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Tammy, Autumn, Apollo, and more

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#1 weirdlilfaechild


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Posted 05 December 2006 - 03:15 AM

When I got Tammy and Autumn I was young, still taking the pre-reqs for the vet tech program and working as a vet assistant with only the experience of two healthy cockatiels under my belt. I had some problems walking at the time but it was nothing serious. They both came from the same place: an aviary owned by my uncle. It's always worse when it's family, but his aviary has since been shut down and his birds rehomed. He had called me to pick up a hen that was no longer laying fertile eggs because he would kill her if I didn't, so when I went to pick her up I had only a travel cage and a towel. When I went into the aviary to catch her she offered no resistance and could not walk. Every movement she made was difficult and painful to watch, and I wrapped her up in the towel to lay her on the floor of the travel cage, caught her mate Billy quickly and put him in the travel cage as well and went to leave until I saw what I thought was a dead chick on the aviary floor.

This chick was almost completely featherless, her left wing was horribly broken with a small amount of bone protruding from the skin and the wing bent above her head. She was covered with blood and pus and you could see her keel quite clearly. She was also alive. Acting more on instinct then anything else, I took off my sweatshirt, wrapped her in it, and immediately we were off to the vet.

Billy was very healthy, and after a calcium shot and 10 minutes in an incubator Autumn passed the egg on her own. Her legs had several tiny fractures and her calcium levels were still at life-threatening levels, so her legs were wrapped and she was kept still in an incubator where she was encouraged to eat and ate very well on her own. She also got a calcium injection daily. After a day in the hospital I took her home where she spent the next month in a cage with very low rope perches for Billy and a plush bottom to lay on for her, still receiving calcium injections. After that month she was brought back to the hospital where her legs were unbandaged and x-rayed and a blood panel was run. Her legs had healed rather well, and although her calcium levels were low they were no longer life-threatening. She was again brought home where Autumn and Billy were introduced to my other two birds (but not allowed any unsupervised time together), kept in a long, short cage with platforms and rope perches, and slowly introduced to a healthy calcium rich diet and lots of sunlight.

Not everything was perfect, however. She was having seizures. More x-rays and just about every test we could think of was run. Eventually we found out she is extremely sensitive to chemicals and the culprit was the Zupreem fruit blend I was feeding at the time! Since switching to Harrisons/Roudybush/Foundation Formula and making sure that everything she eats is organic and uncolored she has had no seizures.

Now, Tammy.

The first vet I took her to (the one I worked at) told me there was no hope and I should euthanize her. I got a second opinion. Then and third, then a fourth. Three of the vets told me there was no hope, but one said there was little hope, and if she did survive she would be paralyzed, but at least she was willing to help me with her.

Tammy's left wing was shattered. Her right foot didn't respond to anything, we still don't know why. Wounds covered the left side of her body including near her left eye and most of them were quite infected. She weighed a whole 32g. Her bones were almost transparent on x-ray and her body had already started to eat her organs. Dirt and rocks were found in her digestive system along with worms. Worse, the infection was in her blood stream. But she is a fighter.

Immediately she was started on fluids with antibiotics and a sugar solution in them. Her wounds were cleaned as best as possible and her wing was wrapped, but since it was so infected it could not be set. Topical antibiotics were applied to her entire body twice a day and the bandages were changed twice a day. She was fed Harrisons Neonate mixed with enzymes, antibiotics, and vitamin B complex through a tube once an hour, even at night. Although this hospital was not the one I worked at for some reason they allowed me to scrub in to help and for two months I practically lived there.

She spent the first month near comatose, but she was gaining weight, her fever was dropping, was started to poop, and when her wounds were cleaned we got just blood, no longer pus. She started to respond, though very weakly and she did not fight any of her treatments. Her wing was not healing properly but she was far too weak for surgery and the wounds were still too severe to set it. We started to cover the floor of the incubator with food but she never touched it. The antibiotics were removed from the fluids and lessened in the formula, and the vitamin B was removed from the formula. She started receiving only small amounts of intravenous fluids a day.

Slowly she started to respond to her surroundings. She would make this horrible screech about once a day and continue until someone could hold her and feed her, still through a tube because she would refuse food from a syringe or spoon. A dewormer was added to the formula for a week and I can say for sure that it worked! Ew. After this she started to gain weight rapidly, and feathers even started to grow in! She started to fight her treatments, a wonderful sign, and would beg for people to preen the pins off her new feathers. She still didn't touch the food (seeds, pellets, fruit, formula, veggies, millet spray, eggs, whatever we could think of both in a dish and on the floor of the incubator), but she had learned to drag herself around with her good wing and her good leg. Since I had become quite proficient at cleaning, bandaging, and tube feeding, the infection was gone, and scars were beginning to form over her wounds I took her home. Autumn had long graduation from the incubator anyway. She was now 48g.

She was terrified of the sounds of my other birds, and for quite a while she had to be in a room on the other side of the house from them with both doors shut. Other then that, she immediately started to perk up after she came home. She couldn't move the toes on her right foot but had learned to stand up by leaning on the "fist".

To surprise everyone two days after she was brought home I went in to check on her to find that all of the food was gone. Formula, pellets, seeds, fruits, veggies, she ate it all. I started to then surround her with things intended to bulk her up: flax and hemp seeds, Harrisons High Potency, sprouted seeds, and high nutrient vegetables. She ate everything that was put in front of her, as long as no on was watching (she would panic if someone saw her eating, making me think that other birds would attack her if she went to the food dish). For two days she only got tube fed a small amount twice a day and a close watch was kept on her weight, but she continued to

A week later with the vet's approval she was moved to a small cage with a heating lamp aimed at it, padded bottom, and one low rope perch. It took her several days to figure out how to get into that perch, and once she did I added another one and a platform. Her weight was now 59g!

Finally her wing could stay unbandaged. It did not look pretty and obviously didn't set properly but she was still too weak for surgery and we decided that rebreaking it to set it would be counter-productive at that time. The good news was that the skin had healed, although quite scarred.

I started to leave the door open, and to my surprise she would respond to the contact calls without any fear. In my arms I brought her to see the other 'tiels, and she hid in my shirt. She was not terrified though, and I started bringing her to see them a few times a day. After a few days of this they would contact call whenever they were in different rooms, so I moved her cage into the room with my other 'tiels, placing at the opposite side of the room as the two other cages. She responded to the change very well, and would watch them very closely whenever she wasn't eating. She soon started to play with the toys I had given her and preen.

After a week of this I let them all out together, watching them very closely. The other four mainly ignored her, and she refused to come out of her cage, but I kept this up once a day. She also had mastered climbing and perching, so I added more perches and toys. Her weight was now 62g.

After two weeks Maria flew over to see her, and she ran in fear, so I put the other birds back in the cage and held Tammy until she calmed down. Two days later Maria flew over again, this time they just stared at each other until Maria flew back to her cage. The next day Maria flew over again, and started to preen Tammy! From this Tammy started following Maria around like a puppy, and would cry when Maria would fly away or they were put back into their own cages.

And then one day Tammy took off and flew into Maria's cage. I think I cried, I was so excited.

Today Tammy shares a cage with the rest of the birds, weighs a healthy 84g, has most of her feathers (the rest will never grow in because the area is scarred), flies and lands beautifully, has perfect sight out of her left eye, has gotten some movement in her right foot, and has no problems climbing or perching. In fact, her favorite perch is the cuttlebone!

Autumn is still doing fine as well and has not had a seizure for three years. She has arthritis in her legs now, partly to age and partly to injury, but with flax seed oil everyday, a heated perch, and aspirin once a week her legs are only stiff and swollen when it is very cold outside.
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#2 weirdlilfaechild


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Posted 05 December 2006 - 03:34 AM

After Tammy had healed I signed up to be a foster home for some of the local shelters because none of them have the room or experience to care for birds. I have several birds I will remember fondly, but none more then Peter.

Peter was a 11 year old green budgie who had lived his entire life in a cage with the same three toys, two dowel perches, a diet of Hartz seed *growls at Hartz*, in a house where there were four cats that were allowed to hang over the cage as they wanted. It wasn't until most of his feathers had fallen out, he could no longer perch, and there were two visible lumps in his chest that his owner finally realized she didn't know a thing about birds and gave him up.

He had liver disease, iodine deficiency hypothyroid, severe malnutrition, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, and sores that covered almost his entire feet. At first we (the vet and I) thought we were just going to make his last few months comfortable, and started giving him supplements, pain relievers, and milk thistle and lactulose for his liver. Slowly his perches were changed and he was given a few new toys, and his diet was changed to a high-quality seed blend. He had no energy and a poor appetite, but after a few days he could perch. He would be sitting in the same spot on the same perch every time I saw him, but his seeds were being eaten and occasionally a toy would be slightly moved. I talked to him and read to him but the poor baby seemed just a shell of a bird.

After a month he would weakly respond to the cockatiel noises, and since his quarantine was over and nothing he had was contagious I moved him into the same room as the cockatiels. He immediately perked up. He would watch them closely, eat and preen when they did, and started to whistle to them. He started to eat millet spray out of my hand, and soon I learned that he was quite capable of flight. He also started to drink the supplement/pain killer/milk thistle/lactulose/fruit juice blend off the syringe without even needing to be held.

He lived for six months after this, eating vegetables and pellets out of the cockatiels food dishes, preening the cockatiels, singing all day, complaining loudly because he wasn't in the same cage as the cockatiels, letting himself out of the cage, complaining loudly when I put locks on his cage doors, and flying clumsily whenever I let him.

I came home one day and he was dead on the floor of my room. I still don't know what happened or how he got out.
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#3 cpryslek


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Posted 05 December 2006 - 03:38 AM

another sucess story!:dance:

#4 weirdlilfaechild


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Posted 05 December 2006 - 03:56 AM

I don't have a story about how Apollo was injured or how he healed because his right foot was missing and the area had completely healed by the time I got him. I just know that his previous owner said he had no problems getting around, he just spent a lot of time on the cage floor :doh:

His left foot was red and swollen when I adopted him, but after giving him a few platforms and flattened rope perches that would allow him to rest some of his weight on his stump it is once again healthy. He shows no sign of pain, and he sure as heck isn't the submissive one! I call him the Lord of Attitude, and he lives up to his name quite well! If you whistle something once he will learn to sing it. This is a blessing and a curse! He can't perch on the playstand or playbasket very well but he seems to think an overturned cardboard box covered with things to shred is the best playstand possible! Funny thing is the rest of the 'tiels seem to agree!

I love the idea of this forum because not only have I learned how to care for disabled birds I have learned how to care for birds disabled! I have MS that went misdiagnosed and untreated for several years and now I have very poor cognitive function, very low energy, and I have lost most of the use of my lower body. Several people have told me that I need to rehome my birds now since obviously I can't care for them. I think they are nuts!

I keep the cages low enough that I can reach the top when sitting down. I have two sets of dishes, in the morning rather then cleaning the dishes while birds are waiting for breakfast I simply put food in the other set and clean the dirty set later when I don't need to rush. I make food in advance and place it in bags of about a weeks worth each and freeze it. Three bags are in the fridge at all times: one with a cooked bean/grain/pasta/veggie blend that they get for breakfast with some seed mixed in, one with a pre-cut veggie blend that they get for dinner with some baby food and Nutriberries, and one with crumbled birdy bread that is mixed with pellets and available all day. They eat great and feeding them takes about ten minutes on a really bad day. I found one of those automatic plant waterers that didn't have anything in it and I use that to give them a shower. Every morning I simply wipe down the cage and perches with a paper towel and replace the newspaper at the bottom. That way I never need to scrub. I admit I do have days when I can't care for them, but that's why I don't live alone! Since I can't work and I take classes online they have me all to themselves, and love the attention even when all I can do is be with them.

Even when I spend all day in bed they don't care, they just decide that their play area for that day is on me. Even though I shake they never seem to see me as an unsteady perch. I can't stress enough how much they have helped me!
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#5 Baby5566


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Posted 05 December 2006 - 04:03 AM

That is so sad about the poor Budgie, but I'm so happy that Maria, Tammy and Autumn are ok!!! You're a wonderful person.

#6 Monica


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Posted 05 December 2006 - 07:39 AM

Fantastic stories!!! You, disabled??? Heck, from the sounds of it all of you and your fids fit perfectly well together!!! What the heck is everyone else thinking???? :wall: :lol:

Love the stories!
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#7 cpryslek


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Posted 05 December 2006 - 05:23 PM

animals are great companions for people with disabilities. i used to work at a hrh clinic back in mi.(fremont,mi). it is an awesome way for people with disiabilities to work thruogh their impedence. i have seen people that couldn't walk and after 1 yr of horseback riding they are walking. i could go on.and on. about the benefits of animals and disibilities. where there is a way there is a will.

#8 Doyle'sMommy



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Posted 05 December 2006 - 10:40 PM

Wow you are an angel! You did a wonderful job taking care of them. I cried through Tammy's story! They need a chicken soup for the bird lover's soul book!
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#9 Lisa B

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 05:17 AM

Thank you for sharing your stories...I too cried with Tammy's.
You are a special soul. Thank you for caring for them.

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#10 Suz Stickville

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 02:21 PM

Emmy ... I just want to thank you sooo much for your posts/thread.... you have not idea how much it means to me .... and just LOVE your Crested Love Cockatiel Care web site BTW...

I have 2 tiels at present .... Tweety, who was a rescue (of sorts from a friend) and Freyja, who I got as a 3 month old baby in early Aug... they are wonderful friends and companions to me.... my BRAT birds ... that I spoil as much as possible...

I also have MS.... and my health has not been "up to par" lately ... and have been feeling guilty about not been able to do certain things for them myself and having to ask for help in care for them.... I never considered this problem when I got the Brats.....

Reading your posts.... has eased my fealings of guilt about asking for help in taking care of the Brats.... do not have to ask to often... can do most of the daily on own... but on the "down/bed" days I have trouble with care.....

Tweety has learned over time... about the problems of having control over my left hand and arm (the majority of the time).... so his perch on me of preference is left arm.... so I can use my right hand to preen him "correctly"...:roll: ....Freyja's favorite perch... anywhere ON me....

I am learning that the Brats are far more forgiving and understanding of physical problems than the majority of people/humans.... and soo , I spend more time with them than I do just about anything else .. computer, other pets and JB get the time that is left.... house get attention and care as I am able/up to doing reg stuff....

Thank you ... very much ... for the insight and hope that you have given me...


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Shamrock - Male Alexandrine Ringneck (6+ yrs old 6-07)
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