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Find out what to do when your bird is bleeding from a broken feather, chipped beak or other wounds.

By Margaret Wissman, DVM
Posted: November 1, 2012, 5:00 p.m. PST


Broken blood feathers, chipped beak tips, trauma and cutting the toenails too short are common reasons for bleeding. It is not true that a small bird will die if it loses just one drop of blood, but all bleeding should be taken very seriously.


Bleeding can be the result of various accidents or injuries. Some birds (mainly the African parrots) may develop bloody tears, especially when restrained for examination, if they have upper respiratory infections. Liver disorders, some toxins and some infections that damage the liver, may result in bruising or excessive bleeding from minor injuries. Rat poison, aspirin and human blood thinners can cause excessive bleeding. Lead poisoning may cause bloody droppings. Certain infections of the gastrointestinal tract or foreign bodies in the GI tract may also cause bloody droppings. Blood may be found in the urine in cases of renal (kidney) damage from several causes. Reproductive problems can also cause bloody droppings or blood around the vent.

By Gina Cioli/BowTie Inc.
If your bird is bleeding, stop the bleeding as soon as possible.

The bleeding needs to be stopped as soon as possible. For beak or toenail injuries, use non-toxic clotting powders or gels, which are sold in pet stores, or you can ask your vet what to use. Flour or cornstarch can also work to assist in clotting. If the injury involves the tongue or tip of the beak, you can apply an ice chip to the area, which will help the bleeding capillaries recede. Ice can also be applied to a small bleeding area on the skin, but it may result in lowering of the body temperature, which may be exacerbated by shock or blood loss. If a toenail is bleeding, it may be possible to stop the bleeding by dragging the nail across the surface of a bar of soap, which may mechanically plug the bleeding vessel. Powder and gel should not be used on skin or soft tissue bleeding injuries. Instead, apply pressure using sterile gauze or a clean towel, being careful to not restrict breathing. Do not remove the cloth or sponge, which might dislodge any clot formation. If necessary, apply another layer of material, instead. It is important to remain calm and to not cause any additional damage to the bird while administering first aid. Keep the bird warm and quiet during transportation to your avian veterinarian.


Even if the bleeding has ceased, you should still have your bird evaluated by your avian vet as soon as possible. In rare cases, a blood transfusion may be required. After a bleeding episode, it is important that the cause of the bleeding be uncovered and treated, if necessary. A complete recovery can be expected in most cases, as red blood cells are replaced in the bone marrow and released into the bloodstream.

Disclaimer:’s Bird Health Index is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s health if you suspect your pet is sick. If your pet is showing signs of illness or you notice changes in your bird’s behavior, take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.

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