Friday, January 8, 2010

More hormones

Hormones are raging at our house! Obviously, there was the caique attack of last Monday. Both caiques have been slightly picking their leg feathers (almost unnoticeable), Beeps has a shorter trigger, Max has been regurgitating for me, Stella keeps flying to Thomas and pecking him, and Rocky is seeking out dark spaces in which to shred newspaper.Perhaps worst of all, Calypso has decided that he needs to mutilate his foot. We've been through this with him before -- mutilation due to hormones -- though not for several years. We'd been hoping this was in the past, and we're not sure why it's resurfaced this year.

In any case, this is what he's done to his foot:
It's very hard to see, but he's slightly mutilating one of his back toes on his left foot, close to the nail. Incidentally, it was his right foot that was injured in the caique fight, so he's not just picking at and irritating a wound -- he inflicted new damage (and his right foot has completely healed from the attack).

Wednesday night/Thursday morning, he woke us up at 3 in the morning by thrashing around his cage. I went downstairs to see what the problem was to find a caique with blood on his beak, white chest, and toe. (By the way, here is a link to a discussion on mutilation by a vet -- highly recommended reading if your bird is mutilating).

When we went through this a few years ago, he had a very thorough vet visit done and nothing was found to be the physical cause of the mutilation. He healed up, and as I said earlier, we thought this problem was behind us.

Fast forward to today. He's recently had a full vet visit and clean bill of health; however, if he's still mutilating next week, he'll be going back to the vet. The reason we didn't take him immediately to the vet is that we've been through this before and we don't want to cause him additional stress in case it goes away on its own, like last time. However, if your bird is mutilating for the first time, please take him/her to the vet immediately.

Also, the mutilation is not severe. Here he is yesterday, holding a clementine with his bad foot:He's able to perch normally and is otherwise behaving like usual. If there were other warning signs (couldn't perch, stopped playing with toys, was lethargic, etc.) we also would have taken him in right away. Once again, if you found this entry because your bird is mutilating, please take him/her to an experienced avian vet. That's what we did the first time, and what we'll do if it doesn't clear up like it did last time.

The system we worked out with our vet last time is that he seems to settle down when placed in an incubator. Here's what we use, nicknamed the Hot Box (which always leads to singing songs from Guys and Dolls):It's a 20 gallon long aquarium. We have an under tank heating pad which brings the temperature into the mid-70s. The top heater can bring the temps into the mid-80s, but we only use that for a short time when we can observe him.

Already, he seems to be getting better. He didn't pick at his foot at all this morning during breakfast, whereas he'd been picking at it regularly Thursday morning.

It just breaks my heart that he has to live in captivity.


The Homeless Parrot said...

Awww! I'm sorry for your little caique! I am always so worried that my birds will become pickers at some point. I understand how stressful and upsetting it is for you guys.

Superior Parrot said...

My Charli has been picking at the feathers above her legs and on her legs. She only seems to do it during hormone season, poor baby, and I've not found a way to stop it. She's healthy according to her most recent well-bird exam.

Mary said...

I was very stressed when Max plucked; I think it's because it was our first experience with it, plus we'd gotten her as a baby, so I felt like a failure.

However, with the others, I don't feel so personally responsible since they were adults when we got them. I still wish they wouldn't, and do everything I can to make it stop, but it's not as hard on me as Max's was. There were many sleepless nights involved with her plucking!

The mutilation is somewhat of a different story, though it looks like he's well on his way to recovery again.

Thanks for the comments!