Common Macaw Diseases

Visible signs of illness

  • Weight loss / lack of appetite
  • Partially closed or watery eyes, closed eyes or swelling of the eyelids
  • Respiratory symptoms, such as rasping noises, difficulty breathing
  • Ruffled plumage (feeling unwell, cold)
  • Drooping wings, sagging body, falling off perches (weakness)
  • Bulges in feathering (tumors?)
  • Excessive saliva (toxicity?)
  • Dirty vent (indicative of diarrhea)
  • Any change in the feces not apparently diet related
  • Behavioral: Listlessness or extreme mood changes
  • Macaws are particularly susceptible to these diseases

  • Avian Bornaviral Ganglioneuritis (PDD)
  • Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, PBFD, Beak and Feather
  • Psittacosis (chlamydiosis or parrot fever)
  • Respiratory Signs, Chronic Depression, Weightloss: Aspergillosis (fungal disease), bacterial infections / pneumonia, nutritional deficiencies (Hypovitaminosis A), Psittacosis / Parrot Fever, and inhaled toxins
  • Chronic Sinus Infections: increasing humidity and using air filters may help minimize the problem.
  • Sunken-Eye Syndrome: Caused by sinus infections. The eye sinks into the socket.
  • Herpes Infections: May cause proliferative lesions, but more commonly exemplify itself by depigmentation (loss of color).
  • Feather picking (various behavioral as well as physical reasons can be the cause - boredom, but also heavy metal toxicity, giardia, bacterial / viral diseases)
  • Toxicity - heavy metal poisoning
  • Allergies
  • Coacal Papillomas: Thought to be a viral condition. Contagious to other birds (thought to be sexually transmitted). Affected birds should not be used for breeding.
  • Kidney disease (gout) - May be caused by excessive supplementation of Vitamin A.
  • Lipomas (tumors) in older birds
  • Macaw "Acne": Small swellings on face caused by small, ingrown feathers on face and eyelids, simple surgery to release trapped feathers; antibiotic injections, cortico-steroids needed if bird rubs and scratches affected sites. (Ref: Jeannine Miesle, MA, Allied Member, Association of Avian Veterinarians)
  • Beak malformations in chicks (improper feeding technique?)
  • Annular Toe Lesions: Seen in chicks, may result in loss of toes.
  • If you notice any sign of illness, it is important to provide supportive care until a pet can be taken to a veterinarian for assessment and treatment. Information contained on this website is provided as general reference only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought.

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