Pigeon Diseases | Common sick pigeon symptoms & Behavior

The difference between a sick pigeon and a sick human is that humans can communicate their illness easily that they are suffering.

Although pigeons are talkative and sometimes noisy even, they rely on you to understand their problem.  The person who takes care of the birds can understand that their bird is behaving strangely or something is wrong.

If you are a pigeon owner, you must educate yourself, understand your pigeon’s problem, and get the right treatment.

There are some diseases and infections which are most commonly seen in pigeons. These are discussed here, along with their symptoms.

Common Sick Pigeon Symptoms and Diseases

Wondering if your pigeon is sick? Let’s take a look at the most common symptoms so you can accurately assess their condition.


This is an infection caused by an infected bird or rodent. It is a very contagious disease, and it can even infect humans through pets.

Most commonly, the infection enters your loft from one of the wild birds who come in contact with your pet. Also, if you buy a new pigeon for your loft, it may be infected. The new pigeons must be isolated at first.


Salmonella is a deadly disease. The symptoms are quite visible. The pigeon starts losing weight, and you can see swelling in joints. Their poop is a good indicator of any infections, and Salmonella causes slimy droppings.

You can notice the pigeon limping, and infertile eggs are another indicator as the pigeon’s entire body suffers. In extreme situations, you may notice a twisted neck and sometimes one eye blindness.

Paramyxovirus (PMV)

This infection catches the birds if they are not vaccinated. You must get your pigeon vaccinated as soon as they are 4 to 8 weeks old. You must get the pigeons vaccinated every year. 

For a healthy upcoming generation, get your birds vaccinated 4 weeks before breeding season. It is precautionary. But once a bird catches the infection, you can’t do anything.

A few medicines have shown some progress, but you should get your birds vaccinated in time.


The bird starts losing itself if PMV catches it. Loss of weight is the first symptom.

Next, their droppings turn green with the slimy watery look. Finally, twisting of neck and head becomes common. Vaccination and LaSota can save the bird.


It is one of the very common infections in birds, known as Psittacosis and parrot fever. It is a highly contagious disease that is caused by airborne bacteria and infects healthy pigeons.

Also, it is a zoonotic disease, so you need to beware of it. The birds transmit it in an open environment through feces, feather dust, and nasal secretion, which infect other birds.

The young and old birds with weaker immunity get infected fast and lose their desire to fly.


Most birds don’t even show symptoms, but if you look closely, you will find several. The lack of appetite, and as a result, weight loss is among the first.

Next, you can see that your bird is depressed and it has diarrhea. Then starts nasal and eye secretions.

The body temperatures lower down, and you can see rough plumage and tremors shaking the bird.

Adeno-Coli Syndrome

It is an infection that preys on young birds. Almost 60-70% of young birds get infected by it. The infection is caused by a combination of Adenovirus, E-Coli bacteria, and sometimes, Circovirus.

The symptoms look like it is PMV, but it is different. Sadly, it is incurable.

Some medicines have proved to be effective in the past few years, but there is so much at stake here.


The young pigeon starts losing weight. The appetite vanishes, and vomiting starts. The bird’s droppings change significantly, and rapid weight loss follows. It takes only a few days for the bird to die.

Pigeon Canker

One-celled parasites usually cause cankers —in pigeons. Sadly, it can be transmitted incredibly easily throughout the flock as soon as one bird becomes infected.

However, the nasty little parasite can’t survive outside of moist environments for longer than a few minutes. At least there’s some saving grace.

Let’s take a look at the symptoms.


You’ll typically find the parasite inside the bile duct, crop, cloaca, throat, and other areas along the digestive tract. Sometimes, the nodules might appear on the navel or the sinuses.

The specific symptoms will vary from pigeon to pigeon (and severity to severity), however, you can often see the following:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Bleeding from the cloaca
  • Bleeding from the mouth

If these are left untreated, they will progressively worsen and will lead to the pigeon’s eventual death.

Pigeon Flies, Lice, and Mites

These pesky little things will bother your birds considerably. While the incessant biting and irritation are the most noticeable negative, they can cause far more damage.


You might notice a scale-esque feel and look to the featherless areas of the pigeon’s body. Alongside this, there could be little holes in the feather shafts and your bird will more than likely be itching a lot.

Thankfully, there are lots of sprays out there that you can use to stop the spread and irritation caused by flies, lice, and mites.

Worms in Pigeons

Many animals have to put up with various kinds of worms in their digestive system — pigeons included.

Whether your feathered friend has roundworm, hairworm, tapeworm, or some other kind, they can cause major health concerns.

Pigeons typically get worms from eating infected feces or insects. Because of this, it’s hard to prevent it.


Upon microscopic examination of the bird’s droppings, you’ll be able to clearly see the worms. Sometimes, you might be able to notice them without the microscope, but this is less likely.

As far as symptoms go, you might notice:

  • Lack of performance in competition
  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Reduced egg production
  • Decreased feather condition
  • Rapid weight loss

Pigeon Coccidia

Coccidia in pigeons is very similar to worms. It’s an intestinal one-celled parasite that can be easily transmitted throughout the flock.

It’s usually not as bad as you might think. Oftentimes, small amounts of coccidia are found in pigeon lofts when examined under a microscope. This is generally left untreated.

If your birds are acting normally, you can leave them untreated.

But let’s take a look at the symptoms anyway in case your feathered friends are suffering.


  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of nutrient absorption

Respiratory Infections in Pigeons

Respiratory infections are generally the most feared. Not only are they likely fatal, but they are incredibly contagious.

There are so many causes (sadly). Whether it’s fungi, bacteria, mites, or viruses all respiratory issues can be life-threatening — especially when gone unnoticed for a long period.


While symptoms can vary, you will almost always notice the following:

  • Poor performance in competitions
  • Less active
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fluffed up feathers
  • Reluctance to move
  • Labored breathing

At times, you might also see:

  • Discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing

Pigeon Mycoplasma

This is a variety of respiratory infections but it’s often brought on by stress. Because of this, you must provide a stress-free, clean, and happy environment for your birds.


Mycoplasma in pigeons has identical symptoms to chlamydia, so you’ll need to visit your vet to figure out the exact infection your bird is suffering from.

The specific symptoms are as follows:

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing
  • Lack of competition performance
  • Reluctant to engage in inactivity
  • Ruffled feathers

Pigeon Hexamita

Hexamita is similar to the one-celled parasite that causes canker. Fortunately, it’s not as serious as the other condition (hence why it’s less well-known).

However, you should still seek correct treatment if your bird is displaying signs.


It usually goes unnoticed, but, you might find that your pigeon displays the following signs:

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Polydipsia
  • Dehydration

Any abnormal behavior or signs should signal that it’s time to treat your pigeon for something. If you’re struggling to diagnose, always seek medical advice!

2 thoughts on “Pigeon Diseases | Common sick pigeon symptoms & Behavior”

  1. Hi one of my pigeons squabs was found discarded from its nest by the parent birds .I took it indoors fed it seemed to be getting better then I noticed a white yeast type substance coming from beneath it’s eye lids causing them to say shut I have removed this substance a few times now ,it’s semi hard to the touch and if left hardens Could you please tell me what this .might be and how to treat it thank you kind regards Craig


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