How to recognize a sick bird

People with backyard birds should be able to recognize when a bird is sick.

Photo by MSU
Photo by MSU

As animal owners, we sometimes wish our stock could just tell us when they are feeling under the weather. Life would be so much easier if they could! In their own way, animals do tell us when they do not feel good or are sick. By paying attention to how they are acting and being aware of some general symptoms of illness, we can identify sick birds right away.

Sick birds may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Abnormal behavior like difficulty walking
  • Lack of appetite
  • Changes in energy or vocalization
  • Swollen comb, waddles, head or joints
  • Diarrhea
  • Nasal discharge, sneezing or coughing

If your birds are exhibiting signs of illness, please contact your local veterinarian. If your flock is severely ill and experiencing multiple death losses, contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at 1-800-292-3939. For after-hours and emergencies only, call 517-373-0440.

For more information, visit Michigan State University Extension’s Poultry page and 4-H Poultry Production and Management page.

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