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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 62691
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 48 years of experience.
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Lethargic and feathers ruffled, Since this evening, about 2

Customer Question

Lethargic and feathers ruffled
JA: I'll do all I can to help. How long has the bird been lethargic? Any changes in appetite?
Customer: Since this evening, about 2 hours. No change in appetite but he's eating like he's drunk (eyes closed, eating slowly)
JA: Could he have eaten something unusual?
Customer: Possible, he was running around the house which he doesn't usually do and got a piece of a printed crisp under the furniture
JA: And what's the bird's name and age?
Customer: Pringle*
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know?
Customer: Loki, I'm not even sure of his age. We only have him a month but we were told he is 2yrs old
Submitted: 8 days ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 days ago.

Dr. Michael Salkin is typing. Please be patient.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 days ago.

I'm sorry to hear about this with Pringle.  Which type of bird is he, please?

Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Loki is a Green cheek Conure, I was saying that he got a bit of a pringle crisp
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 days ago.

Thank you.  The crisp should be well-tolerated.

It's important to note that once a conure acts ill it's already quite ill and in need of the attention of an avian-oriented vet (please see here: This is a protective mechanism because sick birds are attacked by other birds in the wild. Loki's clinical signs of fluffing (an attempt to conserve heat), "sick eye" look, and being deshevelved are important signs but they're not pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of any one particular disorder. They're part of an array of highly nonspecific signs of what we call “sick bird syndrome”.

An avian-oriented vet ( might first treat symptomatically and supportively by providing supplemental fluids and electrolytes by needle and tube feeding a "recovery" food. Blood tests and cultures of Loki's choana - the slit between his oral cavity and nose - and cloaca (vent) may be taken. Whole body X-rays can be helpful as well.

Until Loki can be attended to, please heat up his environment to 29.4C by means of a 100W bulb shined into his partially covered cage (not at night when he needs to rest) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting to the sides of his cage. If he appears weakened, remove his perches and put his food and water on the bottom of the cage along with him. Add a water-soluble avian vitamin such as Oasis brand Vita-Drops to his water at half of the recommended dose so as not to make his water distasteful. Add a calcium supplement such as Calcivet or Calciboost to his water. These supplements are available in pet/feed stores. Avoid over the counter antibiotics designed to be placed in his water. They won't be effective if only because an ill bird won't drink enough to medicate itself properly.

Nutritional imbalances are a common cause of illness in our pet birds. What has Loki's diet consisted of, please?

Seeds should comprise less than 20% of his diet. A diet of mainly seed and nuts has excessive fat, carbohydrates, and phosphorus; marginal protein; adequate vitamin E, and are deficient in amino acids, calcium, available phosphorus, sodium, manganese, zinc, iron, vitamins A, D3 (necessary for efficient absorption of calcium), K, and B12, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, choline, and available niacin.  Ideally, a balanced pelleted diet such as can be found here: or here: should be fed as well as hard-boiled egg yolk, pancakes and cornbread, the tops of fresh greens, dairy products such as yogurt and cheese - yes, these low lactose foods are safe, fresh fruits such as apples, pears, melon, kiwi, and berries, vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, beets, asparagus, cabbage, sweet potato, and squash, and even tiny pieces of meat. Here are some tricks in transitioning him to a formulated diet: and click on “Feeding Harrison's”.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 days ago.

I have to leave my computer for most of the day.  If you need more help quicker, you can ask for a second opinion through your page.  There's no extra charge to you.

Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Thank you for that information. I'm waiting to hear from the person we bought it off
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 8 days ago.

You're quite welcome.  I can't set a follow up in this venue and so please return to our conversation with an update at your convenience.