Budgie with spiky head feathers, swollen eyelids and wet head
I have a three year old female budgie and she suddenly looked odd today. The feathers around her head are matted and spiky. There was actually a bit of clear liquid on the feathers in one spot.
I touch the liquid and rubbed it between my fingers and smelt it and it didn’t have any smell and seemed just slightly Slimier than water but not by much.
At first I thought she had just decided to be then dumped her head in the water, that in combination with the fact that she seems to molt this time of year.
But I went from amusement to concern very quickly when I noticed that her eyelids seem to be swollen. I try to determine whether she was dehydrated based on whether her eyes stuck out or not but it’s hard to tell with the swollen eyelids.
She was also a fair bit more lethargic, which isn’t unusual when she’s moulting, but the amount of movement and manhandling she allowed me was unusual.
She’s usually very independent and while she did climb up my sweater arm, and sit on my shoulders she seemed almost clingy and not wanting to be left alone.
Even though I was only six or 7 feet away and was walking back-and-forth cleaning her cage and items in her cage.
I noticed that her bird bath water had developed a slimy film, which is very unusual.
I thought maybe she dumped her head in there and that’s why her feathers were crusty and spiky.
I gave her a very gentle shower in the sink which she didn’t particularly care for but didn’t put up much fuss either. Again she’s usually more opinionated on stuff like that and likes to decide for herself whether she wants a shower and will go to the source itself rather than you escorting her.
She took to sitting on the cage floor while I was cleaning her cage (cleaning it with water).
Once everything was clean I made sure that her food and water were switched out for new containers and contents, just in case.
She’s just been sleeping and lethargic through the whole cage cleaning process.
Moving too quickly or using a paper towel (something she doesn’t recognize) would usually get an indignant squawk out of her at my audacity to bring it anywhere near her, but in this case she mostly just stayed where she was on the cage floor or would shuffle to one side or the other if I was a little too close.
She normally likes to go for a little fly around the room every couple weeks, but she seemed quite weak and was very much wanting to be on me or in my hands if she was away from the cage. Like I said clingy.
She even took two standing on my toe, when I did not bend over to offer her my finger fast enough.
She is usually inquisitive and likes to check things out when she’s outside of her cage but she just sat and watched me clean her cage before deciding she wanted to be in it.
She seems a bit unsteady. Though now that her perches are back in her cage she is perched on them but was also sitting on the cage floor at times too.
She’s not ruffling her feathers or anything.
And she’s taken to talking her head around and under her wing to sleep (some thing I noticed with her moulting two years ago).
I would just say that she was having another hard malt, except for the liquid crusty/spiky head feathers. They’re not pinfeathers, I know what they look like. This is different. And the swollen eyes. She’s keeping the right one closed for the most part and squinting with the other for the most part.
She is also, according to The Avian vet I first took her to, quite petite for a full grown female.
I’ve made sure that the house is warmer than usual as they get cold during molting, but I’m worried that this might be something more.
I tried gently dabbing a paper towel with warm water and trying to brush her crusty head feathers.
Hasn’t made much of a difference.
Her nose holes and beak look OK, not scaly or crusted up or weeping as far as I can tell.
I’m just worried for her.
Any advice, other than the obvious “go see a vet“ would be greatly helpful.
With COVID-19 going on it’s difficult to get into a vet, never mind one that actually knows anything about birds.
Your bird may have some sort of infection that is producing a discharge that is sticking to the feathers, could be a sinus infection, eye or ear infection. When a bird vomits it is common for it to stick to the feathers, do you see any seed stuck to the cage bars, that happens when they vomit because the seeds get flung out of the mouth and stick to the cage bars. In any case your bird needs to be seen by an avian vet before things get any worse, it is not fair to allow the bird to suffer and the swollen eyelids are an indication that something is wrong. All vets around my area see patients, its' just that the owner cannot go inside with the animal. Do you need help finding an avian vet?
You indicate her bath water had a slimy film on it. How long was that water in her cage?
How frequently do you usually change it?
Was she fine yesterday? Eating, drinking, pooping and playing normally?
Yes, it can be hard to get to an Avian Vet during these difficult times, but your budgie does need to be seen by a professional to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Avian Vets have special training to determine the cause of symptoms resulting from illness or trauma.
This is important as "regular" vets will often overlook symptoms that are quickly obvious to an Avian Vet.
When you rely on anyone who has not had training in Avian diagnosis and care, you may be delaying effective treatment.
This can prolong suffering that may be avoidable.
The bird will often require a more intense, prolonged treatment with a poorer chance of full recovery than it would have if you seek prompt professional diagnosis and treatment at the first sign of illness.
If there are no Avian Vets near you, please find an Exotic Pet Veterinarian with experience in dealing with small birds.
I don't know why the liquid is that color but you have an emergency situation and if you want your bird to be well you must seek the help of a vet now. When a bird vomits it is considered a serious situation and action must be taken before things get worse.