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S. August Abbott, CAS
S. August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 11156
Experience:  Work w/Avian Vet; published bird care nutrition& behavior articles; consults, research
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My daughter's budgie has recently developed a problem

Customer Question

My daughter's budgie has recently developed a problem standing, seems unable to coordinate his feet and become shaky and twitches at any noise from her other bird. She separated them some time ago due to bullying. Indigo is still taking water and food from her but is reluctant to be away from her. He has redeemed feet and skin around his neck. He did suffer a call a few months ago and we are wondering if he may have a brain injury. Any advice would be appreciated as we have been unsuccessful elsewhere.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 2 years ago.
I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
Thank you!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. Any help will be appreciated. Christine
Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 2 years ago.

Hello, I'm August Abbott, certified avian specialist and here to help. I apologize, along with the moderator for your wait, but this is the first time I've seen your question. Let's work together on this

As unusual as it may sound, when a bird loses its balance, it is usually the result of an internal problem.

Let’s go over a few of the more common:

Sometimes a tumor on the kidney will not appear on the outside of the body, but other symptoms such as limping, the loss of use of a leg (or both) and/or imbalance might occur. This happens when the tumor presses on certain nerves.

Tumors can also be in a male’s testes or female’s ovaries and there are not always obvious changes until later on when the growth is more dominant inside.

Other indications that there may be tumor activity would be a change in cere color, weight loss, changes in droppings (often becoming pasty, soiling around the vent) and just subtle, overall changes that owners may sense more than actually see or be able to describe.

--- The thing I suspect most is Fatty liver disease is something that is often seen in a bird on a seed only or predominantly seed diet. No matter how much the manufacturer insists they are fortified and healthy, they are misleading all of us.
and though a cockatiel site, this will apply to all psittacines (parrots)

Skeletal problems, deficiencies and even toxicities can cause a loss of balance and restlessness in some birds, as well as the more common symptoms such as breathing difficulties, open mouthed breathing and so on.
Zinc and other toxic metals or substances can be ingested slowly over time when toys, clasps, chains, links or even cages are chewed on or played with. Other poisonings occur when the bird actually swallows a toy, link or piece of one. Watch out for bell clappers for instance.

Take a look here under critical conditions to reassure yourself that urgent veterinary intervention may be necessary (these symptoms apply to all birds, not just ‘tiels)


As incredible as it might seem, birds don’t need much, if any vitamin C. It is a water soluble vitamin which means it passes out of the body after the body takes what it needs and C is available in a wide variety of both fresh and processed foods given to birds.

Vitamin A/Beta Carotene, on the other hand, is frequently found to be deficient in birds. This is a fat soluble vitamin which means it gets stored in the fat cells of the body, so it’s possible to overdose on it. With our companion birds though, too little is the situation most often encountered.
The symptoms a bird will show when deficient are increased allergic reactions, respiratory/sinus infections, reproductive problems, skin and feather disorders, even cysts and tumors, as well as various intestinal complications.
Vitamin A is most ideally received from natural foods like sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, squash and other dark colored vegetables. If your bird doesn’t care for fresh vegetables, a ½ teaspoon of natural baby food (human baby food) of any of these vegetables. Again, it must be all natural and nothing but the vegetable with water sufficient for processing.
--- Nutritional Overview


A surprise to many owners is that a crop problem can be behind the symptoms too. Anything that contributes to an electrolyte imbalance/nutritional


In females, egg binding or Dystocia could be behind what seems to be a loss of balance or even appearing to have had a stroke as some owners describe.
This is a very serious condition and urgent care is absolutely necessary.


Finally, yes, if he had a fall or crash he may have injured his spine or have a head injury and again, this is a rather serious event that needs to be evaluated.

As with all things that might go wrong with our feathered friends, early intervention gives us a better chance at keeping them around a bit longer.
If his balance doesn't resolve or gets worse and he becomes lethargic (seems 'sad' or depressed) he may be deteriorating and need an at home 'intensive care unit' while you arrange for a vet visit. This 'intensive care unit' is actually a brooder box.

For a makeshift‭ ‬brooder:‭ ‬Use an appropriately sized box lined with soft clothes like tee shirts.‭ ‬It should be like a‭ ‬‘nest‭’‬ for your bird,‭ ‬not too big.‭ ‬Tuck in more materials to make an oversized box‭ ‬‘smaller‭’‬ on the inside if necessary.‭


Use a thick,‭ ‬clean sock and fill it‭ ¾‬ with plain,‭ ‬raw white rice.‭ ‬Knot the end and microwave it for about‭ ‬1‭ ½‬ minutes. ‭ ‬Shake it afterwards to distribute the heat and be sure it's not too hot. ‭ ‬Tuck this in just under the cloths.‭ ‬The heat should last‭ ‬a couple of hours and even though it‭’‬s dry,‭ ‬raw rice‭ ‬-‭ ‬it‭’‬s a moist heat.‭ ‬You can use two socks if you feel it‭’‬s appropriate.‭

A heating pad under the box is also helpful, set on low. This is one of the few times I‭’‬d ever use both heat sources if necessary to maintain incubation temp‭ (‬approx.‭ ‬90‭ ‬degrees F,‭ ‬32.2‭ ‬C‭)‬.‭ ‬If you use the heating pad‭ ‬-‭ ‬I‭’‬d only use one rice sock,‭ ‬if any at all.‭ ‬Be sure you only put the heating pad underneath‭ ½‬ of the cage bottom so the bird has the option of moving to‭ ‬a‭ ‬‘cooler‭’‬ side.‭

If ever using an electric source for heating anything in anyway,‭ ‬please be vigilant and constantly double checking carefully.


Gently drape a light cover over this box to further help hold heat in and keep light low.‭


Find an avian vet near you and


These days, with birds growing fast in popularity as in home companions, many DVM’s are quite experienced and able to see and treat many birds. If you have a pet store that sells birds or know of any bird breeders – ask them who they use for their bird care.

If you have a Pet Smart in town you may have a vet for your bird. Most Pet Smart’s now have a veterinary clinic inside and many of them will see birds (open 7 days a week too).

To be sure the vet is a good one, make sure you’re there for the exam. This should include hands on, feeling the chest area, peering into the mouth with a well placed flashlight and lifting the tail feathers to examine the vent.


This exam should also include any one or more of the following: Blood tests, gram stains/cultures, x-rays, even oral/crop/tracheal swabs and so on.


If the examining vet doesn’t perform a hands on exam, or worse, leaves your bird in their cage or carrier, leave immediately. This is not the vet for you or your bird.

I know this is a lot of information, but I'd rather give you too much than miss anything. Now you can make a far more informed decision about your next steps, yes? And I'll be here for you all the way. Do need anything else ?

Expert:  S. August Abbott, CAS replied 2 years ago.

How are you and your companion doing?