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Dr. Pat
Dr. Pat, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 4244
Experience:  25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
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I rescued a starling nestking 7 days ago from the pkayground

Customer Question

I rescued a starling nestking 7 days ago from the pkayground area at the school where I teach. He is growing and feathering nicely, but has stargazer symdrome. I am feeding him a dog/cat food formula with bird vitamins and dried insects/millworms mixed together. He is also eating approximately 10 live millworms daily. I feed him with pkastic tweezers and on an hourly schedule. His balance is not improving and his head is still consistently up and back or between his legs...anything I can do to help save this little guy? I'm on a limited budget...a huge vet bill is just not ab option unfortunately...
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
Greetings, I am Dr. Pat. I have worked with birds for many years. I will do my best to help you.
Did he start out this way or did the symptoms develop over time?
Stargazer is an unfortunate name that is basically meaningless. There may be 101 causes for torticollis; and each possibility may have a separate approach to treatment. Why don't you describe to me how/where he was found, what kind of shape he was in, what injuries or bruises he had, was he naked or downy or feathered; any ideas why he fell/was removed/attacked from the nest. We need to narrow down possibilities so that I can help.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
His nest was in the overhang of a trailer, the opening in the siding was about an inch (which is why we couldn't get him back to the nest). I'm not sure how long he has been on the ground but he was in the direct afternoon sun and hot. The initial fall was probably 13-15 ft. and he has taken a couple 2 ft. drops this week hopping out of his "nest" and off end tables before I could ca5ch him (he now has a cage). He wants to fly and is pretty active... he has been a "traveling bird" since I have to carry him to work with me to meet his feeding schedule. When he is in his nest area, he has a heating pad on low. He has an appetite, but only takes approximately the equivalent of 4 cat/dog food morsels every hour. He chirps, cleans his feathers and trys to jump and fly. He has imprinted to me and will walk toward me when I talk to him. He can sit and take a few steps without losing his balance, but much more movement and he has to steady himself with his wing. Today he has started losing his balance when taking in his food. His beak tends to get very withered looking at times and I have started wiping it with Vit. oil on a Qtip. He poops regularly and it is solid with the white covering and a little wet stain around it...I am going to try to attach a couple pics to give a better idea of how he looks.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He was naked with downing on his head and wings when I found him. He didn't appear to have any injuries at the time...his skin was just very red and wrinkled. He twice the size now than he was when I found 7 days ago.
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
Unfortunately, starling diets are varied across the internet, but I have had bet luck avoiding dog and cat food (contrary to internet advice) and using high quality pet bird pellets or mash, such a s Harrison's or TOP. For hand feeding, both make formulas but even Exact from the pet store is readily available and still better than dog/cat food. Scenic makes pellets designed for weaning birds, with a little soaking in water, and they work very well for young starlings. Google for nearby stores or check:
red apple is a favorite
and I would recommend switching as soon as the pellets arrive.
They develop severe metabolic bone disease and calcium deficiency. It can be reversible but requires calcium injections. I urge that ypou try and find a reasonable vet and at minimum start calcium injections ASAP and work with the diet very very soon.
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Pat
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I added an extra tums, the contents of a calcium gel tab and a crushed up B1 vitamin to his food after reading your response Sat. afternoon...I was going to call my reg. vet Monday morning and see about the injections...but unfortunately the little guy passed about 3am Monday morning. He continued to get worse and by Sunday night he couldnt walk, chirp, pull his head up at all and he would only open his beak partially... He wouldn't wake up after 10ish Sunday night and I just held him until he finally stopped breathing around 2:45 am. It broke my heart, but Im still glad I was able to give him more than the loneliness of perishing in the hot sun alone and afraid by the basketball courts where I found him....
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
I am so very sorry to hear that. You did the right thing.