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Ask Patricia Your Own Question
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 African Grey is very lethargic and stares in to space ...

Customer Question

my African Grey is very lethargic and stares in to space movement is very slow
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Patricia replied 10 years ago.

Hi Fraser.

Do you know positively that you have a male bird?

Has it always been your bird or did you get it recently?

Please tell me everything the bird usually gets to eat everyday.

Is he caged inside the house, in an outside aviary or where?

How long as this been going on?

Is he hand tame and if so, is he stepping up for you or only wanting to stay in the cage?

Does he have a full spectrum lighting system?

The more information you can give me, the better I will be able to help.

Thanks, Patricia

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Patricia's Post: i have had the bird for a year he is a male and a rescue bird fresh fruit normal parrot food he has always had he is in side with my other two birds 1 amazon blue fronted 25 years old and a female cog 4 years old it only happened today he is hand tame but would not step up wanted to stay on his perch as for the lighting i don't understand the question his cage is in a corner next to the patio doors he has access to a play stand in front of the window i sprayed all 3 birds today with johnsons veterinary plume spray and it was about 8hrs later that he started to act funny staring into space very lethargic and slow to move he even let me stroke him all over he normally bites me not the wife but he bit the wife and was ok with me he now seems to be coming out of it now but it has taken about 3hrs   hope this helps answer your questions thank you FRASER
Expert:  Patricia replied 10 years ago.

Okay, thanks for the extra information. That really helps. First, the easy part of your question, about the lighting. Full spectrum lighting refers to a light fixture that replaces the portions of light that our birds need from the sun, but do not get when they live inside. Just placing a bird near a window does not help. That's because the portion of the light spectrum that our birds need is filtered out by all modern windows because it's also the part that fades our drapes, carpet and furniture. Proper lighting is needed to help them absorb many of the necessary vitamins and minerals from their food. Even on the best possible diet, a bird may be lacking in nutrition if they don't have proper lighting. This is especially true of calcium, with our Greys. Maintaining proper calcium levels can be hard to do with Greys, especially without the proper lighting to help them out. If those levels get off, hypocalcemic seizures can be the result. An extreme seizure, (not something you want to witness), can include thrashing around, or losing consciousness. A mild seizure can appear as a momentary "zoned out" episode, then the bird is lethargic for awhile, as you describe. For this reason, if no other, it's a good idea for our Greys to have at least, annual checkups to monitor their calcium levels. As for the proper light, you want the bulb to provide 2.4% UVB and 12% UVA. This is neither a recommendation nor an endorsement but it is a link to one such company with further explanation of the lighting requirements. Click here: Arcadia - Bird Lamp You didn't say if you know positively that you have a male bird but just in case you are not sure, calcium can be even more critical to a female, should she decide to lay eggs in the future. She won't need a male bird to lay but she will need excellent calcium reserves to make firm egg shells and to hopefully remove the risk of becoming egg bound. Having his calcium levels checked was going to be my first recommendation and I do still think it's important but after you told me about the spray, that's adds another list of possibilities. I don't know if you have ever used that product before on any of your birds or had the opportunity to see any reaction to it but botXXXXX XXXXXne, it is never a good idea to spray anything at all like that on them. Pet store employees, and of course the manufacturers, will often tell you they have the cure to almost anything at all on their shelves when in fact most of it is worthless junk, the rest can be very dangerous. They either don't know, or don't care. The fact is, whatever we put on our birds feathers, ends up in their system. They breath in the mist as it's being sprayed and they ingest it as soon as they preen. A bird's bath, or mist, or shower, (however they prefer to bathe) should never be anything but plain water, or at the most, it can have some 100% pure aloe juice, straight from the plant, mixed in for skin and feather condition. I would suggest you offer him a bath asap and hope he will bathe most of it off. You say he seems to have come out of it and that's great. However, that doesn't help us get to the bottom of the original problem. It could still be either one of those, or something else entirely. I would urge you to get an appointment set up asap with your Avian vet for a check up and a test of calcium levels. In the meantime, keep a very close eye on him for any other symptoms of illness. That might be sitting with feathers fluffed, a change in the appearance of his droppings that lasts more than 24 hours and you can't account for it by diet, a change in overall behavior and/or vocalizations, sitting on the cage floor instead of perches and sleeping an inordinate amount of time. If you see even one of these symptoms, don't wait for more. Get him in right away. I'm going to give you a couple links below where you can read some more about the calcium issues. However, in the one, ignore the part about the spinach. It's relatively recent but it has been found that even though spinach can be good for birds, it also contains oxylates which can interfere with their calcium absorption. Better to stick to the other leafy greens instead. I hope this information helps you out but if you have any more questions, just let me know. Patricia

Click here: Care of African Grey Parrots But ignore the spinach suggestion in this one.

Click here: Winged Wisdom Pet Bird Magazine - African Grey Myths: Greys Need More Calcium

Expert:  Patricia replied 10 years ago.
Hi Fraser. How is your Grey doing? I'm worried about her so let me know if you need anything further. Patricia