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.

Broken Blood Feathers: What To Do

If your parrot is bleeding, that’s a bit of an emergency.

Yes, even if it’s just from a tiny little feather.

Think about how tiny a parakeet is; now think about how much blood a single droplet is in relation to how big that bird is, and how much that would equal if it were the same size as you.

Yeah, that’s a lot of blood.

macawBirds are not super good coagulators; what this means is that, once they start bleeding, it takes a very long time for them to stop. Especially in our littlest friends like parakeets and cockatiels, it’s really important to stop that bleeding before they lose too much.

Tools Needed:

Tweezers (in some cases), gauze pad, styptic powder (if you don’t have this on hand and your bird is bleeding right now, corn starch will work in a pinch), and courage (sold separately).

Step One:

Before handling your little bird, it’s super important to wash your hands. 

Step Two:

Take a minute to meditate and think of the giant glass of wine you owe yourself after this. This will not be fun.

Step Three:

Figure out where the bleeding is coming from. Blood feathers on the wings should be treated differently than ones on the tail or body.

If the broken blood feather is on the tail or body…

A. Snag a towel and gently wrap your feathered friend up in it.

B. Note which direction the feather is facing–using tweezers, firmly and quickly pull the feather. Do this as straight as possible, the direction the feather grows,

C. If bleeding continues from where the feather was pulled, use the gauze to press firmly but gently on the wound. This is sometimes enough to stop the bleeding. If not, pack the follicle with Styptic powder, and continue pressure until the bleeding stops.

If the broken blood feather is on the wing…

Wing feathers are tricky. Pulling them is a risk and can sometimes do more harm than good.

A. Identify which feather is bleeding.

If it’s the first wing feather at the tip of their wing, just use pressure to stop the bleeding. Do not use styptic powder/corn starch and under no circumstances should you pull that feather.

The first feather of a bird’s wings are connected directly to a bone in their wings. Using styptic powder can stunt future growth of that feather, and pulling it can cause serious damage to your birdy friend. 

If it’s any other feather, use styptic powder to pack the wound, apply pressure with gauze for at least a minute or until the bleeding stops.

If you decide you need to pull the broken wing feather…

A. Make sure it’s not the first wing feather. Again, do NOT pull the first feather on a bird’s wing under any circumstances.

B. Get a partner to gently wrap the bird in a towel and hold him or her still for you.

C. Use one hand to extend the wing, and use the tweezers to get a solid grip on the feather. You only want to have to tug on this once, and it’s going to be the worst sound you’ve ever heard your bird make.

D. Tug, fast and firmly, in the direction the feather grows.

E. Immediately use your gauze to apply pressure to the feather follicle. Hold for at least a minute.

F. If bleeding doesn’t stop after a minute, use Styptic powder.

If a blood feather continues bleeding for more than fifteen minutes, bring your bird to an avian vet ASAP. That’s an emergency.

Source: Emergency First Aid Guide for Birds Quick Reference by Jennifer L. Warshaw

 

A Blue Cere in a Female Budge = A Tumor

Well, it’s official: we’re going to lose Miss Winsty-Woo in the next few months. 😦

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Winston the “Attack” bird, or so the vet called her defending herself when he approached her with a towel. (Until I picked her up. She’s a marshmallow.)

For the past day or so, Winston has seemed a little… off.

She’s always been exceptionally calm for a budgie (stiff-upper-lipped-English-budgie-woman and all that), but lately she’s seemed a little sleepier.

A little more reserved.

A little less playful.

Winston is exceptionally weird for a bird in that, since she was barely feathered, she has consistently done things that generally signify illness:

being exceptionally fluffy/fluffed up (that’s her English budgie-ness),

sleeping on the bottom of her cage (she’s done this her entire life; she likes to stick her legs through the grate on the bottom of her cage and lie on her chest)

Not a super-clean vent (a product of her extra fluffy-ness/girth and sleeping on the bottom of her cage)

Our vet has consistently given her a clean bill of health in spite of her nonsense, fortunately. Hubby and I have always been hyper-vigilant with her because of it.

Yesterday, we noticed a change:

She didn’t feel like flying/couldn’t fly very well. When something startled her and she fluttered to the floor instead of making her usual awkward, haphazard trip back up to her cage, we knew something was up.

Tail-bobbing, just a tiny bit. When calmly sitting still, her tail moves up and down now with every breath–just a little–but it signifies respiratory distress in birds.

She’s still eating fine and hadn’t lost any significant weight, but we followed our philosophy: go to the vet at the first sign of avian illness.

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Two years ago vs. today. Her cere has become the same color as her cheek spots.

Today, I braved the snow, and I’m glad I did: Winston has a tumor. 😦

She’s four and a half years old.

The vet cannot feel it yet, which means we caught it super early, but he said there is only one thing on God’s green earth (that he knows of) that will turn a female budgie’s cere blue: a testosterone-secreting tumor in her reproductive track. And unfortunately, there’s no doubt that she’s a girl; the four eggs she laid last summer are a testament to that.

Our avian vet could only guess, but due to the fact that it feels like she’s lost a little bit of weight across her breastbone and these new symptoms (however mild), he suspects she has only one to three months left.

He gave us some pain medication to help her deal with any pain; she will now get all the seed, millet, and otherwise unhealthy food that she wants.

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.

“I am a little bird.”

There is nothing I agree more with than the following sentiment:

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Every little bird I’ve ever met has had his or her own BIG personality–they are at least as individual as cats and dogs, unique as snowflakes. ❤

Re-blogged from: http://avianawareness.tumblr.com/

It starts with one…

Collecting birds is kind of like eating chips. One simply isn’t enough. Nor is two… or three… or five.

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Five? Five is enough, unless you want to dedicate your entire life to maintenance and clean-up. Which I don’t. Only most of my day. 😉

Ours started with a budgie. Meet Roosevelt Polk Kennedy: the lead domino in a series of (mostly) fortunate events:

Roosevelt Polk Kennedy
Never name a budgie until they’re a year or so old; otherwise, you’re probably wrong. xD

My then-fiance/now-husband sneezed up a storm when exposed to fur of any kind. He wasn’t a “pet person”, but I was, and our house was just a little too quiet.

And I was getting tired of loving on my electronic “Petz!” dog, especially after I let that pretty much ruin my marriage proposal (sort of). But that’s a story for another day.

One accidental trip by a Bird Store followed by the discovery that he isn’t even mildly allergic to a feathery flock, and I put my foot down: we were getting a bird.

And now we have five. Oh my.

It’s never an instantaneous process, and we have definitely made some mistakes. Big ones–but we’re still learning, and our mistakes will be our guide. This blog will cover a variety of avian subjects, such as “Why is owning a cockatoo really hard?” and “Okay, so you successfully hand-fed a baby bird–that was a bad idea, wasn’t it?”