Mites and lice are the two most common external parasites that affect pet birds. Your bird may
become infected from the aviary you purchased your bird from, or from wildlife that passes near
Mites are microscopic creatures that cannot be seen with the naked eye.
They cause a, itchy scaly, crusty look to the face or feet of pet birds and are
particularly common in budgies and cockatiels. There are other less common
mites that can affect the air sacs and cause breathing difficulties.
Unlike mites, lice are often visible to the naked eye. They are more common
in chickens but can affect parrot species as well. They tend to cause itchiness and can lead to feather
loss and skin conditions.
There are many internal parasites that can affect birds, including roundworms, tapeworms, flukes,
and protozoa including Coccidia, cryptosporidium and giardia. Thankfully these parasites are rare in
pet birds who were purchased from a reputable breeder and have been kept mostly indoors.
Signs of worm infestation can include weight loss, lethargy, sitting fluffed up, decreased appetite,
and abnormalities with droppings including diarrhoea or blood in the stool.
Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)
Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease is caused by a contagious virus.
It can affect almost all species of birds. The virus is very contagious
and spread via contact with shed feathers or dander. The disease
presents as abnormal weak feathers and loss of feathers, as well as
suppressed immune system and general illness.
To prevent your bird from catching beak and feather disease, there
are a number of things you can do. In addition to ensuring you only
buy birds from a reputable breeder, it's also important to ensure
strict hygiene standards at home with good dust control, and always
make your bird has little or no contact with wild birds.
Figure 1 Scaly face mites -
Figure 2 Feather loss due to PBFD
Egg binding is a common reproductive problem that causes the bird to retain the egg in the
reproductive tract, unable to expel it naturally. A serious condition when the egg becomes “stuck”
near the cloaca (vent/anus) or inside the reproductive tract of a female bird Egg binding affects
those who may have low calcium levels or are continuous egg layers. Low temperatures can
sometimes cause egg binding. Further risks from egg binding include infection and internal
tissue damage especially if the egg breaks; if left untreated may cause death.