Nasal discharge may occur in one or both nares and it may spray out when your bird is sneezing. The feathers on top of the bird’s head and around the sides of the face may also become wet or matted due to nasal discharge.
Fluid spraying out with a sneeze is sometimes how nasal discharge is noticed. If your pet bird is also eating less, not acting as playful, vocalizing less or demonstrating breathing difficulty then it is likely an upper respiratory infection is the cause. An upper respiratory infection may be caused by vitamin A deficiency and a secondary yeast infection, other infections, including those caused by yeast, bacteria (including Chlamydophila, the organism responsible for psittacosis), mycoplasmosis, fungi and viruses. Nasal discharge may also occur from environmental causes, such as too low ambient humidity, or from hot, dry air or from dust particles in the air. We should remember that most parrots are from humid, rain-forest environments, so they will do best in an environment with higher humidity than is normally found in the typical air-conditioned (in the summer) and heated (in the winter) homes. Both heat and air-conditioning will lower the ambient humidity in the home, which tends to dry out the mucous membranes and sinuses of psittacines. Indoor air pollution, caused from cigarette smoke, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, scented candles, cooking fumes and aerosols can all contribute to an environment that is less than optimal for rainforest creatures. The cells of the respiratory system of birds housed in a low-humidity house or one with increased levels of pollutants will often produce a clear, ropy mucus to try to move any trapped pollutants out of the upper portions of the respiratory tract. These particles will often be sneezed out. Vitamin A is necessary for the health and integrity of the lining of the respiratory tract, so deficiency in this vitamin can also contribute to nasal discharge. Nasal discharge can be clear or cloudy; it might be thin and watery, or thick with ropy mucus. The discharge can be white, yellow, green or brown, or even blood-tinged, depending on the cause.
Because nasal discharge could mean an upper respiratory infection (URI) and since these could have various causes, your pet bird should be examined by an avian vet to determine the cause and proper treatment. It might also help to increase the humidity in the bird’s environment by providing bird-safe potted plants to the bird room and running a humidifier or vaporizer near the bird, as well. Taking pet birds into the bathroom to allow the bird to inhale the steam is also beneficial (making sure that the commode lid is down to prevent a possible accidental drowning).
Long Term Care
Know your pet bird’s normal habits so that you can easily identify a change, such as excessive sneezing accompanied by nasal discharge. By doing this you will be able to address any illnesses as soon as possible. If your bird is prone to seasonal nasal discharge (for example, an Amazon in the winter months), try to make environmental changes to increase the ambient humidity. Purchase and run an air filter with HEPA filtration to reduce indoor particulate patter in the air. If you choose to run a humidifier or vaporizer, make sure that the water receptacle is clean and maintained to prevent build-up of mold or other organisms that could cause damage if released into the air and inhaled.
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