When you live with a companion bird, you should spend as much time together as possible during the day. This will enable you to spot problems far earlier than anyone else can. Your veterinarian can help guide you but will not be as familiar as you are with your companion, Finches and Canaries, for example, may require that you watch them as they interact with each other in their aviary or cage.
You can do all but the hands-on examination this way. The main concern is that your bird must be comfortable with the method. A Budgie may allow you to touch it, or it may not. Avoid staring directly at small birds and some large ones. Predators stare at prey, and small birds will feel vulnerable. Frightening the bird will certainly stress it. You can look obliquely at such birds while reading the paper or appearing otherwise occupied.
Set up a pattern. Perhaps your first visit with your bird in the morning before work. If you are not a morning person, perhaps you do your first real visiting in the afternoon when you get home. This will allow you to become accustomed to your companion’s appearance and actions at a certain time of the day.
As you greet your bird, look at its feathers. They should shine and should be in good condition with a well-cared-for appearance. Feathers should be in place, a sign that the bird feels well enough to groom itself. The color of the feathers should be similar to others on that part of its body.