First Aid

Can You Leave a First Aid Kit Insid...
Can You Leave a First Aid Kit Inside a Car?

Accidents may and do occur, so it is always a good idea to be prepared! While accidents generally result in visible injuries, diseases are often kept concealed by birds. Because being unwell makes your whole flock exposed to predators in nature, parrots have evolved proficient at hiding indications of disease. This is one of the reasons why it is important to get a “well bird” check-up once a year. (I’ll go over this in more detail in a later blog.) Needless to say, if a bird exhibits visible indications of disease, he is often quite unwell and need quick veterinary assistance. First Aid is designed to help you get by until you can visit a veterinarian, or to treat minor injuries.

For emergencies, it’s useful to have a “hospital cage” – a smaller, easily portable cage in which you may isolate an ill or wounded bird and simply take him to a warm, quiet part of your house. It’s also a good idea to have a quarantine space for new birds as well as ill birds recuperating from an infection. This section should be kept segregated from the rest of your birds to avoid diseases from being carried by the air as well as through direct touch.

More time on the cage floor, less talking and playing, fluffed feathers, lack of appetite, drinking more water, personality changes (such as becoming bitey or refusing to leave the cage), tail bobbing, puffy eyes, sleeping on both feet with head tucked, droopy wings, sneezing or coughing, “clicking” in chest, vomiting, diarrhea, soiled vent, and so on are all signs of illness. I won’t go into particular ailments here, but hopefully you get the idea – if things seem “off,” get to the vet! Broken blood feathers and egg binding are two further issues.

It’s a good idea to assemble a first-aid kit (Your Parrot Place has a wonderful one!)


  • · Eye and skin wash
  • · Styptic powder
  • · Corn starch
  • · Antiseptic wipes
  • · Cotton Swabs and balls
  • · Eye dropper
  • · Assorted bandages – gauze, adhesive, vet wrap
  • · Scissors
  • · Latex Gloves
  • · Forceps or hemostats
  • · Betadine or iodine swabs
  • · Adhesive tape
  • · Penlight
  • · Heating pad and/or lamp
  • · Hydrogen peroxide
  • · Pedialyte (Electrolyte solution for babies)
  • · Hand feeding formula and syringes
  • · Phone number for vets and poison control

In general, when a bird becomes unwell or injured, he should be transferred to a hospital cage and placed in a warm, quiet, dimly lighted room (bathrooms can work). Provide clean water (and Pedialyte if needed). Feed him favorite meals (healthier items you know he’ll eat) as well as warm foods such as cooked rice or oatmeal. Furthermore, spray millet is often consumed by smaller birds. If he isn’t eating well on his own, use your fingers or a spoon to feed him some warm food. If necessary, prepare hand feeding formula and administer by cup or syringe. This will be simpler if you’ve trained your bird to eat from a spoon or cup. DO NOT USE pet shop over-the-counter medicines. It’s too much of a game of chance. I know a Pionus who went mad after being given an over-the-counter bird “remedy” and wouldn’t stop thrashing about her cage. Chamomile tea may help the bird relax, while ginger tea can aid with intestinal issues. If you’re acquainted with natural medicines, you can use them without endangering your bird. NEVER provide antibiotics unless you know your bird has a BACTERIAL illness (and specific bacteria!).

Broken blood feathers (or those that have been mistakenly plucked) may be difficult to cease bleeding. Only apply styptic powder on bleeding nails, not on skin or sensitive tissue. As an alternative, utilize maize starch as a coagulant. If the blood feather (immature feather with a live blood supply) does not cease bleeding, the bird will bleed to death.

A word on egg binding: If a hen is on the bottom of her cage, fluffed up and struggling, she may be “egg bound.” Place her in a warm, humid environment (like the bathroom). You may apply some vegetable oil on her vent. Egg-bound chickens may die fast, therefore if the egg does not pass within a few hours, she should go to the doctor right once (a good diet with extra calcium will help prevent this.)

So, make a practice of monitoring your birds on a regular basis and keeping an eye out for symptoms of suffering. Read up on illnesses and get familiar with bird sickness. Avoid harmful smells and dangerous toys by “bird proofing” your house. Prepare a first-aid kit and a hospital cage. Determine what is “normal” for your bird and respond promptly if anything does not seem to be normal. Find an excellent AVIAN vet and see them once a year. Make your home, as well as your bird’s cage and play spaces, as safe as possible. Feed the finest nutrition you can to guarantee your birds’ health. Wouldn’t it be great if your first-aid kit was never used?

Styptic Powder, Latex Gloves, Eye Skin Wash, 1″x6 yd Sterile Bandage, Scissors, Locking Forceps, Iodine Swabs, Antiseptic Towelettes, 2″x2″ Gauze Pads, Cotton Swabs, Adhesive Tape, Hand Wipe, Emergency Info Card, Directions, and Case are all included in the First Aid kit available at Your Parrot Place (under accessories). Hand feeding formula, for example, should be kept in the freezer and replenished every six months.

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