Parrot Poo Patrol: A Dirty Job, Part 2

by DFS-Pet-Blog on September 11, 2009

Contessa enjoying a misting session

Contessa enjoying a misting session

**Guest post from Keith G.**

As I detailed in a previous post, Contessa, my eldest parrot, experienced a bout of diarrhea recently, which is never a good sign in birds. When that bout turned into a smelly, messy weeklong malady, we quickly made an appointment with the vet.

We had to wait a couple of days to get in to the vet, but as most bird owners can relate, avian vets are few and far between. Ours is two hours away. In the meantime, we supplemented Contessa’s diet with Acidophilus+ and made sure she was eating and drinking water regularly. We also had to change out her cage bottom paper daily to combat the smelly mess. The scary thing was, aside from the diarrhea, she seemed completely fine. Birds are sneaky like that. Yet, it didn’t surprise us that by the time of her appointment Contessa had lost almost 10% of her body weight.

At the vet appointment, Contessa’s doctor performed a series of exams, and after blood work, a throat culture, stool test, and lots of parrot screaming, the vet determined a bacterial infection was causing the diarrhea.

My wife and I spent the next 10 days feeding Contessa the antibiotic Ditrim twice daily, which is no small task; despite its pleasant grape smell, Contessa was NOT receptive to a plastic syringe being shoved in her mouth, but it was the only way she would take the medicine. There is a very specific technique to medicate a bird orally without causing harm, so be sure to review the method with your vet.

After a couple days on the medicine, Contessa’s droppings returned to normal. She added some weight back and is now eating and pooping normally. Much to our delight (since we share a bedroom with the birds), the nasty smell accompanying the diarrhea is gone, and we’re left only with the familiar musky smell that accompanies most Amazons.

We’ll continue to monitor Contessa’s droppings regularly as part of a routine health checklist. It’s a dirty job, but an important one.

{ 1 trackback }

NOT a "Bird Brain"
December 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Patricia Viamontes September 15, 2009 at 6:13 pm

As you can tell from my email address…two green birds own us! They are little maroon-bellied conures.
One is 15 and has always had the idea his daddy is an eagle. He likes to rule. Anyway, I just wanted to comment about how scarce good avian vets are. My friend in Iowa has to make a long trip for her Eclectus. I am so fortunate as our vet is about 3 miles from us. He is a bird surgeon, which is few and far between. He also takes care of our Bichon and Poodle. I am enjoying the pet blog! Thanks.
By the way, Keith, I see you attended the University at LaCrosse! We go there every year from St Louis to visit the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine when our dear previous Archbishop Burke comes from the vatican to visit there.

Keith G September 16, 2009 at 8:20 am


Thanks for your comment. Maroon-bellies are so fun. Glad to hear you are close to good care…I’ve heard stories of people driving up to 8 hours to see an avian vet. Can you imagine? Although I’m sure I’d do that if I had to, as well. That’s so funny about the eagle thing. I don’t think mine think very highly of me sometimes because they always laugh at me. Yes, my one has learned to laugh. It’s pretty hysterical. I dropped a bowl of food the other day and he just starts laughing. Again, thanks for your comment, hope to hear from you and your maroon-bellies again in future posts!

Betty September 16, 2009 at 9:57 am

Hey Keith and Patricia, I enjoyed ready about your birds. I adopted an umbrella cockatoo named Sunny about three months ago. Her human mom passed away and she wouldn’t bond with the family so they gave her to me . It was love at first site . I’ve always had smaller birds so this is a big step and I’m reading everything I can find for information . Sunnys first owners were less than nice and she hates men . With me shes a big baby , and I don’t know how I ever got along without her. I’m 57 and my son recently got married and she fills that “empty nest” sydrome perfectly.
Sunny has a metal band on her leg with numbers but I can’t find out what the numbers mean . If either of you know where I could find information about it I’d appreciate it . I’m thinking this might let me know when she was born. so I’d have a better idea of her age . I was told about ten but I’d like to know for sure. THanks for sharing . Feel free to e mail me direct or just comment here.

Carole September 16, 2009 at 10:33 am

Hi Keith,

I live in Fresno County, CA & we are lucky in that we have a good 2-3 avian vets close by. Although some are better than others…
Interesting about Contessa, the same thing happened with my Umbrella Too, Buffy. When I took her in, the vet couldn’t find anything wrong, no meds for her or any advise. But Buffy is doing much better. I learned a lesson though & got her some pet insurance. As we all know, now that she has insurance nothing should go wrong. Right? :> Thank you for this great Blog, I’ll be back!

Carole & Buffy

Keith G September 16, 2009 at 11:51 am

Betty and Sunny – welcome to the blog! Sorry to hear about Sunny’s past, but it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job taking care of her now. Contessa came from a bad home as well – her owners used to smoke in the house with her and as a result she suffers from lots of respiratory problems. Although she is quite fond of older men with glasses…

In regards to your leg band question, Contessa has a leg band because she was imported from outside the country. According to the USDA, “Prior to 1992, most imported psitticine birds (parrots) were imported into private quarantine facilities under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). All of these imported birds were provided leg bands with identification that contained three letters followed by three numbers.” You can read more about the USDA leg band policy at their page:

Today, leg bands are still used, often by breeders who use them for identification and tracking purposes. Unfortunately, there is not a national registry to keep track of those numbers, and in some cases, those numbers have very little meaning. Your best bet would be to talk with local bird clubs or your vet. If I find out any more info that may be helpful I’ll let you know.

Carole – you are lucky! Sorry to hear about Buffy. Glad she’s doing better, though. Who do you get your avian insurance through? It might be something other bird owners would be interested in seeing about. Luckily there are lots of “maintenance” things we can learn to do at home to take care of our birds (such as clipping nails and wings) that also help reduce vet visit costs.

Gary N December 31, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Well, this is just a general question. We have a Myers Parrot. He is so messy with his water. He likes to dunk his food in it and poop in it. We are constantly cleaning his water dish. Is there some way to deal with this other than just changing it daily. It gets pretty stinky if you don’t change it daily.
Thanks for any input or advice.

Keith G. January 4, 2010 at 9:05 am


First off, thanks for the comment. As a general rule, when using water dishes, I would recommend you change it daily, or even anytime the water becomes visibly fouled by feces or lots of food bits. Imagine drinking out of a dirty glass – doesn’t make sense, right? Our parrots all do the same thing (with the exception being the pooping – thankfully). In fact, anytime we run the vacuum cleaner in the room they all get in their water bowls and take baths. If you can’t get around to changing the water often you could look into a hanging water bottle made for birds, such as this one, which we use: In both our conures and our Amazon’s cage we use both water bowls and water bottles – because while the water bottle is less work it doesn’t let them soak their food in the water to soften the food like the water bowl does. Plus they seem to enjoy the water bowls more. The water bottle does come especially handy when we go away for the weekend because it gives the birds access to clean water all weekend (we usually take the bowls out when we go away so the water doesn’t become hazardous to their health with bacteria). Hope some of my suggestions help.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: