The upper air passages, except for the nasal sinuses, are relatively long in birds. The nostrils are generally quite small holes or slits and can readily be blocked by various types of foreign material. In several chronic affections involving discharges from the specialised parts of the head, eyes, mouth and nostrils, these exudates dry and cake around or across the nostrils. This results in noisy breathing through the mouth. Chronic infection by bacteria, perhaps following a viral infection, is the usual cause of such a discharge. Seeds held in the sticky, mucous exudate sometimes find their way into the nostrils and cause sneezing. In budgerigars deep-seated abscesses or granulomas of the cere or of the horn-generating layers of the upper beak are also occasionally involved. Tumours are seen on the head from time to time, involving and even closing the nostrils. Treatments depend on the cause and these are dealt with elsewhere under the relevant headings. In budgerigars, a brown-coloured thickening of the cere occurs sometimes, this being made up of dead cells, keratin and waxy material.

Hypertrophy of the Cere
This so-called "brown hypertrophy" may be likened to catarrh of a mucous surface and occurs in many types of chronic ill health. Apparently it is not caused by local infection, and ideally treatment consists of finding and treating the underlying cause. The cere should be treated also by picking away the heaped-up material and applying a little oily lotion, cod liver oil, Dettol or bland ointment. Below is a picture of a Budgie with hypertrophy of the cere. The growth can sometimes be caused by mites or tumours.

Obstructions of the larynx and trachea due to the production of yellow, necrotic material occur in vitamin A deficiency. Similar deposits are seen in trichomoniasis (canker) of pigeons, birds of prey, some species of passerines and possibly other birds. Candidiasis in some types of gallinaceous birds and in parrots, also causes obstructions and similarly chronic pox infections in pigeons. Gapeworms (Syvlgamus) may cause obstruction of the trachea in many species. All these conditions are accompanied by loss of appetite and weight or retarded growth. Examination of the mouth, pharynx and larynx, supported by laboratory examination of exudates help to differentiate the various infections. For further details see the relevant categories.

In species such as the budgerigar, mechanical causes are of considerable importance in the production of respiratory signs and they frequently originate in the body cavity. This is because there is no clear division between the thoracic and abdominal organs in birds, and any increase in size of an organ therefore produces pressure, not only on neighbouring organs but eventually on all the viscera. Causes include tumours or cysts of the ovary, testes, kidney, or liver; chronic congestion of the liver; retention of eggs or egg material in the oviduct; abdominal dropsy (ascites) and excessive deposition of abdominal fat or the accumulation of faeces in the gut, causing impaction. Very careful examination of the bird must be made if the cause is to be found and appropriate treatment carried out.


E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca



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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.