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Failure To Thrive?

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Hi everyone,

 

I'm needing some advice. In December, my husband and I purchased two budgies. The first was completely white with dark eyes and difficult to judge age. The other was barred. The one in question (Whitey) we weighed at 36 grams. They were quarantined at my parents for about two and a half months. We noticed that he was a little food possessive so we added some other dishes. Flash forward to about a month and a half ago. Whitey has gotten more and more quiet and less active. S/he still has not gotten all of his flight feathers in. There is staining above the cere but no sneezing or coughing and I don't hear any clicking when I listen with a stethoscope. No clicking after flying either. None of the other budgies have had or have any signs or symptoms of respiratory infection. I started supplementing their water with vitamins and iodine, thinking it was perhaps a deficiency. We noticed that one of the other birds was starting to pick on him more, so we moved him to a separate cage on top of the main one. We also noticed that he is constantly eating and prior to the move, had to drastically increase the amount of food being given. We took him to the vet last week and he is down to 26 grams. The vet (the only avian vet within a 4 hour drive) examined him and determined that he doesn't have an infection. She believes that it is a case of him being picked on by the other birds and they haven't been allowing him to eat. She didn't really respond when asked about the staining above the cere. She stated that his stool looked fine as well. Her recommendation is to keep him in a different cage so he has free access to food, and if we don't see any improvement within 2 weeks, to call and discuss further measures to take. I'm just not sure what to think about this. He is spending most of his time sleeping or eating and also has a small amount of staining around his vent. I have noticed that there is a bit more "dust" in his food bowl, so I'm wondering if he is really getting much of the seed digested. Do you think that this sounds correct or is something more malicious at play here?

 

Thank you for your help!

 

Jen

 

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In case this is useful....

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Hi Jen it's hard to believe the vet didn't run some fecal smears under a microscope to check for the likes megabacteria or even worms.

Try giving him some apple cider vinegar in his water, not sure of the dosage but you should be able to find out somewhere on the site.

He looks quite bright in the photos so it's hard to see any problems, any staining is probably due to the poop on his perch, I would position them so he can't poop on them if you can.

He looks very much like a dark eyed clear or he could be a double factor spangle recessive pied.

Hope he gets better for you he is a gorgeous boy.

Cheers Jenny

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Hi Jen,

I think if he was ill it would have advanced more in this time frame. He could have been stressed by the other bird. I'd do what Jenny advised and keep an eye on him to see if he picks up weight wise, if he's wormed, not fluffed up or lethargic, he should be okay. Just to add my birds seem to eat a lot more in colder weather also, once he has no competition for food he may slow down on his food intake. Good luck with him he's lovely. Let us know how he goes.

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Does he eat stuff like grated carrots, broccoli (good source of calcium), corn and cooked egg yolks? I read somewhere that a stained cere can be caused by a vitamin deficiency. It was on a veterinary site. Also I like to have a zoo med light above my birds. I have one for now and move it over each cage for around 2 hours. They need vitamin D3 to absorb other vitamins. I'm still rather new at this myself. I have had my birds over a year.

 

I wanted to add that my budgies are crazy about lemon grass. I read that in the wild they use it when they feel sick and gave it a try. They go nuts when they see me come in with some. I think it may have medicinal properties.

 

I just found this topic on the forum so I wanted to share it with you. http://forums.budgiebreeders.asn.au/index.php?showtopic=30788

 

Notice the second person says vitamin A deficiency.

Edited by Phoebes

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Thanks for the responses. We offer fresh veggies each day. They aren't too thrilled with broccoli or carrots. They love herbs and salad greens though. They don't get lettuce. I had read the info on Vitamin A, so I started supplementing with vitamins. I'm thinking that a lot of this was the other birds picking on him. If one of the other birds flies up near his food bowl, he immediately goes down and starts eating. He is still sleeping more than the other birds, but seems more interested in them now. When he feels up to it, he'll go and talk to them through the bars. Hasn't expressed any interest in getting outside of the cage. Do you think that the separation is going to need to be permanent? I can't believe they turned out to be such little punks!

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Sounds like you're on the right track. I'm still learning myself from trial and error so I'm not sure how long you will need to keep him isolated. I had one budgie who nearly died and his story was similar. Then a tiny miracle I named "Loki" happened.

 

After months of being rejected by all the birds and originally being separated because the males wanted to bite his feet off he started to go downhill quick. He was fluffed up all the time and his head even began to droop constantly.

 

I got a little female as a gift from my daughter. When she was out of quarantine she miraculously saved him. She took a liking to him and only him. She chased away all other males and ended up being the most dominant female changing the whole dynamic of the group. She preened him constantly and within about two weeks he was a new bird.

 

I got quite lucky on this one. I guess her being new she took to the underdog or maybe he was just to her liking. He is yellow and I thought the others didn't like him because he looks more like a canary than a budgie. This taught me that even birds can suffer depression. I am pretty sure he would not have made it through without her. Nobody will dare harm Sunny because they do not want to deal with the wrath of Loki.

 

I'm not sure how you are set up and I'm kind of playing this by ear for now. I wonder what the more experienced members think.

 

(loki is on the far right, next to Sunny)

Edited by Phoebes

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On another note have you tried biological broccoli and carrots? I studied in horticulture and specialized in pesticides and I myself can't stand the smell of broccoli when it 's cooking. I keep thinking it smells like diazinon. I won't eat it either. Grown without pesticides it sometimes needs to be soaked in salty water a few seconds to rid it of parasites but it is much more healthy for the birds.

 

I only give biological broccoli and carrots to my birds because they are so small I don't want the pesticides in their tiny bodies. Ironically studying pesticides taught me not to use them.

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Phoebes,

 

I dont think it's ironic at all that your study of pesticides has made you leery. We try to stay away from non-organic fruits and veggies as much as possible. They go up to the broccoli and carrots, taste them and then shake their heads like they just put the vilest stuff into their mouths. Right now we have 4 males ranging in age from 2 yrs to 8 months. It's the young one who keeps causing the problems. We bought those two together and whitey used to boss pepper (the young one) around. Now the tables are turned. Maybe it's due to the pesky teenage hormones our maybe it's Karma.

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Sorry my internet is acting up this morning. I posted a response but it hasn't shown up.

 

I was just thinking that budgies really do act like little people with their own likes and dislikes. My budgies probably come from a long line of North American pet shop budgies. I guess people here have them accustomed to broccoli and carrots because those were my budgies preferred foods. Like my babies have all tasted this and will now probably show a liking to this when presented with veggies in their new homes.

 

My males got along all winter than when the females ceres became brown little Noah tried to exterminate Charlie. It's weird because Noah is so tiny I was afraid he would be the guy to get picked on. He has turned out to be the most feared male of the group even though he seems half the size of the others. He produced three all white offspring like your bird and my profile picture (his baby girl). I think you are right about the pesky hormones.

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Well, Whitey has had a noticeable decline over the weekend. He looks miserable. He is very lethargic and bumblefooted. We have heat on and have the ACV in his water. I read elsewhere on the site that adding some citrus fruit can also assist by making an acidic environment, so I added a slice of lemon. I really don't think that he is actually consuming much food. The food dish is changed out daily and there are lots of husks, however there is a lot of residue (for lack of a better term) that makes me wonder if he is just crushing the seeds. His keel bone is still palpable. I'm not finding this residue in the other birds' food dishes. My husband is going to call the vet tomorrow and see what the alternatives are. The vet had mentioned crop feeding, Prozac and "some other options." Any thoughts on this or suggestions that my husband could bring up? I'm having him ask the vet to do the stool sample and show him how to crop feed. I was reading up on megabacteria, but the pinned article mentioned it was mainly endemic to Australia and Europe. Is this a microbe that's seen commonly in North America? Thanks for the help.

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I thought budgies were not supposed to have lemon. I'm sorry to hear he has taken a bad turn. People usually say to keep them warm and some make hospital cages. If they can't make a hospital cage they cover three sides of the cage and try to keep the cage warm. You have said you are keeping him warm. Also I have heard north Americans talk about mega bacteria but I have no first hand knowledge of it's prevalence. Many people use a natural kind of vinegar I think apple cider vinegar to make the water a bit acidic. I never tried this because I want a sick bird to drink as much as possible.

 

If your bird is too warm he will let you know by holding out his wings. Many sites have threads on budgie body language are you familiar with this? I only once had a sick bird (aside from Sunny's depression) and he seemed to heal himself with lemon grass. This was a year ago or he just got better while going crazy on the lemon grass. I have always thought that the lemon grass did it though. He was having trouble breathing and tail bobbing and a year later he is doing fine.

 

I have added booster often to my birds food also. My vet sells this. Have you tried putting some booster on the seed? It's a little bottle that I put in hot water and pour a bit over the seed and mix it in. It might help pick him up.

 

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One last thing I have been growing some small eucalyptus trees and the birds seem to become extremely energetic after having at it.

Edited by Phoebes

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my husband took Whitey to the vet today. The vet remarked on how weak he's looking. He did not want to attempt crop feeding for fear the stress would kill him. Stool sample revealed nothing. His crop felt fine. He's not sure what to make of it. He prescribed antibiotics and a nutritionsl paste twice a day for a week. If he's not better or showing signs of improvement within the week, the vet recommends euthanasia. His thought is perhaps it's genetic. He also wants a necropsy done when he dies. It's all so bizarre. He was the largest budgie length and weight wise we ever brought home. :(

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So sorry to hear this. I'm remembering Sunny when he came home. I really thought he was so ill. He still has always fluffed up more than all my other birds but is healthy. Some birds like some people do have genetic predispositions and take stress badly. I read that the white budgies are more fragile to drafts. It's frightening for me to see this when three of my babies are all white. I still hope for a miracle for your sweet Whitey.

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Well it was upsetting night to say the least. He had declined even more. When i got home late this evening he couldnt get up on to the perches even as he struggled to do so. Just laid on the bottom of the cage. He couldnt lift his head and was listing about to the left in circles. Had a very rapid heartbeat and respirations. He looked very distressed and we decided to euthanize him. Hopefully the necropsy will give us some answers. :(

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So sad to hear this. I really want to build a hospital cage now. I know that the UK sells some very good ones but we can't get them in Canada. What a terrible ordeal. Hopefully the other budgies will do well too.

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Sorry to hear about Whitey :( I hope you can get some answers.

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