Why is Your Bird Sneezing—Is it Normal for Parrots

Why is Your Bird Sneezing—Is it Normal for Parrots

A 6 minute read by Eddie Waithaka

#sneezingparrot #parrotsneeze

The idea of a bird sneezing may come as a surprise to new owners, but it is an event that happens quite often, especially with parrot species.

A bird's sneeze is usually a brief utterance often accompanied by a tight closing of the eyes, and sometimes, a slight nasal discharge, just like in human beings.

While it's normal for all birds (including parrots) to sneeze, persistent cases in quick succession should be attended to promptly. Usually, such instances result from an ailment or allergic reactions, which can be stressful to a bird or fatal if not resolved on time.

All the same, many birds sneeze for less worrying issues such as low humidity (environment being too dry), vitamin A deficiency, irritation by seed hulls and husks, and allergies occasioned by things such as dust, smoke, feather dust, and sprays.

See the rest of this article for more insight into birds' sneezes and coughs, the causes, whether it is, and how to deal with each condition.

Is it OK (Normal) For A Bird to Sneeze

As we saw above, it's normal for most birds to have dry sneezes and even throw in an occasional cough. However, I would not go as far as to say it is Ok because if the bird is sneezing, something must be irritating its nasal passage.

That said, wet sneezes along with nasal discharge are not typical, especially if your bird is sneezing a lot.

Usually, this is a sign of illness, with the sneeze occasioned by a nasal discharge that blocks the nares, resulting in irritation and sneezing.

If left unresolved, these viral or bacterial infections could even cause damage to the nasal passage, mostly evidenced by audible breathing sounds, change in vocalization, and nasal and eye discharge.

What most parrot (and all birds) keepers consider a normal sneeze is most times occasioned by low humidity in the environment.

See, typically, most parrots are native to tropical-humid climates, so any environment less humid than this will make the bird's nasal passage dry up and sneezes come up.

This means that indoor air in dry regions and in houses with central heating or air-conditioning is too dry for many commonly-kept parrots.

Bird (Parrot) Sneezing, Runny Nose, and Wheezing

Sneezing in birds is a way of clearing dust and other debris from their nares and nasal tract.

As such, your bird will sneeze once or twice a day, and sometimes the sneeze (or cough) will be accompanied by some nasal discharge.

But if the sneeze is frequent and persistent and comes along with thick mucus, it's could be a sign of a respiratory ailment or other underlying issues such as allergies.

A more serious problem that can cause damage to the nasal or sinuses passages could be the case if audible breathing sounds such as wheezing accompany the sneeze.

Nonetheless, while ailments are common in all bird species, sneezes due to irritants and allergic reactions seem to be more common in dusty parrots such as cockatiels and cockatoos or those housed with dusty individuals.

For instance, if a macaw is maintained with a cockatoo, there is a chance it will develop an allergic reaction since cockatoos are on the dustier side of things.

Hulls from seeds, sprays, chemical irritants, and smoke can also cause sneezes in birds and occasional nasal discharge.

Either way, a visit to an avian vet is advised if your bird is sneezing more than usual since veterinarians are the best place to draw conclusions from the frequency of sneezes and appearance of the nasal discharge (mucus).

Bird Sneezing After A Bath (Shower)

The reason I come up with this sub-topic is that my parrot used to play in the water, dunk her whole head in, then sneeze for a while.

Is this normal, or does such a bird have sinus problems?

It would be helpful to know for sure, especially if your parrot is the kind that loves to jump in water any chance he gets.

Well, it turns out the sneezing after a bath is nothing more than the birdie clearing his nose.

It's only a problem with the bird's sinuses or another part of the respiratory system if the sneezing goes on for more than a while.

And if it's indeed a dire respiratory problem, the sneezing will also come with a wheezing sound and wet nasal discharge.

Keep an eye on your parrot if you think there is something more to the sneeze. Make sure he does not get puffed up or hang out at the bottom of the cage because that means he isn't feeling well.

I would also think about quarantining the birds, especially if you just got him and have other birds to protect them just in case the in situ bird has picked up something from his former home.

I also found that some parrots such as cockatiels and cockatoos tend to sneeze more than other types, most likely due to the powder dust.

How Do You Stop Your Bird (Parrot) From Sneezing

As with most issues concerning feathered pets, the simplest way to help a bird is to first identify the cause of the condition.

This way, you will be able to settle on the best solution.

For 'normal dry sneezes' occasioned by a dry environment, I recommend misting your birds frequently. This will keep its nasal passage moist and conveniently help its body stay hydrated, preventing sneezes, as well as skin irritation and feather plucking.

I also recommended you place a humidifier inside the room where your birdie spends most of its time to increase the amount of moisture in the air, especially during winter.

As you would expect, any appliances that dehydrate your ambient air, such as central heating systems, are discouraged in bird rooms.

In the case of ailments and allergies, I advise you to consult your avian vet since they are better placed to pinpoint the problem. Plus, they have easy access to appropriate treatment and supplements for different bird species.

Nonetheless, while some situations warrant a vet's opinion, they are not too complicated and are swiftly solvable. For instance, if a suspect parrot is allergic to certain elements, just remove all items that contain or harbor the allergens.

And on instances where the sneezing is due to Vitamin A deficiency, you can sort this by feeding your birdie foods rich in vitamins such as seed, red or orange vegetables, dark-green leafy treats, and Vitamin supplements.

General house cleaning, plus keeping the area around your bird free of dirt, can help a sneezing parrot as well. Dust the cage regularly, including all furniture nearby.

Lastly, avoid exposing your bird to sprays, smoke, and other elements in the air that are known to affect parrots. If you must use aerosols, consider placing your birdie in a cage outside during that period.

That's all for this post.

Happy Birding 🦉🦜🐦.