Intestinal Parasite in Birds

By PetMD Editorial on Jun. 27, 2008

Avian Giardiasis

Gastrointestinal parasites can cause many problems in a bird's stomach and intestines, but also affects the normal functions of other organs. One such parasite is Giardia, which is a singled-celled microbes (protozoa) found in the intestines.

Giardiasis generally affects cockatiels, budgerigars, lovebirds, and other birds of the parrot family, like macaws, parrots, and cockatoos.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms of the Giardiasis infection include:

  • Malnutrition
  • Diarrhea
  • Faulty absorption of nutrients
  • Weight loss
  • Itching
  • Feather plucking
  • Excessive pecking of the skin
  • Increased vocalization in the infected bird

An infected bird’s droppings will also look like popcorn. Baby birds will have poor feathering, cry incessantly, have increased hunger, not gain a normal amount of weight and, unfortunately, do not usually survive the infection.


Giardiasis infection is usually spreads by consuming contaminated food. However, adult birds which are not infected can still carry the parasites.


The veterinarian will perform a blood test to identify the specific parasite, and then prescribe anti-parasitic medicine, which is administered orally.


Giardiasis is often prevented by storing the bird food carefully and hygienically. Also, take your bird into the veterinarian regularly for parasite testing and health checkups.

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