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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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Tango, my African Grey seems to get a leg his ...

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Tango, my African Grey seems to get a leg his left leg. He usually saves himself but he fell and seriously hurt himself. His wings got caught somehow and he bled out quite a bit. I took him to a very reputable vet who deals a lot with birds. They fixed him up, took exrays, did an extensive blood test.   the vet said his liver count was a little high and I got milk thistle, along with medcam and butril. Could it be the liver problem that is making his leg spastic?
Hello. Yes, that could very well be it. But there is another thing I think they should check if they haven't. Maybe, if they still have some sample, they can test without having to do another blood draw. Have them check his calcium levels. Calcium and Greys can be real tricky, especially if he does not have a full spectrum light for a few hours every day. Greys can have a hard time with calcium and when they get low, they can go into hypocalcemic seizures. Not a pretty sight. If his calcium is too low, it's not impossible he had a mini seizure. Without the Vit.D from full spectrum light, he is not able to properly metabolize his calcium, even if he is on a perfect diet. Since they can also be picky eaters, let those of us who have a Grey on a perfect diet, raise their hands. Not too many of us. I won't take the extra time to ask about his diet but a couple ideas to maybe help out would be scrambled eggs with the pulverized shell mixed in, fresh almonds and you can try a large cuttle bone and/or mineral block. I don't think Greys usually care for cuttle bone, as a rule. But, when I adopted mine, he had not been on a good diet at all so I put a large one in his cage. He literally devoured it in less than a week. He has never touched one since but he does work on his mineral blocks pretty well. And, he has 2-3 almonds per day which he shells and gobbles. Another thing that can be good for him, especially anytime he is on antibiotic, would be some active enzyme yogurt. It can provide more calcium with the added benefit of acting as a probiotic. It will help replace the beneficial gut flora that can be lost due to antibiotic treatment. If it's not replaced, he can develop a yeast infection, which could send him into a plucking frenzy. He also should have full spectrum lighting. If you have not ever researched the lighting I'd highly recommend it. Placing a bird near a sunny window won't work. All modern windows filter out the very parts of the spectrum they need because it's also the part that fades our drapes, carpets and furniture. You need to purchase your bulbs from a company who deals specifically with lighting for avians, reptiles, and amphibians. 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 Here are links to a couple articles about the calcium problems. The first one seems to be a very slow loading site but it's worth the wait. Click here: Hypocalcemic seizures in an African grey parrot Click here: Winged Wisdom Pet Bird Magazine - Seizures In Pet Birds On the liver issue, I suggest you also discuss the use of aloe detox with your vet. I have a friend with a Cockatiel who has survived many years now with Hepatic Lipidosis and she treats him faithfully with both the milk thistle and aloe detox and sometimes with dandelion. For sure, run all this by your vet before trying anything because he/she is going to know your bird's situation the best. If you haven't already, it will probably be a good idea to lower the perches and bowls for him for awhile, to hopefully prevent any more bad tumbles and further injuries. If you have a grate in the bottom of his cage, I'd either remove it or pad it really thick with several layers of newspaper. The last thing he needs is to have to try to negotiate a grate and maybe get a foot down through it, leading to a broken leg or toes. If you will make it really thick, all you have to do is peel off a layer as he soils it. I hope this extra information will help out and you will soon have his issues under control The best of luck to you and I'll sure keep Tango in my thoughts. Let me know if you need anything else. Patricia
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Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Your reply is very helpful. My vet did mention calcium. Iam curious about the light spectrum thing. Tango and Casey,goffin cockatoo, are near a sliding glass door leading to the deck and patio. I always assumed that they had plenty of daylight. Is there a way for me to check out the lighting situation for sure?
I suppose there might be some kind of lighting engineer who would have an instrument to measure what comes through the glass, but I can pretty well guarantee, that would be a waste of your time. Windows have been filtering that portion of the spectrum for years and years. You would probably have to live in a home that is close to 100 years old and still has it's original windows before you would have the proper light coming in that your birds need. It's the same situation as if we have an Iguana or some other herp or reptile. They have to have the proper spectrum and it cannot be coming through the glass walls of their enclosure. They have to have direct rays. Taking birds outside into natural sunlight will give them what they need, light wise, but in my opinion, there are far to many other dangers that offset that option. It's much better to just get the proper lighting set up and don't risk disease and parasites carried by wild birds, West Nile carried by mosquitoes and/or having them scared into heart attack by a neighborhood cat or a raptor flying over. Let me know if there is anything else. Patricia