An inability of the body to appropriately respond to extreme temperatures will result in pathological changes to vital organs and adverse hematological changes. Mild heat exposure of a bird to a temperature above the zone of thermoneutrality can induce subclinical heat stress, which may be a precursor to illness. The ability to identify subtle changes that may be associated with subclinical heat stress can be important in early diagnosis and treatment of heat stress in birds. Pathological changes to internal body organs, post–heat exposure, were microscopically examined in 13 budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus), 15 zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), and 8 diamond doves (Geopelia cuneata) as model species for the bird orders Psittaciformes, Passeriformes, and Columbiformes, respectively. There was mild to moderate congestion of the lungs of 28/36 birds examined, including all of the budgerigars and diamond doves. In 8/15 zebra finches no significant lung congestion was noted. Interstitial and pulmonary hemorrhage was in observed in one diamond dove. The most common hepatic pathologic change identified was micro- and macro-vesicular hepatocellular vacuolation (4/15 zebra finches, 5/13 budgerigars, and 8/8 diamond doves). There was mild to moderate congestion in the kidneys of 1/15 zebra finch, 2/ 13 budgerigars, and 4/8 diamond doves, as well as in the gastrointestinal tract of 1/15 zebra finch and 7/8 budgerigars. Budgerigars showed a decrease in hematocrit and a significant change in the numbers of heterophils and lymphocytes following heat exposure. The basophil population of cells remained relatively stable in both budgerigars and diamond doves. These findings indicate avian species differences in body organ and hematological changes following exposure to similar elevations in environmental temperatures.
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