We develop close bonds with our parrot companions. Unfortunately, like all living creatures, even long-lived parrots will eventually succumb to illness and old age. During its remaining hours, your parrot may feel scared and afraid.
You can do the following to make your dying parrot comfortable:
- Separate your sick parrot from other birds
- Avoid anxiety and stress triggers
- Keep the parrot in a calm state
- Ignore negative behaviors
- Wrap the parrot in a soft blanket
- Maintain a Comfortable room temperature
- Additional out-of-cage time
- Dim the lights in the room
- Keep your parrot occupied
- Assist with eating and drinking
It’s an emotional time when you realize that your parrot is not long for this world. Alas, you’ll need to put aside your own grief temporarily as your parrot needs your care and attention at this difficult time. If you learn how to comfort a dying parrot, you’ll be able to provide the same tenderness and empathy in death that you have throughout its life.
How Do I Know If My Parrot is Dying?
Once parrots become seriously ill, they can start sinking fast. Common signs of a dying parrot include:
- Not eating or drinking
- Wheezing and struggling for breath
- Constantly puffing the feathers
- Shedding feathers, exposing dry skin
- Swollen, discolored, or streaming eyes and ears
- Shivering, as though struggling to stay warm
- Blood in the feces
- Lack of movement or verbalization
If you notice any of these signs, seek veterinary advice. A vet may be able to save your parrot’s life, but it won’t always be possible. If not, you have our deepest sympathy, but your parrot is likely heading to a better place.
Try to remember that all living things must eventually pass on – including our cherished pets. Focus on the good times that you spent with your parrot. It enjoyed a wonderful life, and now the time has come to rest.
How Can I Help a Dying Parrot?
Many medical conditions are incurable. Once your parrot becomes very ill, it will eventually pass away. Most treatments will just prolong the inevitable. If so, an important question arises – how do you comfort a dying pet parrot?
The days before your parrot passes away will be hard for you. Do not go through the experience alone. Ask friends and family members that love your parrot as much as you to help. The bird will also welcome the company of the humans that it grew to adore.
1/ Isolate Your Sick Parrot
Parrots are flock animals that relish company. If you keep multiple birds in your home, your parrot will have appreciated the companionship. This exception to this rule comes when a parrot is nearing the end of its life.
In the first instance, you need to be aware of contagious diseases. If a parrot is dying of anything other than old age, other pet birds may be at risk. You’ll need to keep all birds separate from each other for their safety.
A dying parrot will also appreciate this solitude as parrots need to avoid stress. Being surrounded by other birds can be noisy, antagonistic, and exhausting.
Your parrot will also be less friendly than when it was healthy. The act of staying alive is exhausting for your parrot, and it will likely grow antisocial. Other birds that once provided joyful companionship will now be considered a nuisance.
Parrots prefer to pass away in a peaceful, secluded location. Naturally, you’ll want to contain your parrot in its cage during its final days. Confinement will be safer, and it’s easier to provide comfort and support. By placing the cage in a separate locale, your parrot will be happier and more relaxed.
2/ Avoid Anxiety And Stress Triggers
While these clever birds live full and active lives, interacting with their surroundings, they can also grow stressed. Parrots are constantly aware of what is happening to them and around them.
There is no scientific proof that parrots understand their mortality. Consider, though, that parrots hide sickness from their owners. Such secrecy suggests that birds understand and fear the changes that their bodies are going through. Common signs of distress include:
- Trouble breathing
- Fluffing and picking at feathers
- Refusing to eat
Now, these are also symptoms of dying in parrots. Make sure that your bird is not long for this world before taking any drastic action. Consider everyday stressors before taking action. Such provocations include:
- Presence of other pets, especially predatory cats
- Bright colors
- Unexpected loud noises
- Being ignored
This step is often taken in conjunction with isolation. Even while your parrot is in quarantine, be sure to visit it regularly. Leaving the parrot alone for too long without any company will increase its stress level.
Talk to your parrot during these visits, acting as though nothing has changed. We appreciate that this will be tough. You will quite understandably be upset to see your parrot in such a condition. Chatting away to your bird will take its mind off health concerns, though.
Do not be surprised if your parrot responds a little less than usual. When unwell, parrots are less communicative. Just because the bird is not talking, it does not mean it is not listening. Tell your parrot about your day and take the opportunity to thank it for years of welcome company.
3/ Keep the Parrot in A Calm State
Keeping a parrot calm and avoiding stress are not the same thing. Stress is an immediate and visceral reaction to external circumstances. Ensuring a parrot remains calm is related to how you interact on a day-to-day basis.
Think about the environment that your parrot is living in. As established, your parrot will be somewhere a little quieter, away from other birds of footfall. Think about where this location is, though. Will your parrot be subjected to external noise from outside a window?
If this is the case, relocate the parrot again. No bird enjoys hearing loud sounds, especially if it does not know from where they arose. For a parrot with not long left to live, discomfort magnifies a problem. The bird worries about what is creating such a din and what it means in terms of safety.
An alternative approach is to offer a constant, low-volume background noise. Music may be ideal for this, especially classical. Avoid rock or heavy metal, though. As per Zoo Biology, this agitates and spooks birds, including parrots.
Be mindful of how you talk to a very unwell parrot. Always use a soft and soothing voice. Raised voices will be intimidating. The more hectic your parrot grows, the less pleasant its final days will be.
Keep your parrot calm by maintaining a clean cage. Dying birds often vomit and get diarrhea. Such digestive upsets are already perturbing. Do not force the parrot to live surrounded by its own waste. Parrots are dignified companions, and cleaning helps your pet live out its last days in comparative comfort.
4/ Ignore Negative Behaviors
In the wild, parrots are independent animals. While a long-term parrot will have long adjusted to life in captivity, it may revert to instinct. A dying parrot may act in ways that you do not expect or condone. Understandably, emotions will run high at this time. If your parrot does something you disprove, ignore the behavior.
Behaviors that may be considered unwelcome could include feather plucking. If the parrot is already losing feathers, it may be upsetting to watch it remove more. Sick parrots find this calming, though. Self-soothing through plucking.
As discussed, your parrot may also be a little more aggressive than usual. Pecking can be an act of self-defense and preservation. If a parrot is in pain, it may lash out a little. Avoid unnecessary handling of your parrot during this time.
Naturally, you will want to spend time with your parrot. Do so by offering praise in a soft, gentle tone every time your parrot is calm. Back this up with treats, such as nuts.
Your parrot must never feel punished for being unwell. That will never be your intent. Follow the golden rule of pet ownership in the final days of a parrot’s life. Praise welcome behaviors, ignoring those that are undesirable.
5/ Wrap the Parrot in a Soft Blanket
Wrap dying parrots in a soft, cozy blanket. Initially, this blanket will provide a familiar sensation. Parrots in the wild will feather a nest to make the surroundings comfortable. It’s inadvisable to go foraging for wild elements to help with this if your parrot is sick. A blanket is the next best thing.
Dying parrots also lose strength in their feet. As a result, perching becomes increasingly tricky. A blanket gives your bird somewhere to place its feet, reducing the risk of a fall. If a parrot struggles to grasp a perch, sitting on your finger will be just as troublesome.
Wrapping a parrot in a blanket will make handling or petting more pleasurable. A parrot may instinctively look to spread its wings and fly when out of the cage. Very sick parrots struggle to achieve this, even if instinct compels them to try.
Wrap a parrot and a blanket and hold them close to your body. A gentle hug will soothe the bird. It will feel considerably calmer knowing that its cherished owner is on hand to offer support and protection.
The blanket will also increase your parrot’s body temperate. Warmth is essential, as dying birds shed feathers. The colder your parrot gets, the faster its demise will arise. The blanket alone will not be sufficient, though. Also, consider ambient temperature.
6/ Maintain a Comfortable Room Temperature
Birds that are approaching the end of their lives struggle to stay warm. In addition to offering a blanket, keep the ambient room temperature no lower than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You can go as high as 85 degrees, and your parrot will remain comfortable.
It may be difficult to heat a sizeable room to this level. A heat lamp may be a better solution, as long as this is not shining straight on your parrot. Use a lamp that will not create illumination.
It’s wise to install a thermometer on the cage. Do not worry; a sick parrot is unlikely to peck or destroy at such an accessory. This way, you can keep an eye on the temperature, increasing or decreasing heat as necessary.
While dying parrots relish warmth, getting your parrot too hot is just as dangerous. If your parrot is flapping its wings but making no attempt to fly, it is overheating. Such conditions can lead to heatstroke. This will hasten a bird’s demise, as it burns excess energy attempting to cool off.
7/ Additional Out-of-Cage Time
If you suspected that your life was due to end, how would you wish to spend your final days? Would you want to be confined to a small box room or spend time in the wider world one last time?
Think about your answer when considering your parrot’s needs. While dying parrots are lethargic, have trouble perching, and rarely fly, they’ll still enjoy some freedom. Leaving a parrot locked in its cage 24/7 is a low-key end.
We mentioned that dying parrots revert to instinct, so let this happen, albeit safely. Take your parrot, wrapped in a blanket, out of its cage. Hold it to your chest and walk around the house, or better yet, the backyard. Let your parrot see everything it has interacted with for several years again. If the bird is capable, let it take a short walk.
Do not make the mistake of letting your parrot run free constantly. This is dangerous, as restricted flight ability will increase the risk of falls.
8/ Dim The Lights in The Room
Dying parrots need their sleep more than at any other point in their life. When parrots start to wind down, they will sleep more and move less. A dim, dark room makes it easier for parrots to get this essential rest.
If possible, get a dimmer switch for the room that houses your parrot. If this is not an option, avoid overhead lights. A lamp is preferable for your bird. The more bright light shines in a parrot’s eyes, the more agitated it will be.
In addition, consider covering the cage of your parrot for prolonged periods. Putting a blanket or towel over the cage will calm the bird and encourage dozing. Darkness coupled with strange noises could be frightening for a parrot.
When your parrot is not enjoying darkness and rest, seize the opportunity to spend more time with it. Sick parrots should not be disturbed while sleeping, but you will both take comfort from the company while the bird is awake.
9/ Keep Your Parrot Occupied
Your parrot should be distracted from its ailing physical condition. While dying parrots are usually less interested in play and interaction, do what you can to keep your parrot’s mind occupied.
Even healthy parrots grow bored of the same toys in their cage. Constantly offer new stimulation for your parrot. Pique its curiosity with different toys and peripherals. These do not need to be bird-specific. Toys designed for other animals could be ideal. Placing a favored treat, like unsalted peanut butter, inside a hollow toy may stimulate appetite.
Get involved in this playtime. Do not just leave toys in a cage and walk away. Parrots only see value in objects if they understand their purpose. By interacting with your parrot, it is more likely to engage with new mental diversions.
This will create more cherished memories of your pet. You love your parrot and will not wish for your final memories to involve sickness and physical trauma. Playtimes will ensure that you enjoy each other’s company right until the end.
10/ Assist with Eating And Drinking
Dying parrots lose their appetite, and birds cannot last longer than 48 hours without eating. Eschewing water for just 24 hours can be fatal. If your pet does not eat or drink of its own accord, you’ll need to step in to prolong its life.
Hand-feeding your parrot is the best way to provide sustenance. Here’s how to convince a parrot to enjoy food and water, even if it is instinctively disinterested:
- Take your parrot’s favorite foods – pellets, fresh fruit, or vegetables – and grind them up.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and consider wearing gloves.
- Place the parrot on a safe, stable surface.
- Hold the parrot still. If you have already wrapped the parrot in a blanket, this will be easier.
- Place the ground-up food into a syringe or a small plastic spoon.
- Gently tap the lower corner of the parrot’s beak with the spoon or syringe.
- Wait for the parrot to open its mouth. Keeping repeating the step above until it does.
- When the parrot’s mouth is open, slowly place the spoon or syringe to the right of its beak.
- Let the parrot take the food at its own pace. Never force-feed it.
You can repeat this process as often as required. Just offer your parrot the foods that it wants to eat. Many parrots love human foods that would ordinarily be verboten as they are too fatty. Avoid feeding your parrot anything toxic but treats that you formerly offered sparingly can be used to cheer up your parrot.
If your parrot starts to twitch and shake then drops its head, it will likely vomit. In this instance, clean up the regurgitation and offer food again later. More importantly, reassure your parrot to let it know that you are not angry and will make everything better again.
The loss of a parrot is always a painful experience that leaves you feeling empty inside. Once your pet has passed away, you can begin the mourning process. Until such a time, remain focused on comforting your dying parrot. That way, you’ll always know that you’ve done all that you can to make it feel comfortable in its final hours.