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Birds dying

Hello - I cannot figure this out and wanted to ask this to the community since I can't sleep and still have 4 hours before the vet opens.

I have a flock of parakeets (5) and cockatiels (4) that shares a large cage.  They all get along and have been together for at least 4 years.

Yesterday, one of the parakeets (albino, 4 yrs) died and was laying on the bottom of the cage.  The other birds all were active and normal.  I didn't see any signs of illness at all.

We cleaned the cage, replaced all the food and water, and threw in some millet branches - which all birds devoured.

A couple hours ago (approximately 8 hours after we found the albino dead), we found another parakeet dying and a cockatiel dead.  I held the parakeet in my hand and caressed him as he seemed to be dying.  After about 5 minutes... the parakeet got up, perked, and even started flying.  When he seemed back to normal, we put him back in the cage and he even ate some seed.

I don't get this at all... Any ideas?  I placed our carbon monoxide monitor next to the cage and it's reading 0.  I don't understand this. =(
3 Responses
Avatar universal

Hello James,

The vet you mention. Is this an avian vet ? We have one ten year old male
cockatiel. I have a book called " The Cockatiel Handbook" written by
Matthew M. Vriends, Ph.D. published by BARRON's. copyrighted 1999.
You say two of your birds have died. How very sad.  Where do you keep
the cage ? In what part of your home ?  Just wondering. Where do you
get the millet brances ? I read in this book that some owners grow them
themselves. Do you grow your own millet plants ?  If you do, could there
be mold growing on the millet?  These are just questions that I'm thinking
of.
This book has a chapter called " If your Cockatiel Gets Sick".
The First Steps
" When you notice that one of your cockatiels is sick, the first step is to
isolate if from the other birds in the collection. It is always possible that
the bird has contracted a contagious disease that presents a potential
danger to all of the birds.  One would be well-advised to disinfect the
entire bird area, including cages and/ or aviaries, food and water containers,'
perches, toys and accessories, as soon as a bird has been diagnosed
as diseased.  I'm wondering if maybe since two of your birds have died,
if this is a contagious disease that the other 2 birds died from.
The author recommends consulting an avian veterinarian. The author
suggests asking your vet to perform an autopsy on their bodies, in case
of severely contagious diseases. I'm not saying this is what is happening
in your case.  The isolated sick bird should be placed in a separate, small
cage, preferably a hospital cage", the back and sides of which are enclosed
and only the front exposed.
I hope the vet can help you figure out what is going on and give you
helpful suggestions and advice.  I'm going to share this information with
you for what it's worth.
There is a disease called Aspergillosis. This disease is caused by breathing
in spores, particularly of the fungus, Aspergillus fumigatus.
Certain plants, such as those belonging to the genus Asperula, can help
bring about this fungal infection.
Moldy bread ("green mold) seeds, chaff, musty hay, straw and similar items
can also cause aspergillosis. The spores produce toxins that damage tissues
in the lungs, nostirls, head cavities, airs sacs etc., causing an accumulation
of yellow cheese-like pus that of course interferes with deep and clear breathing. The bird loses all interest in food, with the unfortunate result
that it becomes seriously weakened. A bird may even shake its head and
stretch out its neck regularly, as if trying to dislodge the blockage.
Other symptoms are wheezing, clicking, and respiratory gurgling, increase urination Ipolyuria) and weight loss. No particularly satisfactory remedy
has yet been found for clearing up this problem, and it is best to take your
bird to an avian veterinarian.
It is very important to buy fresh seeds, never old or moldy ones. Do not give spilled seed a chance to become moldy: clean the aviary regularly, sweeping up spilled food. I might mention to your vet that you gave your
birds millet branches, see what your vet says.  I wish you and your birds
well.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your words and the information.  I spoke to the vet (and he is an aviary specialist) and mentioned every detail.  The best solution he could think of was a necropsy of the dead birds, but a lab test was unlikely to yield results since I put both birds in the freezer - much too long.  

As for your other questions:

Both seed and millet were bought from a local bird farm where we always had.  The first bird died before the millet was provided.  All were stored in a tight containers.  The birds show no sign of any illness at all... no puffing, no discharge, wheezing, etc.  

The birds are in our living room with plenty of ventilation.  The CO monitor reads no gas or carbon monoxide.

As with the sick bird:  It literally was dying in my hand one moment and after some holding and gentle massaging, it got enough strength to stand up, perch on a finger, and eventually fly around.  Since this morning, it's behaving normally - eating as well.  All as if nothing happened.

The only thing I can think of was something in the air getting to them and affecting some, but not all of them.  We don't use teflon pans or any chemicals around them.  I put them next to an open window, just in case.  I have been checking on them almost every 30 minutes since and no sign of anything being out of place.
Avatar universal
Hello again,

You are very welcome. I'm glad all is well with your birds again.
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