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Common Macaw Diseases

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

Visible Signs of illness to be aware of are

  • 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


  • 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.

  • Beak malformations in chicks (improper feeding technique?)

  • Annular Toe Lesions: Seen in chicks, may result in loss of toes.

  • Miscellaneous Infections: Bacterial, viral or fungal

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.

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