A Trip to the Birdee-a-trician - - - by Liz Davies (aka "Mom")


As soon as you can, schedule an appointment with your avian veterinarian.  Regardless of how you obtained the bird, it’s important to have a vet-check right away to detect any problemsEven if your bird comes to you from the most reputable breeder in the country – or your closest friend, have the bird seen by a vet.  No one who truly cares about animals will object to this or take it as a criticism.

If you have not worked with an avian vet before, you will want to know that it is perfectly alright to ask about the prices of a “new bird visit” or other procedures that you think you may want done.  Our vet in Ohio had his prices listed on a large board inside his examination room, and no-one has ever looked oddly at me when I asked what something would cost.  Our vet in Victoria doesn't do this, but I have asked him about prices (actually, he's pretty good about bringing it up, so I don't usually have to).  In both cases, the vets and their staff have the bird’s best interest at heart, but they realize that my funds are not unlimited.  It’s best to ask up front rather than be surprised once the procedure has been done.

When we take our birds for a doctor visit, we always try to take with us a sheet of newspaper that was placed under the bird the night before.  This collects one night’s droppings – and can provide valuable information about the bird’s overall health.  The vet will obtain a fresh dropping from the bird during the visit, but knowing what the droppings look like is extremely useful.

"Laka - Say Ahhhhhh!"

During a “new bird” visit, the vet will weigh the bird, inspect its eyes, nostrils (“nares”), vent feathers, and over all condition.  He’ll note the amount of chest muscle and the bird’s overall apparent health.  He’ll look at the feet (and trim the nails if needed), and carefully inspect the condition of its feathers.  He’ll ask you questions about where you got the bird, its age, what it has been eating.

Checking the "other end"...

Even a little gynecological look (is NOTHING sacred?!?!?!)

He’ll listen to the bird’s heart and will also use his stethoscope to listen to its sinuses.

Once these external examinations are done, the vet will take a fresh sample of droppings (I have yet to take a bird to the vet who failed to supply plenty of THAT during the visit!), and will swab the bird’s mouth and throat to obtain a culture from there.  He will also do a blood test (taking blood by clipping a nail slightly shorter than normal).  This is a very good time to ask about DNA sexing, if you want to know for certain whether you have a "boy" or a "girl".

The vet will talk to you generally about the bird, and will provide you with a great deal of useful information about diet, exercise, and appropriate housing.

After the exam, the samples taken are tested for evidence of parasites and disease.  Some test results may be available immediately, but some will take a few days to develop.  The vet will indicate how long before complete results are ready.