Confused about first visit to the vet


New member
Mar 11, 2022
Pearly Conure
Hi everyone! I'm new here, but I've been reading all your posts for a long time and am so impressed with the wealth of knowledge and care you possess.

Firstly, I don't believe my darling bird is ill -- he just had a routine physical and consultation yesterday. My main question is whether I should immediately book another "first" visit for my conure with a different vet or if it can wait 6 months. I'd also very much love to hear your thoughts in general about this visit. Sorry for how long this is, it's partly for my records and partly because I don't speak brevity. :)

Little Emmy (short for Emerald) is a 4-month-old pearly conure whom I've had for 5 weeks. He was co-parented; his previous owner isn't a breeder but supposedly received copious amounts of help from her breeder friend. Baby Emmy (who may be a boy or a girl) is fully flighted; spends all day outside of his cage with me, as I work from home; eats pellets/fruit/veg with seeds for rewards; and gets 10-12 hours of sleep nightly. He's as big as your hand and weighs approx. 62 g. I weigh him every day or two to *try* to catch any possible sign of an illness. Although I raised a Great Tit that fell from its nest last spring, Emmy is my first companion bird, so I'm new to all this. I have a lot to learn!

So, I wanted to take Emmy to the vet right away, but I waited until now because I was concerned about two things: his stress levels and finding the right vet. He was understandably skittish and fearful in the beginning, so I wanted to start bonding to make him feel safe in case the visit was scary. We practiced getting used to the travel cage and nail file with lots of treats and kisses. :) I also felt the first visit was supremely important, so I made lots of phonecalls and did a lot of googling. The problem is, I'm an expat and there are only 3 proper avian vets (who treat birds exclusively) in this country, and they all have clinics in the SAME city, 5 hours from my town. Researching this has been challenging because I don't know the veterinary system here and I'm not fluent in the language yet.

Due to distance, I widened my search to vets with years of bird expertise, at the very least. Not cat and dog vets, nor general small/exotic animal vets. I found one an hour away, a Dr. Anna, confusingly referred to as "specialising in birds" but not listed as one of the 3 CAV. During the consult I learned she used to be an avian vet who sometimes still does "regular" visits, but mainly does avian surgery(!) now, which surprised me.

Well, I went in there with a very long list of things I wanted Dr. Anna to do for Emmy. I prepared by consolidating all of the amazing information I found on this forum, plus articles and books. I wanted everything from baseline blood work to DNA testing for common diseases to a gram stain. Normal things, I thought.

However, Dr. Anna only gave Emmy a basic physical and visual examination. She checked him over and listened to his heart and lungs. I have to say, she handled him beautifully and he was really relaxed. I'm incredibly relieved to report that according to her, he's "very healthy and lean." She asked lots of questions (diet, sleep, exercise, socialisation) and was satisfied by my answers.

BUT when I asked about DNA testing to figure out Emmy's sex, she said that wasn't necessary. I mentioned egg binding, but she said it wasn't a concern right now, plus it's expensive -- roughly $250. I also mentioned getting a baseline, checking for psittacosis and other diseases, getting blood drawn through the jugular vein. But Dr. Anna said Emmy was too tiny and young, and that the amount of blood needed would be too much for his little body, which scared me. When he got his nails trimmed, I asked her to use a file but she said she never does, that it's quicker and less stressful for the bird with a nail trimmer. She also plucked a feather in case I changed my mind about the DNA test to determine sex. I feel bad if Emmy felt pain for nothing, since I might not do it.

A couple of times during our visit, Dr. Anna smiled and said, "No one's ever asked me that before!" I guess bird owners in this country are a bit lax... or I'm a worrier. Still, she was very, very nice and seemed quite experienced, both with the parrots she owned (we chatted about them) and those she treated. I don't think she's in it for the money because she recommended another local "avian vet" -- who advertises herself as specialising in birds and reptiles -- for Emmy's general check-ups and bloodwork and such. But I don't like the reptile part since it feels like getting sushi at a pizza restaurant. It's worth mentioning that this is a first world country; the culture highly values nature and animals but not in a "doting" way, I suppose; they've established new avian vet schools because there's such an incredible shortage; everything is RIDICULOUSLY expensive; and, well... I feel like I'm lost at sea.

Either way, Dr. Anna seemed competent and compassionate, but I have some doubts. I don't know if Emmy's too young for all the testing I thought he needed; maybe I misunderstood what a first visit entails. Or maybe she was careless? But maybe this is the best I can hope for in my circumstances?

Emmy's my heart. I love him so much and want to give him the very best life. Money *is* a bit of an object, but I'd rather eat rice for the next few months than risk his health and happiness! So I'd be glad to see another vet. Any insight is so very appreciated, thank you.


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I think the vet was correct that taking blood wasn't needed. Blood is usually only taken when there is a real concern, for the reason your vet stated. If Emmy hasn't gone through puberty, egg binding is also not a concern. You can also order inexpensive DNA tests online, instead of having to pay extra at the vets.

I'd say she did VERY well, my (ex) CAV only observed the 'keets during a 'checkup'...
Hi Emmy21,

Congratulations on your gorgeous Emmy! What a beautiful GCC!

Unlike with dogs and cats, I am not sure if there really is a “standard” for the first birby visit. There are healthy birds on the forum that see the vet yearly for routine well-birb checks and 30 year old healthy parrots that have never seen the light of a vet’s office. Moreover, different nations, cultures, etc will have varied standards. Owners are all different too and may want different things!

For a healthy small bird invasive testing (like a jugular stick) may carry risks that aren’t worth it…I would not recommend CBC/blood chemistries at this point. However, DNA testing and major disease testing can be done by PCR from a very small blood sample (1-2 small drops from nail quick). Droppings can also be examined as well.

Tests that can be easily checked with small blood sample:

Pacheco’s Disease (PDV)
Avium Bordetella (BAL)
Avian Polyomavirus (APV)
Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)
Psittacosis (MOMP)

The last 3 are the most commonly ones checked on a basic panel. I am attaching the links for 2 companies that you can send your own samples:

Above is a Miami based company. You can download and print the sample card, follow the directions. Their testing is very reasonably priced and you can use PayPal. They accept feather and blood samples.

This one does DNA gender, APV, and PBFD. I believe they are based out of Spain.

I am sorry the vet plucked a feather without your consent! I do agree about gender testing for helping take measures to try and reduce risk of egg binding in a female.

God bless and best wishes!
Hello and welcome.
You have a young healthy bird. So often extensively testing isn't needed. But DNA is cheap online! As shared above, I've used Animal genetics ill link

Years ago ....conure bleeding syndrome was maybe more of a risk ( I will see if I have a link on that) so it wasn't recommended to do blood draws on them unless they were sick. I never hear people talk about it anymore tho... so I never do routine healthy blood draw on mine.

I know over tge years on the forum we have had 2 sudden deaths from blood draws on conure..whether because of this or a bad stick..unknown

" Conures​

  • A strange bleeding syndrome of unknown cause has been reported to occur in conures. When they are injured or when they have blood drawn, they bleed excessively. Luckily this syndrome can be treated effectively if caught early."
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The vast major of the above provided excellent information and sourcing.

I fully agree that very young, smaller Parrots should not have blood tested. For a healthy Parrot, I follow the once every fifteen months (5 quarter) testing as this moves blood testing date to once during each quarter of a year over a five year period that allows one to see what if any effect occurs during each quarter of a year. I also believe in provide 'best care' medical advice as opposed to an opinion.

It was confusing to read the description of your Vets classification as the Classification of a Certified Avian Vet in North America is awarded upon completion of specific formal education and that it is updated on a schedule to assure that the individual remains current with the Certification. The original expense and time to receive the certification places obtaining a recertification as minor in comparison.

I may have missed what Country you are currently living, so I cannot comment on what is required in your Country. I like your concern and interest in the Health of your sweet Parrot. Your on the right path, just need to dial it back a bit, defining your Parrot's need as what I would recommend for one of the Larger Amazons would be different from your Parrot. Both should receive excellent care, defined to their needs.

Testing for a wide range of illness can be overkill! As one should test for illness common in your area.

Love your compassion!!
Welcome and be welcomed. A great source of general info, is the stikie on the Amazon subforum, "I Love Amazons" penned by our good friend Sailboats, above.
Most of it is applicable to all parrots and makes a good read ( long and very through).

Re: weighing. Best done in the morning, after your parrot has had his big morning poop and try to do it the same time every day, so variation from eating is nil. Keep a journal on his weight.

It will help us if we know where in this wide wide world you are located.
Wellllllllllllllllllllll... I have an avian vet who is famous, world-class, and one of my life heroes. He saw the Rickeybird circa 1997 when the Rb was about 10 (he is now 37). In the early days, he did a blood panel, gram stain, weight, close physical exam. Some time around age 15, I THINK, he started getting yearly blood tests, and since he began Enalapril (which has been a great success in normalizing his hematocrit) twice a year. So my point is... I am agreeing that it all varies with bird, age, condition. My tactic was to find the best, most well-recommended, well-published vet possible, in hopes that I could really always trust him.

Is this helpful?
Certified Avian Vets
If none are near you...
Avian Veterinarians
In my opinion, any of the vets listed here should be better than a regular vet.
International contacts, too.

Good for you for being so interested in this!

What a beautiful bird!!!

With a 60 gram bird, I have mixed feelings about any blood draw. The vet could take at most about 600 ul or 3/5 ml which is not enough for many tests. Yes, background values are great, but your bird is a presumably healthy ‘adolescent’. There’s no big concern right now or need to stress Emmy like that. It can be difficult and stressful to get a blood sample from a very small bird.

I am glad you got Emmy checked out and results were good. Emmy is a little jewel.
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