Avian Medicine | Centre for Veterinary Education

Avian Medicine

This course is designed to give the veterinary practitioner a better understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of birds.

Many veterinarians are called upon to treat and diagnose both wild and pet birds. Owners also often seek advice from their veterinarian on simple care and behaviour of their birds and how this may differ from dogs and cats.

Other birds may be presented to a veterinary clinic when unwell or traumatised. Commonly, the owner is unfamiliar with how to handle their own bird and what is the normal behaviour and anatomy of their pet bird. The veterinarian must decide if the bird is normal, unwell or an emergency case. In order to do so the veterinarian must know the normal bird anatomy, husbandry and behaviour. These sick birds may need further diagnostic work up to determine their illness, including crop and faecal tests, blood tests and radiographs. Once a diagnosis has been reached appropriate medication and/or surgical procedures may be necessary on these often relatively simple cases.


1.  Anatomy and Physiology

In this module the participant will be introduced to the basic form and function of birds and the anatomical, physiological and behavioural differences between them and mammals. A brief overview of the avian and reptilian form will also be included. The emphasis will be placed on the important practical implications for the veterinarian. 

2.  Husbandry, Care and Advice

Birds come in varying species and are specialised. Each species has differences in husbandry behaviour. This module looks at the identification of the common species seen, including wildlife species, and their requirements.

3.  Emergency Medicine and Care

Emergency care. How to deal with a sick bird. These birds may be obviously traumatised, or the owner may call or simply arrive at the veterinary clinic with a fluffed up and quiet bird. This module will also discuss how to advise these clients over the phone as well as setting up at a veterinary clinic in order to successfully diagnose, treat and house an emergency case.

4.  Handling and Examination

This module will cover the observation and the handling of birds in order to perform a physical examination as well as the collection of diagnostic samples.

5.  Microscope Diagnosis

Once samples have been collected it is often necessary to diagnose problems in-house utilising a microscope. Videos and photos will be used to help in identification of common parasites and infections. 

6.  Radiology

Setting up for avian radiology. How it differs from mammalian radiology. Normal and abnormal radiology to diagnose common problems in pet birds and in avian wildlife.

7.  Common Problems

Many common diseases happen in birds. What do they look like and what are the obvious signs of these including their signalment? Common diseases will be discussed including beak and feather disease (circovirus), chlamydophila, scaly face mites, worms and other parasites.

8.  Biochemistry

The basic differences in avian blood biochemistry are discussed in this module.

9.  Common Syndromes

How to develop an approach to dealing with common syndromes such as watery droppings and feather picking.

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course you will develop a greater knowledge and understanding of:

  • Avian anatomy and physiology

  • Bird husbandry

  • Common illnesses of birds

  • Diagnostic tests available for birds

  • Treatment options for birds


Monday 3 - Sunday 30 April 2017
Delivered Online


BVSc MACVSc (Avian Health)

Alex Rosenwax undertook his veterinary studies with the specific aim of working with birds. This desire stems from an early childhood love for and fascination with birds. After graduating from Veterinary Science in 1991, he successfully completed the Membership Exams for the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in Avian Health in January 1996 and then established an all-bird & exotics veterinary service in Sydney. The bird & exotics veterinary service is based in Waterloo, Sydney and with five vets and sees referrals as well as primary accession cases. Alex is dedicated to providing quality care and treatment for all birds & exotics including fish, reptiles and small exotic mammals. He has been author or co-author on over 20 papers on both birds and exotics in peer reviewed journals and conferences.

Course Fees

Member TypeTimeOnline
Recent Grad / Part-time Member$289
Student Member$145
Non-member / eMember$578
*Members include: Practice, Professional and Academic members

You may be eligible for a 10% discount off your registration. Please read the full Terms & Conditions to see if you are eligible. Discounts can’t be processed online so please contact the CVE on +61 2 9351 7979 or cve.timeonline@sydney.edu.au to register.     

Further details

Have a question? Your answer could be on our frequently asked questions page. If you cannot find an answer for your question, please email us or call us on +61 2 9351 7979.