After an emergency occurs, is not the time to try to put together your first-aid kit. Being prepared is key for any emergency and the first step is to put together a first-aid kit. You can purchase first-aid kits for birds or build your own which is usually much cheaper. The list below shows the items that should be included in your first-aid kit.

  • Antibiotic powder and germicidal ointment (used to fight infection)
  • Blood stopper
  • Contact info for your vet (days, nights, weekdays, and weekends)
  • Corn Starch. Styptic powder, or Styptic pencil (used to stop bleeding) See warning below.
  • Cotton balls, cotton swabs, and Gauze squares
  • Flashlight
  • Honey or Karo Syrup (used to provide carbohydrates and energy)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (used for cleaning wounds)
  • Infrared Lamp (250 watts – large birds) or Hospital Cage (small birds)
  • Nail Clippers
  • Needle-Nose pliers or sturdy tweezers
  • Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate (used for some cases of poisoning)
  • Pet carrier (used to transport your sick bird to the vet)
  • Plastic eyedropper (used for administering fluids and irrigating wounds with water)
  • Powdered Gatorade or Pedialyte (used to provide energy and electrolytes)
  • Roll of gauze for bandaging
  • Scissors
  • Surgical tape or Masking tape (used for taping bandages)
  • Towel for restraining your bird

The use for most of these items is obvious except for maybe the infrared lamp. Birds typically have a high metabolic rate. One of the first things that can happen with a sick bird is that it stops eating correctly. This can lead to a drop in body temperature and possibly hypothermia that can be deadly. The ideal temperature to nurse a sick bird is about (30C, 86F) which can be provided by the hospital cage or the infrared lamp. The infrared lamp should be a “dull-emitter” type that radiates heat and not light. Some people have also used heated blankets (with the cord carefully concealed) in the bottom of the cage or a heated blanket draped over part of the cage. It is important to drape it over only part of the cage. This will give the bird a place to get away from the heat if it wants to.

Before continuing, there are a few words of caution. The first word of caution is about styptic powder and styptic pencils. Some vet’s don’t recommend their use. Instead, they recommend a corn starch solution. Styptic pencils may cause feather, follicle, or eye damage. However, it may be acceptable to use the styptic pencil on a clipped nail. Secondly, masking tape is usually recommended because surgical tape tends to stick to feathers.