A conventional high-resolution screen–film system was compared with a digital detector system. A total of 20 birds (14 pigeons and six psittacine birds) with an average body mass of 533 g were examined in dorsoventral as well as lateral projections. Digital radiographs were acquired with the same mAs as well as half the mAs used for the conventional radiographs. Three criteria and one overall assessment were defined for each of four anatomic regions and assessed by five veterinarians using a score system. Comparison of the ratings was done by visual grading analysis. For the majority of criteria, there was no significant difference regarding image quality between the digital and screen–film projections. However, for certain criteria the quality of the digital images was significantly superior. Using the same mAs as for the conventional radiographs, the humeral joint surfaces and the honeycomb structure of the lung were assessed as superior with the digital imaging system. The tracheal rings and the delineation of the trachea from the surrounding tissue were also superior with the digital system. Assessment of the trabecular structure of the humerus was superior when the full mAs was used compared with the reduced mAs. In conclusion the digital technique is equal or superior to the conventional screen–film high-resolution system for pet birds of a medium size. With some limitations, a dose reduction is possible with the digital system.