Cockatiels have a lifespan longer than most other pet birds. On average, they’ll live up to 10-15 years. That time can feel so short when it comes time to say goodbye to our beloved friends. But whether your bird reaches old age or contracts a serious illness early on, we will eventually have to let our cockatiels go and hop over the rainbow bridge.
The most common symptoms of a dying cockatiel include a lack of appetite, a loss of strength, and erratic movements. Other signs will vary depending on the cause of death, and sometimes you will not notice any symptoms before your bird passes on.
If you notice the symptoms on this list, that does not mean you should give up on your cockatiel. If they receive emergency care, your bird may still be able to recover. However, you’ll also want to be prepared for the worst, especially if you notice multiple symptoms from this list.
How Do I Know If My Cockatiel Is Dying?
A domesticated cockatiel has an average life span of 10-15 if kept with proper care and attention.
If your cockatiel is approaching in his last days, you will start noticing some signs beforehand. There are certain changes in your cockatiel’s body that will tell you about their death is near.
The sooner you detect your cockatiel’s health issues and illness signs, the better you will be able to manage the last few days of your pet’s life. So, without any further delay, let’s get right into what these signs are:
- Loss Of Appetite
- Loss Of Balance
- Change In Body Vitals
- Unusual Noises
- Difficulty In Breathing
- Puffed Feather
- Unhealthy Feather Condition
- Discharge From Eyes, Mouth & Nose
- Change In Fecal Pellets
Now, let us discuss these points in details.
1. Loss Of Appetite
If your cockatiel is not showing any interest in its food, then there are high chances that it is sick.
Just like most other living beings, a cockatiels health depends on the constant movement of their digestion. Therefore, there condition can deteriorate quickly if they are not eating.
If you notice that your bird has not eaten anything for more than 24 hours, then you must understand that the situation is serious, and it might even lead to death.
In such situations, the best option is to take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.
Since this is a symptom of so many illnesses, the vet will be able to determine the cause of your cockatiel’s lack of appetite and treat the underlying condition to bring your bird back to health.
2. Loss Of Balance
If you notice that your cockatiel is struggling to move around or even remain in an upright seated position, there are chances that it is beginning to pass on.
This happens when a bird’s muscles are no longer strong enough to hold their body weight or keep them balanced.
When my old cockatiel Kiki died, she kept falling over when she tried to sit in a loaf position.
Most of the time, she had to lean against something to remain upright during this time. I knew the time was coming for her.
Birds are hardly lethargic. Although the energy level of each bird differs, you will always see them playing around.
However, if you feel that your cockatiel is not as active as before and shows no interest in playing, it may indicate that they are sick and dying.
Unusual lethargy is often a sign of stress or sickness in cockatiels. You can find out if the laziness is considerable or not by one trick. Take your pet to a noise-free, pleasing environment, and if they seem more lively there, then all this laziness occurred due to stress in them.
If you notice no such thing in your cockatiel and if they are still inactive, then there are high chances that he is sick.
4. Change In Body Vitals
During the last few days, if your cockatiels experiences certain unusual changes in their body vitals, then it might not be a good sign. Some usual signals of cockatiel’s body vitals are:
- The temperature of the body: Should be around 41.8°C (107.1°F)
- Heart rate: Should be around 206 beats per minute.
- Respiratory rate: Should be between 40-50 breaths per minute.
If you notice any of these body vitals changing regularly, it’s time to visit the vet.
5. Unusual Noises
Although cockatiels are known to be vocal, you will notice your bird making some unusual weird noises if something is wrong with them.
The scream can be a haunting, high-pitched noise. You will hear such screams only when they believe they are about to die or when they are seriously injured and in great pain.
While there are some exceptions to this for cockatiels who will scream more frequently out of fear, I have only heard a cockatiel scream in the moments before death.
6. Difficulty In Breathing
If you cockatiel is sick or in his last days, then you will see that they try hard to gasp air. They even make noises while breathing.
If your cockatiel is suffering from a cold, it might show hints of sickness, which can cause death.
Sometimes, birds even breathe heavily due to cold or stress. Cockatiels who appear to be dying soon will be upset and breathe noisily; even the breathing will be in short gaps.
7. Puffed Feather
If your cockatiel is sick and dying, then it will tend to have a puffed up appearance to their feathers.
In birds, puffing up of feathers is a normal behavior. This mostly happens if the birds feel a draft coming on or during sleep time.
If your cockatiel is staying puffed up for long periods of time, they may be dealing with a health condition and fighting off an infection.
8. Unhealthy Feather Condition
If your cockatiel is sick, they will tend to lose feathers. You will also notice that their underlying skin looks scaly or dry, they may have a parasitic infection.
The feathers of your cockatiel may also appear discolored, dull, and lose their vibrant colors, and the edges may appear disheveled.
If a cockatiel is stressed, it might also pick out their own feathers. While destructive feather behavior is not fatal alone, it’s a sign of a bird in severe distress.
9. Discharge From Eyes, Mouth & Nose
Any weird or unusual discharge from the eye, mouth, and nose can be a matter of concern for cockatiel owners. Abnormal breathing is sometimes even accompanied by nasal discharge.
Also, certain dental issues and complications can lead to eye or nasal discharge in cockatiels and other birds. If this discharge is whitish and thick, it may indicate a bacterial infection in birds.
Sick cockatiels also display wet, discharging lesions or scabs around their eyes, ears, mouth, feet, and genitalia. Nonetheless, you should visit the vet no matter if the discharge comes from the nose or eyes.
Cockatiels generally do not shake or shiver. However, if your pet appears to shake or shiver even in a warm and cozy environment, then it may indicate that they are in a state of shock.
Sometimes, birdss even shake from the fear of death. Stress leads to such terror in them. Although these dying signs can be unacceptable to you, you need to prepare yourself for the same.
You can try to comfort your cockatiel in a few ways. For example, cover them in a blanket to make them feel comfortable. However, do not just fix the towel. Instead, give them enough room to roam in it if they wish.
11. Change In Fecal Pellets
Your cockatiels droppings can tell a lot about its health. Clear urine, well-formed white urates, and dark colored feces indicate good bird health.
However, if there are any unexplained changes, you should look for the root cause.
If the droppings are white or grey with no dark colored feces, it could be a sign of pancreatic infection. This needs immediate intervention by a vet or the bird could die due to the infection.
If the feces are dark red in color, it could indicate blood in the droppings. Blood can also be seen in a clotted form in the feces. This condition can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Yellow urates and urine can mean bile in the droppings. This could mean that your cockatiel is suffering from some liver malfunction.
If your cockatiel eats fresh, soft fruit, that could also cause watery feces temporarily.
However, if your cockatiel’s droppings are consistently loose and wet, it could be sick.
Diarrhea accompanied by blood in stools (unexplained dark red or black pigmentation) and other signs such as weakness could be especially detrimental to the bird’s health.
What Does A Sick Cockatiel Look Like?
To understand your cockatiel’s health status, you need to monitor him closely.
If your bird is sick, he will spend most of the time hiding. He will neither be interested in eating or drinking. He will even have fast-paced breathing.
If you feel your cockatiel is not well or is suffering from a health condition, I advise you to take them to a vet as soon as possible.