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Dr. Pat
Dr. Pat, Avian Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 4244
Experience:  25 years as avian-only veterinarian
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My Java Sparrow is eating a lot lately!

Customer Question

Hello! I have a Java Sparrow (which I am not sure about its gender) which is eating a lot more than usually this past week. When I fill its bowl it immediately starts eating and when I hold it on my hand it is really warm and it leaves its belly to rest on my finger than standing up, like it is sitting. It is really quiet and it rarely moves during the day, also having problems with flying. When I move it to the branch that we do not have its food on, it starts bitting its feet and cleaning itself. I am really worried than something wrong is happening. We bought it 3 years ago (without knowing its age but it looked young) from a pet shop and we are only feeding it with seeds we are buying from there. Does it need something extra on its diet? I really need to know what I should do. Thanks in advance!

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 1 year ago.
Greetings, I am Dr. Pat. I have worked with birds for many years. I will do my best to help you. These signs are of a very sick bird, and not specific to any one disease.

Is the bird thin?
Are there undigested seeds in the excrement?
Vomiting or diarrhea?
Do you have access to veterinary care for pet birds?

If you feel comfortable with it, examine the bird thoroughly, using gentle restraint via washcloth or hand towel: do not restrict the chest or hold around the body. Check the eyes, nostrils, mouth and beak if possible, having a good look in there for mucus, redness, masses or anything else unusual. Palpate the tummy for pain, fluid, lumps or anything else (eggs, if female or unknown). Check all the joints for swelling, pain, and mobility. The feathers should be parted to view the skin, muscles and skeleton below; this can be done using a q-tip with isopropyl alcohol or KY gel. Look for bruising, lacerations, injured feathers.

If you feel comfortable with it, examine the bird thoroughly, using gentle restraint via washcloth or hand towel: do not restrict the chest or hold around the body. Check the eyes, nostrils, mouth and beak if possible, having a good look in there for mucus, redness, masses or anything else unusual. Palpate the tummy for pain, fluid, lumps or anything else (eggs, if female or unknown). Check all the joints for swelling, pain, and mobility. The feathers should be parted to view the skin, muscles and skeleton below; this can be done using a q-tip with isopropyl alcohol or KY gel. Look for bruising, lacerations, injured feathers.

Your job is to keep the bird warm, safe, quiet, and confined; and to provide adequate hydration and calories.

Move the bird to a box or carrier with soft towels in the bottom, no perch, and food and water in low bowls that can be reached easily. Put the whole thing on a heating pad on low or medium. Check it frequently, no overheating allowed! Keep the unit partially covered, warm and quiet. White paper towels or white cloth towels will show the true color of the droppings. Small animal/reptile boxes are great for this purpose.
The bird, bowls and unit must be kept very clean.

Here are some helpful links:
https://www.pinterest.com/awepono/emergency-care/

https://www.pinterest.com/awepono/

http://www.bigappleherp.com/Reptarium-Cages

They can hydrate from oral fluids almost as quickly as IV if the GI is functioning properly. You can offer warm cooked rice, pancakes, cornbread, grapes, melon, greens in addition to normal food.

Pet/feed store medications and home remedies are harmful, ineffective, immuno-suppressive, and make them much worse and may interfere with the veterinarian's diagnosis and treatment. Do not use them. Homeopathy and natureopathic techniques do not work in avians and can actually be very dangerous.
Java Finches should be on a high-quality, preferably prescription, pelleted diet: I prefer High-potency Harrison's
http://www.harrisonsbirdfoods.http://www.harrisonsbirdfoods.com/products/harrisons.html

http://www.harrisonsbirdfoods.com/why-harrisons/where-to-buy/international-retailers/

In addition, they should be offered dark leafy greens, cooked sweet potatoes, yams, squash, pumpkin; entire (tops and bottoms) fresh carrots and so forth. No seeds (and that means a mix, or millet, or sprays, etc. etc.) and only healthy, low-fat high fiber people food. A dietary change should be closely monitored and supervised by your avian vet.

Daily Maintenance

Birds should get 12-14 hours dark, quiet, uninterrupted sleep at night. Any less and they can suffer from sleep deprivation and associated illnesses. They should be covered or their cage placed in a dark room that is not used after they go to bed.

The cage material should be cleaned everyday, and twice a day if the bird is really messy. Paper towels, newspaper, bath towels are ok. Never use corn cob, sawdust, wood chips, or walnut shell.
Food and water dishes should be cleaned and changed daily. Keep one set cleaned while the other is in use.

Fresh, perishable food should be placed in separate food bowls. Remove fresh food from the cage after a couple of hours to avoid spoilage.

Change cage papers daily, and clean the grate and tray weekly.

Clean food debris or droppings from toys and perches as needed (which can be as often as once a day).

Grit is not necessary for birds, and will cause digestive problems and death. The best sources of minerals (and vitamins) are leafy greens. Never give grit, gravel sandpaper or cement perches. A bird will eat those to excess when it is not feeling well or if there is a nutritional deficiency. They do not need it at all (an old myth from the poultry days, even poultry do not need it). It can cause an impaction and lead to serious or fatal consequences.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello, thank you for your quick response.

I just checked the bird and it does not look like it is thin, I do not think that it has vomited or had diarrhea and unfortunately we do not have enough money to take it to the vet currently.

The only thing I noticed on its behavior is that it is either really quiet or upset and it looks like it is panting because it tends to have its mouth open for some small periods of time. I also noticed that when I talk to it, it usually chirps normally, it rests its belly on the things it is sitting on and it is really warm. It also finds it difficult to control its wings and it bites them frequently or it kind of looses its balance when I am trying to move it to another branch (since it cannot do it itself anymore) or hold it on my hand.

Since we do not have the money we need to buy it a special reptarium cage or anything similar, is it okay to place it into a shoe box or the plastic bottom part of its cage? We are going to clean it completely and put some towels in it but since we do not own a heating pad either, is a warmer another solution to warm the place with? Are there any other better ways to warm the area? And since it is panting and it still looks very warm, is it okay to place it in an even warmer place than its cage?

We will put its seeds and water in bowls it can reach and we will try to give it warm cooked rice or something from the other foods that you suggested us, thank you. What are we going to do if it stops eating though? It finds it difficult to get used to new bowls and things we buy for it and I am afraid that it will not like the new food at all or it will be afraid to get close to the new bowls to take energy.

Any further help is really appreciated, thank you for once more.
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 1 year ago.
Try using clean jar lids for food, they may not be so frightening.

The bottom of the cage will work. You can make a "tent" or "tipi" from mosquito netting to cover it. Or a basket with a handle and drape netting over the handle and tie in in a bunch to close.

Plastic bottles with warm water and covered with a towel will suffice for warmth. Also a clean sock, filled with dry rice, then microwaved (if you have one available) for 1 minute will hold warmth.

The panting is as if he is too hot? Or does he seem in pain?

Is the abdomen distended, or can you feel an egg?

I would worry about a calcium deficit or a toxin, if the wings and body have tremors. It may be a neurological disease. Without veterinary help, about all you can do is provide proper food and water and a safe environment.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you very much for the new advice, I will keep all these in mind.

I am pretty sure the panting is caused probably because it is too hot and not because it is in pain and it also happens rarely. I do not feel an egg in its abdomen but I am pretty sure it cannot be pregnant since it lives alone in its cage from the day we got it and 3 years have passed since then.

Today we managed to take it to a veterinarian and he gave us some drops to put on its water for 7 days because it looks like it has some problems with its intestine. He checked its droppings and we noticed that in the white paper they are watery and with a strong yellow color and these drops will probably make it feel better.

After putting them to its water in the afternoon it drank some until now (that it is night) and when I checked it, it looks like it is feeling a lot more energized now, it chirps better, it stands better and it is not as warm as before so it looks like the medication works well.

We do not know if this will also make it move from the one branch to the other better and fix its usual wing trembling but we are going to ask about that in our next visit if we will see that it is not its current condition that it causes that.

Thank you so much for all the information you provided us, we will surely ask for more advice in the future in case something else happens to it (which I hope not)!

Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 1 year ago.
I hope the bird continues recovery.

They can have eggs even with no male. Calcium deficiency is a possibility.
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 1 year ago.
Hi Electra,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. Pat

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