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Dear Dr, Happy Holidays. I was hoping you might be able to…

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.Dear Dr Pat, Happy Holidays...

.Dear Dr Pat, Happy Holidays. I was hoping you might be able to advise me about a parrot we rescued just before Christmas. Ruby is a galah cockatoo, roughly 2 years old. When we went to see her in her previous house, she was kept in a cool room with no direct sunlight and she was plucking out her chest feathers. And, as far as we can tell, she had minimal human interaction. She’s now been with us for a week and has made some progress, but lingering issues are her being physically weak (too weak to fly), mostly refusing to leave her cage, and a persistent tremor. At the moment, we’re most concerned about her very poor appetite. We’ve offered her a variety of food (pellets, fresh fruit, veg) but no luck. We also suspect she has flu, because she sometimes sounds congested. If that is the case, we’re also worried for our healthy one-year old African Grey. We live in quite a remote area with no access to an avian vet. We’re trying to help by giving her lots of attention, proper food, putting her cage in direct light, and keeping the room warm day and night. Is there anything else you would recommend? If you had time to reply, we would very much appreciate it! Many thanks, Will

Submitted: 3 months ago.Category: Bird
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Answered in 14 hours by:
12/30/2017
Bird Specialist: August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist replied 3 months ago
August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7,776
Experience: Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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I'm August Abbott, cert. avian specialist; owner of N.CA Parrot Rescue. Give me just a few minutes to review your question & respond. I'm with you

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Bird Specialist: August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist replied 3 months ago

My friend and colleague Dr Pat is unavailable so if you don't mind I'll be working with you and Ruby for as long as you need.

First, thank you for rescuing this beautiful 'too from a dark, dank environment. I own a rescue/sanctuary and every bird here is from some equally or worse kind of place bearing the injuries of abuse and neglect.

It's only been a week for Ruby. Some birds blend right in the minute they arrive in a new home; others can take up to a year or even more. I've had them all and I learn from each one how different they are from any other. Individuals, just like we are.

If Ruby is making droppings, relax, she's eating something. You can continue to entice her and in fact I encourage it. That way she'll learn that you really care about her and it will bond her to you. Try some unusual foods like human baby food

I have huge success with the all natural sweet potatoes. For some reason birds love it and it's one of the best foods out there for a bird's beta carotene requirements in a natural way. Just get a bit onto the underside tip of her beak and let her see where it came from and she should go for it herself

Try baby food rice cereal and other options. It's soothing and reminiscent to a bird of being cared for when they were nestlings when they get warm or room temp soft foods. Plus these choices are actually good for nutrients until she adjusts fully

The tremor may just be a display of fear and anxiousness. If the room temp is suitable (72 degrees or better) monitor her for when she stops the tremors. As she sleeps? When she thinks you're not there?

Her cage issue is very likely being 'cage bound'. This is a true problem and I'll work with you on it further once we know she's healthy and stable ok?

I understand being in a remote area. For many years my sanctuary was 2 1/2 hours away from the bird vet I work with. Still, every 3 months I made the trip for the group due their check ups; I made the trip whenever any bird showed even the slightest signs of a potential infection (birds can die within hours of having an infection if they aren't diagnosed and put on the medication specific to the issue) and this is important: whenever I took a new bird in, within 3 days it was getting a full physical

Why? First and foremost, there are other birds here. Quarantine is a must, of course, but there are some things that may never show symptoms in the new bird, but infect and kill my others. I've seen entire homes wiped out when someone brought in a new bird. One lady lost her 30-something year old companion who had been with her since she was 14 yrs old. It devastated her. Any loss, especially when the birds in this rescue have already come through a lot already, devastates me.

So please take the time and make the trip to get Ruby seen. Not only because you're seeing some troubling symptoms, but also so she's established with the vet. A vet who knows you and your bird is far more likely to see you in an emergency that's during off hours or off days. This is a life saver! And take your birds for regular check ups. I'm doing this constantly with all of my special needs rescues, but you could probably go twice a year and be fine. Let the vet do nails and beaks/wings if needed at this time. It's usually free as part of the visit

Check your local Pet Smart for Banfield Clinic. They usually have a bird vet on staff right there

Call Pet Co and ask for their list of bird docs. They share! Call any vet near you and ask who they refer bird patients to. There are a lot more bird docs than you think

So for now, monitor Ruby's droppings; offer her soft, healthy and soothing foods (baby foods) and keep her area warm.

You can also put in a vaporizer (nothing added) to help with her breathing

Let her stay in her cage, keep it covered except for about 1/4 of the front at night/bedtime and keep noise down around her.

At night, about 1/2 hour after tucking her in, go in and lean your head against the cage (head down so if she tries to lash out she only gets a beak full of hair) and talk to her in a soft voice. Tell her what you hope her life will be from now on. Tell her how she's brave and good. You know the routine.

It may sound silly to non bird people, but WE know that these birds are sentient, intelligent as a 4 yr old human and they 'get it'. They might not understand the words, but they surely feel the meaning

Every night, without fail, at about the same time. You won't believe the leaps and bounds she'll make in trusting you.

Once you get a clean bill of health and have her established with a vet let me know and we'll go forward with the cage binding issue.

Again thank you for rescuing her! It's nice to know you're out there doing the right thing

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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7,776
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Experience: Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author

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