Look at the bird’s droppings. This is one of the earliest recognizable signs of illness. Unlike mammals, birds urinate and defecate at the same time. In fact, the digestive, urinary and reproductive tracts all empty into the same receptacle, the cloaca. The droppings consist of three distinct portions:
1. Feces–(“stool”) are unusable solid waste material from food. This should be tubular in shape and formed into a coil. The color and consistency will vary according to the diet fed. A diet of mostly seeds (which is in itself unhealthy) will yield a dark green to near black-colored feces. Formulated diets (“pellets”) yield a more brownish stool.
2. Urine–(“water”) is the liquid portion. It is normally clear. Diets high in fruits and vegetables will produce more urine.
3. Urates–(“uric acid”) creamy white or chalk like substance on top of and around the feces.
Also, observe the bird at a distance of around fifteen to twenty feet. He will be more relaxed, and often signs of sickness might show up when he doesn’t realize he’s being watched. If a bird looks great but the other birds in the same cage or immediate area look poorly, I would be leery of purchasing that bird. It may just be a matter or time before this bird appears the same as its cage mates or others in close vicinity. Observing a Quaker’s surroundings is just as important as inspecting the Quaker himself if you want a happy, healthy bird from the start.