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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 29688
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My 7 year old parakeet has been keeping his head under his

Customer Question

My 7 year old parakeet has been keeping his head under his wing most of the day for weeks now, often ruffling his feathers and now he has brown stains around his beak/mouth. This is Memorial Weekend, the only vet I can find that works with parakeets is 2 1/2 hours away and will be closing soon. So, what can I do to help Tweets? Help!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. You will need to have an avian-oriented vet (please see here: take a look at Tweets because while his posture, ruffling, and staining about his beak are important symptoms, they're not pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one disorder in birds. The staining might represent his regurgitating due to a crop disorder or vomiting due to a lower gastrointestinal disorder. Once a bird appears ill, they're already critically ill and so time is of the essence. Birds hide their illnesses because they're attacked by other birds when they appear ill. For now you can do the following:
1) Heat up Tweets's environment to 80F. This can be attained by shining a 100W bulb into his partially covered cage - not at night when he needs to sleep - or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting to the base of his cage.
2) Remove his perches and place his food and water on the base of the cage along with him. Separate him from Buddy if possible but keep them close in order to avoid the stress of separation.
3) Primary seed eaters are going to become deficient in calcium and vitamins D3, B12, K, and A. Add an avian vitamin (Oasis, e.g.) to his water at half the recommended dose in order to avoid making his water distasteful. Pick up a water soluble calcium supplement (many generics are available) as well. Nutritional imbalances are common causes of parakeet illness. Continue to feed people food - dairy products, tops of green vegetables, hard boiled egg yolk, even tiny pieces of meat.
4) Avoid antibiotics designed to be placed in the water if only because an ill bird won't drink enough to medicate himself properly with antibiotics.
Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I've got to order these items on line as no stores around here carry such things, so it will take days over the Memorial Day weekend. Is there any food I can give him that will get the vitamins in him fast till then? I've been feeding him commercial seed mixtures, millet sprays, red lettuce, bok choy, chinese cabbage, celery, parsley, kale, cilantro, a commercial dried fruit mixture, a molding mixture. What else should regularly be in his diet to keep him healthy? Is it O.K. to clean his cage with a mixture of water and vinegar? Is that safe for him? He doesn't know how to bathe. How can I teach him? Should I spritz him with water as a rain substitute? What temperature should he have when healthy? Is colloidal silver safe for him? Should I take a Q tip and clean the debris from his face? How can I find a vet that cares for birds in NW Iowa? It's hard to even get appropriate food here. Is there a site you would recommend?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Those veggies are a good choice. Here's a good review of feeding for you: Quinoa is a remarkable grain packed with balanced nutrition for Tweets.
Yes, water and vinegar is safe but so is a regular detergent rinsed well. See here concerning budgies and bathing: pets.the
Budgies do best at between 70-80F. Avoid colloidal silver which would be toxic to a bird. Yes, a moistened Q-tip or cotton ball is appropriate. Avoid harsh cleansers. Check the site for vets in your area. For pelleted diets, see and
Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you VERY MUCH! That was enormously helpful. Now I know what to feed them, how to safely clean up their cage, bathe them and can now rest easy enjoying them. You see, I found a yellow parakeet outside several years ago, got it a friend and ended up having a flock. This was 2 weeks after saying to someone, "I don't know what people see in birds. I mean, what can you do with a bird?" It has been an enlightening experience ever since. I particularly love waking up to their songs. It's like perpetual spring! Thanks again. You're a life saver.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
What a good story! Thank you for that and your kind words. I can't set a follow-up in this venue and so would appreciate your returning to our conversation with an update - even after rating - at a time of your choosing.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Hi Victoria,
I'm just following up on our conversation about Tweets. How is everything going?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I did take Tweet to a vet in Mason City. He seemed to perk up for the trip and wanted to sit close to me while in his cage. The vet said he was malnurished as his little breast bone was sticking way out. She suspected another bird was keeping him from eating, but in observing him that didn't seem to be the case. I kept him warm, gave him the vitamins, calcium, etc. but it was just too late. He died. But, he did have a great adventure the day before and I will be wiser with my other birds. Thank you for all the help you gave me, when I had no idea what to do!
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
My condolences for your loss of Tweets. I appreciate your taking the time to let me know.