I am thinking about adopting a Red Shoulder Macaw, whose wings are severely clipped. The bird has trouble staying on the perch. I've heard that there is a lengthy and costly rehabilitation process. Can you tell me how long/much this might take? Also, the poor thing looks in pain or very ill.
Pet's Gender: Male
Pet's Age: 1
Type of Animal: bird
Non-avian vet examed and told me about having to pluck certain feathers for up to a year.
-- My concern is how severe this 'clipping' is. Were more than feathers cut? Were tendons, bones cut? Before I can even begin to give you a responsible answer and work together with you it is vital to know where this bird stands in the way of perhaps a physical deformity that is permanent or an overzealous 'clipping' (we don't use that word anymore, nor do we do that anymore)--- And help me understand what this vet meant by plucking feathers. Who plucks them? You? The vet? The bird? Why? I have absolutely never heard about this either. What country are you in? Sometimes there are cultural differences in bird rearing that are the result of not having these exotics to care for as long as other countries have. Please give me more details and I'll try to help
I'm in USA. I work at Petco (no, Petco did not do this). Yesterday, someone relinquished the bird to Petco. Today, the store manager took the bird to the local vet (non-avian). We are about 60 miles from the nearest avian vet. The vet told the store manager that it would take about 1 year of plucking the blood feathers. I'm hearing this third hand, so I may not have that right.
I have not held the bird, so I can't tell if tendons or bones are cut. There is no sign of blood and I think the clipping may have been done several days ago. The bird has trouble standing on the perch and seems to be off balanced. Poor thing just looks pitiful.
I do not know the age of the bird.
I thought there might be a rehabilitation process normally used for short clippings to help properly grow the feathers back out. I don't mind doing the rehab, but don't want to take on more than I can afford. Sorry I don't have more info. Just trying to get an idea of what I might be taking on.
-- I own a macaw rescue and rehab in northern California and have been working with these magnificent, smart and gentle birds for decades now. It's heartbreaking to see what some people do to them in so many ways. Physically, mentally, emotionally. BUT here's the best part about them: They forgive us. Sometimes it amazes me that they can or would, but they do. And that's worth every heartbreak going in. --- Let's assume this macaw has not been mutilated and had bones, tendons or muscles cut. You can let me know if this is different when you have a hands on visit. Get that visit done asap. No one should force you to make a committment or take on a bird without you first being able to evaluate and examine the bird fully. --- A short wing clipping requires no rehab and no investment other than time and lots of patience. I have no idea what that vet is talking about and I have my suspicions that he/she doesn't have any idea either. --- Feather plucking is never, never, never done for any reason by any human. IF it's being done by the bird it's a terrible habit that needs to be fully investigated as to why it's happening. Largely we find a terrible diet behind it; also, boredom, being cage bound or having little in the way of input and challenges. In some cases there's an infection somewhere; possibly fungal or parasites. --- For a better idea of what you'd be taking on and required to do with proper care for a macaw click here -- it outlines food requirements (NO seeds; NO sunflower; NO peanuts) cage requirements, sleep requirements, taking regular weights, out of cage time and so much more 4AnimalCare.org/birds---- When it comes to 'rehab', we're probably talking mostly confidence and learning that it can 'fly'. We don't allow any of our residents to actually fly with any lift or distance, but they can all 'fly' from their perch to another object or to the ground without flopping or falling. For their own protection they are 'trimmed' (that's the proper word) in order to insure they don't get startled and end up a mile away in a tree top, as lost as it gets. --- I'll be happy to work with you on getting this macaw healthy and happy again. There's no denying that it's a HUGE job and it will take up a good part of your life for the next 50 years or so, but it's also something that comes with such rewards that you'll never regret a minute of it
Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
Thanks. I will call tomorrow and set up an appointment. I'll send you an update.
-- Thank you too. I also want to assure you that if it's too much for you, that's ok to admit. It's even more brave to acknowledge that a bird might be too needy and take too long for you. Not everyone does this as a profession right? I live and breathe macaws. Every day, no vacations possible - ever and every week requires a huge expense in fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables. It can be very frustrating to work with a bird that seems to have a biting vendetta or screaming (at the top of their lungs) propensity that would wake the deaf! Let's not even begin to address the cleaning that's required every day. So honestly, it's ok to say 'no' . But like I said, if you do this, I'm here for you Have a good night,
Just to let you know -- I did take this little "guy" to an avian vet today. The physical exam showed that the bird is in pretty good health overall. There was no bone or tendon damage from the clipping and the vet thinks the feathers will grow back fine.
There still is the question of why the bird cannot stand on a perch. The xrays did not show spine or leg problems. The blood work results will be back tomorrow. The vet thinks there may have been a stroke or lead poisoning. Once she gets the lab results, we'll know more. Thanks for your kind advice.
-- I am SO glad you got back to me and let me know the latest. I'm relieved to hear that this bird hasn't been maimed. The heavy metal toxicity is a real possibility when it comes to imbalance. Discuss other metals with your vet and be sure zinc is looked for as well. --- Zinc Toxicity (also, lead, iron and copper are not good for birds) http://www.birdsnways.com/wisdom/ww14eiii.htm --- Our birds are unfortunately exposed to zinc from more sources than we’re aware of and it can be a serious problem. --- Be sure your vet is performing a blood serum test for zinc levels (just in case your vet isn’t an avian vet, zinc levels over 2 ppm are positive for zinc toxicity). There will also likely be elevated WBC’s (white blood count). --- Zinc can be ingested slowly over time when toys, clasps, chains, links or even cages are chewed on or played with. Other poisonings occur when the bird actually swallows a toy, link or piece of one. Watch out for bell clappers for instance. --- Metal toxicity (lead, zinc being most commonly found). Quick links, cage bars, even professionally supplied toys, depending on where they're manufactured, may contain lead and/or zinc. It's frightening to learn how many sources of zinc there are in any household. If anything in your bird's environment is magnetic, it may be a toxic metal.--- --- An approximately one week stay at the vet for monitoring and treatment is generally necessary. Administration of a chelating agent such as DMSA (dimercaptosuccinic acid) to help bind with the zinc is one option for treatment, as well as removal of foreign object (if any). --- Calcium EDTA and D-Penicillamine injections may also be employed as deemed necessary and appropriate by your medical caregiver. --- The survival rate with early and proper treatment is actually very good. --- Don't forget to follow through on modifying that diet too. In case you've missed the link before: (copy and paste into your address bar) www.4AnimalCare.org/birds--- If you don't give up on this beautiful bird, the bird won't give up on you either.