PATHOGENS IN CONFISCATED PARROTS collaboration (in progress) please contact



Data suggest that immediate and aggressive treatment coupled with available testing is essential for the individuals and the future populations in the wild, for public health, and to protect agricultural and pet trade interests.

Treatments of very ill confiscated birds needs to be based on laboratory analysis. Samples should be taken prior to treatment, except in critical life-threatening cases. As soon as the samples are collected, interim treatment needs to be started; with the caveat that the plan may be changed as results are collected from the lab work.  Confiscated parrots are often infected with multiple pathogens and treatment needs to be rapid, aggressive, and powerful. The route should be SC or IM, accompanied by parenteral fluids and appropriate nutritional support. The birds will be dehydrated, debilitated, thin, stressed and possibly in shock. Supportive care is essential.

Antibiotics (IM or SC) until lab results come in

Diagnostics Supplies


Decision-making Tree for Confiscated Psittacines

Assessing Risk for the Release of Psittacines

Trauma Decision Tree

Trauma Decision Tree

Euthanasia Decision Tree

Infectious Disease Decision Tree



Imping is an ancient art used by falconers and wildlife rehabilitators to replace damaged or broken flight or tail feathers. It is easily adapted to psittacines and can improve flight conditioning until the flight feathers have completed a molt cycle. If only a few feathers are imped, the bird can be released to the wild after appropriate conditioning.

Illustrated below is a typical scenario presented by an ex-captive or confiscated bird. In this example, most of the left primaries and secondaries are affected. The entire set of flight feathers can be replaced, or only a few individually affected feathers. Tail feathers can also be imped.

Entire wings or entire sets of undamaged flight and tail feathers can be collected from deceased specimens and frozen for later use. The species, age and other data should be recorded and individual feathers need to be taped to cardboard and numbered in sequence, and for tail feathers, labelled left or right as well. It is very important for proper alignment for flight that the feathers be imped in the correct position. If entire wings are collected, the pair need to remain together.

All views are of the left wing, ventral surface.

Feathers kept in the proper order, or entire wing, saved from a deceased bird 

Preparation of stubs

Placement of newly prepared feathers in order and glued to stubs

Placement of newly prepared feathers in order and glued to stubs


To obtain higher prices for trafficked psittacines, dealers often engage in the practice of bleaching and dyeing feathers to mimic more valuable, rare, or desired species. The cruel techniques include use of hydrogen peroxide-based hair bleaches, chlorine-based bleaches, or ammonia to remove pigment. Food coloring, hair coloring or other pigments are then applied. In the process, the birds suffer severe stress, chemical burns over the face, head, neck, wings and body, often where the bleaching products drip; and irreversible respiratory damage .