To determine if your budgie is sick or undergoing change, you must look for sudden or unusual alterations to its feathers, beak, appetite, body language, and activity levels.
A budgie can develop a crusty cere due to dry skin, scaly face mites, a vitamin A deficiency, brown cere hypertrophy, and testicular tumors.
The cere can also start peeling during breeding season or when it’s molting.
What Is A Budgie’s Cere?
The cere is a soft, fleshy area just above the beak where the nostrils are located. It’s made up of keratin, a protein found in birds’ beaks and claws and human hair and nails.
The edges of the nostrils will be even and smooth, and you should be able to look through the nostrils and see parts of the nasal cavities. If you can’t see the nasal cavities, there could be a blockage.
The appearance of the cere varies from bird to bird and species to species. With budgies, the color of the cere is indicative of the sex of the budgie.
All budgies are born with light pink ceres. Within the first year, budgies will go through their first molt, where fuller feathers will replace their baby feathers, and their ceres will start developing some color.
Females have light blue ceres that’ll turn brown when they’re breeding and as they age, while males have light pink or purple ceres, with some changing to a bright blue as they mature.
The brightness of the color may vary depending on the bird’s hormonal status, such as if it’s ready to breed. However, the color may also change when the budgie is sick or has a disease.
Do Budgies Shed Their Cere?
Female budgies will usually shed their cere when they’re ready to breed.
During ovulation, a female will molt, and its cere will change to a tan or brown color. After ovulation, the female will molt once more, shedding its tan or brown cere, and the color will return to normal.
Female budgies are also susceptible to developing an overgrowth of cells in their ovaries, called neoplasia. This condition can be the start of the development of ovarian tumors. As a result of the neoplasia, your budgie may have egg retention, abdominal herniation, or cysts.
Male budgies shed their cere when molting.
Why is My Budgie’s Nose Brown and Crusty?
Your budgie’s nose or cere can often change colors and textures due to age, hormones, and environmental factors. Many of the reasons for the changes are entirely normal.
However, sometimes when you notice that your budgie’s cere or nose has turned brown and crusty, it could indicate something more serious has happened.
A brown and crusty cere are symptoms of health issues your budgie could be experiencing, including:
Scaly Face Mites
According to Veterinary Quarterly, scaly face mites is an infection in which mites attack the cere and can even spread to other areas of your budgie’s body.
Infection usually occurs during the first days of a budgie’s life, but symptoms may not appear until later.
In the early stages of the infection, scaly face mites can cause a brown discoloration in your budgie’s beak or cere. The mites dig burrows in the areas of infestation, which causes an increase in the production of the cells. This increased production of cells leads to a crusty appearance.
If scaly face mites aren’t treated, they can lead to deformation of the cere, beak, and jawbone and cause respiratory issues due to blockage of the nostrils from the overgrowth of cells.
Scaly face mites can be transferred from one bird to the next through meal sharing, close contact, and when one budgie preens another.
If your male budgie has a brown and crusty cere, it could be a sign that it has a testicular tumor.
According to BSAVA Congress Proceedings, testicular tumors are common in male budgies. They can cause compression of the sciatic nerve, resulting in lameness and inflammation in the skin or cere.
Your budgie may also experience lethargy, weight loss, and color changes in its cere.
Removing testicular tumors surgically is usually too complicated and associated with high risks. The pain and symptoms are treated with medications instead.
Vitamin A Deficiency
A brown, crusty, or peeling cere could be caused by a Vitamin A deficiency in your budgie. Vitamin A deficiencies usually occur due to the budgie’s diet lacking enough Vitamin A.
Other symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency can include:
- White spots on the eyes, cere, and beak
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Swollen eyes
- Tail bobbing
- Feather changes
Make sure to include more foods that contain Vitamin A in your budgie’s diet, such as red and orange vegetables and leafy greens.
Diets that consist of all seeds or half seeds and half pellets are not recommended for budgies because these diets typically lack the necessary nutrients that the birds need, such as Vitamin A.
If you’re unsure if your budgie’s diet contains enough Vitamin A, you can discuss it with your veterinarian.
You could also use a Vitamin A supplement such as spirulina, which you can sprinkle on food every day to boost its Vitamin A intake.
Brown Cere Hypertrophy
A brown, crusty cere can be caused by brown cere hypertrophy, a common condition among female budgies in an active stage of reproduction.
It’s a condition caused by an overproduction of estrogen or hyperestrogenism, usually due to an imbalance of protein and vitamins in the diet.
Brown cere hypertrophy isn’t a harmful condition unless it causes the nostrils to become blocked, which can cause your budgie to have respiratory problems.
You will need the assistance of a veterinarian to unblock the nostrils.
The condition can be treated in several ways:
Ensure your budgie is eating a diet with plenty of Vitamin A and lower amounts of protein.
Removing anything from your budgie’s cage that might trigger breeding, such as the nest or opportunities to nest, can help to treat brown cere hypertrophy.
Simply changing things around in the cage, such as perches and toys, can reduce the overproduction of estrogen. You can also try moving the cage to a different location.
Remove the Crust
You can attempt to remove the crust using mineral oil to soften it and then peel it off.
You can also choose to leave the crust alone. Brown hypertrophy of the cere isn’t harmful and may resolve on its own when you make some of the abovementioned changes.
Your budgie’s cere can become dry for several reasons:
- Low humidity
- Not bathing enough
You can ensure your budgie stays hydrated by providing a bowl of fresh water and misting it.
If you’re doing everything you can to keep it hydrated, the dryness could be related to another reason, such as an illness or disease.
Other Budgie Cere Problems
Budgies can have a variety of problems with their ceres.
Some problems cause the cere to become brown and crusty, and other problems may change the texture and size of the cere.
In healthy budgies, the males will have a cere that’s smooth and flat, and the females will have a cere that’s slightly curved.
If your budgie’s cere bulges and resembles a horn, it’s often because there’s an overgrowth of keratin. A Vitamin A deficiency often causes this overgrowth of keratin, but there may be other causes.
According to the Indian Journal of Animal Research, hyperkeratosis is also a result of scaly face mite infestation and can cause beak deformities if the overgrowth isn’t treated.
It’s most common in female budgies and can also affect the feet.
If your budgie’s body has picked up an infection of some sort, the first sign you may notice may be a change in the appearance of its cere.
Redness, swelling, and evidence of pus can all be signs that something abnormal is going on with your budgie. You may even notice a bad smell coming from the cere.
Budgies often get sinus infections, called sinusitis. They also get other bacterial and fungal infections in their sinuses that can lead to sinusitis.
If you suspect your budgie has an infection in or around its cere, take it to a veterinarian. Treatments can include medications, flushes, or surgery.
A budgie’s cere can begin bleeding for several reasons. If your budgie got into a fight with another budgie, its cere could have been injured.
The blood could be from an injury your budgie received in another way, such as cutting its cere on an object in its cage or even in your home if you often let your budgie out to fly around.
A bleeding cere should receive treatment from a veterinarian. Even if you don’t think the cause of the bleeding was severe, internal injuries could need treatment.