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Category: Health and Nutrition

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My 18 year old green wing macaw has started laying eggs. The first 2 I disposed of but I've let the 3rd one stay in the cage because I was worried she would just keep producing eggs if I kept disposing of them.

She was spending alot of time on the floor of her cage with the egg, but last night and today she was on her perch when I put her to bed and woke her up.

She doesn't spend a lot of time in her cage. Mostly to eat (twice a day) and sleep. The rest of the time she's in different rooms of the house climbing, playing, etc.

She has a companion female blue & gold (19 yrs old), they don't live in the same cage but they do spend almost all their time together.

Nothing has really changed in her environment that I can perceive so I don't know why all of a sudden she's laying eggs.

Should I take her in for a vet check? She last visited the vet about 6 months ago, for a check up

Should I increase her food in any way? She eats Harrison's High Potency Pellets, fresh vegies (broc, peppers, squash).

Thanks for your help as always!
BJ

Answered by Glenn Reynolds:

Hello BJ, The reproduction cycle of parrots is largely dependent on numerous environmental factors. One of those is feeling very comfortable and safe in their surroundings. Your female Green-winged Macaw is obviously happy in her situation; therefore, she has started laying eggs. I don’t know that anyone can explain why it has taken so long. Maybe this year’s unusual winter had something to do with it. Who knows what environmental triggers she is sensing?

In my personal experience I have seen this become a problem with smaller birds such as budgies and cockatiels, that once started, seem to become egg factories, which in turn depletes them of nutrients over time. Chickens are fed special diets for egg production, but those diets are designed for maximum production and aren’t at all developed for the longevity of the bird.

Generally speaking the larger parrots will grow out of it. I have used several different methods. What I have found works best is to give them a nest box, so that they can learn to lay and sit their eggs in a cavity, which is instinctive to them. Laying and sitting eggs out in the open is not natural, which is most likely why she abandoned the egg you left for her. Usually once they have laid and cared for a clutch or two of eggs in a nest box, and it’s taken away, they won’t lay any more eggs unless the nest box is reintroduced. In some cases if the cage is in a cramped area it may feel like to them that they are in a nest box when just sitting in their cage. If this is the case you may want to move the cage into a more open area.

Whether or not she needs to go to a veterinarian depends on a lot of different factors.

1) At her most recent visit what tests were done and were they normal?

2) Was a CBC and chemistry done and were they normal?

3) Is her behavior normal other than the fact she is now laying eggs?

4) Did she have any trouble laying the eggs?

5) Did the egg shells look normal (nice and smooth and thick) or were they thin in areas and chipping or flaking?

6) Is she eating as normal?

At 18-years old she has probably built up a pretty good calcium store, but if the shells were thin or flaking that is a sign of a calcium deficiency or some sort of metabolic issue that isn’t allowing her to properly store calcium. For instance a lack of exposure to UV can result in low levels of vitamin D; therefore, they can’t properly store calcium.

She seems to be on a pretty good diet. Since she is a macaw I would suggest adding a few nuts in the shell on a daily basis (walnuts, hazel nuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, almonds, etc.) and some fresh fruits now and then. This has nothing to do with her egg laying, but macaws tend to need a little more fat in their diets, and they enjoy fresh fruit. Some nuts, such as almonds contain good levels of calcium. Almost all nuts contain a lot of other beneficial nutrients and trace elements.

Thank you,
Glenn

filed under: Health and Nutrition

Dear Dr. Speer, I would appreciate very much to receive your opinion on the recent deaths of three of my African parrots.

I live near Rome, Italy, and my parrots are kept outdoors in suspended aviaries, separated by panels, enclosed on 2 sides, and surrounded by trees to protect them from the cold winds. They are fed a mixture of 50% seeds (well balanced) and 50% pellets, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

The parrots that died did not have a nest, as they were only about 3 years old. At the beginning of April I lost a 2 year old male Red-bellied parrot (Poicephalus rufiventris). I found him at the bottom of the aviary, with fluffed feathers, and I noticed that he was very thin. The day before he appeared to be in perfect health. I forced fed him, but he died within 48 hours.

A few days later, I noticed that a 2 year old female Ruppell's parrot (Poichephalus rueppellii) was sleeping during the day. Following the advice of the veterinarian, I placed her in a brooder unit, administering Avelox 400 in the drinking water, plus Diflucan orally. She was not underweight, but she died after 5 days breathing with difficulty.

After another day, I notice that a 3 year old Ruppell's male (not the companion of the female that died) was not eating, and that he was also sleeping in the daytime. He died after two days with the same respiratory symptoms.

The post-mortem showed that the three parrots suffered from a chronic and severe granulomatous pneumonia caused by aspergillosis, in addition to a chronic hepatitis in of one the birds. The veterinarians who have seen these necropsies were of different opinions, some felt that the aspergillosis was the primary cause of death, while others felt that it developed because of other previous problem. But it seems strange to me that it would kill three different parrots all of a sudden.

My question is if the humid climate of this area is not suitable for species originating from dry areas, such as the Rueppell's and the Red-bellied parrots, or if I might have made some mistakes with their diet. MAll my other parrots have been treated for 20 days with Diflucan in their drinking water. Do you feel that it would be necessary to also treat them with an aerosol therapy? What is the best therapy advised in these cases?

Thank you very much,

Answered by Dr. Brian Speer, DVM:

Hi, Simone - In general, Aspergillosis is an infectious disease that occurs in an individual or population of individual birds out of an interaction between characteristics of the host (the birds themselves), their environment and the agent. Mere exposure to Aspergillus spores, alone, should be unlikely to cause disease unless there was a very large amount of fungal spores - enough to overcome the bird's normal immunologic defense systems. Chronic respiratory irritation, inadequate vitamin A nutrition, and other concurrent disease processes all can function as causal contributors in an individual with this disease.

Overall, I would be doubtful if the environment that you keep your birds should be fairly presumed to be unsuitable for them - there are far too many other similar parrot species doing overall well in the Rome area. Although treatment with water-based antifungal medications through the drinking water for a few weeks may seem to be a safe maneuver, you should have reason to question if this treatment would be effective, should those birds have actual infection, as well as if the duration of treamtent and manner of drug delivery (in the water) is optimal. Most aerosolized forms of treatment (nebulization) do not reach the lower aspects of the respiratory systems of birds, and this form of prophyllactic treatment also is open for debate in regards to its merit in asymptomatic but potentially exposed individuals. You may want to speak with your veterinarian(s) about the use of the oral antifungal drugs Itraconazole or even Voriconizole, if any of your other birds show signs of disease, or if screening laboratory diagnostic testing supports the probability of disease.

Overall, my suspicions would be that there is more likely to have been an environmental event that resulted in a large amount of fungal spore exposure to your birds, and resultant infection and disease. The correlation of the hepatic lesions as a "cause" of a secondary Aspergillosis would be a more challenging step to do, particularly viewing the absence of this finding in 2/3 of the necropsied birds. It sounds like the cause of the hepatic lesion is not identified in that single bird, and it is possible that this lesion could be an incidental finding - even potentially unrelated to the apparent cause of death - pulmonary Aspergillosis.

filed under: Health and Nutrition

Dear EB, I'm the owner of two Quaker Parrots. I usually give them a prepared mix for parrots, with different kinds of seeds. However, I noticed they like marrow seeds best.

So, I give them these seeds as a reward when they speak or they generically do as I say, but I still haven't found out in any book if they are harmful to their health. Can I go on giving them these seeds?

They are very fond of pizza, bread and breadsticks , too. Is that good? Thanks for your attention!

Diego

Answered by E.B. Cravens:

Diego, Marrow (pumpkin/squash family) seeds are very nutritious for parrots. They have a wide range of health benefits including containing manganese, zinc and other trace mineral, helping curb certain forms of cancerous cells, and naturally acting as anthelmintic (de-worming).

We feed them boiled, baked (after we eat the pumpkin flesh ourselves) or raw to our birds. they can also be sprouted which makes them even more nutritious.

Unfortunately the lowest quality marrow seeds are the ones included in bagged bird food mixes--often they are flat, unripe at harvest, old, or will not sprout (hence are no longer alive). If your psittacines like them so much I would go and purchase some human grade edible seeds at a health food store or grocery that sells trail mix snacks, etc. Furthermore, if your quaker parrot prefers them, he might be telling you he needs the mineral/diet ingredients in pumpkin seed because he is not getting them in the rest of his food. Therefore, I would not merely offer them as treat rewards, but would feed a more significant amount (say eight to ten) daily for two weeks or so to improve his health. If after that point, you find he chooses to not eat them all, he likely no longer has the nutritional craving his body has satisfied. There are lots of other seeds you can offer as rewards in the meantime--sunflower, bits of walnut or almond, pine nut, etc.

As to the pizza, bread thing, you must understand that white flour is basically a void food for parrots and over the long run will leave them deficient in certain dietary needs. Keep those treats to a bare minimum and substitue better items like popcorn, whole wheat crackers, unsugared breakfast flakes, and the like. If your are feeding 75% or more dry seed mix to your birds, no matter the ingredients, you must work to get vegetables and green and raw foods (grated on top maybe?) fruit pips, cooked buckwheat, lentils, etc. into the diet along with a powdered vitamin mineral supplement. Too many seeds will likely shorten your bird's life and make them overweight at a young age.

Cheers, EB Cravens

filed under: Health and Nutrition

Hi EB, I was just wondering, are millet sprays good for parrots? I have been told by some they are high in fat and bad for my pet, but I recently read a book that said they were low fat and good as a treat. Would you recommend millet? Thanks.

Answered by E.B. Cravens:

Dear Friend, Millet sprays (white proso is the most common) are fine foods for parrots, parakeets, lovebirds, finches, canaries, etc.

They contain roughly four percent fat depending on which analysis one refers to--much less than the 40% fat content of safflowers and sunflowers which are seeds for large oil-ingesting hookbills like macaws, greys, capes, etc. Millet is not a complete food, of course, and needs to be fed with a variety of other foods including grated vegetables, fruit with pips, extruded pellets, sprouted grains, and the like.

Inexperienced budgerigar owners in the past used to hang millet sprays in their bird's cage every day because the parakeet "loved them." In fact, the budgie was eating and eating and eating to try and satisfy nutrient cravings not available in 100% millet, so would end up overweight and usually die early.

It is important to seek out a fresh supplier of millet.....the best seeds are golden in color and very shiny on the stalk. They make a fine foraging food for all psittacines as they take a long time to crunch all the seeds and are easy to hold clumps in the claws for the parrots that can do so. We typically cut an eight-inch spray into four to six pieces for feeding our birds. One can also take a spring clothespin and attach the spray stem to the side of a cage for the birds to nibble at. Once or twice a week is sufficient in a good mixed diet. If you are in doubt about dry looking millet sprays in a store, an attempt to sprout a few small clusters will tell you if they are still viable and "alive."

Millet sprays are one of the first items we offer young starting-to-eat baby parrots when they become interested in chewing. It teaches them about textures and seed food extraction and is fun to crunch, even though they actually ingest little at first.

Another excellent way of giving millet spray is to germinate it for 24 hours weighted down in a pan of clean water, rinsing four or five times to keep the water fresh. The seeds will "pop" a white nub which will grow into a sprout if the spray is kept damp but not soaking for another day or so, even in the refrigerator. This changes the fat-sugar-carbohydrate content of the stored dry seed and makes it even more nutritious once the birds get used to eating it soft.

Happy Feeding, EB

filed under: Health and Nutrition

Dear Phoebe, I have tried time and time again to slowly introduce pellets into my pet Cockatiel's diet, but it seems she would rather starve than eat pellets. It always ends the same way, she eats all of her seed and will not eat again until I have poured her more seed. What am I doing wrong?
Thanks.

Answered by Phoebe Green Linden:

Hi and thank you for writing World Parrot Trust about your Cockatiel's diet. It can be super-frustrating to try time and time again with the pellets and still have her refuse to eat them. Food fights can be common with parrots, so the first thing I’m going to recommend is that you take a break from the dietary concerns. Relax, and let go of any preconceived notions you have on how long it should take, how many she should eat, etc. Presumably, she’s healthy, so you can trust her wild wisdom.

Because you write that you've tried many things already, you probably already know that a lot of parrots like to dunk their pellets. So, if she doesn’t already have a bowl of shallow water right beside the bowl of pellets, add one and the problem may be resolved. Lots of our parrots only eat pellets that they've dunked in water. We call this Pellet Soup. Don’t worry about the water getting too dirty: you may need to change it a couple of times a day, but that's doable. You can use a hook-on cup right next to her pellet bowl and put in it just an inch or so of water so she can retrieve the pellets once they are wet to her satisfaction. Another thing that helps is having a separate bowl for pellets, another for seeds, another for veggies and nuts and at least one, usually two, for water, per cage. The smaller water bowl is placed by the food bowls intentionally, for soup-making, with the larger water bowl in another location for big drinks of fresh water or bathing.

Also, be sure you have several varieties of high-quality pellets on hand. Buy small bags of different kinds and sizes. Be sure they are scrupulously fresh, too. To help you keep track, feed only one kind at a time, but over the weeks, definitely mix it up. When you notice that she’s dunking or pulverizing a specific type, keep feeding that type for a while. Once your Cockatiel eats one kind/size of pellet, she’s more likely to try another kind. However, she may also become loyal to one brand, so be ready to change your mind along with hers. Keep watching for and taking her signals. This reminds me that parrots in the wild eat seasonally. No boring hum-drum diets for them, but fresh offerings that coincide with rainfall, sunlight, winds and capricious availability.

The more generally adventuresome your Cockatiel is, the more likely she is to try new things, including foods. Foraging, foraging toys, the acts of foraging – these are essential elements to good eating habits. Therefore, plenty of space is essential not only for foraging, but also for exercise as the more calories she expends, the more foods she’ll eat. A large cage (what’s commonly called "Amazon-Sized") works well for exploratory confident 'tiels and, properly perched, affords her lots of opportunities for an enriched captive life. However, it's not only about the cage.

What I find with my flock of companions is that they do their most adventuresome eating when they are not near their regular food bowls. Away from their cages – that’s where a sense of adventure and an exploratory nature best thrive. (The only thing more boring to eat than a bowl of pellets? Eating those pellets while stuck in a cage.) Can you imagine eating the same dried food every day while in the same location? Blech. So, let her in to the kitchen with you and watch what she samples. In my kitchen, there’s a basket for parrots, a table-top stand with bowls, a large windowsill dedicated to parrots (no nick-knacks) and plenty of counter space where they walk around and spread, toss and sample foods. I'm ostensibly cooking and they are ostensibly helping me. What’s really happening is mulch-making.

This is one of the many things my parrots have taught me – once past babyhood, they no longer view me as the ultimate authority on everything: they like to discover their own preferences. It's my joy and job to provide them with environments in which they discover what they like to do and how they like to eat. If you give your 'tiel the space and materials, she'll show you what she likes.

Sometimes, they eat pellets (or other foods) that they've first wrapped up or poked into fabric or shoelaces. They take the pellet (or nut or celery stalk or whatever) and poke it in to fabric, then eat the bits and crumbs. It's a combination of playing and eating. My little Rosie Cockatoo, Nikki, likes her pellets squished among the strands of a Ring Around the Rainbow made by Star Bird (http://www.estarbird.com/products/Ring-Around-the-Rainbow.html) which I keep on the kitchen counter especially for this reason. Only yesterday Nikki munched on a huge macaw-sized pellet that she’d stuck into her rainbow strands. Granted, this might be the only pellet she eats for several days – and mostly she pulverized it – but she definitely ate a pellet. You might try cutting 2” x 4” strips of cotton and seeing if your cockatiel likes to make wraps for her foods. Lightly mound a few strips, a piece or two of her favorite nut and a couple of pellets on a flat surface and let her explore. Cockatiels love walking around while they eat and they eat best by picking at foods scattered around in what might seem to us a haphazard manner, but if it makes sense to them, let’s learn from that. She probably loves dropping stuff on the floor, too, which is part of cockatiel eating. Think of it this way – if she drops 50 pellets on the floor, she has 50 chances of tasting one! So, let her play the wrap-it-up/forage/mulch/toss games and see what happens.

By expanding the idea of 'converting her to a pelleted diet' into 'providing her with opportunities to be creative' you’ll enrich both of your lives. Eventually, given the right choices in the right environments, she'll eat a diet that’s smart for her. Messy for you, but smart for her. Good luck and have fun.

All best,
Phoebe Linden and Flock

filed under: Health and Nutrition

Dear vet,

I'm the owner of two Myiopsitta Monachus. I usually give them a prepared mix for parrots, with different kinds of seeds. However, I noticed they like marrow seeds best. So, I give them these seeds as a reward when they speak or they generically do as I say, but I still haven't found out in any book if they are harmful to their health. Can I go on giving them these seeds? They are very fond of pizza, bread and breadsticks , too. Is that good?

Thanks for your attention!

Answered by Dr. Brian Speer, DVM:

Hi, Diego -

Your Quaker parakeets, it sounds, are basically eating a diet of a seed mixture with bread related products. This is, overall, not what we would typically regard as a healthy long-term maintenance diet. There is going to be considerably excess fat, an unclear balance of the micronutrients, and the processed grains in those bread products are adding to the bird's ability to make fat and cholesterol. This species is known to have considerable health problems whem matintained on this type of a diet. I am not sure what you are referring to as a marrow seed - but am assuming that you are referring to those that have a considerable larger amount of meat contained within them. These often include sunflower, pumpkin and squash, and safflower seeds - all of which are quite high in fat content.

Ideally, I would suggest that you feed a lower-energy diet, consisting of lower fat content items predominately. If available where you are, a fair base for your bird's diet will be some of those commercial formulated (pellet) diets, to which you can add vegetables. Your use of the seeds that the birds prefer to eat as a positive reinforcement for training and enrichment is excellent, and done properly, there should not be an excessive amount of fat intake that results from their use in that manner.

filed under: Health and Nutrition

If I want to bring another parrot into my home (where I already have two
parrots), is there really any risk of that bird having chlamydia/psittacosis
if it has been bred in the UK?

Answered by Ellen K. Cook, D.V.M.:


Thanks for this excellent question, Helen. The incidence of contagious disease, including psittacosis, has decreased since the importation of wild-caught birds has become illegal. However, this has not eliminated contagious disease, even in the captive-bred parrot population. I do recommend testing and quarantine of all new birds before their introduction into the flock. Your best source of information is your own qualified avian veterinarian. A local veterinarian would know best about the prevalence of disease and recommended testing procedures for your specific area.

filed under: Health and Nutrition

I have a Yellow Crowned Amazon who has been coughing and sneezing for a few months now. I've taken her to the vet several times and they've given her respiratory therapy and a few shots, but it doesn't seem to have worked. She does have a normal appetite and acts normally, but still coughs and sneezes a lot.

Could you please give me any other ideas / advice?

Answered by Dr. Brian Speer, DVM:

Hi, Abel -

It is impossible to provide much accurate information for you with an ill bird that really seems to require accurate diagnosis and treatment. The examining veterinarian involved here is best posed to answer many of your questions. Here are a few questions that you may want to consider asking when you see your veterinarian again: What is the diagnosis? What types of treatment have been administered? Why? Is referral to a specialist recommended? Outside consultation?

Not trying to be challenging, but good medicine is based on an accurate physical assessment of the patient in question, a narrowed diagnosis, applied treatment plan, and followup to assure that the desired goal(s) have been achieved - and this, to some extent, is limited when there is no ablility to actually see the patient in question.

filed under: Health and Nutrition

One of my sun conures who is 13 years old has yellowing at the tips of his blue flight feathers. Is this a nutritional deficiency? It has been that way for the last several years.

Answered by Dr. Brian Speer, DVM:

I envision that what you are describing is within normal limits for this species. However, should you have concerns, or if your bird is past due for its routine veterinary examination, this is a very fair question to bring up for discussion with your avian veterinarian.

filed under: Health and Nutrition

I recently took my 4 year old eclectus parrot to the vet, because he was acting very quiet for a full day and into a second day. The vet noticed some swelling in the ridges in the upper back of the beak (sorry I forget the correct name). He looked at some poop under a microscope and saw some blood. He took an xray and said that the upper stomach area (proventicular?) looked unusually large and he was concerned about possible PDD. He gave me a Celebrex solution and said I should give my bird the Celebrex for 6 weeks. But, also, this means that my bird is not cleared to use the bird sitter. But, the blood test came back showing some bacteria, and I started a 10 day regimen of antibiotics, as well. On the 4th day my eclectus seemed close to normal, and at 9 days still seems like his old self. However, the vet said we cannot know whether it was the antibiotic or the Celebrex treating the PDD symptoms. I've read everything I can on PDD, and it makes no sense to me that this could be PDD. There was no weight loss. There was no passing of undigested food. The antibiotics made him better in a few days. But, now he is in limbo as far as being cleared to use a bird sitter, which is problemmatic for us. I've stopped the Celebrex, because it is $40/bottle. Should I continue the Celebrex or find a new vet?

Answered by Dr. Brian Speer, DVM:

It is impossible for me to be able to provide any form of accurate medical recommendations for your bird in the absence of direct consultation with your attending veterinarian or physically seeing your bird. The combination of clinical data that you mention, I agree, is not classically consistent with Proventricular Dilation Disease (PDD). Alterations in the choanal area and its papillae are non-specific, and do not necessarily correlate with any specific disease. Enlargement of the proventriculus, when seen radiographically, can be seen in Eclectus parrots that sometimes have no clear disease - their proventricular silouettes are sometimes larger than many other parrot species. Bloody feces are not typically noted with PDD. Alterations in complete blood count may suggest stress, or an inflammatory reaction to something, but are not necessarily clearly indicative of infection in and of themselves. The details are interpretively important, and all are dependent on the clinical history and physical examination findings of your veterinarian.

Clinical signs are grouped into two general systemic categories: neurological and gastrointestinal. Neurological signs of PDD include ataxia, blindness, abnormal head movements, seizures, loss of balance, depression and paralysis. Gastrointestinal signs of PDD include the passage of undigested seeds in feces, proventricular enlargement, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, weight loss, starvation and death. All of these clinical signs can progress at variabe rates, and technically *any* clinically ill bird could have this disease as a possible inclusion in its differential diagnosis list. PDD at present time, is definitively diagnosed by biopsy of the effected organs, allowing for identification of the classic inflammatory lesions that are used to define the disease. The location of biopsy is dependent on clinical signs that are noted, and the level of concern and need for definitive diagnosis. Although avian bornavirus (ABV) has recently been identified as an etiologic agent of Proventricular Dilation Disease (PDD), testing for its presence, alone, does not confirm the presence of PDD. Only ABV 2 and ABV 4 have been strongly associated with PDD, and ABV types 1, 3, and 5 have not been associated with disease at present time. Surveyed populations of parrots can easily show a prevalence of 30-60% in apparently healthy birds. This disease is technically described as as one that is not treatable, although high doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including celebrex or meloxicam can sometimes show clinical improvement in individuals. These birds typically do not show improvement in as short a time as you have described in your bird here.

It sounds like there may no clearly established diagnosis at present time, and that your bird is feeling better after a course of antibacterial and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug treatment. This information, alone, is fairly far removed from clear evidence of PDD and a need for absolute quarantine from other birds. It still, however, should be possible that this disease could be present.

I would suggest that you speak with your veterinarian about your concerns, and also ask for specific recommendations about your relative risks of continuing to have your bird overlooked by your bird sitter.

filed under: Health and Nutrition

I have a problem with a Golden Conure (Guarouba guarouba), her legs and toes are infected with something.They where bleeding. My own vet does not recognize the problem. Have you any idea what the problem might be. The vet examine the bird for mold and parasites which where negative. There was only a small increase of intestinal bacteria She was treated with Synulox for that. The problem started when she was breeding. The filling of the nest box are beechwood chips.

Answered by Dr. Brian Speer, DVM:

Hi, AJ - This is not going to be a simple problem that will allow one to view a photo and tell you what the diagnosis is or may be. There appears to be some necrosis of the skin over the upper surface of the feet. This can be caused by traumatic, toxic, vascular problems or other issues. My best suggestion would be to continue to work with your attending veterinarian, ask them to consider consultation with an experienced colleague if indicated, and to continue to press for diagnosis.

filed under: Health and Nutrition

Hello Dr.Speer,I am very worried about my Regent Parrot as, today I noticed he had eaten small bits off the door draft seal. He hasn`t eaten very much of it but I don`t know if these seals are made of rubber or plastic. Could this do him any harm and what can I do? He doesn`t look sick and is still eating his food.

Answered by Dr. Brian Speer, DVM:

Hi, Elizabeth - I hope your bird has remained healthy. Consumption of sealants certainly could result in exposure to a variety of toxins that could have been present in them. Lead, zinc, petroleum products and others can certainly pose some potential for toxicologic risk. Your more immediate course of action could have been to either contact your local veterinarian, and/or ask a poison control hotline source if there is significant risk, and what you should be looking for.

filed under: Health and Nutrition

Dr. Speer, Thank You for taking my question. My wife and I have a Blue Front Amazon. She will be turning 3 years old this week. Like most Parrot owners will tell you, she adds so much joy and fun to our life. Last year she started to tatter her feathers (mostly on her chest). I took her to our Avian Vet, we took all the proper tests and he sent me home with the Fecal Tri-Chrome. All test were good except the Fecal Tri-Chrome came back positive for Giardia. We gave her Ronizol for 10 days, stopped for 10 days, and then resumed a 10 day treatment. Her feathers grew back beautifully, we re-tested her 30 days after the last treatment for giardia; the test was negative. I wanted to be on the safe side and re-tested this past December for giardia, the test was once again negative. This past February, I had taken her into the shower for her weekly shower (once or twice a week), I always use luke warm to cool water when she is actually showering, she really seemed to rub her nares on top of the shower doors and was constently grabbing her bottom beak. Her nares seemed red and a little
inflamed. Our Avian Vet did a few tests (gram Stain and a couple more) and didn't find any abnormalitites. He didn't seem to think it was a sinus
infection, he gave me a herbal type medication, we put drops on her nares and eyes for 10 days. When I shower her even after that it seems as if she has to rub her nares. Today after I showered her, I put her in her cage to dry off (she has a large Kings Cage) she ended up jumping in her water bowl. I thought she maybe wanted to have more fun, but she kept dunking her head and rubbing her nares on a perch. Her nares seem to be red and inflamed (from the rubbing I'm sure). I also noticed today, (I might just be peranoid) that her feathers that she tattered last year because of the giardai seem to be a little tattered again, plus she is doing a lot of scratching. It could be she is semi-starting to molt but I am extra cautious. We have her on a great pelleted diet, very minimal seeds (mostly for foraging), fruits and vegtables, and red palm oil. I forgot to mention, last year before she tested positive for giardia, her skin was extremely
dry, and I have found out that giardia will do that. My question is, my avian vet seems to think that 2 negative giardia results are pretty conclusive, I am just worried and wondering if this is the case? I am also concerned about the nares turning red after showering and her grabbing her lower beak, has anyone ever seen this? I really appreciate you taking the time to read all of this!!! Thank You & God Bless smile

Answered by Dr. Brian Speer, DVM:

Hi, Joseph, Unfortunately, there is no real clear correlation between the presence of Giardia and feather damaging behaviors. Although it seems that the organism was shown to be present in your bird, it should remain unclear as to its role in the feather damaging behaviors noted as well as other hypothesized clinical signs noted. This was originally published in a non-peer reviewed conference proceedings in 1986, specifically in cockatiels, and the presumption that it is fact and that it applies to all parrot species persists to this day in many venues of avian medical practice. A Trichrome test is a flagellar stain, and if read accurately, will demonstrate the presence of flagellated protozoa, Giardia included, in a properly fixed sample in polyvinyl alcohol. It is, however, subject to technical reading error, resulting in both potential false positives and false negative results.

There are many reasons why feather damaging behavior can initally be seen in parrots, and also why, even if Giardia was not the *cause*, that treatment can lead to the assumption that it has caused a cessation of the behavior. It is true that Giardiasis can result in a malabsorbtion problem with the small intestinal tract, and sometimes, nutritional deficiencies can occur that result in integumentary abnormalities as you describe (flakineness).

My best assumption is that your bird has some additional problem, leading to flaky skin and discomfort in the nare / cere area, if not generalized elsewhere. Some of the behaviors you describe can be within normal limits (grabbing lower beak and rubbing nares on things when showering), however, and it is also possible that there may not specifically be a *problem* at all.

filed under: Health and Nutrition

My 18 month old cock budgie has developed a brown cere. I have read that this can be an indication of kidney or cancer problems. He is eating well but does seem to be breathing heavily. There is no discharge from the nares or any blockage. Is there anything that can be done for him?

Many thanks,
Helen

Answered by Ellen K. Cook, D.V.M.:

A brown cere is normal in a female budgie. Could your little guy be a girl? I am concerned about the heavy breathing, so my best advice is to get your budgie examined by an experienced avian veterinarian. A good doctor can determine by a physical examination and laboratory testing if your budgie is healthy. Thanks for the great question, Helen!

filed under: Health and Nutrition

Hello! I have female Plumhead Parakeet. Some of her tail feathers are curvy. She is about a year now. I got her month ago. She seems healthy otherwise. Droppings are normal and she has good appetite. A bit afraid of Beak and feather syndrome, cause have other birds too.... Is it possible she has had the sickness but recovered? Is she then carrying it and dangerous to my other birds?
Yours Tom

Answered by Ellen K. Cook, D.V.M.:

Hi Tom, Thanks for the great question. The best advice I can give is to take your bird to an avian veterinarian for a complete physical examination. Your veterinarian may then recommend some tests for general health and specifically for Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD).

Birds in general are capable of appearing healthy and normal, in spite of serious disease or organ dysfunction. Your bird may be perfectly normal or may be ill or a carrier for PBFD. A good veterinarian can determine your bird's health status.

Ellen K. Cook, DVM

filed under: Health and Nutrition

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