My Littlest Budgie has a Liver Infection

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Beau today: beat-up, a little worse for the wear, but alive. He’s a fighter!

A little more than two weeks ago, little Beau lost 2 grams of weight; he’s really tiny (originally weighing in at 28 grams) to begin with, so any drop was concerning. It didn’t come back over the next two or three days.

On day three, he seemed a touch unsteady, was rather sleepy, and lost interest in his toys.

We weren’t sure what was going on, but ultimately decided not to take a chance and brought him into the vet.

He’s been fighting for his life ever since.

Little Beau has a liver infection combined with an avian yeast infestation—that’s likely why he was so tiny to begin with. Our English budgie (Winston) loves tiny little blue budgies, so we picked the tiniest one of all; he was full of energy, had a bright yellow beak, and seemed healthy as can be.

Turns out that bright yellow beak was a sign of jaundice. He’s had this liver infection for awhile, probably as long as we’ve had him. The vet says that the avian yeast is present in many nests, and that normally it just results in some skinnier budgies. It’s only when other infections weaken their immune systems that it can spread and lead to massive malnourishment, which is our current concern.

Jaundice Budgie Beak
Beau and Winston in November.

Every day since, we’ve pumped him full of three different medicines (baytril for the liver infection, nystatin for the yeast, milk thistle to help his liver heal) twice a day and prayed he’d survive the night.

He’s not out of the woods yet, but we think his liver infection is clearing and he’s on new, stronger meds for his yeast (and so is his girlfriend, since it’s contagious).

Moral of the story? Weigh your bird daily—if he suddenly stops maintaining his weight, take him into the vet. It may save his life.

Beau is still fighting and is far from healthy. We’re going to give him the best shot we can at life; though he is little, he is so loved by us and his lady-friend.

He originally cost $15 to bring home from a local bird shop; his current vet bill is hovering around $600 with his numerous meds, the frequent checkups, the myriad tests. Though he is little, he is worth it. 

Budiges at Hospital
Praying he pulls through; the vet says he’s stronger today, his droppings look more normal (no more green color that indicates his liver isn’t working right), and he’s able to perch more steadily.

Update: Beau held on as long as he could and seemed to be getting better, but he succumbed to his illness two months after being diagnosed. :/ Still, he had a wonderful life and his girlfriend loved him dearly.

“OMG, I want a parrot!”

Do you? Do you really?

Let’s face it; most birds, were they dogs, would be put down.

Louie’s grandfather (or at least great-grandfather) likely flew the canopies of the Solomon Islands. And Ozone’s father is probably still terrorizing some local somewhere in Africa.

At no point should you assume birds are domesticated; they are feathered dinosaurs.

They *will* bite you. End of story.

And our bites are mild in comparison to some species, like cockatoos…

How to (reliably) find the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

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Oh, the famous Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill–cool enough to have their own Yelp Page, yet elusive enough that, in spite of having been in and out of San Francisco repeatedly, I’ve never seen them before. Even Mark Bitters, the man who made them famous through his book and documentary, isn’t quite sure how to consistently see them in spite of studying them for years.

Good news for bird watchers, though:

Follow this guide and I bet I can get you pretty darn close.

Naturally, my status of ‘crazy bird lady’ meant that I just had to find them on a recent impromptu trip to San Francisco. Knowing a thing or two about parrots helped; I spent the day looking for them, knowing all along certain things would help. Shockingly, if I’d paid attention to my own wisdom, I could’ve spent the majority of the day doing something else… fortunately, you get to learn from my mistakes. 😀

Locals suggested wandering up and down the steps between Greenwich Road, Levi’s Plaza, and Coit Tower, but “no guarantees”.

Parrots are pretty active during the day; they travel in flocks, moving frequently, meaning you’re way less likely to see them randomly when you’re not looking. When you are looking to bird watch, how do you find them?

How to Find the Parrots of Telegraph Hill: A Guide in Videos and Pictures

  1. Time of day matters. 

2. Location, location, location!

Start at Levi’s Plaza and work your way up the steps to Coit Tower.

Or, you know, just drive and park at Coit Tower. I just think the hike up is lovely, and you’re more likely to catch the parrots if you walk.

Levi’s Plaza is a great place to start–the starting point is too low for the birds to consistently appear (in my opinion), but head up the stairs towards Coit tower, and you’re in for a gorgeous hike, and a great way to get oriented to the surrounding area!

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Take the stairs you see here. Make your way up to Coit tower.

Once at Coit Tower, you’ll want to locate the side paths that are about fifteen-twenty feet off the main parking area; I started by heading toward Green Street and circling that pathway.

3. Follow your ears. Parrots are LOUD. You will hear them (and some crows and/or ravens) long before you see them.

4. Be patient and keep walking. If you follow your ears, you’ll eventually find them!

In a Nutshell:

-Make sure wander the paths around Coit Tower about an hour before sundown, or shortly after sunrise!

-Where there are ravens roosting, so too will you likely find parrots. Ravens are the kings and queens of Coit Tower, so they’ll be chilling in the trees around the center; the parrots will be flying the side paths ten to fifteen feet from the center.

-Be patient and be ready to walk. The parrots will only stay in the trees for a few minutes before darting away.

-Bring binoculars. They’re hard to see, especially if you’re blind like I am!

If all else fails, locals are correct about finding parrots at/around Embarcadero park; there seems to be a popular roost at sundown in a tree at the intersection at Clay & Davis, which I stumbled upon quite by happy accident as I wandered back to my hotel. Visit at sundown (after the sun has dipped below the horizon, but before it’s totally dark), and you will probably get lucky!

A cat wanted to be petted during my hike!
Check out the local wildlife.

Eclectus Mojo Moult: A Picture of Pinfeathers

Is he sick? Does he have scabies? Is he dying?!!

No, no, and no.

Mr. Lou is going through the most intense mojo moult of his life right now, coupled also with a hard moult. He has to be beyond uncomfortable, but he’s still our cheerful little Lou! Our handsome boy is not so handsome.

Warning: Graphics of intense Mojo Moult beyond this point!

Continue reading Eclectus Mojo Moult: A Picture of Pinfeathers

Eat like a bird!

…Birds eat a ton, actually; the old idea that people who “eat like a bird” eat next to nothing is odd. And they fling it everywhere, but I will be omitting that portion.

Today, I resolve to eat more like my birds–when I give them healthy snacks (carrots, raspberries, strawberries), I need to eat some, too. Seriously… time to start making healthy snacks for BOTH fids and myself, rather than just my flock.

Project “Take Care of Myself” is a-go!

Prepare for trouble… make it double!

Louie met one of his kin today at the bird shop, a Red-Sided little dude who, at four months old (and still growing!), is the same size as Solomon Island Louie. Actually, junior might be a little bigger.

That’s the closest I’ve ever seen a bird come to an existential crisis. Louie’s eyes got HUGE, he muttered a bewildered, “Hi Louie!” as if he were looking at himself in a mirror, then scuttled away. He wanted NOTHING to do with his double.

Perhaps it’s just one of the side-effects of having a multi-bird household: no one looks like Lou. He thought he was special… and he is. To us. xD

Diggin’ the Deck

Decided to update Winston’s cage from the janky, rickety red one that always falls apart to a swankier blue one (this involved purchasing it from a neighbor on the other end of the development and carrying it waiter-style on my shoulder ALLLLLL the way back to my house, thus solidifying my position as the resident crazy bird lady).

The only sad part was the loss of the swinging door… We stuck this epic perch onto it that doubled as an indoor/outdoor “porch” as Fletcher puts it.  That was the single benefit of the old, constantly-collapsing one.

The little ones needed something. Thus, we added some “antlers” to the top of the new one and created… “The Deck”!

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They dig it. 🙂

… Though Fletcher is now calling it the “Swiss Family Robinson”.

Whatever. It’s awesome.