At Home Care for Sick Birds

When a bird is very ill, it is often recommended that a “hospital cage” be created at home to provide an optimal environment for recovery. It is best to have a designated cage for this before an illness occurs in order to be well prepared. Your veterinarian will make specific recommendations for you based on your individual birds problem but the following information is often adequate for most basic at home hospital cages.

It is important for the hospital cage to have smooth sides so that the bird cannot climb and instead must remain at the bottom of the cage. There are many types of cages available that fit this criteria but the easiest and most common recommendation is to use a fish tank that is sized appropriately for the bird. Amazons and African grey size parrots will do fine in a 30 gallon tank or equivalent sized storage tub. Small birds like cockatiels, budgies and finches can do well in a 10 gallon tank. Large birds like macaws may do best in a large dog crate. There are avian hospital incubators that can be purchased but these are much more expensive. No matter what the hospital cage is, it must be easy to clean and disinfect. Water and food should be placed in shallow dishes on the bottom of the bird's hospital cage so that the bird can access them easily. 

The hospital cage must be kept warm in order to support your bird's system as they recover. The ideal temperature will vary based on the birds condition but generally 85-90F is acceptable. There are various ways to provide this heat. Commercial incubators will have a built in system to supply heat. If a fish tank or dog crate is used, a heating pad can be placed under half of the cage or heat lamp can be hung over one end of cage. Use a red light heat lamp or ceramic heat emitter so that it can left on at all times without disturbing your bird's sleep. Typically you will want to use 50 to 60 watts for small aquariums and 75 to 100 watts for larger cages, but this is going to cary depending on the temperature of your home. It is very EXTREMELY important to use a thermometer in order to accurately determine the temperature and make sure it is not too cold or hot.