Birdsafe California Bird Nerds

Polyps can make birds bleed

My wife recently brought home an African grey from the nursing home where she works. The home no longer wanted him because he kept biting the residents. My wife and the bird have bonded and are now inseparable.

About a month ago the bird, Fred, starting making strange sounds, like a cat in heat. His vent bulged and discharged blood. He appeared to be paying a lot of attention to the area. This happened three times, lasting a day or so each time. Otherwise, Fred acts normal. He eats a healthy diet.

We thought this might be a mating thing, but we took Fred to the vet and he said Fred has polyps. The vet did a biopsy to rule out carcinoma and sent some Preparation H home with us. It will be seven to 10 days before the biopsy results come back. Are polyps in birds common?

--Steve Davidson, Pensacola, Fla.,

A biopsy is a good first step when polyps are discovered. Polyps are pendulous extensions that form in a birdÂ’s respiratory or digestive tract, including the cloaca, possibly as a result of tissue inflammation. If a malignancy has not spread, or a benign polyp is causing your bird discomfort, you can have the polyp surgically removed.

Macaws in particular also sometimes get papillomas, or warts. These growths can be similar in appearance to polyps and can occur in the same areas, plus the mouth.

Papillomas are caused by a virus and may be a precursor of carcinomas of the pancreatic duct.

Relatively few birds develop either type of growth, which can reoccur even if removed. However, to be on the safe side, your vet should check new birds for papillomas during a prepurchase examination and you should quarantine newcomers for at least 45 days before allowing them to join the rest of your flock.

Dr. James Harris James Harris, DVM is owner and medical director of the Mayfair Veterinary Clinic in Sandy Bay, Tasmania, Australia. He founded Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, Calif., and has served as medical director and chairman of the board for the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Berkeley. Dr. Harris' numerous professional honors include California and National Bustad Companion Animal DVM Awards. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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