(Excerpt from the Essentialbird yahoo group)

Chester, my Princess of Wales, has developed chronic pneumonia (confirmed on xray) which does not appear curable, at least by my vet or me:(Between us we have tried just about every remedy and technology we can think of: nebulizers, phamaceutical drugs, essential oils, herbs, even medicinal smoke! My vet believes that Chester inhaled a seed which lodged in his lungs, became infected and now has caused a walled-off abscess. Nothing has helped to break down the abscess walls.

I have been working on this case for about six months, and so far, the best I can do is to keep the abscess from leaking out and making him sick enough to need intensive care. He lives in an aviary with his mate, Celeste, and I use neem tea, or poke root, or goldenseal/echinacea in his water to keep the infection at bay. He vocalizes and eats well but his breathing is badly labored and sometimes he gets into fits of sneezing.

When he starts sneezing my vet has taught me to flush the sinus cavity to help relieve pressure and release fluids in the nasal and sinus cavity. I thought this might be useful to share with people. I recommend that you learn this technique from a vet or vet tech, or I can teach people, but it is not something to attempt lightly. (Since writing this article I  have needed to use the sinus flush multiple times, so it is a handy tool to learn. Scary though!)


For small to medium size parrots, I take a ten ml syringe and fill this with warm saline solution. To make the saline solution I pour one cup of boiling water over a teaspoon of sea salt, mixing this and allowing it to cool down until it is very warm but not burning (I test the water on my cheek). It must be quite warm, a similar temperature to baby formula when hand-feeding. Then I hold the bird upside down in a towel and place the beak so that it is the lowest point on the bird. I then place the syringe against one nare and slowly depress five ml into the nare. It should come directly out of the other nare. If it comes out of the mouth I immediately stop and realign the beak and syringe. I repeat this for the other nare with the other five ml. (I think a full ten ml per nare is needed for large parrots and macaws.)

Caution is needed in order not to aspirate the bird. The beak must be the lowest point as the bird is held. So if in doubt, if the saline is not coming straight out of the opposite nare, then something is wrong and I always stop immediately. Sometimes things are simply too plugged to flush right away and a second attempt is needed an hour later.

This technique is not for the faint of heart, but can save lives in a crisis as it offers immediate relief and clears the sinuses effectively. If infection is present in the sinuses, warm goldenseal root tea can be used as the base of the saline. Use one teaspoon of goldenseal root per cup of boiling water, leave this to steep for one hour, then reheat the tea and add the sea salt as described above. It will stain temporarily, but will knock out bacteria or fungus in the sinus cavity nicely.

Again, caution is needed…

Lainey Alexander

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, or by any veterinarian. All information, including any product or technique mentioned, is for educational purposes only. None of the information is intended to diagnose or treat any disease.