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Bird Health Notes – Bacterial and Viral Sinus Infections (Sinusitis)

Pet birds of all kinds sneeze on occasion, and such is not always cause for alarm. However, sneezing can also be the first sign of a sinus infection, and so should signal us to pay extra attention. When accompanied by nasal or eye discharge, or red, swollen eyes, immediate action is necessary.

Bird Sinus Structure and Disease

As in people, bird sinuses are arranged in a complicated network of moist, narrow channels that are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. A lack of certain vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin A, may also pre-dispose birds to sinusitis. As anyone who has had such an infection can attest, bacteria spread rapidly throughout these passageways – when such happens to birds, it can mean a progression from mild to life-threatening illness in short order.


Birds inflicted with sinusitis may appear well at first, occasionally sneezing but otherwise behaving normally. Once the condition progresses, however, nasal and eye discharges will become evident, and the afflicted bird will become lethargic and reluctant to feed.

The bacteria-generated accumulation of hard, waxy material in the sinus cavities behind the eyes will cause the eyes to run, redden and swell. Sick birds will often rub their eyes on perches in an attempt to relieve the pressure, sometimes causing additional trauma in the process.


Early treatment is of utmost importance where sinusitis is concerned. The chance of successfully combating the invading virus or bacterium decreases rapidly as populations build and the bird’s immune system weakens. Veterinary attention is a must…please write in if you need a referral to an experienced avian veterinarian.

Further Reading

You can read about sinusitis from a veterinarian’s perspective at http://www.vetafarm.com/pages/Sinusitis-in-birds-.html.


About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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