The methods employed to diagnose parasitic problems in birds are simpler than the laboratory methods described previously. As previously stated, blood parasites may be noted upon examination of stained blood smears. External parasites (biting lice are the most common) either have a superficial location (on or within the feathers) or they may be buried within the top layers of the skin (scaly-face mange in parakeets). Careful visual inspection (with or without magnification) is required to diagnose blood parasites and biting lice. Visual inspection and skin scrapings (microscopic examination of scraped debris) are required to diagnose scaly-face mange. Intestinal parasites are rarely detected by bird owners.
Occasionally, a caged bird will pass entire worms or parts of worms (roundworms, tapeworms, etc) in the droppings. Sometimes these parasites are seen hanging from the bird's vent. Most often, however, microscopic examination of droppings is necessary to diagnose intestinal parasitism, hecal flotations (to detect parasite eggs) and direct smears (fresh feces mixed with saline and examined immediately) are the 2 most common methods.