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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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my parakeet is sitting at bottom of cage; she has been for

Customer Question

my parakeet is sitting at bottom of cage; she has been for about 3 days, feathers are ruffled up - she walks around but doesn't seem to wan tto fly - she is eating and drinking water, staying at one side of the cage - i've put a heating pad on that side to keep her warm - her mate just died about 2 wks ago - she has been laying eggs for about 4 months, none have hatched - there are 3 eggs in the cage now although she doesn't seem to be sitting on them as she used too. i don't know if i can afford a vet - please help!
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 8 years ago.

Is she on a mostly seed diet?

How old was her mate and what were his symptoms ?

Are her droppings still normal?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

her mate was about 3 yrs old - there were no symptoms with him - we've been watching them daily because they would cuddle up so much during the laying eggs process - i noticed nothing out of the ordinary with him - one morning i woke up to find him laying at the bottom of the cage dead- it looked like stuff had come out of his bottom, poop i guess mixed with a little blood - i took him out right away - we cleaned the cage really good as well - people told me to take him to the vet for an autopsy but i couldn't afford it - i was laid off of my job a little over a month ago and just started working again this week, which is why, if i can do something, i need to avoid the vet as i cannot afford the cost -

is there a chance she's mourning th eloss of her mate? for the first week she chirped so much - we gave her a lto of attentionn - now she's not chirping as much unless i talk directly to her then she chirps a little -

yes, i feed her a seed diet, i usually give her a treat (berry burst) and a branch of seeds (nullet? can't recall the name) - which is new, i haven't given her that before -

her droppings look a bit runny - i tried to pick her up but she freaked out and climbed the side of the cage to her perch (she is not flying) - i noticed kind of a white bubble out of her bottom, at first i thought it was an egg but then it looked more runny, then it kind of went back in - she went back to teh bottom of her cage and is still there - i still have the heatin gpad on the side of the cage, she seems to be laying against it for the warmth -

Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 8 years ago.

I'm so sorry for your loss of the first bird. I'm also completely understanding of being a victim of this economy so trust me, I wouldn't off-handedly recommend seeing a vet if I didn't honestly feel it was absolutely necessary.

And unfortunately it really is necessary.

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 you even suspect that your hen (female bird) is egg-bound, getting her to a doctor who is experienced with birds, preferably an avian specialist, is necessary right now. You cannot delay.

In the meantime, making sure she gets some 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.

You can try swabbing her vent area with a bit of KY jelly or other lubricant (not Vaseline) – even regular cooking oil is ok in a pinch.

Set her in a shallow pan of warm water (not hot) – this might relax the muscles enough to pass the egg.

You don’t have much time - find an urgent care facility and go now. It’s far better to be driving two hours to the nearest caregiver rather than trying to wait this out.

She may not only face a life threatening situation here, but this is a common cause of paralyzation in birds. Sometimes permanent.

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.

Egg peritonitis is another possible complication of egg laying birds. In some birds the ova end up in the body cavity. There is no chance of success of this egg and it cannot re-enter the oviduct. There are many reasons this happens to begin with, but the most important thing you have to do is get the bird to a vet.

When you notice symptoms that may appear to be egg binding, any discharge from the vent that looks unusual or is happening without the bird making a dropping, any lethargy or depression in a bird that has been known to lay eggs, enlargement of the abdominal area – don’t waste any time with a ‘wait and see’ stance. The misplaced egg will generally cause peritonitis (inflammation in the body cavity) and as the yolk is absorbed by the peritoneum it will likely cause a reaction in the bloodstream that can be fatal rather quickly.

Find an avian vet near you and

Another very productive search site is

These days, with birds growing fast in popularity as in home companions, many DVM’s are quite experienced and able to see and treat many birds. If you have a pet store that sells birds or know of any bird breeders – ask them who they use for their bird care.

These days it’s always nice to know there’s help if we need 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.




I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX works out for both of you

God bless,

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
thank you however i just called the emergency vets in and around my area and cannot find any that treat birds - it's 7:30pm on a sunday night - i cannot find a vet to treat her tonight - the pet store where we bought her is closed as i imagine the others are as well - is ther eanything i can do for her tonight until i can get her to a vet tomorrow? what else could it be besides the egg?
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 8 years ago.

The hydration and getting her warm as I outlined above are the first things to do.

For a makeshift incubator use a small box lined with soft clothes like tee shirts.

Use a thick, clean sock and fill it ¾ with plain, raw white rice. Knot the end and microwave it for about 1 ½ minutes. Shake it afterwards to distribute the heat and be sure it's not too hot. Tuck this in just under the cloths.

A heating pad under the box is also helpful, set on low. This is one of the few times I’d ever use both heat sources if necessary to maintain incubation temp (90-105 degrees).

If ever using an electric source for heating anything in anyway, please be vigilant and constantly double checking carefully.

Gently drape a light cover over this box to further help hold heat in and keep light low.


Another possibility is a cloacal prolapse.

Cloacal prolapse is when the inside of the bird pushes out. In some cases it’s noted as a ‘red bottom’ or some owners will describe it as a ‘hemorrhoid’ – in other cases it’s unmistakably an emergency situation. In all cases it requires urgent veterinary intervention. The cloaca must be replaced (this is an organ and not supposed to be on the outside).

Either way, obviously it's serious. I want this to be ok for you, so give these options a try and get her seen first thing tomorrow.