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Why Is My Bird Breathing But Not Moving?

If you have a pet bird, you know that if you ever find a bird breathing but not moving (especially if it’s at the bottom of the cage), it can’t be good. Then again, this could apply to any human being or pet. 

However, the point is if you see it, then it could be a cause for concern. There are several possible causes for your pet bird to display this behavior, and the most common reason is dyspnea. 

There are things you can do if the bird turns out to be ill and steps to take should your bird, unfortunately, get to the point where they are terminal.

Why is my bird breathing but motionless?

Why is my bird breathing but motionless?

Illness affects everyone. No one is spared from getting sick, and while it’s difficult to see helpless creatures such as children and pets get sick, you must be prepared for it to happen. 

One concerning behavior your bird might show is breathing but not moving. This can be concerning because this could be a sign of an illness such as Dyspnea or that the bird is dying.

Dyspnea and Other Issues

Dyspnea is something that is usually caused by a respiratory illness

It means your bird is having trouble breathing, and while it can be caused by other things such as injury, infections, cancer, etc., it is most often from a respiratory illness. 

The biggest symptom of this disorder is trouble breathing. 

Other symptoms include breathing with mouth open, weakness, fluffed up feathers, and headshaking, just to name a few.

The best thing to do is take your pet to the vet, and treatment depends on what they say. 

My best advice is to contact them immediately so you can get their treatment started right away.


Sometimes, our animals can get sick and die despite our best efforts. We can do everything right, but things can happen out of our control. 

While there are many symptoms of a bird dying, one that you will commonly see is a bird not really moving and having trouble breathing.

The lack of movement could result from lethargy. They will appear to be very still, and not only that, but you’ll also often find the bird to have difficulty breathing. 

It’s difficult to see your bird in such a state. However, the best way to truly find out what is going on is to contact a professional.

How to determine whether your bird is sick or dying? 

How to determine whether your bird is sick or dying? 

There are ways to tell if your bird is not only sick or dying but also healthy. 

It’s important to know the signs of all three, so you can know what kind of state your bird is in. Your bird depends on you to take care of it.

Signs of a healthy bird

For a healthy bird, there are some obvious signs so you can tell your bird is in a good place. 

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Some signs include clear nostrils and skin, bright eyes, being alert, good breathing, beautiful feathers, and good eating and drinking habits, just to name a few. 

Obviously, there could be some variation, but your bird should have a clean appearance and a normal appetite.

You could also check their droppings to make sure they have a healthy appearance.

Signs of a sick bird

The most prominent signs of a sick bird include general appearance looking poor, lack of appetite, fluffed up feathers, sleeping, lethargy, and drooping wings, to just name a few. 

Again, there are a few more symptoms to be aware of, but some of the most important ones to keep in mind are changes in appetite, the sleeping more often, or problems in breathing. 

These are some of the biggest ones you will notice with your own two eyes.

If you find your bird showing any of these symptoms, the best thing to do is to call a professional because, as I always like to point out, time is of the essence in these types of situations.

Signs of a dying bird

Even though it’s difficult to imagine your bird dying, there are some symptoms you need to be aware of. 

Some symptoms of a dying bird that could also be found in a sick bird are breathing problems and changes in activity or appetite. 

The symptoms you want to pay the most attention to are your budgie vomiting or changes in their droppings. 

These two things are really the best way to grasp your budgie’s condition.

Can a bird recover from Dyspnea or other illnesses?

Can a bird recover from Dyspnea or other illnesses?

I’m sure a big question on your mind is whether a bird can recover from whatever is causing them to be breathing strangely and not moving. 

Whether it’s Dyspnea or another illness, the answer isn’t something you’ll be thrilled to hear. 

While your bird could survive if it is caught early enough, the fact of the matter is by the time you notice, it could simply be too late.

Hiding the illness/Subtle Symptoms

No one likes to show that they are sick. Humans are guilty of not admitting they are sick right away, but animals do it too. 

It’s well known that cats are the type of animals to hide their illness until they can’t hide it anymore, but a bird can do the same thing as well. 

They will mask the illness and pretend everything is all right. You’ll hear them chirping, see them eating, and flapping around the cage like they usually do, and assume everything is fine.

Also, the symptoms can be so subtle that even if the bird is showing them, you may not know that they are there. The best way to circumnavigate this is to pay attention to your bird. 

You want to note their usual behavior because when something is wrong, you’ll be able to notice it right away.

How can you do this? Well, spend a lot of time with them, of course! You should do this anyway. Spending time with your animal is always rewarding for both you and your pet.

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Caught Early Enough

One of the best ways to ensure your bird will survive its illness is for it to be caught early. 

If it’s caught early, you have a chance at your bird getting an early diagnosis. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean the bird will surely survive, but having an early diagnosis can stop it from getting more serious and damaging a bird’s vital organs.

How to help a motionless bird that is struggling to breathe? 

How to help a motionless bird that is struggling to breathe? 

Even though it’s bad if a bird is motionless and struggling to breathe, there are some things you can do to help the situation along. 

While this may not fix things or help your bird survive, you will make them comfortable and take other precautions until you can call a vet and find out what are the best steps you can take from now on.

Making your bird comfortable

One big way you can help your bird that is motionless and struggling to breathe is to keep them comfortable. 

You can do this to keep them warm. A bird’s body temperature is usually around 75 Fahrenheit, so this can be a lot of help.

Also, there are other things you can do, such as keeping their sleep schedule the same, making sure they eat and drink, and avoiding stressing your bird out too much. 

By doing all these things, you make them feel just a little more comfortable despite the illness afflicting them.

Call an Avian Vet

A crucial step you must always take when attempting to help your bird is to call the vet. It’s important to contact a vet ASAP. 

The moment you notice your bird isn’t improving, ring them up. Ensure that the vet you are contacting is an avian vet—provided you don’t have one yet.

An avian vet specializes in birds; therefore, this type of vet is the one you need.

Keep birds separate

If you have more than one bird, you should remember that if one falls sick, then you need to keep them separate. 

The reason for this is that not only do you want the sick bird to have time to itself to rest, but you also don’t want the illness to spread to the other bird.

If that happens, then you’ll have two sick birds on your hands.


Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our animals will end up getting extremely sick. We can do everything right, but life still ends up happening. 

Pet birds are no different from pet cats and dogs. They get sick, and one way they can show this sickness is by heavy or shallow breathing and not moving. 

There are things you can do to help your bird while they are ill or if they pass. 

Either way, please know that if you ever find your bird in such a state, call a vet and try your best to make them as comfortable as possible.