Like most bird keepers your number one objective is probably to keep your birds as healthy as possible. Healthy birds breed better and live longer. Healthy pet birds are likely to be more relaxed and so are much better company too. You share this aim with the vast majority of other bird keepers around the world so it may surprise you to know that most captive birds are not fed as well as we think. Recent research carried out in America suggests that 98% of pet birds there are malnourished despite the best intentions of their owners. Contrary to popular opinion, good health does not denote a bird that eats regularly. Usually, even a sick bird will eat up until a few hours of its death. This peculiarity to birds appears to be a defensive mechanism to prevent predation and to avoid being driven away by flockmates (an ill bird draws predators representing a threat to the flock's safety and will be driven away by its congeners. It can be said, therefore, that a sick bird that conveys 'normality' is allowed to remain within the flock and the safety net it provides. Whether or not a bird is actually eating or just scattering the bottom of the cage should be closely monitored with periodic weight checks or by palpating the breast muscles of the bird.
The value of knowing your birds. It is always a good idea to get to know your birds and understand their behaviour by observing them on a regular basis. For example, you will soon get to know how they behave when they are hungry, how they respond when a stranger enters the room or how they change when they enter the breeding season. You may discover that at such times they eat more or become more active. Understanding your birds' reactions to different circumstances can be very helpful in detecting when they are ill. A bird's general appearance can also give vital clues as to its well-being. If the bird is fluffed up, for example, and looking larger than normal and is not very active, these are clear indications that something is wrong. Remember that it is better to be safe than sorry, so if you are not sure, contact your veterinarian for expert advice. All birds need plenty of fresh air passing through their enclosure. This will help to keep the bacteria level low and thus lessen the risk of infection. Be careful, for there is a big difference between fresh air and draughts; draughts can kill. If you keep your bird indoors, it is perfectly safe to open a window during the summer months. This is not the case during cold, windy weather, however, as a draught blowing onto your bird could very well result in its death. If you are new to birdkeeping, it can be very difficult to detect when a bird is ill. The signs that usually prove to be good indications are fluffed up feathers, slightly drooping wings, unwillingness to eat and general inactivity. As you become more experienced, you will be able to assess your bird's health by looking at its eyes. In a healthy bird, these should be bright and alert. If you discover any difference, you should consider calling out your veterinarian.
One possible problem with parrots is obesity. A good variet of seeds, nuts and fruits offered in moderation will keep your bird fit and healthy. The key words here are 'in moderation', because you must be careful no to overfeed your bird.An obese bird is prone to heart attacks an can experience various other problems. Occasionally, you may come across a bird that seems to eat very little but still puts on sufficient weight; it is this type bird that you should keep an eye on in terms of feeding strategy.
Parasites that live on and attack the outside of the hosts body are called ectoparasites, and bird suffer from five major groups of ectoparasitic animals: parasitic flies, lice, mites, fleas, and ticks. Some avian parasites feed directly on the feathers and on debris that naturally flakes off the skin and feathers. Most ectoparasites feed by piercing the host bird's skin and sucking blood and other fluids from the host. In either case the parasitic infection reduces the host bird's overall fitness and ability to maintain a warm, healthy, and functional set of feathers. Although parasites rarely kill an adult bird outright, heavy infestations gradually degrade the condition of the bird, making it more susceptible to predation or death from exposure. Among the five parasitic groups, two have a particular predilection for attacking and feeding on the host bird feathers: lice can live under and between feather shafts throughout the birds body and feather mites that feed on the feathers and on debris that normally flakes off from the skin and the plumage.
Worming and dusting your birds Your birds will need worming once, if not twice a year. Once a year is fine for birds kept indoors Various products are available, but if you are a beginner it is best to seek advice from you local veterinarian on the most suitable one for your birds and how t administer it. At some stage you will need to dust your bird to remove any feather mite or lice that it may have contracted. You do not need to dust birds on a regular basis, although you should check them frequently. Suitable dusting powders are available from your local pet store or veterinarian. When dusting your bird, pay particular attention to the areas under the neck and under the wings.
What to do if your bird seems unwell:
Fluffed up, looks ill: Bring into a warm area. Call the veterinarian if no improvement.
Heavy breathing: May be under stress. If lung problem, call your veterinarian.
Diarrhoea: Call your veterinarian.
Small cuts and abrasions: Use a wound powder or antiseptic spray on affected area.
Evidence of worms: Worm your birds once a year. Ask your veterinarian for advice.
Mites: Dust bird with recommended flea and lice powder.
Claws catching: Probably too long; cut them or consult your veterinarian.
Feather loss: May be in moult, Possible feather mite; if so, dust with powder.
Broken leg or wing: Call your veterinarian immediately.
Suddenly ill when about to lay an egg: Bring into a warm area of 24-29°C and call your veterinarian.