Items you may want to keep on hand

  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Alcohol
  • Peroxide
  • Surgical Tape and Gauze (I use florist tape)
  • Coffee Stirrers or very small drinking straws (to use as splints)
  • Band Cutters
  • Eye Droppers
  • Tweezers
  • Saline Solution
  • Blood Stop Powder, Stay, Diatomaceous Earth, or a dish of flour
  • Syringes
  • Antibiotics in varying strengths and for varying bacterial issues
  • Electrolyte solution

Common injury situations

Broken leg or wing -

If bones are protruding, you MUST take your bird to an Avian Veterinarian!

As long as no bones are protruding through the skin, broken legs or wings can be managed at home.  For legs, carefully examine the appendage.  Thoroughly clean it if necessary.  Cut a coffee stirrer to the length of the broken leg, then slit the stirrer up the center so that you can open it and slip it around the birds leg for support.  This makes a splint, and while the bird will NOT like it, it will keep the appendage safe until it has a chance to mend.  Keep the bird in a small hospital cage with heat, an electrolyte solution such as Thrive in it's water, and clean seed.  I do not usually provide perches for a bird with broken legs, but if the bird is able to perch, placing one low in the cage may help them to feel more secure.  A drinking straw or even aquarium tubing may be used as a splint depending on the size of the bird.

For broken wings, the same applies to examining and cleaning.  I then use the kind of medical tape that sticks to itself without the use of adhesive to wrap the birds wing close to it's body.  This tape looks much like an "Ace bandage", but is disposable.  Depending on the width, you may need to cut a long strip and wrap it around the bird.  I always try to bandage the broken close to the birds body, but allow the other wing (if undamaged) free to flap.  As mentioned above, keep the bird in a small hospital cage with heat, and electrolyte solution, and clean fresh seed.

If at any time you notice infection, consult your Avian Veterinarian immediately!

Seizures or Stroke -

Occasionally small birds may become frightened enough to cause seizures or stroke.  This is NOT typical, but happens from time to time.  In the case of seizure or stroke, I ALWAYS remove the bird from the bird room and place it in a VERY quiet spot in my home.  I give it heat and electrolytes and hope for the best.  

Often times signs of seizure or stroke can include:

  • Bird flopping on bottom of cage either on it's belly or back
  • Unusual noises - I call this screaming.  It is NOT a pretty sound and nothing like a normal bird!
  • "Twirling" or "star gazing" - I have had birds act as if they had the twirling disease (which can be something as simple as an inner ear infection, or something much more ominous like neurological damage).

Toe nail or beak cut too short, broken, or bleeding -

Depending on the severity, I may be able to merely apply pressure to a toe nail or beak tip that you've trimmed too short.  You may also use a coagulation aid such as
Diatomaceous Earth, Blood Stop Powder, Stay, or even flour.  If you cannot stop the bleeding, you will need to take your bird to your Avian Veterinarian who may cauterize the wound.

Cuts & abrasions -

Sometimes our birds will fight with each other, get caught on something in their cage, or pick at themselves until they bleed.  If there are no broken bones and only skin cuts or abrasions, clean the wound thoroughly then apply and antibiotic ointment.  If the wound is large, use a straw or coffee stirrer as a splint, or self adhesive bandage as described above to cover the wound.  Clean the wound, apply fresh antibiotic, and change the dressings daily until it appears to be healing.  As soon as the wound begins to heal, remove the bandages and allow the wound to get air.  If the bird picks at the wound, re-cover it.



If your bird gets sick or injured

If the problem isn't something you know for a fact you can handle yourself, you should contact your Avian Veterinarian immediately (see the Choosing an Avian Vet link for more information).  If you are experienced enough to handle an emergency on your own, you should assess the situation carefully and take appropriate actions immediately!

As a self defense mechanism, birds are able to hide the symptoms of illness until it is nearly too late to save them.  If they become ill or get injured, it is crucial they get the appropriate treatment right away!  In an emergency situation, your quick actions could potentially save their life!

What is considered an emergency?

Really any injury such as broken appendages, bleeding of any kind, sudden illness, sudden onset of diarrhea, choking sounds coming from the bird, nasal discharge, egg binding, or anything else that keeps them from bopping around is considered an emergency and requires immediate attention.  Birds that are just beginning to show their illness may begin to "tail bob", in other words, they have become stressed enough that they are weak and breathing heavily.  When they sit on the perch, their tail will bob up and down - keep in mind that some birds have a barely perceptible tail bob as a matter of natural course.  Observing your birds on a regular basis will help you to know the difference between a sick bob and a healthy one!

I tend to go overboard - but then again, I will actually perform minor surgery if necessary. This photo shows just some of the emergency equipment I keep here. In most cases, these items are used for necropsy.

Medical Emergencies - Illness

Medications & Antimicrobials I keep on hand at all times:


See more about these items in the
Optional Equipment & Issues portions of this website...