I get MANY, MANY sick bird emails in the course of any given day. Because folks don't understand the anatomy of their birds, most of the emails are pretty much useless. A lot of them come with photos, but the photos very rarely give us a good shot of what we need to see in order to be able to help and in most cases are also useless.
In order to help your Veterinarian help YOU, I've created this photo journal that will explain what we, as diagnostic professionals, need to hear when you describe your bird and what you see wrong, in order to make a preliminary judgement. Photos of what we need for DROPPINGS will discussed be later in this article.
Your Bird's Droppings
Photographing poop samples to help us help you figure out what's wrong with your bird is something more folks could use help with. We get some that are so dark we can't see anything - all the poop looks black, and all the urates look dry and crusty. Some are the exact opposite and over exposed. Very few are in focus. IN most cases, the photos receive show us just how poorly maintained cages are - all those piled up poops are NOT healthy for your birds. Chances are great that if your bird is sick, you dirty cage is why!
It is super important that the photos be CLEAR and IN FOCUS, well-lit but not over exposed, and on CLEAN newspaper. Sending photos of droppings that have piled up for a day or more doesn't do us any good, especially if there is more than one bird in the cage. In addition, unless all birds in a cage are sick, you should NOT be photographing droppings in a cage with multiple birds. Remove the bird you think is sick to its own cage then send only photos of that sick bird's droppings.
I must stress that just because I've shared this information, does not mean I have time or will look at photos of your sick bird or its droppings. I am not a Veterinarian and have never claimed to be. Every moment you waste asking ME is a moment too long that your bird is in distress.
I share this information because this is what your Veterinarian needs to see and the terms you should use when explaining what you believe is wrong. When you explain in proper terms, it will help your Veterinarian help you to fix your bird!
Why Have I Shared The Full Body Photo And Labeled The Parts?
Because if emails are any indication of what those who ask me for help know about bird anatomy, then 99% of them have no clue what they are looking at or even what I am asking to see so that I may possibly help them.
Photos like this one are useless...
The next few photos should give you an idea of what I need to see and what I do NOT want to see – and I do NOT want to see droppings from more than one bird at a time, even if there is more than one sick in a cage together. SEPARATE THEM. (click to enlarge)
We need to see FRESH droppings (preferably hot out of the bird) on CLEAN newspaper and from a SINGLE bird at a time. And from JUST the bird you think is sick. This should be easy if you've followed proper protocol and have have removed the sick bird to a heated hospital cage for quarantine.
Do NOT use paper towel, blue pads, computer paper, butcher paper or glossy newsprint when sending photos. All of these make the droppings look worse than they are when the bleach in them reacts with the urine making it change colors, not absorbing enough of the urine, or absorbing too much! Not blue pads because that's what you use. Not paper towel because that's what you use. NEWSPAPER. Don't have newspaper? Go to the corner store and buy one. You're getting my services for free, the least you can do is put out a few pennies for a newspaper.
DESCRIBING A SICK BIRD
KRISTEN REEVES, MEADOWLARK FARMS AVIAN SUPPLY, INC.
The best photos are obtained if you get the bird WET first
Using warm water tested on your wrist as if you were testing a heated baby bottle, hold the bird under the water until the feathers are wet enough to part on the portion of the body you want to show us. Photograph the bird in a well-lit area. It should not be over-exposed - using a flash will often over-expose the photo. Test the appearance with the flash both on and off. If the photo is not well-lit, we won't be able to see what we need to see to help you!
Arrows and lines and what they point to in the photo are described by COLOR as indicated below: