What is Salmonella?

Subgenus 1 is the type of salmonella that birds are most commonly infected by. Native wild birds can serve as carriers and as a reservoir of the bacteria. Companion birds can pass on the infection to their humans and vice versa, especially when low immunity conditions exist. All species of birds can be infected by salmonella, it depends on the level of health within your bird, its health, and now potent the bacteria are. Spreading of the organism is through direct interaction and contact among birds, or contaminated food or water.

The Salmonella bacteria genus includes around 2000 species that are divided into five subgenus groups, with subgenus 1 & 3 affecting bird species.

Symptoms of Salmonella in Birds

  • Poop droppings of a sulphur yellowish green colour is very much a symptom of this microorganism
  • Your bird may have a ‘fluffed up’ appearance which is the sign of an unwell companion 
  • Damages to vital organs such as liver, spleen, kidney or heart 
  • Dermatitis and signs of scratching more than usual
  • Weight loss and diarrhea can occur 
  • Arthritis is a symptom with pigeons 
  • Conjunctivitis in extreme cases 
  • Excessive persistent thirst 


  • Salmonella are a group of rods shaped gram-negative bacteria from the Enterobacteriaceae family 
  • There are two species of Salmonella – Salmonella enterica, and Salmonella bongori- both making up of over 2000 individual species
  • Salmonella enterica can then be further divided into six subgenera types with subgenus 1 & 3 affecting bird species 
  • Subgenus 1 is the type that is commonly found in most birds and is easily transmitted from bird to bird
  • Subgenus 3 is sometimes found in birds especially those that have had contact with reptiles

Causes of Salmonella in Birds

  • It can be spread from other animals for example rodents, where it passes out in the faeces and can contaminate your bird’s food or water areas 
  • It can pass by vertical transmission, that is transmission of the bacteria to the egg with infected chicks hatching to spread it further
  • Flies can also carry the bacteria, so remove old seed and food and keep the condition sanitary to eliminate flies 
  • Bacteria shed can remain stable outside the host, and be inhaled through dust by another potential host
  • Often salmonella is transmitted where large numbers of birds congregate such as at feeding stations 
  • Poor hygiene standards such as contaminated feed bowls or water stations 
  • Weakened immune systems (weaker or ill birds are more easily infected
  • Stress and overcrowding in cages/aviaries can cause an outbreak
  • Contaminated food from an infected hen feeding their young 
  • Fecal contamination of water

Diagnosis of Salmonella in Birds

There are no distinctive signs that are associated with salmonella infection, the symptoms could easily apply to several different diseases or illnesses. It is important to take your bird to an avian veterinarian if it is displaying any of the symptoms listed above. A quiet bird sitting with all its feathers fluffed up is a sure sign that something is wrong with your little companion. A general attitude of depression and lack of interest in food accompanied by diarrhea should have you bundling up your bird and heading for the specialist as soon as possible. Some very sick birds can start having seizures, this bacterium is that potent.

Your avian specialist will do an examination, discuss the symptoms your bird is exhibiting and he will take some tests for the laboratory to determine the exact cause. While the results may take a day or two, treatment will begin almost immediately. Salmonella is treatable but the success relies on the age of your bird, the general health, and how advanced the bacterial infection has gone. But birds have been carefully nursed back to good health from this disease.

Treatment of Salmonella in Birds

Because of the diverse number of species of salmonella, it is vital to get a positive identification on the cause of your bird’s illness. Laboratory tests can take a day or two to come back to your specialist, but he will usually start your bird on a broad-spectrum antibiotic. There is a range of antibiotics that are available to treat your bird, and your specialist will determine which one is best for your little companion. This will provide immediate treatment for the disease, and later, once the species of salmonella is determined, your avian veterinarian will switch to a more specific antibiotic to target the organism. Other worrying symptoms, such as diarrhea, need to be treated to allow your bird to regain its health. A medication based on kaolin will firm up the stool and will not affect the antibiotic.

Other support, such as plenty of clean water available to prevent dehydration, will be necessary. Keeping your bird warm and offering tempting food to get him to eat are part of the treatment for this condition. For the wild bird population, treating this organism is almost impossible and salmonella is the most common cause of mortality. If you are feeding wild bird populations, keeping the water and feeding containers clean will help.

Recovery of Salmonella in Birds

Prevention is the best management tool in dealing with salmonella outbreaks. Keeping your bird’s home scrupulously clean and hygienic is vital. Prevent overcrowding, and keep nest boxes clean and fresh. To prevent the spread of bacteria, try washing feeding bowls with water and a concentrate of 10% bleach, ensuring you rinse the dish well and dry. If you are feed a flock of birds or wild species, spread the location of feeding bowls or put more out to avoid overcrowding and contamination.

If your bird is recovering from treatment of salmonella, keep his environment clean, especially food and water containers. Your bird may feel the cold with being unwell, so a little added heat may help, but don’t overdo it. Time and a full dosage of antibiotics will assist your bird to return to full health.

Salmonella Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

German Beauty Homer pigeon
3 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

poor hatching
problems with hatching

I have show pigeons (German Beauty Homers) and I have had a lot of fertile eggs fail to hatch and the young one dies during the latter part of incubation. I am aware the obvious cause would be poor incubation but I think the problem is too wide spread to be that in the majority of cases. Could it be salmonella being passed on from the parents although they appear to be healthy and well. I am mindful of my loft management and can see no problem in that area. What treatment would you suggest.

Help.I am from india.Have couple of pair of Arc angel.But the problem is that,symptoms are all alike salmonella at all.Have treated with Renamycin and AginVet before but didnt work good.What to do now.


Add a comment to pigeon's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Love bird
8 Months
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

diarrhea, weight loss, flapped up

I had a love bird age around 8 months. she has been suffering from cloudy white/yellow diarrhea for 2 weeks.and used to sit flapped up. in the morning sun she took a busk. she became very thin. I didn't take that seriously because it is raining in Dhaka nowadays. there were two birds together. one is fine and healthy and another got sick. i hardly identify the poops of the sick bird. i contacted with local vet. and they suggested me oxy-tetracycline powder to mix up with her drinking water for 7 days. i did and after 2 days she became more sick. after 7 days of treatment she died yesterday night. does oxy-tetracycline works against salmonella ? the vet prescribed 1gm/liter of water ratio.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King DVM
1611 Recommendations
Tetracycline does treat Salmonella, but if her infection was farther advanced than what could be treated via water, it may not have been enough, and she may have succumbed to sepsis. I'm sorry that you lost Lilly, that is very sad.

Add a comment to Lilly's experience

Was this experience helpful?

African Grey Species
2 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

vomiting, Diarrhea, lake of movment

I think that my african grey parrot has salmonella, the symptoms you described are evident.I live in a remote area, there are no veterinarians where I live.I took my bird to a pet store he give me a medicine named (chevita GmpH) should I use it?
And how I can treat my bird?
What kind of food should I give him(he eats only peanuts and apples)?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
Chevita is the name of an animal health company whose products are considered the best among pigeon fanciers; there are many products on offer by chevita for birds but their products are intended for general poultry and pigeons. Without examining Kooko I cannot say which specific product to use or the suitability of this product for Kooko; the use of any product without a Veterinarian performing an examination is your decision, I cannot condone from a legal point of view (I am aware of your limited options). You should also think about diet, the last link below should give you an indication of the type of diet you should be providing. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.chevita.com/en/pigeons/treatment-plan/digestivetract-salmonellosis.php www.chevita.com/en/products/index-pigeons.php www.african-grey-parrot.com/African-Grey-Diet.aspx

2 days ago my parrot developed watery diarrhea and he slept a lot during the day I didn't think much of it because he was eating well now I blame my self because i didn't take his condition seriously .yesterday he had an attack of weakness he couldn't stand properly and was having trouble walking so I filmed him walking and took him to the vet.. the vet didn't perform blood test as it wasn't available but prescribed him antibiotic and said it was salmonella.. I gave my parrot the medicine it was yellow tab and very bitter.. I noticed his diarrhea frequency decreased and condition improved a little .. of course I cleaned all of his cages toys and tree with water and soapp.. now I'm still very worried will this have side effects on him will it destroy his internal organs ? Should I do something more ? Should I give him vaccine once he recovers? My parrot is a blue fronted Amazon-proof and he is nearly 6 years old ... Thanks in advance I'll really appreciate any advice

Add a comment to Kooko's experience

Was this experience helpful?