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Patricia, Parrot Consultant
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 1759
Experience:  Published author, free lance bird behaviorist, adviser to the parrots at Sarasota Jungle Gardens.
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My cockatiel recently started to make a clicking noise with ...

Customer Question

My cockatiel recently started to make a clicking noise with his jaw when he tries to sing or whistle. Is this okay.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Patricia replied 9 years ago.

Hello Velvet. I will do anything I can to help you but I need to get a bit more information first. For right now, stop working with him and just leave him alone, let him stay quiet so you do not add to his stress.

Are you absolutely positive this sound is coming from his beak or jaw and is not associated with his breathing?

Is he holding his beak open when he breathes?

Is his tail bobbing up and down as he breathes in and out?

Have you seen any change in the appearance of his droppings; color, consistency or amount?

Is he doing any kind of vocalizations at all?

Is he keeping his feathers fluffed up?

Please tell me everything in his usual diet.

The more information I have, the better I can help.

Thanks, Patricia

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
The noise is coming from his jaw. He's constantly singing and talking, and yelling/squelching when I leave the room. His feathers are staying fluffed, and he's kinda shaking. Beak is closed when he breathes, nothing unusual with his tail feathers. But he is biting(This is unusual)I'm trying not to react but it's getting scary the way he tries to dive bomb us, he almost acts like he's possessed. I know that sounds weird, but it's happening.Phoenix is normally very lovable, especially towards me, I'm grandma, and now he's learned my real name Velvet. I'm trying to add pellets to his diet but he won't eat them.He eats high quality seed, good mix with fruit, he loves apples,walnuts. Very picky baby. I'm really worried, and I don't know what to do. He already hit the ceiling fan once and scalped half his crown. Fan was off. He's just not acting like my Phoenix. Please help, he's a great baby, and I want to help him if I can. He's still little, gotta long time to go with my baby boy. Thank You for your time in helping with this.
Expert:  Patricia replied 9 years ago.

Okay, thanks for the extra information. I apologize for the delay in getting back with you. I had a computer crash and it has really put a crimp in my work day. If this noise started after he hit the fan or even something else that you may not know about, that is one possible cause. If he has some kind of injury to his jaw or anywhere else, that can account for this change in behavior. Sometimes, when they are stressed over an illness or injury, it's the only way they know to react. The feathers staying fluffed are yet another symptom of illness or injury. Other symptoms that may follow, if they haven't already, include a change in the appearance of his droppings that lasts more than 24 hours and cannot be accounted for by diet, sleeping an inordinate amount of time during the day, and giving up the perches and sitting on the cage floor. When we see these symptoms, it means the bird has been ill for awhile. All birds have a strong instinct to mask all symptoms from us for as long as possible. It's a crucial survival skill in the wild and it holds over in our cage birds. When we finally see symptoms, it's because they are too weak or too ill to keep up the pretense. He is also not on a top notch diet. Apples are okay, in moderation but they are mostly sugar and water with not a lot of nutrition. Walnuts are okay too. But an ideal diet is not more than about 30% seeds and seed products, no matter how high quality or "fortified" they may claim to be. He needs a good brand of pellet mixed with his seeds and everyday, he should be getting fresh or steamed veggies, leafy greens and many other "people" foods. He can eat almost everything you eat but with a few toxic exceptions so always be sure before offering something new. I'm going to give you some links to help with diet, with explanations of the health problems you will see caused by inadequate diet, and some other safety issues around the home. There will also be some to help you locate a proper Avian vet for him, unless you already have one that you know can be trusted for their avian expertise. Not all dog/cat vets have it. The first thing I'm going to urge you to do, because of all these symptoms, is to get him in asap, for a check up. There is no way I could try to diagnose for you from long distance. I can only give you possibilities and explain symptoms to be alert for. In the meantime, all you can do for him at home is good supportive care. You should keep him confined to his cage, do not let him get chilled and keep him as stress free as possible. The closer you can keep him to 85F, the better. To help with that, you can cover the top and three sides of his cage. You can put a heating pad, on low only, under the rear half of his cage. Make sure he cannot reach the pad nor it's cord. Only the rear half because he must be able to move away from it if needed. Getting over heated can be as bad getting chilled. Try to make sure he is drinking because you don't want to risk adding dehydration to his problems. For now, the apple will help with that also due to the liquid content. If he will drink a little Pedialyte, that will help also but don't replace his plain water with it. Offer it separately. I hope all this will help you out but if you have any more questions at all, just let me know. I'll do anything I can to help the little fella out. Patricia

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