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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7621
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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Thank you for asking.. 21 blue and gold macaw with chronic

Customer Question

hi and thank you for asking.. 21 blue and gold macaw with chronic sinus. last vet visit was sinus flushing, but was told that there wasn't much to flush. His nares are swollen and at night you can hear him gagging and trying to breath. vet told me to put him on chlorpheniramine in water. Started for awhile and wasn't sure if it really did much and couldn't be sure that he was drinking the water. I know that antihistamines can make you feel more clogged sometimes and didn't like having to give him something like that. He did good for awhile and now back again. He is mostly inside bird as the humidity is too much for him. He has a mate and they have a very comfy life. . There is also a air purifier in their room, a good one. another avian vet mentioned using a nebulizer.. there was something I was told to put in it to break mucous, but don't recall or know where to get it.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Coughing can be worrying. The Veterinarian will know what you should do. What is the macaw's name?
Customer: 's more like a choking on the mucus at night esp. His name is ***** ***** came from a horrible breeder that was starved and half of them died. Rescued from auction
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Felix?
Customer: He is healthy and strong, good appetite and was cultured and blood work done last and was told about allergies
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 1 year ago.

I'm August Abbott, cert. avian specialist; owner of N.CA Parrot Rescue. Give me just a few minutes to review your question & respond. I'm with you

Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 1 year ago.

My rescue is 99% macaws and I've had this same problem with a few of them. Interestingly, macaws have the highest incidents of allergies than any other psittacine; if not any other bird.

Let me review a few of the causation's I see more of: Rhinitis (inflammation of the nares/nostrils). There would likely be a nasal discharge involved that may be clear, cloudy or yellowish; thick or thin. The underlying cause may be anything from viral to bacterial or fungal.

It could also be a reaction to a foreign object, which could be as common as dust or other bird’s feathers/dander.
Our blue & gold macaw (Sadie) has this condition flare up twice a year during high pollen counts. It’s especially common in macaws and amazons (birds from rainforest/tropical climates). The discharge may harden (rhinoliths) and if not (gently) wiped away regularly, it may plug the nares and cause several other severely complicated health issues.
Use a soft, warm, moist cloth to gently wipe the nares clear.
Another possibility is infection of the air sacs (air sacculitis). Symptoms for this includes coughing, wheezing and labored breathing. It’s often more noticeable after the bird does something strenuous (like a flight). Treatment would depend on the infection (fungal, bacterial or viral).
I commend you for doing the right thing with the vet visit. I must ask though if this is an avian only vet. There are a couple of things I find perplexing in their suggestions, but they had the opportunity of a full hands on visit and exam so it may make more sense.

If your bird is having normal droppings, is not fluffing, losing balance or sitting at the bottom of the cage, and is eating/drinking normally, it is probably not an emergency; however, if along with respiratory problems you notice the bird fluffing and preferring to be at the bottom of the cage – or even in one area of the cage, not moving much on their perch – this is an urgent care situation.
In the meantime, as well as keeping the (nostrils) clear, when it comes to birds from tropical rainforests like macaws, amazons try installing a vaporizer (as opposed to a humidifier) in the room. The hot steamy air can be helpful to both feather quality and respiratory tracts. Vacuuming instead of just sweeping or dusting, needs to be done daily. It might sound like a lot of work, but when done on a regular basis it’s really not so bad. I do it twice a day to help one of the permanent residents, a wonderful macaw with acute allergies. She’s improved quite noticeably with these efforts.

I think there’s a great deal of valuable information here


Further, removal of carpet might be considered - there's something to be said for beautiful hardwood or tiled floors in ease of care - and room sized area rugs are far easier to maintain as opposed to shampooing wall to wall carpet every 3 months to help your bird avoid dust and dander.

Daily cage cleaning of course - tedious but extremely effective.

Most of the macaws in my rescue come from neglectful, hoarding or outright physical abuse situations that can be devastating. One is permanently, totally blind and crippled from his sadistic owners and yet he's the sweetest, most loving bird I've ever known. Another is our 'allergic to everything' girl who hasn't had a single bout of allergies since I made the changes suggested to you here. Well worth the effort I promise - poor thing was miserable when she couldn't breathe.

I'm here for you all through this - so let me know how you're doing ok?

And thank you for rescuing this lucky guy

You won't believe how it will change your life

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for responding, I've had parrots for a very long time and through experience and reading I know when a bird is sick and wouldn't hesitate a minute to taking them to an avian vet. His companion mate, Oscar has had previous infections and got well with quick response and antibiotics. I am fortunate to have an avian vet who is very good and takes care of all Parrot Jungle birds too. I do all your recommendations, with daily cleaning and have central vac to help with dust escaping while cleaning, use clean white paper from uhaul, they have an air purifier which is expensive. Daily from day one of getting them they get variety of fresh fruit and veg, but not always eat them, but do eat harrisons pellets, seed, nuts, monkey biscuit. I live in s. florida and having a very hard time with this horrific heat and humidity, so do they. They go out in their aviary in the morning and back inside where they have total freedom in their room with great views and listen to music. They have a very good life and do the best for them as I could. Especially having eachother. they are loving to me too being inside with close contact. I was hoping that I would be getting advice from an avian vet as advertised with this website and some insight to homeopathics I might try for sinus esp. safe for birds. I don't like having to give him an antihistamine every day. Please contact me if you want to bird chat.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have eight parrots that all needed homes desperately. Rodney is my oldest and shared 32 years together. Freedom in the house without ever being caged. He had chronic sinus, but like you mentioned more with sinus plugs and would have to take him for sinus flushing and probing. But he has been healthy without any sinus issues for so many years, maybe because of his good nutrition and misting outside. He likes raw carrots that are good for vitamin A. He had over use of antibiotic injections by a vet that almost killed him. I try to avoid vet visits as much as necessary to avoid any added stress, unless it is medical necessary. But Felix has different problems, Sometimes it will run clear and down his beak and other times his nares swell and that's when I hear him making cackling sounds at night because it is difficult to breathe. IN the morning, he is ok again. Last visit just recently was for a nail trim much needed and beak trim. the stress from screaming was so bad that he went into shock and had trouble standing and breathing. she said that next time she will have to use anesthesia, which I worry about. It isn't easy caring for exotic birds.
Hopefully it will resolve on its own, if not I will have to take him in and stress him out again.
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 1 year ago.

I absolutely admire how informed you are and how much effort you put in to this lucky bird. Truly, he's blessed to have this second chance at love and life the way it should be. That's why I do what I do too.

There's one little thing you mentioned that gave me some concern. Needing a beak trim. Why?

The one, most horribly abused bird I've ever, in my entire life, let alone professional career come across - had his face broken by a punch and it resulted in scissor beak. His beak needs trimming regularly as the result of this, poor boy.

Most psittacines never need beak trims as long as they have wood to chew and a healthy diet, overall good health and care. This describes you of course - so my concern is what might be going on with Felix.

An overgrown upper beak can be the result of hypovitaminosis A (as you know, low vitamin A levels) . The carrots are not only great for this, but also provide chewing options. Still, there has to be a reason right?

Talk to me. And by the way - if the system offers you a phone call or other upgrade, I apologize that I'm not set up to do this. I'm afraid we're stuck with this method of communication. Is that ok ?

Also, a p.s. here: As long as the discharge is clear, it might sound awful, but you 'probably' don't have an infection going on, just an allergy. You have to watch carefully to be sure this stays clear.

Have you installed a vaporizer in his sleep area?