, but doesn't keep them open. She's quite timid, and she likes to bite, so I need to cover her with a towel to move her around, although I can tell she likes the interaction.
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 9 years ago.

I'm still rather concerned about this little lovey. Tell me more about how long this has been going on.

How old is your lovey and how long has she been with you?

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to TheCaretaker's Post: I got her when she was very young, about two years ago. She's been sick only a few days. I think she had a little discharge from her vent, but it's not wet so it may not be recent.

I was going to take her to the vet, but she seems a little better, so I thought I'd wait. My husband is really against spending the money right now, but I will if she needs it. I know birds are rather fragile.
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 9 years ago.

Let's see if you and I can work together to help make hubby change his mind ok?

A major concern is that she's got a zoonotic disease. This means that both you and your husband, as well as anyone else who enters the home, may be at risk.

One example: 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.

Keep the environment especially clean, air filters are worthwhile and daily vacuuming with the bags changed or receptacle emptied each time (with a "true" HEPA filter you may get by with changing the bag or tank every other day, but even this is chancy) .

Psittacosis is a reportable disease in most states. Your vet needs to notify your CDC (Center for Disease Control). That's how serious it is.

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).

If she's on a predominantly seed diet, the risk of fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis) rises; when there's a deficiency in certain vitamins, fat is not properly processed by the liver and the potential for disease rises.

A large number of birds on seed only diets have both a deficiency because seeds are not a complete diet, and they're extremely high in fat.

What many owners don't realize is that even in the wild, our companions don't eat only seeds and they're constantly flying and foraging, burning off those fat calories throughout the day.

Unfortunately, marketing ploys represent seeds as a ‘complete diet' or ‘fortified', along with other questionable claims that aren't quite true.

Birds need fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, even eggs, fish and poultry.

Take a look here for more about fatty liver disease and many of the symptoms to watch out for:


Fluffing up (looking bigger) and sitting in one spot, less (or sometimes more) vocalizations, any loss of balance, lethargy, increased sleeping during the day - all important indicators of illness that must not be ignored or delayed.

For the bird's safety, if it's not able to perch well or maintain balance, lowering the perch or even removing it is suggested.

Another condition that could exist in a female bird, whether she's ever laid eggs before or not is becoming egg bound. Egg binding is when an egg doesn't exit the female bird. Dystocia is the obstruction of oviposition or cloacal function because of the egg in the distal oviduct.

If any owner suspects their female bird is egg-bound, getting her to a doctor who is experienced with birds, preferably an avian specialist, is necessary. In the meantime, making sure they are drinking is important since dehydration is common.

Offering plain water with an eyedropper just inside the beak, a drop or two at a time (slowly, not forcefully) may be helpful in keeping the bird alive until medical intervention.

Egg binding may have any one of a number of underlying causes, including hyperthermia or hypothermia (too hot; too cold). By improving the temperature and humidity in the environment, it could help with the passing of the egg; other causes are malformed egg, poor muscle tone or other health and condition problems in the hen.

There are various methods of treatment that an avian specialist or experienced vet may attempt, but none of these procedures can be executed by someone who isn't highly experienced with the condition; even many breeders would prefer medical intervention rather than chance the loss of the life of their bird.


A vet should do a physical exam. That means hands on, feeling the chest area, peering into the mouth with a well placed flashlight and lifting the tail feathers to examine the vent.

This exam should also include any one or more of the following: Blood tests, gram stains/cultures, x-rays, even oral/crop/tracheal swabs and so on.

If the examining vet doesn't perform a hands on exam, or worse, leaves your bird in their cage or carrier, leave immediately. This is not the vet for you or your bird.

Find an avian vet near you

Finally, this list might help when it comes to the cost. It takes some effort to apply, but it's really worth it.

American Animal Hospital Association
The AAHA Helping Pets Fund helps with veterinary care for sick or injured pets, including those abandoned or with owners experiencing financial hardship.

Angels 4 Animals
Services range from financial aid to complete treatment to those pets and pet owners in need.

Care Credit
A credit card company for health care, including veterinary care.
From $1 to over $25,000, they offer a plan and a low monthly payment to fit comfortably into almost every budget.

God's Creatures Ministry
Fund helps pay for veterinarian bills for those who need help.

Efforts focus on serving the elderly, the disabled, and the
working poor.

Dedicated to insure that no companion animal has to be euthanized simply because their caretaker is financially challenged.

The Pet Fund
The Pet Fund is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit association that
provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need
urgent veterinary care.

Ask your local Humane Society and/or ASPCA for help; and don't forget to contact your local pet stores. Oftentimes they have rescue orgs working out of them or with them and can offer you a list of numbers to call. Someone should have options in place for kind hearted people like you doing the right thing.

Don't give up ok? She really needs to be seen. Birds tend to have recoveries that are only temporary and by the time you see the problem again, it's much worse.

Let me know how you make out ok?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
So where would she get such a deadly virus that the CDC would have to be called? Are we all in grave danger?

My husband isn't buying it, although he will agree to have me take her to the vet if she doesn't continue to improve or gets worse, but the scare tactics, coupled with the ads, turned him off.

The idea of paying even more for a battery of tests doesn't sit well either. He sounds really heartless, but he was a farm boy and always has just let nature take it's course unless it was a cow, horse or dog...
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 9 years ago.

Do you recall when all the national chains of pet stores stopped selling birds for about 6 months recently? It was due to an outbreak of psittacosis and some humans being infected by it after they brought birds home. The birds didn't look or seem sick at all.

It's really not that remote of a possibility Click Here

--- No, I'm not saying this is it by any means, just that zoonotic diseases must be considered. There are many more than this one that humans can catch as well ---

I was a farm gal myself back in the 50-60's, so I understand that line of thought, but we're always learning right? I've since learned that these birds intelligence levels are significantly higher than livestock or even cats and dogs. Yep, higher than a dog.

The tests just sound like a lot, but we're talking about a swab from the mouth, the other end and a drop of blood from a clipped nail.

Well, do what you can and remember I'm here in your corner. Got a birthday coming up? Anniversary? Tell hubby that taking care of your lovey is what you really want.

Who knows, we use whatever we have to right? Good luck (and let me know)


August Abbott, CAS and other Bird Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
She is all better now, eyes clear, no discharge, singing. I cleaned her cage really well, changed her food dish and water, and she seems to be okay. She was improving a little before I did all that, but I wonder if she was allergic to something, or if there was a parasite in her food or something. Probably just a cold. Thanks for your help, and now I've found a local emergency vet if I need one.
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 9 years ago.

I'm very glad you let me know how she's doing. Keep up the cleaning efforts. While birds don't exactly get a 'cold', what you may have seen was an allergic reaction. By doing what you did, it sounds like you got rid of the allergen.


Keep in mind though that sometimes the initial problem (be it bacterial, fungal or viral) seems to go away. It happens all the time in birds. Then it suddenly reappears again, but seems worse (which it usually is). Rather than being a 2nd infection, it's the 1st one, but it hid inside the animal and got stronger.


I like taking our birds for regular check ups twice a year. Even once a year would be a prudent move for any bird owner. The peace of mind is incredible and if you ever need that emergency visit, someone will know your bird and what she's supposed to be like (they'll have a baseline).


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