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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7627
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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Hi, my bird is on the bottom of his cage walking in circles.

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Hi, my bird is on the bottom of his cage walking in circles. He can still fly.. but very disoriented. I changed his diet a couple weeks ago & the vet had said it was because of that & gave me antibiotics and told me to give him his old food back. Well he's been on antibiotics for 3 days now & eating his old food. But he's still experiencing the symptoms. Nothing has improved, nothing has gotten worse. His eyes are clear. He's keeping his feathers ruffled & is sleeping alot. Any idea what this could be? I'm worried sick.

I am sorry for the delay. I believe we were under the impression you had posted earlier and were being responded to already. Did you post before this?

In any case, if you haven't received help yet, tell me what has happened since you posted.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I never received a response to my question. Nothing has changed. He is still acting the same and has been for a few days now ): I don't know what could be wrong. I researched a bunch of diseases or lack of a certain vitamen and nothing seems to add up.
-- I am so sorry for the mix up, but hopefully we can work together and get your little one stronger.

Let's put together an 'at home intensive care unit' for him, also known as a brooder

For a makeshift brooder, 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.
This is going to help a lot, but it won't cure him. Even if he seems to get better and be stronger, do not trust it. Birds are the BEST 'maskers' in nature. Often we don't have any idea there's anything wrong until shortly before they lose their life. We are going to work very hard to make sure this doesn't happen.

As for food: Feeding options
Feeding options for certain circumstances of need:

Offer ½ spoon of all natural, organic baby food (squash, yams, sweet potatoes, mixed vegetables) which many birds take readily; also try some pabulum or baby rice cereal and a few licks of natural (no artificial anything) yogurt.
Make an oatmeal using 2 tablespoons of all natural oats + 4 tablespoons of plain, hot tap water. Let it stand for about 5 or 10 minutes until the water is mostly absorbed. You can add ½ teaspoon of no sugar added, all natural applesauce, either regular or jarred baby food type, which often makes the oatmeal more acceptable for picky eaters.
Chop up some fresh or dried fruits to add. With dried fruits try to find ‘no sulfites’ on the packaging.


For supportive care & hydration:
Make some sugar water with 1-2 tablespoons of natural white sugar (none of those sugar substitutes no matter how natural they claim to be) in ½ cup of water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and offer the bird a couple drops of this along with the Pedialyte.
In a pinch, Gatorade or other sports drink without added zinc or at least with zinc listed low on the list of ingredients, can be used while you are getting Pedialyte.


If you want to look more into feeding and nutritional options that might build a stronger immune system, I have a great deal of admiration and respect for Carolyn Swicegood's


Kitchen Physician


And 'Juicing' plus many varied options, including getting your companion off their junk food diet (seeds) and eating healthier for a longer, happier life


Overall feeding information, recipes and options right here 4AnimalCare


A temporary feeding formula for unweaned birds, that can be used for just a few days:
(Human) baby rice cereal mixed as directed
Add (also from the baby food aisle) ½ to 1 teaspoon each of:
Sweet potatoes/yams
Peas or Green beans

A professional formula must be given, otherwise what seems like a healthy and thriving bird may be found “all of a sudden” in a very dire way.


There are mail order and shipping options that go just about everywhere. A very good supplier that I use is . There are plenty of others, so explore and find the one that is right for you.

It’s generally recommended that most of today’s companion birds have a predominantly pelleted diet. Pellets have been continually updated since being introduced to the market years ago and today’s formulas are better than ever.
Supplementing this diet with fresh foods every day is ideal and many owners find they can re-introduce seeds - in limited amounts (perhaps once or twice a week) without the bird refusing the pellets overall.
Whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, fruits and legumes. Include the colors orange, yellow , green, plus reds too! Think sweet potatoes/yams, squash, melons, oranges, peas, chard, beets and others.  
Brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat couscous and natural, whole grain pastas are great choices.
Limit fats, especially the kind from animals. Good fats are most plant fats like soy, olive and canola oils.  No fried anything
Another thing you can try is all natural, human baby food. Stick to the orange colors.
They can be mixed with tiny pasta or rice, whole grain bread or toast - remember, be more creative than the bird is stubborn.
As odd as it sounds, birds don’t need much, if any vitamin C. It is a water soluble vitamin which means it passes out of the body after the body takes what it needs and C is available in a wide variety of both fresh and processed foods given to birds.
Vitamin A/Beta Carotene, on the other hand, is frequently found to be deficient in birds. This is a fat soluble vitamin which means it gets stored in the fat cells of the body, so it’s possible to overdose on it. With our companion birds though, too little is the situation most often encountered.
The symptoms a bird will show when deficient include exactly what you're seeing.
See overall feeding options when he's all better : for details that include three homemade recipes you can also eat along with your bird.

Now tell me, what qualifications does this vet have to treat birds?

Have you used them before? Why did they prescribe antibiotics? Did they test for something and find an infection?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Ok I moved him into a small tank with sheets layed down in it & a heating pad under the tank on low. I'll keep checking to make sure its not too hot. I'm going to try baby food tomorrow. I bought some vitamin drops to put in his water, but i wasnt sure if I should. It's a multi vitamin for birds. Ecotrition I believe is the brand. I have been giving him some water through a syringe tube & he drinks it very willingly even though he has a dish of fresh water 24/7 on the ground for him. Should I continue giving him water this way just in case he stopped drinking from the bowl? If so how often? I took him to North star emergency vet as soon as i saw him like this on the 10th I believe. They didn't have their expert bird vet there but they had exotic vets on staff. They wanted to do xrays because they couldnt tell from an exam what was wrong, however they wanted to confirm with the expert that it was the right call. So they called the expert and he said this is common in young lovebirds if you change their diet and they don't like it. That they will basically starve themselves. So the vet on staff told me to change his food back and put him on antibiotics as a "just in case" type of thing.
-- Don't use the vitamin drops. I think your instincts are way better than this vet.

It's also pretty far fetched to pin this on a food change, so don't go blaming yourself. If he was on seeds prior to this, chances are that is the culprit, but it doesn't happen overnight or even in a few days or weeks.

As for the antibiotics - all the avian vets I know AND myself use them only when absolutely necessary and only when a bacterial infection is defined. The reason? Antibiotics not only kill the bad bacteria, but they also kill the GOOD bacteria. The stuff your bird needs to stay strong, keep his immune system working and tuned up.

Plus, antibiotics tend to cause fungal infections which add to the initial problem. When a bird is started on antibiotics they are monitored for this OR given an anti fungal 'just in case'. That would be prudent. Antibiotics given 'just in case' ? Not usually.

I cannot tell you to stop, but I can urge you to get your companion to a 'genuine' avian vet rather quickly (within 24-48 hours or sooner if he takes a turn for the worse)

If he can stand and move around, providing a shallow bowl of water should be enough. If you're going to give him water by hand, just a drop or two to the side of the beak - not actually forced inside - will do fine.

Also, this is NOT common in lovebirds. All of this info is scaring me about that vet.

An oral swab, a swab from the vent and blood sample are easy and quick and would have been a decent baseline of information.

Yes, there might be a tumor internally causing this, but one step at a time right?

Also, when you find the right vet, perhaps have a heavy metal eval done. If anything in his cage has a magnetic field (use a refrigerator magnet to test) he may have gnawed on parts and slowly ingested heavy metal, causing a toxic reaction.

Again though, one step at a time.


Though specialized avian vets are ideal, any vet who sees a majority of birds or at least 1/3 of their practice consisting of birds is a good choice.
If you have a Pet Smart, you have Banfield Clinic inside, open 7 days a week and they see birds.
If you have a Pet Co, they have a list of vet names that they use for themselves and are happy to give you, ask for 'bird vets'.
Ask any vet in town who they'd recommend for bird care. Ask any good breeder in town who they use (if they don't use anyone, they are not a good breeder, stay away from them).
Find an avian vet near you

Just keep calm most of all. I know this is a lot of information to digest and on top of it you're nervous about your buddy, but you'll do ok if you keep breathing, deep breaths and remember that he can tell if you're upset. So cheer him on, comfort him, love him to pieces and get him a vet who knows birds inside and out

August Abbott, CAS and other Bird Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Ok thank you so much for your help. I'm going to cut back the anti biotics a little. I'm giving him a very small amount in the morning and at night as told from the vet. I'll try just the mornings for today and tomorrow (since today is sunday) find a different vet to take him to and see what they say. For now I'm taking your advice with everything since what the other vet told me to do, isn't making him any better. He's still the same this morning. Also I'm going to contact his breeder and see if he knows what might be going on. He lives pretty far so driving there with my lovebird might stress him more. I will keep you updated and I'm hoping my buddy gets better. you have been very helpful. Thank you again.
If you're going to 'cut back' on the antibiotics, you might as well stop them. I'd feel better and your lovey might too.

I also agree with you about not driving to a breeder to have them evaluate your bird. It isn't that the stress would do the bird in (that's an old, old wives tale), but a breeder often has no more education to bird care or treatment than a 12 year old. I've met 70 year old breeders (the oldest I've known was 91) who have been doing the wrong thing and giving the wrong information for ALL of the years they've done it.

But they believe in that bad info and they present it with confidence; others see age and hear confidence and figure they're talking to a doctor or something.

Truth be told, very, very rarely have I met a breeder who had any idea what they are doing. Remember, birds do what birds have been doing for billions of years. Anyone can 'breed' them.

I want you to be very careful and I'm going to be your 'best friend' through this as long as you let me ok? I have nothing to lose by being honest with you and it's just the right thing to do, right?

No need to press 'accept' again on this - unless you're a subscriber, then press away :-) Otherwise, I don't want you charged further - I'll do all these follow ups for free

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I didn't know that I accept meant they were charging me? Anyhow so i took him back to the vet. Waited 2-3 hours to be seen by the bird expert because I refused to see anyone else. I got an xray done that showed a foreign object in his 2nd(?) Stomach. The vets guess is a piece of metal shavings. It's tiny and square & some of the bars in his cage are peeling and rusty. It's a very large parrot cage. So he is having me do injections every day for 10 days. He taught me how to do them. I will have to get the name of it. It's suppose to aid in the break down of the metal and also gave me meds for his stomach & told me to stay on the anti biotics. Does this all sound right to you? Like does it sound like it would make sense? Thank you in advance. Also he seems much more comfortable and warm in his tank. Also he ate some banana today, I was very happy.
-- The deposit you made was released when you clicked an accept, but you only did it once so that's the only price you paid. If you're not a subscriber, as long as you don't press that again you won't be charged anymore and I'm fine with that. I'm honored to work together with you on this. You're very smart and you clearly love your bird.

--- One of the possibilities I mentioned earlier was 'heavy metal toxicity' - and while it was 3rd on the list - actually it's GOOD to be found. That means a resolution is going to be faster than having to go through lots of ongoing diagnostics.

I feel much more confident with this new doctor. Now be sure to keep me in the loop ok? I'm still going to be here for you

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

He passed away on the 19th, it broke my heart & sorry for not updating you. I haven't really wanted to talk about it except with personal people in my life. I still have all his belongings. I haven't touched them. I feel I might adopt a lovebird around christmas if there are some available in a shelter instead of going to a breeder. Birdkee could never be replaced.. he was a very special animal to me.. however people can pass money down, valuables, houses, anything really when their time comes. Animals only have OUR love they left behind to give to another animal in need. Sorry to sound corny. Anyhow, I really appreciated your advice through everything. & with your help he was very comfortable his last week because I wouldn't have thought to put him in a home made incubator. I checked on him CONSTANTLY & hand fed him all the water he wanted as he ate on his own. It was just too late for him to make a come back.

Oh no. Oh my God, I am so very, truly sorry. When I received this 'reply' I had a feeling something bad happened. I wish I could say something to take how bad you feel away and make you better.

I've lost patients over the years and been deeply attached to a couple of them. They were actually rescues that were part of my family for a year or two when they succumbed to their different diseases. Even knowing they're dying right from the beginning doesn't make it any easier. Not even close.

You don't sound corny at all. You sound very big hearted and insightful. Never be ashamed of that.

Since we don't know 'for sure' what happened, you have to toss anything of his that's porous. If water is absorbed into the item, so are bad bacteria, fungus and more. Out it goes.

The rest, like bowls, plastic, glass, metal -- soak in a disinfectant solution of 1 part chlorine bleach to 9 parts HOT water for at least 1/2 hour -- rinse in hot water at least twice and let air dry, preferably in direct sun, but anywhere clean is fine

When you're ready to honor his life with a new family member, please let me know and we'll do it together. We'll get the newbie on idea food, a perfect regimen and everything else a spoiled rotten bird deserves

Thank you for getting back to me though. Even though it's heartbreaking I'm glad you told me