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Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Attacks Your Bird’s Liver Like Alcohol – Is This What’s Making Her Flabby and Sick?

Story at-a-glance
  • Baby is a female blue-fronted Amazon parrot who is 24 years young. When Dr. Becker met Baby, she had dull feathers, signs of over-grooming, large fat deposits on her breastbone, and several fatty masses called lipomas on both legs.
  • Baby was overweight from a combination of a sedentary lifestyle and a diet that consisted almost entirely of high fat seeds – her favorite food. Since obesity in birds often leads to hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease), Dr. Becker did some blood tests and determined that indeed, Baby’s liver function was compromised.
  • Baby was transitioned from her all-seed diet to a much more nutritious diet of fresh living foods and organic bird pellets. She also began taking milk thistle to support the detoxification and regeneration of liver cells.
  • Fortunately, Baby took to her new, healthy diet quite well and relatively quickly. Within six months, her liver function had returned to normal.
  • Also in this article, Dr. Becker offers tips for all bird owners on optimizing their pet’s environment and removing environmental stressors.

Baby

By Dr. Becker

I met Baby, a 24 year-old blue-fronted Amazon parrot in September 2012. Her dad brought her to see me because he was concerned about some fatty tumors another avian vet had diagnosed three years earlier.

As I examined Baby for the first time, I noticed her feathers were dull. She was over-grooming her lower abdomen, so the feathers there were unkempt and tattered. But more concerning to me were the large fat deposits that were accumulating over her keel (her breastbone), as well as several lipomas, which are benign fatty masses, that I could feel on both her legs.

Parrots Like Baby Are Prone to Overeating

Many pet parrots develop issues as a result of a sedentary lifestyle. For example, Amazon parrots have a tendency to become obese if their guardians don’t make weight management a priority.

Parrots like Baby who have been bred in captivity as pets are smart, vocal and animated. If you’re owned by one of these delightful birds, you know they are foodies with feathers. In other words, they enjoy eating! Consequently, overeating can become a real problem over a 70+ year lifespan.

In addition, these parrots are very popular as pets because they have more of a type “B” personality – they prefer hanging out to the constant activity seen in type “A” parrot personalities. The combination of a love of food and laidback personality can be a recipe for metabolic problems with these birds.

Evaluation of Baby’s diet revealed that like most pet birds, she wasn’t choosing to eat a balanced diet. Given the option to eat either seeds (preferably sunflower and safflower seeds) or fresh food, she would eat only seeds – a very unhealthy diet. And like many people owned by parrots, Baby’s dad fed his pet what she most enjoyed eating: high fat seeds. Although he did occasionally offer fresh foods, Baby preferred her seeds and didn’t regularly consume fresh foods or pellets.

The Dangers of Obesity in Parrots

Many animals, including parrots, store excess calories as fatty masses called lipomas. In addition to being overweight (over fat), Baby had additional fat accumulations that caused her to be “lumpy” in places. My biggest concern about Baby’s weight was that often when an Amazon’s body grows obese, there is also the presence of a secondary and potentially fatal condition called hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease.

Fatty liver disease is caused by excessive fat accumulation in the liver. The condition is typically a slowly progressive disease in which healthy liver tissue is replaced with fat. The many tasks the liver performs are eventually compromised, and when overall liver function is poor, birds begin showing symptoms.

These can vary depending on how much liver function remains and include mild to profound lethargy, weight loss, decreasing appetite leading to anorexia, a fluffed appearance, weakness, sitting in the bottom of the cage, labored breathing (tail bobbing), a change in stool color (usually it becomes much more green), diarrhea and a swollen abdomen.

Birds with chronic, low-grade hepatic lipidosis can also have beaks that grow unusually fast or a change in feather pigmentation. Sadly, if the disease is progressed, a bird can appear suddenly ill or even die before the owners have a chance to seek veterinary care.

I suggested to Baby’s owner that we complete some blood work to check her liver function, and as I suspected, her liver enzyme (AST) was elevated (page 1). Thankfully, Baby’s quality of life was not yet impaired by her liver condition.

Switching Baby to a Healthier Diet

I immediately informed Baby’s dad that he would need to feed his bird differently. Baby needed to be weaned off her favorite seed-based diet and switched to a variety of fresh living foods to supply her body with enzymes, phytonutrients, antioxidants and fiber. For most birds (and their owners), a change in diet like this can be a wildly difficult undertaking.

Many birds are actually addicted to seeds, and like cats, they cannot skip meals without endangering their health. Birds can and will starve themselves to death, so the process of transitioning to healthier foods involves some trickery.

The first step with Baby was to start the transition with fresh foods she liked, which included apples, grapes and corn. We would use these three fresh foods as lures to open her mind and taste buds to other fresh foods with a higher nutrient value.

The next step was to finely chop other fresh foods like broccoli, blueberries, pomegranate, pepper, and dark leafy green veggies, and mix them with the three foods she liked so she could experience a bit of nutritional variety.

Some birds are so finicky about trying new foods that it’s necessary to sprout their unhealthy seeds. Ironically, sprouting turns seeds from unhealthy and high fat, to very healthy and low fat. Mixing sprouted seeds with dry seeds, and then slowly increasing the amount of sprouted seeds while decreasing the dry seeds is another good way to transition a super-finicky bird away from an all-seed diet.

For Baby, I also recommended an organic bird pellet made by Harrison’s Bird Foods. I instructed her owner to grind the pellets into a powder and add 1 tablespoon of powder to 1 tablespoon of seeds so that all the seeds were coated with the powder. Birds hull seeds, so as Baby picked up and shelled her seeds, she would roll the seed around in her mouth and acquire the new taste of a nutritionally balanced pellet. I also instructed her dad to add a tablespoon of whole pellets into this mix, since occasionally birds are inquisitive enough to try new foods without hesitation.

I also prescribed milk thistle, an herb that helps hepatocytes (liver cells) regenerate and detoxify, and asked Baby’s dad to recheck her blood work in three months.

Within Three Months, Baby’s Health Was Much Improved

At Baby’s next appointment in December 2012, her dad reported that the diet change was successful. Fortunately, Baby liked the new organic bird pellets right away and he was able to gradually decrease the high fat seeds and ultimately eliminate them altogether. He was offering Baby a nice variety of fruits and veggies and she was eating well.

Baby’s feathers appeared less dull at this visit, and more importantly, her liver enzyme values had improved, but were still too high (page 2).

I suggested Baby’s dad continue the detox protocol and recheck her blood work in another three months. Thankfully, in March, Baby’s liver function was back to normal (page 3). Her owner was able to discontinue her detox protocol, but of course continued with a diet of healthy fresh foods and organic pellets, as well as Sunshine Factor, a supplement to help improve feather health.
Baby’s lean body mass was improving and her lipomas were not continuing to grow — all good signs.

Optimizing Your Pet Bird’s Environment

There are a number of recommendations I offer to all bird owners interested in optimizing their pet’s environment, including:

  • Ensure birds get 8 to 10 hours of restful sleep at night in a dark, quiet room (a nightlight is ok, but no additional light should be provided).
  • Provide pure water, free from fluoride, chlorine and heavy metals.
  • Provide UV light. Birds must have direct sunlight (not through a window) for optimal health. If you can’t take your bird outside, get a bird light and leave it on 6-10 hours a day.
  • Provide a variety of natural perches of various sizes for optimal foot health.
  • Offer pesticide-free food. Organic fresh fruits and veggies are best. If you can’t buy organic, wash all produce very well before feeding.
  • Ensure adequate exercise. Birds were meant to fly. If you don’t let your bird fly, you’ll have to get creative on how to help him “dance” (flap on your hand or a perch), walk or move to maintain muscle tone and optimal weight.
  • Birds should be weighed weekly to ensure they are maintaining their weight. Before birds become visibly sick they lose weight.
  • Provide coconut oil. Organic, cold pressed, unrefined coconut oil is excellent for all birds. It provides lauric acid that supports a healthy immune system.

Eliminating Environmental Stressors

Part of optimizing a bird’s environment is removing stressors. These include:

  • Dowel perches and perch covers. Sandpaper covers cause bumblefoot, or open foot sores, so please don’t use them. Trim your bird’s nails if they are too long.
  • Grit. Psittacine parrots do not need grit, so please don’t offer it to them.
  • Mite and lice cage fumigators. Because these ectoparasites are rare and the fumigation products designed to eliminate them are ineffective, the majority of birds trapped next to these toxic “accessories” derive no benefit from them, and they can be harmful.
  • Wrapping or covering birdcages at night. This practice was recommended back when most houses were drafty, prior to the introduction of energy efficient homes. If your house was built in the last 50 years you don’t have to protect your bird from drafts. Covering cages has been linked to increased respiratory disease in birds. If you have a drafty home, cover 3 sides of the cage with a light fabric.
  • Cigarette smoke. Birds are tremendously susceptible to the toxins in second hand smoke. They are much more at risk than mammals, because birds have air sacs. There is no question a bird’s health will be compromised if the humans in her home smoke.
  • Pellets and seeds containing additives, preservatives, colors and dyes. Any brightly colored commercial diet you purchase for your bird contains dyes that are unnecessary for avian health. Birds are very susceptible to environmental chemicals, so read all labels carefully.
  • Teflon. Burning food on Teflon pans creates a toxic gas that is fatal to birds.
  • Toys made in China. Birds mouth everything. Make sure your bird’s belongings are toxin free by buying only toys and cage accessories made in the U.S.
  • Paint chipping off cages. Most paints and coatings contain heavy metals that birds can ingest as they use their beaks to climb around the cage. If your bird’s cage paint or powder coating is beginning to flake off, purchase a new cage, preferably stainless steel.

May 19, 2013 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Holistic Pet Health, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, responsible pet ownership | , | 2 Comments

A Potty Trained Parrot

Video:  Potty Trained African Grey

April 4, 2012 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Pet and Animal Training, Pets | , , | Leave a comment

Why We Foster…

adopted-ar-2Soleil – Recently, my wife and I drove out of state for a brief gathering of extended family. Our plan was to leave home Friday morning and to be back by Saturday afternoon. Our latest shelter rescue ‘foster dog’, Soleil, stayed at our house and two of our neighbors, who love Soleil and have helped us before, were looking after her.

We took our own dog, Abby, who was a shelter rescue a little over one year ago, to a nearby kennel where she has stayed before, both overnight and a couple of times for daycare while we were having the roof of our home replaced. Abby has come a long way in the past year, but she is still, and may always be, a very fearful dog. Obedience and desensitization training have done wonders, but the best thing that we have been able to do for Abby, and probably for ourselves also, is to welcome foster dogs into our home. In a short time, the fosters have really helped Abby to come out of her shell and we think that she enjoys being a “big sis.” We love being able to watch Abby playing with other dogs and just having the opportunity to be carefree. While in the company of dogs, we know that Abby is no longer thinking about everything else in the world that frightens her. While she is highly intelligent, because of her fear issues we do consider Abby to be a “special needs” dog and it has been too much to ask of a dog-sitter to manage with her at home, especially with periodic fosters to care for as well. We were resistant of taking Abby to a kennel for the first several months after we brought her home from the shelter. We did not want Abby to think that she was back in a shelter. At first if we had to go out of town, we either limited ourselves to day trips in good weather when Abby could stay in our backyard; or we took Abby with us if we could find dog-friendly accommodations; or we just did not go at all. But once we began taking Abby to the kennel (which was at first done by making short visits, then staying for a few hours, eventually for a whole day, and then overnight), Abby seemed fine with the concept. We are fortunate to have a kennel in our neighborhood, which is normally very convenient. The kennel owner is familiar with Abby’s history and makes sure that she gets careful attention and also does not encounter any “bully” dogs.

On the day of our planned trip, we dropped Abby off at the kennel around 9:00 AM and hit the road. We arrived at our destination around 1:30 PM. At 3:00 PM, the owner of the kennel called my cell phone (our emergency contact number). We instantly knew that something was wrong. I pictured in my mind an attack by another dog at the kennel. We did not expect that what had actually happened could have been even worse. Without much detail, the kennel owner told us that Abby had gotten away from them. At that time, we assumed that Abby had slipped her collar (which we had checked before dropping her off). The kennel owner went on to tell us that he did find Abby, and at our house! My wife and I were both surprised and proud of our girl. But the kennel owner could not get close enough to Abby and she ran from him. The kennel owner asked if we could think of any tricks or lures that would help him to calm Abby so that he could get a leash on her. At that moment, Abby had disappeared and was running scared through the neighborhood–through speeding traffic is what we were picturing in our minds. We were totally helpless and 250 miles away! As calmly as I could, I told him that I had just one idea. I called our neighbors and asked them take our foster, Soleil, out on a leash and walk her near our house. I also asked them leave the doors to our house and gate to our backyard open, hoping that Abby might just come in on her own and possibly even get into her crate, which is her “safe place.” We called on other neighbors to join in the search. We were doing our best to coordinate remotely by cell phone (with less than ideal service on rural highways). We started getting reports of Abby sightings further and further from our house. By this time, my wife and I were already heading for home, but we were still four hours away! We called some of our co-workers and friends who know Abby and asked for their help (of course our co-workers would not have left work early on a Friday afternoon, definitely not). Our hope was that the assembled “posse” could move Abby back towards the house, without driving her further away. We tried to direct some of the searchers to the routes that we typically walk with Abby. Within a few hours, things were looking grim. No one had seen Abby in quite a while. My wife and I were still helpless and hours from home. The search party began to tire and dissolve. Many had plans for the evening and some had to return to work (not that anyone had left work of course). A few friends were already making plans to rearrange their schedules for Saturday to help search and hang posters. One friend even filed a report for us with our city’s animal services. This person, who happens to be an expert in canine behavior, also told us that she really felt that Abby would find her way home again. We were grateful and knew that everyone had done all that they could. Soleil probably had the longest walk of her young life. Our neighbors told us that she was very energetic and helped to keep them energized. They eventually brought Soleil home for water and food and to let her rest in her crate. We told them to leave our front door and gate open. Another neighbor stood in her yard and watched for Abby until my wife and I finally made it home at 7:00 PM.

The owner of the kennel met us at our house and told us more about what had happened. He was clearly distraught and felt that we needed to hear everything from him personally. Abby was in an outside run at the kennel. She scaled a 6-foot block wall and chain link fence, walked across the roof of the building to a part fairly low to the ground, and jumped down into a service alley. She then started running full-out. One of the kennel workers, who did not know Abby, said “that dog is headed home.” Sure enough, the kennel owner found Abby on our front porch minutes later. When he approached Abby, she ran up our street, around the corner and the kennel owner found her at the house directly behind ours. He tried to corner her again and she ran back following the same path to our house. This time when he approached Abby, she ran up our street and back in the direction of the kennel. This is the point when others had reported seeing her. The kennel owner confirmed for us that Abby was in fact wearing her collar and tags, which was reaffirmed by a neighbor who had spotted Abby earlier in the day. This was somewhat of a relief, as well as the fact that Abby does have a microchip. The kennel owner told us that he had already placed an ad in the local weekend newspaper and was having reward posters printed to post in the neighborhood.

My wife and I were anxious to start our own search and we were quickly losing daylight. We knew that my wife would have a good chance of approaching Abby if we could find her, but Soleil was going to be my best lure. We left one of the doors of my car open in the driveway, having heard that might encourage a loose dog to jump in thinking that she could “go for a ride.” Our neighbor continued to stand watch from her yard. Finally on foot ourselves, and armed with leashes and dog treats, my wife went in one direction and Soleil and I headed off in another. We asked every person that we encountered if they had seen a dog of Abby’s description. Several people told us that they had not seen her, but that someone else had asked them earlier in the day. We were very proud of and thankful for the initial search party. They did a wonderful job, and on only a moment’s notice. My wife, Soleil and I canvassed a grid of several streets and alleyways. Soleil and I also worked our way into a nearby, large wooded park in our neighborhood where we have taken the dogs before. As all daylight was lost, so were our hopes. Then, my wife found some people who thought that they had seen Abby deeper in the wooded park than Soleil and I had gone earlier. Soleil and I joined my wife back at the park and began searching the trails with flashlights and calling for Abby. An expedition which would definitely have been terrifying to Abby if she were to have seen or heard it. Soleil’s part-beagle nose was working overtime. I wish that we could know if she ever actually hit on Abby’s scent. After a few more hours, we were losing hope of finding Abby in the night. If she was in the park, we prayed for her to stay there, where it would be relatively safe from traffic. Of course we could not be certain that Abby was ever even in the park at all.

We returned home and carefully searched the house and the yard to see if Abby had made her way back. Unfortunately, she had not. We began making reward posters, sending emails and pictures of Abby to everyone that we could think of and posting notices on local rescue and shelter websites, as well as submitting a lost pet classified at Petfinder.com. We also placed our own ad in the local newspaper, but not in time for the next day’s printing. Finally, we contacted Abby’s microchip registry. It is amazing how many resources are available 24/7 over the Internet. Of course, realistically we knew that we would be extremely lucky if any of this brought us even one lead, and if so it would probably not be for days. We put one of Abby’s beds outside, on the front porch and dimmed the porch light. Emotionally and physically exhausted, my wife went to bed. We fully expected to get up before dawn and start all over again. Soleil and I stayed up on the couch in case we heard anything in the night. Eventually we both put our heads down, but neither one of us could sleep.

Then, at 1:06 AM, Soleil sat straight up, looking at the front door. Four or five seconds later, Abby came up our front steps onto the porch, sniffed her bed and pressed her nose against the outside glass of our front door (a first from that side of the door). Even before Abby appeared, Soleil had sensed that Abby was coming home. I slowly got up and opened the door. Abby, rather casually for her, walked into the house. Thankfully, she was perfectly fine! Soleil, who is only about one-third of Abby’s size, immediately jumped on Abby as if to say “Where in the hell have you been…Do you have any idea of what you have just put me through!?!”

We are extremely proud of Abby for finding her way home, no less than three times, and at least twice while being pursued by strangers. Soleil was a trooper and searched tirelessly for Abby. We would like to think that Abby came home to my wife and I, but we both know that there is a very strong possibility that Abby was looking for Soleil the entire time and that may have even be why Abby broke out of the kennel in the first place. Because to Abby, Soleil was the one who was “lost.”

Soleil is a devoted friend to all of us and we will always be grateful to her for bringing Abby home.

If the circumstances were any different, there is no way that we could ever give up this little dog. She means too much to us, especially to Abby. But we know that it would be selfish for us to keep her. Soleil has more joy to bring to others. We also know that we can do more to honor Soleil by helping other dogs, hopefully many other dogs. But let it be known to all that Soleil is, and will forever be, our hero.

Humbly,

Jennifer and James Huskins, Little Rock, Arkansas

adopted-ar2Abby was adopted from The City of Sherwood Humane Animal Services Department, Sherwood, Arkansas

Soleil was adopted from Little Rock Animal Services, Little Rock, Arkansas by Last Chance Arkansas, Little Rock, Arkansas in partnership with Mosaic Rescue, Saturna Island, British Columbia (with “forever home” adoption pending)

Source:  Petfinder.com

Abby

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April 18, 2009 Posted by | Animal Abandonement, Animal Rescues, animals, Just One More Pet, Stop Animal Cruelty, Stop Euthenization, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Help Pass California AB 233 – Pet Adoption Tax Credit

ASPCA Urgent Alert
Dear California Animal Advocates,     

As you know, pet abandonment is on the rise. Shelters are overburdened, and the animal welfare community is seeking creative ways to get more people to choose adoption over purchasing pets in stores or online. That’s why the ASPCA is cosponsoring California Assembly Bill 233, new legislation before your state government.

AB 233 will encourage Californians to adopt pets from shelters by making adoption fees tax-deductible—qualified adopters can deduct up to $100 a year! This will help relieve the financial strain on overcrowded animal shelters and provide new beginnings for the state’s growing number of homeless pets.

What You Can Do
AB 233 is set to be heard before the California Assembly Revenue and Tax Committee on Monday, April 20, 2009. Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to email this committee and urge its members to support AB 233.

Thank you, California, for caring about animals.

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Posted:  Marion Algier/Ask Marion –  JustOneMorePet

 

April 14, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Rescues, Animal Rights And Awareness, animals, Just One More Pet, Pets, Political Change, Stop Euthenization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Birds of a Feather – Parrot Recovery Program

RENZO GOSTOLI / AFP / GETTY

Birds of a Feather
Baby parrots wait to be released back into the wild at the Seropedica Recovery Center near Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

October 28, 2008 Posted by | Just One More Pet, Political Change, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Deaf and Blind African Greys

Deafness and Blindness in African Greys

 

The Deaf Grey

Breeding season was in full swing and my nursery was loaded with baby greys. During the morning feeding I peeked into two nest boxes and both had three chicks. Since the parents were at the back of the box and the chicks were all huddled together, I decided to pull the chicks. One clutch was surprisingly calm during the walk back to the house. Once I had them all tucked into the nursery I finished the daily feeding.

I returned to the nursery and checked on the new additions. The one clutch had a distinct calmness about them. I tidied up a bit and glanced at the chicks throughout the nursery while I worked.

My eyes fell upon the calm clutch of chicks and I happened to notice two of them scooting about and settling themselves in, while the third chick slept oblivious to the stirrings in the nursery. I saw one of the chicks move into the sleeping baby and the sleeper jumped with such a start it almost scared me. Something seemed strange. I watched on and off as I worked and noticed the sleeper being startled every time one of the siblings touched her. I picked her up and examined her, but didn’t find anything unusual. My mind raced as I tried to put pieces together. I began to feel perhaps something neurological was going on. If that were the case, perhaps this chick had been injured or subjected to something viral, and I became really concerned.

Since they were already in the nursery, the damage had already been done. I removed this clutch to my husband’s office and the one sleeper I placed in my bedroom near my computer. I have often placed a chick in my lap while working on the computer and they seem to respond to the sounds the computer makes.

After a few days of feeding the chicks all seemed normal with the siblings, but the “sleeper” wasn’t quite right. The “sleeper” would jump at the oddest times, and seem to just pop up all of a sudden. My husband even started calling her Popcorn. Her feeding response was good, and her begging noises were pretty normal.

I had made an appointment with my veterinarian, but since she is mobile it was going to be a few days. Popcorn was a pleasure and it was very convenient to have her in my lap while working on the computer and spending time with her. One evening while working she was asleep, which she did more than any other chick I ever had, the volume on the computer had been turned up and made a horrible noise. Popcorn slept right through it. I sat back and watched her as I clapped my hands repeatedly, as loud as I could. She never flinched…so, my little girl was deaf? That would explain a lot about how she acted and reacted to a lot of situations.

When my vet did see her she verified the deafness, and we have concluded it was probably due to the very high temperatures in Florida during that developmental time in incubation. Everything else about her seems to be normal.

I learned early on to walk heavy, or cause vibrations before touching her so she would not be startled. She vocalizes just as a normal grey, but off-key. She sounds like most other African greys, but she has her own distinct sound. She also vocalizes at the right times of day. Often she will start vocalizing just minutes before all the other outside greys. Sometimes she starts a few minutes after they do. When she was a house bird, she would react and sing when it rained outside just like all the others. Although African greys commonly hang upside down from the tops of their cages, Popcorn will hang upside down from her perch for hours on end as well as the top of the cage. She also lays on her back on the floor of the cage for long periods of time. One other oddity is, she will lean her head so far back it lays on her back, as if “star gazing,” but this is just what she does. Popcorn is a pretty normal grey otherwise and a joy to have around. Of course she can’t talk or mimic, but she has “special songs” she sings.

Blind as a Bat, Bud

A single man had gotten married and Bud, his African grey, had to go. Bud ended up at my house. He was a great pet and loved his owner very much, but he acclimated well and even took a mate. Bud did have one horrible habit though…. he could imitate the passing of gas in every imaginable way. Of course he always did this when you were standing next to his cage talking to a NON-bird person.

After about two years of living here, Bud was placed with a mate and they made their home in a five-foot flight cage. After about a year, with the two being together, I began to notice Bud would sit on the perch at a bit of a slant, or angle. At first I just threw it off as his new way of sitting, since I saw no injuries or other obvious cause. I became a bit concerned when he would lunge at his mate at weird times, and apparently for no reason. He never hurt her, but it was an odd behavior, and I could not figure out why. (The lunging quit after a period of adjustment.)

My flights have a wire shelf just at perch level where the food crocks are placed. Bud always stood on the edge of the shelf and would place a foot on the dish and step up not removing the other foot on the perch. He would then put the one foot back on the perch and wait until I took the food bowl out and then replace it. He then would put his one foot on the bowl and begin to sort through the food looking for his peanut. He always ate with one foot on the perch and one foot on the bowl. His first food out of the bowl is a peanut. He is one of the few that gets a peanut every day. His owner made me promise to always give him his peanut, so I do. One day I was replacing the bowl and realized I forgot his peanut. As I pulled the bowl back out Bud’s uplifted foot missed the edge of the food dish, and he stumbled. Instantly things fell into place, Bud was blind.

Now I know why Bud does weird things. He leads with his head, as he walks across the perch, which causes his beak to touch the wire first. He always climbs on the wire when visiting me, but way higher than my head. He is never at eye level with me, and he looks crooked at me when I talk to him. Bud doesn’t seem to care to fly at all any more, but he does climb all over his cage, and will come over to talk and visit with you at the drop of a hat. He sits like a sentinel at the nest box entrance when his mate is on eggs. The eggs are never fertile, and I don’t know if they will ever be, but that’s not too important. Bud knows where he is, and everything is familiar to him, so for now, we will just leave it that way. By the way, he still gets the peanut first out of the food dish.

© Jean Pattison — The African Queen

September 5, 2008 Posted by | Just One More Pet, Pets, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment