Parrot health care

African Grey Health

Everyone agrees that it is not always easy to decode parrots. They are experts in the art of covering things up or making them subtle.

The sick parrot

The first example that comes to mind on this subject is the disconcerting ease with which parrots manage to cover up their disease symptoms.

This talent causes a lot of concern for owners of pet birds as well as for treating veterinarians. Patients with feathers are often introduced to them after they have been ill for some time. Nothing appeared there before.

Learning to recognize your parrot’s early symptoms of illness could save their life.

Some of the common symptoms are:

  • A sudden change in personality or character for no apparent reason ( eg a nice bird that becomes mean or the other way around ).
  • A change in the daily routine ( eg the bird which suddenly falls asleep at times when it was normally active or the one that stops speaking for no apparent reason ).
  • A persistent change in the color and consistency of the stool ( note that stools normally change in appearance depending on the diet ).
  • A change in eating habits ( eg: the food bowl no longer empties at the same rate ).


Following the same line of thought, parrots do not reveal their gender, male or female, easily. Their sexual organs are all internal. Nothing is visible from the outside. Interestingly, there are a few exceptions.

Some aquatic birds, including the duck, have a tiny penis well hidden inside the cesspool itself. To visualize it, just delicately explore the interior of the small room. The penis appears as a small projection. The manipulation is painful for the bird if it is carried out without delicacy. It certainly takes a fair amount of practice to sex ducks this way.

Fortunately, some of them, less secretive, have distinctive colors on their plumage which make it possible to differentiate the sexes without having to resort to great means!

Now let’s come back to the species that we see more often. If some parrots display shamelessly ( eg Eclectus: green for the male and red for the female ), others do not reveal themselves easily either. Here is a small list of tips that allow certain birds to be sexed without having to have blood tests or endoscopy. This information is not infallible, however, and sometimes appeals to the subjectivity of the person making the observation.

The lovebird is very difficult to sex, no sexual dimorphism is present. Some rely on the spacing of the pelvic bones ( wider in the female ), but this method is not foolproof. For example, a male’s pelvic bones can sometimes split open if a lump takes up space in his abdomen. On the other hand, the behavior of the bird is a good indicator of its sex: placed in the presence of a sheet of paper, the female cuts long straight and equal strips and inserts them carefully through the feathers of her back. Instead, the male shreds the paper into tiny pieces.

You of Senegal parrot: very subtle the little bird, but easy to unmask when you know the trick. Just look at the feathers on the underside of the tail. Those that form a triangular area just below the anus are apple green in females and yellow in males.

The cockatoo: it’s all in the eye! The iris of females is wine red and that of males is black. Color is defined in adults only.

The African gray (Congo): its secret, it keeps it hidden in the feathers of its tail: the male’s feathers are fiery red and the color is uniform. At the end of the females, there is a tiny gray line of barely a millimeter or two. The set gives a very subtle striped appearance under his tail.

The kakariki: the bill of the male is a little wider than that of the female. It is also slightly smaller. The male also sports a little redder on his head.

Budgerigar: Easy, easy you will say to me. Not always. The greens and blues are the most obvious, however. The cere of males is dark blue and that of females is brown, pinkish or very pale blue almost white. Where the adventure gets complicated is with the yellows, whites, and very pale blues. We can no longer rely solely on the color of the wax which takes on very similar shades in both sexes: lilac pink. Look at the texture instead. It is quite smooth and flawless in the male. You could almost say she is shiny. In females, it is duller and appears drier. Very small skins sometimes lift up. To complicate it all,

  • A rhino horn.
    Occasionally, keratin layers build upon the wax of some female parakeets. Looks like a real little horn growing. Female sex hormones are responsible for this phenomenon. Everything is of no consequence for the animal. Just make sure the breathing is not hindered. The nostrils should always be clear. This structure always ends up falling but it is impossible to say when.
  • A surprising illness
    You notice that your male parakeet’s wax which was dark blue is very smooth at a young age and has turned brown and rugged over time. Looking at her, she looks quite a female. What happened?Most likely a hormonal change associated with a tumor in his testicles. The cancerous testicle sometimes secretes female hormones. As they are responsible for the peculiar appearance of wax in females, it is no wonder that their presence in the male’s system causes these characteristic changes. This is called the male feminization syndrome. Castration of sick individuals can be considered.


Very discreetly, parrots also sometimes inform you about their age. It’s up to you to type the message.

  • The stripes present on the head of the budgerigars extend to the cere in the young less than 6 months. As we age, the stripes disappear from the face and only remain on the head and neck. Also, the eyes of parakeets are black because their irises are dark gray. In adulthood, the iris turns yellow.
  • The beaks of several very young lovebird species are spotted black. The coloration fades over time to give way to a uniformly colored beak.
  • Young African and gray macaws have dark gray eyes. Around the age of 8 to 12 months, the iris turns yellow.

The world of birds is fascinating and complex at the same time. Living with one or more feathered companions, I would bet that your sense of observation has become much refined.

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