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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7613
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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Hello, I have 8 budgies in an aviary outside. A couple of

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I have 8 budgies in an aviary outside. A couple of months ago one of the girls had black stains around her head and was waiting always keenly for fresh greens. About 3 weeks ago I found her unbalanced, struggeling to perch and I thought she was going to drop dead any second. A vet came the same day and told me that her body looks still rather strong and with good muscle tone and that her legs seem to be evenly strong too. She reckoned she must have some sort of poising for the black stains around head indicates vomiting. She put her on antibiotics which I managed to give her twice a day. She started to look better but her right foot seemed to get worse. She now cannot use her foot at all anymore and she is very awkward. I put some flatter pieces of wood in for her to rest more comfortably. I wormed all the budgies twice and give some iodine and minerals in the water as well which seemed to have boost her health but I am starting to lose hope for her right foot and am now not sure how she will go in the future. She holds her right foot up all the time. Flies on the cage walls holding on with her beak and left foot and lands always awkwardly on her belly leaning to her left side. She eats and drinks well. Comes to the fresh greens as soon I bring it in; so I guess her spirits are up again but what can I do to help her with her right foot?
None of my birds are tamed, they are a family and care for each other a lot.
All the other birds are healthy.
Please any information would help to understand what has happened to her.
The vet examined her poo and says there was no heavy metal poisoning indicated. We assume it must be a fungal or bacterial infection caused by the tropical climate we live in - far North Queensland, Australia.
Hope to hearing from you soon, thank you!
-- What is the majority of their diet?

Did they ever actually get diagnosed with endoparasites and have worming medications prescribed by a vet?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The majority of their diet is budgie seed mix from the local pet shop, millet spray, fresh spinach and beetroot leaves, celery, grated carrots and beetroot pretty much every day fresh. I try apple or pear regularly but they don't take to any fruit at all. They like their green leaves though.

I used to worm with AVITROL PLUS drops in drinking water every 3 months. Now because I couldn't find this product anywhere I use WORM-ENDA plus. I have put wormer in their drinking water for 3 days and then repeated it the week after for 3 days. Since Looni got sick I have been adding AVI-DROPS in their water as well, I wanted to make sure she got all the minerals since I wasn't sure about what exactly she was eating.

The vet only looked at my worming medication and said it was okay and every 3 months should be enough. They didn't diagnose anything really. Only looked at her poo and said it looked normal. The only medication prescribed was the Antibiotics Clavulox 0.1 ml twice a day. I gave it to her for 12 days.

-- I am so sorry for this delay and there really is no excuse for it, but for some reason I didn't get a notice that you had responded. We're both victims of a computer glitch and again, I'm very sorry.

I'm about to address the worm issue and it's pretty long, so let me first discuss what I think you're actually seeing, but remember - only a hands on examination by an avian savvy vet can know 'for sure' so on your flock's behalf - I beg you to do that. Right now just one bird is affected. You don't want to suddenly find everyone sick and be looking at a huge expense, right?
Her imbalance and apparent leg issues are common symptoms for something called hypovitaminosis A (low vitamin A) and in progressed cases hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) and these are almost always the result of diet.
You are doing very well with the fresh foods, but the big drawback here is the seed blend, the millet and possibly the spinach. Let me work backward on this: If spinach is given in large amounts the benefit of the high calcium and vitamin content actually reverses and it ends up leeching calcium, causing a deficiency. Since it's unknown exactly how much is 'too much', let's try suspending the spinach for a while.
The next issue is millet. It surprises most owners to learn that the acceptable amount of millet for captive birds is about the size of your thumb. Per week! It's far too high in fat content to be able to be burned off in a captive environment, even if it's a nice aviary. The high fat content leads to liver disease and once again, the imbalance and apparent leg issues are symptoms of that

The same high fat content is seen in seeds. Again though, you're doing a very good job at varying extras like the vegetables.

I'd like to see the flock on a decent pelleted diet which is made specifically for birds without miles of free flight every day. Keep up the excellent work with fruits and vegetables with a cut back on the spinach.

See a vet who really knows birds and who won't think 'worms' before looking at diet.

Now, let's talk about 'worms'

With birds kept indoors and regularly cleaned cages, Endoparasites are relatively uncommon. When an infection occurs, it’s usually ascarid (roundworm), although there are others to consider too.

One treatment does not necessarily address all and since administering dewormers to a parrot can be dangerous, having the parasite properly diagnosed is very important.

Roundworms are usually spread when a bird ingests fecal material that’s infected. In outdoor aviaries it can come from wild birds that may be in the area of your birds, other wildlife or even carried for a time in earthworms.

Diagnosing ascarid infection may take more than a couple fecal exams by a vet knowledgeable of birds. The parasite eggs may not be shed in every dropping, so checking the bird over a period of 2-3 weeks is prudent.

Treatment will be a med appropriate for the bird and that your vet is comfortable with, usually containing pyrantel pamoate, Fenbendazole, piperazine or Ivermectin. Again, approx. two weeks later it’s prudent to re-treat.

It’s very important to never provide Ivermectin undiluted; and again, only the Ivermectin Propylene Glycol specifically for avian use.

In the meantime, meticulous cleaning is necessary to prevent re-infection. Power washing, steam cleaning or hot water and bleach brush scrubbing the cage are the most effective options. I prefer steam cleaning as a completely safe, non toxic method; however, 1 part chlorine bleach to 10 parts hot water and a good brush to reach all corners and edges is good too. For this you must remove the bird completely from the area, rinse well and dry - as well as be positive the air is clear (open windows) before returning your bird.

Other worms seen in birds are Threadworms (Capillaria), Tapeworm, Trichomonas, coccidia and Giardia.

Some intestinal parasites burrow into the lining of the intestines and may cause life threatening perforations.

Early diagnosis is the best way to treat any bird even slightly suspected to have ‘worms’.

It’s also important to note that many of these parasites could be transferred to humans and other animals. If a child or someone with compromised immune systems it could turn into a very serious and complicated problem.

Not only regular cage cleaning is necessary, but hand washing after touching the bird or anything the bird has touched is vital.


To treat a bird with intestinal roundworms, medications containing pyrantel pamoate, piperazine, Fenbendazole, or Ivermectin are most commonly used. It is often recommended to repeat the treatment in 10-14 days. In addition to treating the bird, the environment must also be treated or reinfection will occur. Cages, food and water bowls, nesting areas, and any toys or other articles possibly contaminated with feces should be washed and dried thoroughly. The eggs are resistant to almost all disinfectants; steam cleaning after removing any visible feces will kill the eggs.

Birds with severe infestations often need supportive treatment

Prevention ---

To prevent roundworms, quarantine all new birds, and have a fecal analysis performed. If birds are kept outside, limit their access to the ground and free ranging birds. Use good hygiene, regularly cleaning the cage, bowls, nest areas, and other items. A dry environment will decrease the survivability of the eggs.


I'd like very much to stay in the loop with this. Will you let me know how things go?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your reply.

I will cut back on the spinach and millet spray. Interesting because there are the two food sources I know for sure she really enjoys.

If her condition is related to her diet and she will from now on have the diet she needs, is there any hope that she will be able to use her foot again? She seems much happier at the moment but I can see she is confused about her foot.

Is there hope for her and her foot?

-- Yes. There is always hope. I own a parrot rescue/rehab and currently there is a totally blind macaw here that was about to be euthanized. I volunteered to take him, knowing he'll never be adoptable. But let me tell you, in just two months this bird has come so far it's amazing! He's playing with toys, he's finding his voice again and he's acting like a bird. He'll always be blind, but now he's learning there are different ways for him to be happy.

So yes, there is hope.

As for her really enjoying the millet, of course she does! To a bird millet is like ice cream is to a kid. High in fat, tastes really good - she's a bird. And a very good one

Once you mentioned she likes the spinach a lot too, I would assume she over indulges in that as well.

IF there is a way to isolate her for a couple of weeks we can try something - but obviously you're going to need an avian experienced vet at some point with your flock and we might as well start with her, right?


OK, here's how I want you to feed her over the next several days and monitor her for improvement
----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.
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 (except spinach; try chard), 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

Check here for more ideas


You might see improvement in a couple days, but don't stop and still follow thru with a vet visit ok?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you!


Will I cook brown rice, quinoa, couscous, pasta how I would cook it for myself without salt of course? Sweet potatoes cooked?


She suffers when separated from her flock a lot. She was separated for 12 days in a cage within the aviary but at first chance she joined her flock and it felt like it is for the better with her. She was so stressed and as soon as she was reunited she seemed much happier. Her flock looks after her and it's beautiful to see how they check up on her, groom her and one of the boys feeds her too.


So my next question is. Would it be okay if I put them all on this special diet? Since seeds in the amount I am giving to them is not good for neither of them. And to be honest I have not seen pallets for budgies at any of the pet shops here. I am very disappointed that nobody has ever told me this... but I never give up!


I have not found an avian vet in my area yet. I am looking ...

I really want you to keep following up with me ok? You aren't in this alone.

And yes, putting them all on this diet is actually ideal!

Order the pellets online. One place that's usually inexpensive and good with customer service is Drs. Foster & Smith; another good source is Amazon and of course


One brand of pellet I find VERY easy to get any bird to eat is called Zoo Vital (for most specific species; so look for 'for budgies' ) and it's a good deal at PetCareRx

As for an avian vet - don't rule out a 'regular' vet. Just make sure that at least 1/3 of their patients are birds. Better yet, "most" of their patients are birds.

Call any vet near you and ask them who they refer bird owners to. Call breeders and ask who they use. If a pet store sells birds, ask them who they use.

I know you're going to succeed. You sound very smart and determined.

Oh and yes, cook like you would for yourself. A neat 'trick' for starting them on sweet potatoes or carrots is to get a jar of human baby food. Make sure it's nothing but the vegetable and 'water for processing' - for some reason most birds just love pureed vegetables like this - and once they learn the taste it's easier to introduce the actual vegetable.

August Abbott, CAS and other Bird Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much! I will keep you informed!