My Bird Died: Preparing For A Necropsy

No, MY bird did not die, but this is what we need to do if we find one of our flock dead. There are several reasons to do a necropsy. We will want to protect the rest of of flock, and ensure it is safe to bring a replacement bird into the area. We may also want to be sure that nothing in the environment caused the death. A necropsy is required in some states and we may wish to alert the breeder/pet store where we obtained the bird if the cause of death may have existed when the bird was obtained. The most important reason is likely for our own peace of mind. It helps obtain closure.As quickly as possible, the bird should be sprinkled with cool water and placed inside a plastic bag which must then be placed inside the refrigerator (We have been known to triple plastic bag). You may find it easier to place it inside a brown paper bag. It must be placed in the refergerator, and NOT THE FREEZER, as freezing ruins the tissue for certain tests.

To transport, use a small styrofoam ice chest, which you may wish to keep on hand. You need to add a couple of those frozen gel packs to keep the body cool. We keep some handy in the freezer at all times and they are great for other things as well. When pharmacies get shipments of drugs which require refrigeration, they come in styrofoam boxes with frozen blocks that stay frozen far longer than the gel packs that are for purchase. The pharmacies generally keep some on hand in case they have to mail something refrigerated. People may want to ask their local pharmacists if they could have a couple. Then just keep them in the freezer. Some people use dry ice, but care should be taken to ensure that the fumes do not get to the tissue and that the tissue does not come into contact and freeze. You can also recycle, using one of the plastic pop bottles filled with water and capped after it freezes. Place in the bottom, a few layers of newspaper print on top of the fozen items, then the bird and cover with more paper and if its going to be a long trip, more ice.

Seal the container and get it to your vet. He may want to repackage or just send it off if you have done it correctly. Some vets will want to take samples for slides just in case and then send the rest off to different places for more detailed testing. Remember that timing is important and the sooner, the better.

You should prepare a brief log of any recent changes in what you feed, any change in location and/or habitat (new carpet, paint, new furnace, etc) and anything that you may have observed in the bird’s habits. This kind of information can be important relative to whch tests to perfrom and how to analyze the results.

The University of Davis is a great place if you need to send something away and they are experts! In Georgia they also have a fantastic staff. I think that many states will also have one but if not, but if you find you are unsure, just ask your vet for help.

We hope none of you are ever needy, but just in case, you know how, and what will be required. The bottome line is that we all have to learn and we sure hope we never have to learn how to ship after a death…. but life is not always fair.

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