Mites are tiny pests -- under 0.03 inch long -- that can infect birds but can also bite humans and take over your entire house if you don't address the problem right away. If you suspect your bird has mites, looking for signs of irritation, behavior changes and respiratory issues is the first step.
Check the Skin
Because mites feed on blood, birds with a mite infestation will show signs of bites, skin irritation, rashes and reddening of the skin. Excessive scratching can cause breaks on the skin, which can eventually lead to infections or feathers falling or breaking.
If you look closely -- especially in the case of severe infestations -- you might be able to see the mites moving around on your bird's skin. They are especially visible after feeding, when they will appear reddish or black because of the blood they have just consumed.
Look for Changes in Behavior
Mite bites can be very itchy, so you'll find that your bird will scratch often if he has mites. He might appear irritable, as mites can create a sensation of things crawling on the skin, which can be not only uncomfortable but also extremely disconcerting.
Pay Attention to Respiratory Problems
Mites can sometimes get into your bird's respiratory system, causing an infection in the trachea or sinuses. A common sign of bites in the respiratory system is difficulty breathing, but your bird can also sneeze, cough or make clicking noises when breathing. Once mites infect the respiratory system, they can affect the way your bird sounds, behaves and even eats. Weight loss is often a sign of a mite respiratory infestation.
Bird mites can be contagious to humans. If you suspect your bird has mites, wear gloves for the examination. Take your bird to the vet immediately for treatment if you find any signs of mites on your bird. You might need to disinfect your bird's cage and surrounding areas to eliminate the infestation completely.