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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7608
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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Gday there, Just noticed that that while talking, Bo (18

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G'day there,

Just noticed that that while talking, Bo (18 month male budgie), the crop on the RHS bulges out quite a lot and then goes back to normal and is a recurring thing when he talks - reminds me of toads who inflate to warn off predators.

Haven't noticed it before today - anything serious here?
-- Very good description! This sounds like Bo might have an air sac that sprung a leak. When this happens, air seeps into the surrounding area and blows up like a balloon.

If you were to touch it you'd likely feel this (air rather than matter or solids)

Now for the scary (and not so scary) part: This air pocket will enlarge and can cause some discomfort and other complications, including subcutaneous emphysema, if not relieved. You must get to your vet (or find any vet comfortable with treating avians). Usually they will, under very sterile conditions, insert a needle to release the air and then, in some cases, effect surgical repair. In all cases an antibiotic follow up is necessary. This might be something they deliver themselves or a prescription they give you (or both). If it’s a Rx given to you, be sure to give it until it’s all gone. Never stop it early without specific instructions by your caregiver.

Some birds will have this problem recurrently, others will have it once and never again. Underlying causations are frequently never identified, but nevertheless, it’s something you must be sure of.

As for 'emergency' - that's where your instincts and knowledge of your bird comes in. Be observant. If he stops eating/drinking, make a vet visit an emergency and go. If he goes to the bottom of the cage - go. If he seems off balance, overly sleepy? Go

Trust your own instincts on this

And please let me know how you make out, ok? If you need to clarify anything, just use the reply button, I'm here.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for that!


By air sac do you mean the crop or the lung?


I have noticed that from the start when Bo does a couple of laps of the lounge room and lands on my shoulder he wheezes like a person who has smoked umpteen cigarettes every day until he gets his breath back - have always joked that he is too unfit to survive in the Australian wilds because he couldn't keep up with the rest of the flock if he was out there!


I gather that this is not a self-healing problem??


-- It's a problem that should be seen; however, sometimes it seals itself and never happens

The hands on check up will also determin whether this is truly caused by polite by a leaky air sac or if it's perhaps a lung issue all by itself.

The reason this is difficult to pinpoint based on the symptoms alone is that many symptoms are similar across varied causes.

It's wise to establish him with a vet anyway, right? Yearly check ups important to maintain good health.

Truly though, let me know how it goes. My best thoughts and prayers are you


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Been thinking about your comment that the air needs to be released so I don't know whether it was clear to you that the bulge only appears when he is talking and disappears when he stops (and is more evident on the pronunciation of some words), much like a trumpet player's cheeks.

-- Thank you for following up and giving me the opportunity to clarify. I appreciate working together with clients and I respect those who want to learn as much as possible

The location and demonstration of the inflation is in keeping with an air sac. True, it's unusual to inflate and deplete with the talking as you're seeing, but it does happen.

Other possibilities include infections, quite often fungal, but that can really be a number of things.

Getting back to the air sac possibility: It's by pushing the air out of their sacs that these birds make sounds (words, noises, songs) which is in keeping with you're seeing the bulge go down when he talks.

Now, under normal conditions we wouldn't see this. When a sac has a leak and the intake of air escapes into the surrounding area right under the skin, we see it.

Imagine a balloon within a bigger balloon. You can inflate that inner balloon to a certain degree without the outer balloon looking any different. Now, poke a tiny hole in that inner balloon and when you blow it up that air will leak out and inflate the bigger balloon.

The little inner balloon is the air sac; the bigger outer balloon is the bird's body.


The only thing we know for sure without any doubt is that this isn't 'normal', right?

To be honest with you, just a couple of weeks ago I got a call from a terrified client who noticed a "massive lump" on her rescued macaw. The lump wasn't there an hour earlier, so her panic is understandable.

Calming the lady down was the only way to calm the poor bird down and they eventually both went to bed. By morning the bird looked normal, the lady decided to put off veterinary intervention and fortunately there has been no sign of the 'leak' since then. You could 'wait', but since you're asking for a professional opinion I'd have to advise against that. If it were my little bird and I loved him like I can tell you do (it's obvious in the way you're asking and the sincerity of your concern) - I'd play it safe rather than be sorry. Right?


August Abbott, CAS and other Bird Specialists are ready to help you

I'm just following up on our conversation about Bo. How is everything going?

S. August Abbott, CAS
Customer: replied 4 years ago.



Still monitoring as it only appears when Bo makes one particular noise which is like a crow "Caw, caw" and not during his other speech patterns; otherwise he is bright and bubbly!

-- I'm relieved to hear this. If you think of me now and then please let me know how it's going. I'm here for you both if you need anything