Let’s Talk Birds originally wrote the following article about Cockatiels, but generally this advice
can apply to most pet birds and parrots (source: LTB Cockatiel e-book)
The death of one of a pair of cockatiels is good reason for concern on your part. Your remaining cockatiel will mourn the loss of its companion and you will need to give your bird the extra attention it needs to help it through this time. You will also need to monitor your cockatiel closely to check that it stays healthy – monitor its eating, drinking, sleeping and the droppings.
All cockatiels react differently to this situation so there are no hard and fast rules. The amount of time the two birds were together and whether or not they had bred and successfully reared chicks does impact on the situation.
Some cockatiels do fret terribly with the loss of their companion yet others come round fairly quickly. They do go through a slight depression and you’ll have to be careful that the loss of its friend doesn’t turn your cockatiel into a screamer.
Do not consider obtaining another cockatiel, especially not in the early stages. Introducing a new cockatiel at this time normally does more harm than good. Watch your bird closely and see how it gets along in the next few weeks.
I know of someone who had a male cockatiel die, leaving behind his female companion of ten years. The female cockatiel cried for a while and turned to its owner for more attention than usual. The male cockatiel wasn’t replaced, and the female coped just fine, taking a week or two to adjust to the situation. These two cockatiels, however, did live in separate cages side-by-side and had never bred.
Each worm type requires different treatment, with diagnosis normally given by an avian veterinarian.
Tapeworm are difficult to detect, even by a vet. Treatment is generally by eradication of the insects carrying the eggs, so use of an insecticide in and around the aviary.
Roundworm are the most commonly found parasite in budgies and cockatiels so bird worming products for this are readily available at pet suppliers or via the internet. It normally comes as a water-soluble treatment, where you dissolve the medication in your bird’s drinking water. It is generally not as effective as you have to rely on your bird’s intake of the medicated water, and without watching your budgie or cockatiel for 24 hours you cannot be sure of this.
The best way to worm your pet bird is to have an avian vet or a bird specialty shop give a direct dose of medication into the bird’s crop by using a ‘‘gavage needle”. If you do suspect your pet bird has worms, ask for a laxative to be added to the worming treatment. The laxative will help your birds pass the worms more easily; without it, dislodging a heavy infestation may cause intestinal blockage.
Cockatiels and budgies are vulnerable to worm-like internal parasites, with the most common being roundworm.
Aviary birds are a lot more susceptible to worms than cockatiels and budgies housed indoors all the time. This is due to wild birds perching on aviaries and their infected droppings landing on the aviary floor. The floor harbours the parasite eggs and the aviary cockatiels, parakeets and budgies come into contact with these when they graze on the floor.
Indoor Pet Birds can still have worms
Be aware that indoor pet birds can still be infested with worms. If you hang your cockatiel or budgie cage outside at all, wild birds will occasionally sit on top of the cage, with possible contamination from their droppings. Your pet bird may have contracted worms from the aviary or pet store you obtained the bird from. And, be careful when you introduce a new cockatiel or budgie to your existing bird as it may be a carrier of such disease.
Protection from worms
Hygiene is the key. You must maintain a strict cleaning regime, with regular and thorough cleaning. Aviary birds should be treated for worms on a regular basis. An aviary with a natural environment – greenery and dirt floors – is prone to a build up of parasites, so requires more attention to cleanliness and regular worming of the birds.
Keep seed and water dishes free of droppings – do not place them under perching areas.
Also, be sure to have newly acquired birds treated for worms before you introduce them to your existing birds.
I recently took in a sick pigeon and had it wormed (or de-wormed) by our local bird rescue centre. The resultant pile of dead roundworm on the cage floor within 12 hours was disgusting – no wonder this poor bird had been showing signs of illness. These parasites had been absorbing all the available nutrients from the pigeon’s food intake for goodness knows how long!
This reminded me of many years ago when I took pity on three cockatiels in a pet shop who for weeks I saw squashed together in a cage the size of a shoe box! I bought them and eventually found them a wonderful new home together in a large aviary.
Back to worms though… I had these three cockatiels for a couple of weeks before rehousing them and noticed that one out of the three was less active, slightly grumpy and fluffed up and ate lots more than the other two cockatiels, and also strained a little when passing droppings.
Wormed him, and within 24 hours this poor bird had passed 35 roundworm!!!! Needless to say he perked up very quickly.