Veterinary Viewpoints


Question# 1: I have an Alexandrine Parakeet that has started to do this weird wing flapping movement. The bird will be sitting there, and multiple times in an hour, he clicks his wings to his body. I took him to my veterinarian and she ran some tests on him. She did not find out why he was doing this, and all the tests came back normal. She said that she had seen this in birds before.

What do you think is wrong with my bird?

S. ~tak, Maryland

ANSWER # 1: A two-year-old Blue and Gold Macaw at our local pet store also flaps his wings in what sounds like the same manner when he is being watched by a customer or customer(s ). Lately, he has also started biting his toes and nails in an excited (but fortunately not yet harmful) manner when he is approached. It may be possible that your Alexandrine is suffering from a compulsive disorder, in which repetitive, nonproductive movements are produced in response to stress or boredom. Stall weaving in horses and paw biting in dogs may be similar disorders in some respects. It is also possible that the bird is in some kind of physical discomfort that has not yet been identified, or that the bird has a neurological disorder. Your veterinarians may wish to continue to monitor this bird and/or explore some behavioral analysis in the hopes of preventing more serious expressions of a behavioral disorder.

£!,ouise Bau&, DVM Montreal, Canada

ANSWER # 2: If the Alexandrine is demonstrating this wing-clicking behavior seasonally or intermittently, I suspect that it may be a form of prenuptial behavior. If it is a persistent behavior and all the tests were negative for any abnormalities, consider


looking for some irritating causes such as a poor wing clip with the ends of the feather quills poking into the bird.

9ames ;11.. cflM~is, DVM Oakland, CA

ANSWER # 3: My two thoughts on the wing flapping that you describe would be either behavioral or medical in origin. Regarding the behavior aspect, some birds seem to find certain movements or actions that they enjoy and they will fixate on that behavior. Behaviors in this category that come to mind are a cockatoo that would take a food item, place it on his left shoulder and let it drop off behind his body. This bird would perform this behavior over and over for long periods of time. So, it is possible that this sort of behavior is what the wing flapping is· about.

My other thought is that I have seen several birds that were later diagnosed with POD (Proventricular Dilatation Disease), that displayed the odd wingflapping behavior that you describe. In this instance, X-rays done initially followed by a barium series (a radiographic contrast study using barium to highlight the gastrointestinal tract) if suggested by the initial X-rays and a crop biopsy might be warranted in suspect cases.

Ami( B. WmeLL, DVM, ABVP-Avian West Hills, CA

Question # 2: All my birds are kept outside in outdoor flights. Most of them are raised flights. I have been having a terrible problem with the field mice getting in the birds' nestboxes and eating their food. I have put out mousetraps but it doesn't seem to make much difference. I have tried poison but somehow I accidentally lost a bird and so I won't use it again. I know this is not an uncommon problem, but I am unsure what else to do. I have not yet tried a cat, as I think it would scare the birds, and there are coyotes and dogs in the area. Please help!

'}. CJL#eH, California