A Trip to the Bird Veterinarian

Our household owns 3 birds, one cockatiel and 2 budgies (parakeets).  One evening after settling down from the afternoons activities, my son comes to tell me that the parakeets “just don’t look right.”  By this time it is nearing 7 o’clock and about the time most veterinarians would close up shop for the night. After taking a look, the birds look a bit lethargic and seem like they have lost weight. So, as the bird owner, I told my son to call the bird veterinarian. He did, they were about to close but said to bring them by. This trip to the veterinarian was very enlightening. We both learned lots, and even watched a rooster get an x-ray.

bird veterinarianThe first thing after introductions and paperwork was for the veterinarian (by the way this was a strictly bird clinic, which is luckily pretty close to the house) to watch the birds to see how they acted.

Next it was time for blood work. Do you know how they take blood from a bird? This was the first thing I learned that night. I now understand there are a few ways blood can be taken from a bird. It is a very sensitive procedure and should only be done by a veterinarian experienced with birds. Our bird veterinarian took the blood sample by clipping the birds toenail. If you clip the toenail too much it will bleed. He then used a small tube to collect a very small amount of blood. He explained to us that the procedure may make the bird seem more tired and lethargic than usual. Since our birds were not feeling well to begin with, they were not any more tired than they already were. The doctor smeared some of the blood on slides and also did a CBC on it.

The following information about a birds blood is taken from The Bird Channel website (http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-diet-and-health/blood-loss.aspx). This site is a great site for all kinds of bird information.

A complete blood count(CBC) can give us invaluable information, and testing the plasma (or serum) can provide us with information about the kidneys, liver, blood sugar level and many more functions. The difference between plasma and serum is that with serum the clotting factors are removed by allowing the blood to clot first before spinning the sample down to separate the liquid from the cells themselves.

After review of the blood samples, the doctor said that it looked fine. He wanted to do some x-rays of the birds to make sure there was nothing going on inside. This was the second thing we learned about. My son of course asked if he could watch the birds get the x-rays. The doctor told him of course but he had to stand behind the screen. It takes two people to get the x-ray, 1 holds opens the wings and the other holds the tail and legs while on the x-ray table, and click the picture from a pedal on the floor. Then we got to look at the x-rays while he examined them. My son asked all kinds of questions about the innards. Everything seemed good there too.

So everything tested out ok, but they just were not acting right, the doctor decided to give them both some antibiotic. That was the next lesson since my son would have to give it for the next 3 weeks twice a day. He was given a choice of giving it via a shot or orally. He chose to do it orally. They first showed him how to easily catch the bird in the cage. To do this they shut the lights in the room. The bird cannot see as well in the dark which makes it easier to catch him. Next he learned how to hold the birds properly to give the medicine, thumb around the neck, he cannot choke the bird. Next stick the medicine dropper into the birds mouth and push the medicine in.Then lift the birds beak with the dropper so it would swallow the medicine. My son has now become an expert at all of this and gets it all done within just a few minutes with both birds.

The last suggestion from the doctor is to use a heat lamp. He said the birds like it about 85 degrees. So we purchased an inexpensive lamp that we now use each night.

The birds do seem to be getting better, but still more time is needed. We have about another 1.5 weeks of medicine to go. Although going to the doctor is never a cheap experience. We did learn a lot and hope that the birds will fully recover from their illness.


  1. What a great experience to share with your kids! It gives them insight to what goes on at a vet! And now that your birds need care at home, it gives them a chance to show responsibility and caring for pets. Hope your birds are back to normal soon!

    • My son is definitely doing his part in providing the care that they need at home. Another week or so of meds to go. Thanks!

  2. We had a cockatoo for awhile and it was so frustrating finding a vet that could work with him! I don’t remember seeing them ever do any blood work on our bird… I had no idea what that even entailed.. I’m glad you got some good help for your birds and hope everything goes well and they recover fully!!

    • We are lucky to have a avian vet so close by. Since the birds are my sons responsibility as per agreement when we first got them, he got to see everything.

  3. Oh, that is so neat that you have 3 birds & your son does so much to help with them. I didn’t realize that there were vets specific for birds. Hope they are feeling well soon!
    Several years ago, my son wanted a dove but we didn’t feel that we knew enough about birds to make that commitment.

    • We really didnt know much about birds either but my son made the commitment to learn and he did a lot of reading. I am so proud of him for taking action.

  4. That is a lot of work. Good to know a heat lamp is helping. That is a more inexpensive fix.

  5. What a fascinating experience at the Vet’s office. My oldest would have been asking tons of questions too!! Sounds like they are well on their way to recovering. I also had no idea there were specific vet’s for birds. Now I learned something too! Thanks for sharing your experience!!

  6. Wow that is really cool to learn. I never knew anyone who actually had a bird for a pet. Definitely did not know that you’d have to cut their toenails in order to get the blood. Sounds a bit painful. At least it was a great learning experience for your family, as well as the rest of us! Very interested to see how those birds are doing in 1.5 week. Keep us updated!

  7. Didn’t know all this about birds. We have rabbits and guinea pigs and they have their own sets of issues. Have to learn your pet of choice and work with them.

  8. I’m so glad that your birds are getting better. It’s great that your son was so attentive and interested in everything they were doing!

    - April

  9. Pets truly become a part of your family! So glad to hear they are doing a bit better. Hopefully just another week or so and they’ll be back on their feet again!

  10. I am happy to hear the birds are getting better, and that you have such a remarkable son! Birds are so fragile, and it isn’t always easy to find a special bird vet, especially so close to home. All things seem to be working well for you!

  11. You have a very responsible young man on your hands! This attention, dedication, and care for his pets will spill over to other areas in his life. Thank you for being a great parent and also for sharing the information you learned at the vet. Lots of great information! Hope the birds feel 100% soon!

  12. I’m glad they are getting better. I had birds for many years so I can understand how fragile they are. It’s heartbreaking when you want to fix them and are unsure what to do.

  13. As a kid, my dad wouldn’t let us have a bird, but I imagine that they require diligent care. I am happy to hear that they are recovering!

  14. I’m sending lots of good thoughts that your birds are back to normal soon! :) We had a couple of parakeets when I was a kid, and they were a great pet for my sister and I to learn about being responsible pet owners.

  15. First of all, I am happy that they are getting better. Second of all, its never good that animals get sick, but really what a great learning experience for your son! My aunt used to have an African Grey and a Quaker (if I remember that right). I loved those birds. So nice and I loved that they could talk! But birds are a ton of work! But the Quaker used to whistle the Andy Griffith song. It cracked me up!

  16. Erica Stone says:

    LOL! I missed the addition of bird #3! ;)

    Oh, I’m glad the birds are recovering and hope they continue to do so. What a great lesson for your son in caring for an injured animal, though. I had no idea about the tip for catching birds more easily in the dark. I wish I’d known that when I had love birds. They were very shy.

  17. What an interesting trip to the bird vet! Now I too, know how vets draw blood from a bird

  18. Pam, that sounds like an expensive visit with all of that work done. But money is never an object when it comes to our pets. We used to joke that our bulldog paid for our vet’s kids college education, well kinda joked.

  19. Wow! I had no idea there were bird-specific veterinarians. It’s awesome that the birds are clearly your son’s responsibility and amazing what we’ll do to take care of our family members whether they fur or feathers!

  20. How interesting! I grew up with a few parakeets, but never knew this information about them. I think it’s neat how much your son was able to learn just by observing the doctor. I hope the birds are feeling better!

  21. You know that saying you learn something new every day well I just learned a ton of new things. You would have thought you got a blood sample from a bird from it’s toenails. Glad the birds are doing a bit better and hope they continue on the path to happy bird health.

  22. It’s very cool that your son got to help so much and truly understands the work entailed in owning animals. Personally, I’m not a fan of birds. They really creep me out because I can’t figure out what they are thinking through their eyes!

  23. I never knew that about birds. Glad to see that they are on the men. Hopefully that lamp works out for you.

  24. Glad your little birdies are getting better! It’s amazing to watch vets at work isn’t it? Although, those specialty and ER vets are quite pricey. We had to take our Great Dane after hours because he got a fishing hook stuck in his lip and I was scared to pull it out. So, we took him in, $450 later, the vet took it right out no problem, lol.
    Anyway, glad your feathered friends will recover, hope the light works well :)
    Thanks for sharing.

  25. Very interesting, great learning experience for both you and your son! I hope the birds get well soon.

  26. I had never thought about the special care that birds require. I’m glad to hear your feathered friends are on the mend!

    Jennifer @ The Jenny Evolution

  27. We’ve never had birds as pets but my uncle had a few parrots and you do have to make sure you take care of all their needs. They do need warmth and the feathers don’t always do the trick. I am glad yours are getting better and you are able to help them.

  28. Taking bird blood and giving bird medicine??? Who knew there was such thing??? LOL….That is kind of funny. We love those colorful birds but we do not own any.

  29. Sounds like you took your birds to the right vet! How magical that your son could see the process of the x-ray! So cool! Glad to hear they are starting to feel better!

  30. Glad your little birdie is feeling better! I’ve never had a pet, but have great respect for pet people – so much dedication to your little friend:)

  31. I felt like I was right there with you all. I mean you just never think about going through all that with birds. It’s really fascinating…and wonderful all we can do to for ourselves and for the pets we love.

    I hope the birdies continue to get better. I think this was a great experience for your son. I feel like we all learned a lot here and thankfully you are on your way to a happy ending.

    My uncle always had birds. He loved them. I have often thought about getting one for myself. They can be very enchanting creatures. :)

  32. Thanks for such an informative and enlightening post! My Grandmother had two budgies, and she loved them dearly. Thankfully they never had any problems and lived quite a long time. They sat on her finger or her shoulder, and would come meet her (and us) at the bars of their cage to give us a kiss. Thanks for reminding me of those pleasant memories!

  33. Interesting. I had a parrot a few years back, but luckily we never had to take him to the vet! I hope they are doing better and recover ASAP!!!

  34. Thanks for sharing! We have a dog, 2 geckos & 2 hamsters but no birds so far. My daughter wants to be a veterinarian so the animals just keep coming! She loves going to the vet and asking questions.

  35. Amazing love you give those birds and what wonderful lessons for your kids.

  36. kathryn Evans says:

    Wow, we are thinking about getting a bird. What an interesting post. I learned so much. I am glad that your son was so intune with the bird so that you were able to get help.

  37. I really hope your birds make a full recovery — but I do have to say, this was so interesting and informative! And good for your son, for being such a responsible and caring pet owner! That’s always nice to see!

  38. Wow! After all that, I sure hope your birds are doing much better. I haven’t had birds in a long time, but I would love to have parakeets again. They are some of the sweetest little animals.

  39. Wow, that was interesting–who knew you could draw blood from a bird. I hope they are on the mend. :]

  40. What a sweet image of your son nursing the birds back to health. :) I hope they get well soon.

  41. Wow! That is a pretty cool experience for you and your son. I am sure that this has sparked new interest for him. I hope that your birds will feel better soon!

  42. So glad they are showing improvement. It’s a tough experience when our pets are not feeling well. It really is a good lesson for kids on caring for them when they are sick. It’s all part of responsible pet ownership. It sounds like your son is doing a fine job. Hope they get well very soon.

  43. So glad to see that everything worked out. Thanks for sharing.

  44. I considered getting a bird, but after being around my sister in law’s bird who is loud and bit me, I’m no longer interested. But, my sil has said it is hard to find a bird vet here, so that’s just one more reason not to have one.

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