Parakeets, also known as budgies and budgerigars, are experts at hiding sickness symptoms. They never have the pet bird version of human flu. Poor feather condition may be a sign of illness, so keep an eye on your little friend.
The feathers on budgie faces which show signs of disease are above the nostrils and spreading out from the beak. Feathers on your bird's face should be colorful and clean. Stained nostril feathers could be a sign of bacterial sinus infection, and matted feathers around the beak may be due to mouth discharge caused by disease. Food scraps stuck to feathers around the mouth can also be an indication of failing health.
A budgie's vent is the hole through which he excretes waste. The condition of vent feathers is a good indication of how your bird is feeling. A healthy bird has clean vent feathers. Watch out for a wet, stained, pasted or clogged vent, as this can be an indication of disease or stress. Dark green greasy droppings hanging from the vent feathers is potentially serious; consult a vet immediately. Your bird could be dangerously dehydrated.
A close look at your budgie's wing feathers can tell you if he has any parasites or cysts and will give you a good idea of his general condition. Run your finger down the outside rim of his wings to check for feather cysts, and then gently spread out his wings to their full extent. Check for any tiny insects, which could be mites or cysts, and also for missing or abnormal feathers, as these are a sign of general ill health.
Budgies excrete an oil which they wipe over their feathers when they preen to keep them bright and clean. If your bird's feathers are looking dusty or ratty, he may be suffering from a vitamin deficiency that affects his preening gland. Birds with yellow or white feathers can show signs of liver disease if their feathers turn bright yellow, but this is rare. Broken, bent or frayed feathers are also a cause for concern. Your bird may feel too ill to care for them properly.
A graduate of Leeds University, Jenny Green completed Master of Arts in English literature in 1998 and has been writing about travel, gardening, science and pets since 2007. Green's work appears in Diva, Whole Life Times, Listverse, Earthtimes, Lamplight, Stupefying Stories and other websites and magazines.