How Do You Look After A Bird When It Gets Old?

Pillow

My elderly Galah/Rosebreasted Cockatoo is around 64 (human) years old.

This is the longest blogpost that I have ever written so I give you that warning and apologise for the length but I’m trying to be fairly comprehensive as this information isn’t easy to find if you need it. (Don’t worry – I believe in using pictures to break things up!) This post contains information for a stage of life we all hope our birds will get to. If your bird reaches old age or has a disability, there might be some helpful ideas here for you.

I have been dreading this day. This is the day when my elderly galah, Cocky Boy’s state of health has deteriorated to the next stage of age-related issues. I’ve been dreading today because I had run out of ideas of how to make his environment any more ‘disability friendly’ than it already was. I had thought that if anything else came up, apart from having his medications adjusted, there wouldn’t be much else that I could do to help maintain his quality of life. I’m pleased to say that my fears were unfounded – it turns out that there is yet another stage to adjusting a cage to suit a very old, very disabled bird.

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Killing a favourite toy…

Older birds have an increased need for health intervention. They are prone to a range of things, including (but not limited to): heart, liver or kidney diseases, cancer, musculoskeletal issues (so think arthritis, weak bones, bumblefoot), feather issues (particularly feather loss), eye problems and reproductive issues (particularly in females). There is also evidence to suggest that their immune system is in decline so they’re more susceptible to contagious diseases. Don’t think that they’re immune to younger bird problems either. My Galah Cocky Boy might be around 64 years old but he’s just as hormonal (prone to human hand humping) as his younger flock mates.

Considering that I’m moving on to the next stage of care with Cocky Boy – I thought it was timely to do a summary of the different things that have helped Cocky Boy in the last 4 years because there isn’t a lot of information out there about what to do when a bird becomes a geriatric.

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Pretty close to dead when he first got here, Cocky Boy could barely lie on a perch. 

Cocky Boy came to me through another wildlife rescuer’s intervention 4 years ago. The rescuer had been to a house to rescue a baby wild bird and had spotted Cocky Boy (who was clearly very ill) in a rusty old cage behind the house, without shelter from the weather. She called me in to find a resolution. The family that owned him weren’t cruel people – they just had no idea what to do with a bird. Considering that he’d put their daughter in hospital, (having bitten her finger through to the bone) they were too scared of him to have him in the house near the children or to even put their hands in his cage to put food or water in. Instead seed was tipped in from above and a hose was used to fill a very dirty water bowl.

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Within a week of warmth, medication and better food, he began to look brighter.

Cocky Boy had only been with them for about 3 months. He had outlived his previous owners and had been inherited by the 13-year-old daughter. The mother told me that she didn’t know the exact age of the bird, but could trace him back 60 years. Her ex-husband’s parents had had the bird their entire married life and she could remember the 50th Wedding anniversary a few years back. Her ex-husband’s father had owned the bird prior to being married for a few years at least, so that put the bird at around the age of 60. Due to divorce, she hadn’t really had much contact with that side of the family and knew nothing of Cocky Boy’s medical history or even how he was cared for. All she knew was that he was disabled and asked for peanuts a lot. So she gave him peanuts (salted) and a seed mix heavy with sunflower seed – because that’s what the supermarket sells for parrots.

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Crippled, he can’t step up onto a single finger and prefers to clamber onto your whole hand.

The family were very relieved to re-home Cocky Boy somewhere where there were other birds to give him some company. They didn’t believe he was a bird that could be tamed. They believed that he was vicious and dangerous and had only been tame for the one person and that those days had ended when that person died. After 60 years with an owner, they had a point. This was a bird that was grieving the loss of his owner, his long time home and basically everything he had ever known. Aside from that, he was malnourished, suffering from severe crippling arthritis; even the lightest touch hurt him. No wonder he was biting. 

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His condition improved rapidly.  In hindsight though, his beak is open in a lot of pics – I think his heart condition was hiding there all along. 

The first stage of dealing with Cocky Boy was relatively easy. It was a matter of getting him to a vet, onto a better diet and treating the arthritis. This worked. Environment wise, I gave him a cage with horizontal bars so that it was easier for him to climb around. I wouldn’t normally recommend a cage with horizontal bars for a flighted bird (can damage feathers), but for Cocky Boy it was perfect. In terms of perches, he appreciated a good curve that sort-of gripped him on either side.

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Horizontal bars and wider perches seemed to keep him more comfortable.

The next stage came about when Cocky Boy started to show signs of having balance problems. I noticed the issue when reviewing my surveillance camera footage. If he thought no one was watching him, when he was sitting on a perch, he’d lean forward and steady himself by grabbing a cage bar, approximately every 30 seconds. He also didn’t move around as much. He didn’t display this behaviour when he could see you, so without the camera I might have missed it. This led to the most drastic environment change that I’ve had to make with him.

I introduced him to wooden platforms with perches resting on them. If he wanted to sit on a flat surface he could, if he wanted to use a perch – he could. The idea was to prevent foot problems (e.g. bumblefoot) that can be caused by uniform perches. It also worked to prevent him falling and hurting himself. The other advantage was that it seemed to give him confidence to move around again. The key idea was to give him a choice of surface while minimising the risk of injury.

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Note the bottom righthand corner of this picture there is a grille instead of a wooden board – this was his chosen ‘toilet’.

I connected the platforms with a series of ramps. I also used wire grills instead of wood in certain choice places that I knew he tended to use as a toilet, allowing droppings to fall through to paper below. The other thing that I found necessary was a change in food/water bowls. Shallow ceramic dishes became essential, as he just couldn’t get into anything deep.

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Shallow dishes made meal times much easier.

This worked for a while. However, I wasn’t convinced that his arthritis was being managed properly. He went back to the vet and medications were again prescribed for erratic use on a “as needed but not long term” basis. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me as his condition was a permanent one and you don’t get much more long term than that? Repeated vet visits with ongoing issues and I began to get very frustrated that I wasn’t being heard. Three days of prescribed treatment seemed beyond ridiculous for a permanent condition. It occurred to me that even a very qualified vet could be wrong and that I had a responsibility to question his treatment. In fairness, a bird in his sixties isn’t something a vet sees everyday. So I got a second opinion and changed to a different avian vet. I was so happy with the new vet, that despite the previous vet having my flock’s histories, I brought all of my birds across to the new vet.

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Even Cocky Boy’s travel cage required a disabled set-up.

Consistent medication made a drastic difference to Cocky Boy’s quality of life. He began to get around more easily. His legs were still seriously deformed and he still couldn’t fly. Which brings me to the next stage – what happens when a galah is active? Mess is what happens. Lots of mess. Suddenly the wooden platforms weren’t so wonderful. They were VERY hard to clean and very disruptive to replace. So I removed them. I replaced them with wire grills/ferret platforms and placed ceramic tiles on top. The tiles were a matte finish, so they weren’t slippery and weren’t cold to touch. Cleaning became easy again, as they simply lifted out without removing the whole platform. I kept the ‘toilet’ gaps by cutting some smaller tiles.

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Ceramic tiles made it easier to keep his cage clean. He used to love to line that string of wooden beads up, so that it rubbed his back.

This worked for a while, but things didn’t stay great. His health deteriorated again and this time something was really wrong. The vet discovered a heart condition. For a while, I figured this really was going to kill him, but I was wrong about that. Medication worked again. Except this time the medications needed to be specially compounded because they’re not off-the-shelf drugs for birds. Apparently the world has a shortage of 64-year-old galahs demanding heart medications? We had a minor setback when he had an allergic reaction to a medium the pharmacist used to mix the medications up, but fortunately we could easily identify it was the medium and not the drug (as I’d been compounding the drug by hand with water while we worked on the dosage and he’d been fine then). 

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How do you tell if a bird is having an allergic reaction to something? This is Cocky Boy’s normal face – compare it to the pic below…

Allergic reaction

In the grip of an allergic reaction. His eyes are red and swollen, he has discharge coming out around his nose and his pink feathers were darker (due to an oil used as a medium in his medication – the oil absorbed his usual feather dust making him appear darker).

The heart condition led to yet another environment change for Cocky Boy. This time the change was an addition of a heat lamp. I started with a red globe, but he had a really bad reaction to that – screaming at night. It was his: “I’m in pain” scream, not his: “Give me a nut” scream. I did some research and found some studies that linked red globes to eye problems in chickens, others said they didn’t cause eye problems. It was incredibly frustrating to find such contradictory results. I think in 5 years time, we might have an answer to what the best heat globe is – which doesn’t help me now. So in the meantime I purchased a ceramic heat globe that emits no light and isn’t Teflon coated – problem solved in more ways than one.

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Enjoying some time under the sprinkler. This is the best way to bathe him because he frequently touches the ground with his beak as he walks. He’ll choke in a bath/shower base.

The heat globe is on 24-7 unless it is a really warm day. He sleeps next to it. The globe is on the outside of the cage, because any direct contact will result in a burn (that rule applies to human fingers too). Talking to others with elderly birds – they’ve also found added heat essential, whether their bird has a heart condition or not. Healthy birds don’t need an added heat source, but a frail old bird does. I can’t stress that enough. He wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the heat lamp. If he doesn’t need it, he’ll move away to another part of the cage.  How much time he spends huddled near it gives me a pretty good idea when he isn’t doing well and needs his medications adjusted.

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The only problem I have with a ceramic globe is that it isn’t obvious when it has blown. Fortunately they usually last for at least 6 months of constant use. This lamp actually has a glow-in-the-dark ceramic shade which traps/directs a lot of heat and provides a gentle glow at night.

The vet changed up Cocky Boy’s arthritis meds again and suddenly I had to readjust platform heights in Cocky Boy’s cage because his posture changed. He was now able to sit up more, which made him taller. I have the platforms at different levels of the cage so that he can choose what height he is at (choice is a big thing around here). Suddenly Cocky Boy needed his platforms lowered to prevent him hitting his head on the cage roof. Cocky Boy also recovered the ability to fly. You can imagine my shock in having a crippled bird suddenly fly again. His cage is intentionally small because flight puts a strain on his heart. This way I can control the amount of flying he does; limiting it to out of cage supervised play.

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All wicker balls must die. It doesn’t matter if they’re twice you’re size – they still have to die a splintery death.

You can see why I thought I had reached my limit with arranging a disabled cage? Ramps, platforms, special perches (cactus perches turned out to be great because the holes helped him get a decent grip), heat, allocated toilet area, shallow food dishes, a diet that had been adjusted to his needs, toys that weren’t hanging but that could be played with on the ground, patches of grass and foliage, specially made medications… what does that leave to do?

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Hanging out with the flock…

This brings me to his current stage. A side effect of the heart medication is that he is on the lighter side when it comes to body condition. His feathers and posture disguise just how thin he is.  His keel bone is prominent. He can’t afford to lose weight and consequently has a slightly different diet from my other birds, to help him keep the weight he has. He also has a very minor bald patch on his lower abdomen, where (due to his deformed feet) he rubs it as he walks or rests on a perch/surface. (Feather loss is something older birds deal with.)

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You know something is wrong when he’s sitting fluffed, trying to sleep in a food bowl, even dragging foraging toys over to the bowl, emptying them into the bowl and sleeping on the seed rather than eating it…

Cocky Boy recently developed a pressure sore at the base of his keel bone. It was bad enough to trigger an emergency vet run.  Rather than add more medications to the mix (5 meds twice daily is a lot), the vet prescribed a topical treatment. This helped to stop the wound from getting infected but it didn’t stop the problem of him resting on this one spot. I needed to make another environment change.

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Sitting on a perch padded with felt and covered with Vet Wrap.

Padding his perches was an obvious solution. A layer of felt, covered by vet wrap did the trick. Vet wrap is a self-adhesive veterinary bandage that doesn’t actually contain adhesive (which could be toxic); instead its texture allows it to stick to itself. You can usually purchase it through your vet. In this case it covered and waterproofed the felt. Wrapping the last layer of Vet wrap loosely, gave the perch a wrinkled texture, making it easier for Cocky Boy to grip the perch. I didn’t do every perch in the cage, just a few main ones. Again, giving him the choice of what he wants to sit on is important to me.

This didn’t entirely solve my problem. He was still choosing to sleep on a flat surface like a hen rather than a perch, which meant the sore was still resting/rubbing on the tile. In fact, to relieve this he’d often go to sleep in his food bowl. You can imagine how hard it was to keep his wound clean.

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Making a bird ‘pressure mattress’ with rice, a sandwich bag and a pillowcase.

Ironically Cocky Boy himself had given me the answer. He particularly liked to sleep in a dish that contained seed, pellets or sprouts. This reminded me of something hospitals do here to prevent pressure sores in human bed-ridden patients – they use a “pressure mattress”. A pressure mattress contains some sort of grain, so it moves under the person and prevents the development of sores. Consequently, I found myself getting a re-sealable plastic sandwich bag, filling it with brown rice while being careful to seal the bag without trapping air in it. I placed the bag in a pillowcase to prevent the bird being able to access the plastic, and to make it less slippery. Suddenly I had a pressure mattress for a bird that I could place on the tile near his heat lamp. He loves it. A week later and the pressure sore is gone.

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Loves the pressure mattress idea! I have to keep changing the pillowcase to keep it clean because he drags everything over to it. 

There is no how-to guide for an elderly or disabled bird. If you’ve got one, 90% of what you do is going to come down to your own creativity and if you’re lucky, your vet’s ideas will help. Caring for one isn’t an easy thing. It’s expensive. Vet checkups can be necessary every couple of months.

I’ve got a cat vet that thinks I’m a mental case because I laughed when she told me that having a newly diagnosed diabetic cat would mean a “confronting lifestyle change” for me. Apparently I need to get used to the idea of keeping spreadsheets of information, being with my animal at certain specific times like clockwork in order to administer injections, watching for subtle changes and not being able to easily leave the animal in someone else’s care? She didn’t see the humour in that because she had no idea that a few extra statistics noted on my clipboard and a 12 hourly injection sounded like heaven to me compared to what I face with Cocky Boy. There’s not a lot of difference between looking at the colour a strip changes to when stuck in cat urine, to looking at the colour and texture of a bird’s poo when you really come down to it. So much for a lifestyle change!

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He’s sound asleep on the pressure mattress. I regularly spy on him through my study window in order to know what behaviours he is hiding…

Ethically speaking, euthanizing is something that you wonder if you should be considering? Personally, I do weigh up his quality of life. He sleeps more than a younger bird but I’m confident he’s pain-free; he still plays with toys; destroys stuff and interacts with my flock. He might require a supported environment to achieve those activities, but as long as he’s enjoying it – I’ll put in the work to keep him happy. It’s a fine line I walk.

If you have a disabled or elderly bird, please share your ideas in the comments below. I know I’m not alone in constantly looking for more ways to make a bird’s life comfortable. I’m back to dreading the next stage because I can’t imagine what it’s going to be and for now – I’ve run out of ideas again…

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“You’ll never be able to tame such a vicious, dangerous bird!” said his previous owner. There are days when we all feel like that, but if you work hard enough… well the picture sums it up.

Mel Vincent works as an animal rehabilitator out of Australia.

42 comments

Patsy

Jenny, To keep your African Gray warm, purchase a heater that is enclosed with oil and had no exposed heating coils. Put a cloth over the cage and put the heater on the floor underneath the cage cover. The heat will rise under the cover and keep her warm. I also put a pan of water on the heater to keep her moisturizer.. Check the temp to make sure it’s not too hot. They love the moisture and heat African Grays can not stay chilly for long.

Patsy
sav

Thank you. I love the tail. I’m new to the world of birds. My Iny is 5 months old and she keeps me on my toes. I have noticed that she thinks that our cat and dog are her pets as well. I have caught her on several occasions flicking food out of her bowl onto the ground for them both to eat,( which they both do) . Is there sny tips you could please give in regards to her flicking food out and her bites. She has her moment’s were dhe is great and others were she just bites. But any advice that you may have for a novice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Sav

sav
Margaret Ray

An update regarding Daisy…after visiting an avian vet three times, spending over $2000 and syringe feeding my sweetheart for about six weeks to build up her strength, we felt she was strong enough to handle the anesthetic required to undergo x-rays and an ultrasound. The results were heart breaking, showing a large mass in her compromising her eating, digesting and pooping efforts. She was euthanized and I ordered a necropsy in the hopes that the vets and the vet college doing the tests would learn something that might prevent another parrot from suffering as she apparently did. The mass was unexplainable “swollen tissue”, and the condition of her heart indicated weakness (perhaps due to her age). I am still waiting the results and final reports from both the avian vet and the vet college. In hindsight I would have put her to rest sooner but as most of us are, I was ever hopeful that we could both diagnose, treat and possibly cure her condition. No such luck. I feel somewhat better knowing that I made many changes to her environment similar to “Cocky” to improve her quality of life. I pray that the necropsy results will shed light on the physical condition and proper care of aged birds and possibly prevent another delightful creature from suffering as she did. The twenty-five years we shared together were precious and she was loved and well cared for however what she encountered in the process of being ‘wild caught’ and her previous owners’ care remain a mystery to me. In the meantime I am looking into adopting another C2, preferably an older one with special needs…

Margaret Ray
Elaine Beechey

You mention that the food was high in sunflower seeds – are these bad for parrots? We have a lot of visiting galahs that we feed but we do buy food that is high in sunflower seeds. What else should I be using? I have noticed two older galahs recently, they aren’t able to fly very high off the ground and often eat on the ground. This evening I saw one crash into our fence and one of our cats went to investigate. The galah put out a wing to say go away I thought. It didn’t seem to want to eat and when I tried to pick it up its body was very thin. My husband has managed to pick it up and it is now in a cage in the garage. I wonder how it will be in the morning.

Elaine Beechey
shanthi

can this be a calcium deficiency? My grey is 32 years old and has always been very difficult with supplying his calcium needs. He also exhibited( and still does only less) some of these symptoms. We have put a zoo med uv 5 fluorescent(long tube) bulb over him for about 4-6 hours a day. Don’t use a coil bulb uv!..In addition I add calcium supplement to his water every day. Don’t use calcium with d3 if you have the fl uv bulb on her. It takes a long time to heal up but our bird finally has started playing with his toys again and hanging upside down (exhibiting a good strong grip). I heard that 32 is considered old for a grey in captivity but aside from some aging stuff I see(his grey feathers going red-cant go grey haa haa)and some wrinkles on him and sleeping earlier than he used to he is still going strong. I know alex the grey died from some type of heart failure at about 30 so I give my bird cheerios to help his cholesterol? anyway good luck whatever happens to your baby(I call all my birds babies.

shanthi
Lok Yi

This might be off topic but I’d just like to share this. Your heartwarming story had touched me a lot as my family used to have a rose breasted galah. She passed on last september due to digestive problems. Unfortunately, she was only 5. We could not get her to the vet on time. I regret it so much as we had noticed that something was up with her, but did not think it was serious. She had watery feces, was more lethargic/sleepy, was constantly puffed up. So if next time you notice anything, don’t pass it off. Go see a vet.

Lok Yi
Michelle Breuer

I don’t have old birds, but I love my birds and will be taking on some other birds that people can’t keep. Your post was great and informative plus I loved the pictures. Thanks for writing.

Michelle Breuer
Jenny

I love this article. I have a 32 year old African Grey that I got when she was 11. I got a clip on light holder and a black heat bulb. It isn’t the same as your ceramic bulb, but I couldn’t find where to get one. I have heard the heated perches are not that good to get. Here is my question – how do I keep the cage heated at night (when the heat in my house goes down pretty to pretty cool) and I cover the cage? I think if I leave the cage uncovered it will be too cold even with the heater. Anybody have any ideas?

Jenny
Vrami

Thanks for the great ideas! I have an M2 with two crippled feet and I’m also trying different approaches- some work some don’t. Will make a platform with the grain pillow- right now she has one with a thick quadruple layer of polar fleece. Wrapping perches tightly with strips of polar fleece also helps; another idea which helps my bird is hanging vertical ropes from the cage top- she uses her beak to get pressure off the most painful foot and kinda swings herself from one place to the other- it serves a purpose similar to a cane for a human. Originally I had one rope hang down for chewing/playing- she showed me that she had a better use for it- so I hung up some more in strategical places

Vrami
bj

Another way to make a soft and conforming mattress is to use a very tiny grain like amaranth or teff. They will be softer than rice and far more comfortable because of the tiny size and the softness. You could even use quinoa, but the smaller the grain the softer.

bj
Kay Young

You are such a sweet mama! He is beautiful and looks so comfortable. Thank you for giving me some ideas for my elderly cockatiel, Romeo. He’s the first to say ‘hello’ to me every morning, but he can’t fly and even falls from his perches now. I’m going to try making him a platform.

Kay Young
bj

A more comfortable perch for him might be one that is flat so he does not have to balance on a rounded surface. I did this for my handicapped Belize amazon Reemie and it improved her life considerably. She had more freedom to move around knowing that she would not fall off. I used cardboard and covered it with thin terry cloth. If necessary you can also use vet wrap to make it even easier to hold on. Balancing takes a lot of effort.

bj
Jesselde

I got Pilota, a Yellow Crested Amazon six years ago, when she was about 50 years old and her name was Maritza. Her age is pretty accurate, as my late friend’s son, who is now 60, remembers bringing her home from the Colombian Amazon when he was five. I believe that either the Colombians or her local doctor at the time aged her at 5 years old. She’s definitely female because she used to lay eggs. One rear toe on each of her claws turns upwards, so her grasp is really uncertain at her advanced age. She barely flew when I met her about 11 years ago, and her flapping barely breaks her falls these days. Her majestic domed 6 foot cage is now a dog carrier, so that she can’t fall as far. The floor is a layer of wood chips (which she doesn’t ear) layered between 2 thick layers of newspaper. In this way, even if she does fall, she can drop onto a semi-cushioned surface. I’ve placed a seried of perches of varying sizes into a zigzag pattern all the way across the cage so that when she pitches forward (as is her norm) there’s a perch directly in front of her to latch onto and use to help her regain her balance. They’re set up in a series of alternating “’v’s,” and when she travels the cage, she chooses the challenge level – whether to cross where the perches are nearer or closer to each other. Her cage bottom and her water gets freshened each morning and before bedtime. Her dry feeder is closest to her water dish, since she drinks a lot between nibbles of her raw spaghetti or peanut butter snacks. One of her two heated perches is still working, and she spends most of her cage time seated on it. The outside of the two sides of her cage which are more exposed to the drafts which may catch her cage when I open the French doors to enter the bedroom. The AC vent over her cage got sealed shut, and in the winter, I drape upholstery cloth over the top and the side of her cage which faces the window. We share the bedroom and suite with 4 cats rather cooperative cats, but she’s never out of the cage on that side of the house unless I’m carrying her. When we’re in the living room, she’s got a stand with a 2 foot diameter tray under it. I call it the ‘Poo-Poo platter" for obvious reasons. There’s 1 inch bubble wrap sandwiched between two layers of newspaper. Any papers she’s soiled get changed as soon as I notice it. I used a narrow-runged ladder from the kitty playpen as a ramp from right under the perch down to the Poo-Poo platter. I went to Sears and picked up a length of lightweight plastic links which I fastened from a ring above the end of the perch that she uses for the ladder downwards. Using her beak, she can lower herself onto the ladder and using her beak as needed, walk backwards down to the poo-poo platter. She’s now able to climb back up the ramp and using the hanging chain her beak and her feet, can pull herself back up onto the perch. In order to support her mobility I spread her food among several small saucers scattered across the poo-poo platter, and sometimes put her dry food under their lips, so that she has to walk around as well as forage. I make sure there’s always fresh water in a dish on the poo-poo platter as well as up by the perch. The platter is about 3 feet above the ground, so about 2 feet down, I’ve set up a literal breakfall of bunched clear plastic wrapping material covered by a layer of newspaper. At one end of the platter setup, there’s an 8"X 13" box with the flaps taped in an upright position. It’s tipped on its side with the back and the floor lined with paper. Her cozy box is where she goes to nap or if the living room is cooler than she’d like. I set up a baby monitor so that if I’m on the cats’ side of the house, I can see her whether she’s on the perch, the poo-poo platter or in her cozy box. hear her if she calls and When I carry her from room to room, I still have her perch on my fingers, but my hand is in a shallow box so that if she tips over, she falls less than an inch down, rather that onto the wooden floor or into the grasp of on of the curious cats. When she’s been sleeping for a while before I put her in her cage for the night, she’ll nuzzle against my chest, which makes it a lot easier to steady her for transport. I won’t get into her current very serious health problems, but I do want to say that I’m grateful for the 6 years we’ve shared. I’m Pilota’s third mother, and arranged for her fourth mother along with some funds for her food and medical needs should I predecease her.

Jesselde
Kathleen

I have a 30 year old cockatiel . So far I haven’t had to make any changes. He’s got some eye sight problems and doesn’t fly well anymore.. He got to the vet as needed and once a year. I don’t think he is in pain or suffering at all. He’s my love and ever day/week/month/year I get with him is a bonus.

Kathleen
Rosie

Bless you Mel, Cocky Boy was so lucky that you found him. Big hugs to you, and a gentle hug to him. x

Rosie
mary

I love you Mel. I’m going to use the pressure bed idea… And yes infrared bulbs are horrible. We had to share a room with our birds without a heater one (entire) winter and used a few infrared “pig n poultry” brooder lights n electric blankets for warmth. The lights burned OUR eyes; even shut and it took weeks of non-use to get over it. The birds hated them too, I even burned my arm really bad with just a tap. I believe that people who think it doesn’t bother their birds eyes …or effect their birds hormones (as advertised) are simply unaware n need to know to avoid those lights. Thanks for mentioning that point as well.

mary
Jayne Boulton

This is an amazing story. Cocky bird is an inspiration xxx

Jayne Boulton
Mel

Thank you for sharing. Your post has helped me with ideas of how to better care for my beloved.

Mel
Lil

Thank you! Some great ideas for our special needs parrot. I have placed a mattress at the bottom of my Smitten’s play cage. Smitten has no movement in one of his wings and some balance issues, but loves to climb, so we have one large cage he plays in from time to time, reducing the risk of a hard fall by having the mattress at the bottom, but still giving him the space to climb and get up to a high place. His “bedroom” cage is quite small, but safe (he loves his bedroom), his out of cage time is often on the floor or on low perches, because he still believes he can fly…if only he tried hard enough or climbed high enough. It’s heartbreaking to watch him look up at somewhere he’d like to fly to… Launch himself into the “air” and get nowhere.

Lil
Rob Parsons

Mel, you closed with " I’m back to dreading the next stage because I can’t imagine what it’s going to be and for now – I’ve run out of ideas again…" I am confident that when that “next stage” comes, you will get the necessary idea! I’m truly inspired by your story—you definitely have what it takes to find solutions. Not everybody can do this well. I hope if other bird owners are not in your class, they know someone who is. Keep on doing what you do so well! Love your blog.

Rob Parsons
Geoff Barker

Hi Mel You have given dignity to an aging handsome guy ….congrats to you & your dedicated work

Geoff Barker
Bill

Great article Mel, I have a Quaker then she that is about 33-35 yrs old and is blind in one eye. She still wants to fly some and I try not to let her fly on her own as she will miss where she wants to land and crash. So if she wants to fly I will get her to step up and I hold her feet and raise my hand and lower it just fast enough so she will flap her wings to keep them in some condition. Exercise is good for all birds in what ever way they can get it with out injury.

Bill
Linda

What a heartwarming story, thank you for being very explicit with your modifications. Cocky Boy was a very lucky fellow to have found you and you him. You are definitely a sweetie as is that adorable bird

Linda
Brenda Piper

Thank you Mel for caring. I have an elderly parakeet as well as a bronze winged pionus. I cover my birds at night but have wondered what I could be doing for better warmth. I have thought about a heat lamp but since I cover them didn’t know if that would help. how about a heated perch? are they worthwhile? Or should I use the heat lamp during the day and have it off at night. your feedback would help immensely.

Brenda Piper
Chrissie

God bless you for taking such good care of Cocky Boy. This information was so helpful. Did you just lay ceramic tiles on the bottom of the cage, then pull them out to wash off?

Chrissie

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