Macaw with Psittacosis

Fid my Blue and Gold Macaw

My Blue and Gold Macaw named Fid joined my flock back in February this year. He went through the standard ‘new bird’ vet consultation and was diagnosed with psittacosis and an assortment of other much more minor problems.

When I last wrote about him, Fid’s was health was steadily improving and I’d finally solved the issue of his terrible sleeping habits and fear of the dark by giving him a shelf to sleep on instead of a standard perch.

It has been a long process, but Fid is now definitely in the clear when it comes to psittacosis. He’s been off treatment for a while (long enough for things to settle) and his test results are coming back clear.

Out for dinner... Having already tried to steal any available earrings :) 

My vet repeated all of Fid’s blood work so we could compare results and I’m happy to say that the liver abnormalities are completely gone. All his levels are normal except for one. That’s a significant improvement.

After a shower, it's easy to see how many new feathers Fid has coming in!

Naturally, alarm bells ring when there’s still one level that isn’t quite right. It’s really, really frustrating that there is an unexplained abnormality. In fact, my vet wasn’t convinced that the results were accurate and so he arranged for a specialist to repeat the lab test. The second lot of results (same blood) for that one level came back slightly better but still not 100% right.  My vet’s advice is to not panic over it as it may just be a fluke and we’ll repeat the test again in about a month.  If the results were indicative of a real problem, other levels should have supported that but they didn’t. 

Learning to socialise with as many people as possible, Fid watches TV from the comfort of lying on his back.

Fid has effectively been to his avian vet almost once every week since late February. This is mainly because Fid didn’t respond to the medicated water treatment for psittacosis and basically needed an injection roughly every 5-7 days for several months. When he hasn’t seen the vet, the vet has called me to check on him. It has been a real relief to have such a dedicated vet. If anyone needs a good avian vet, I’d strongly recommend Matthew Gosbell at Greencross vets in Springvale, Victoria.

The problem with Fid being so sick, for so long is that he lost that innocent belief that people won’t hurt him. He can’t be 100% sure of who is going to suddenly produce a syringe or some horrible test for him to deal with and he developed the tendency to cry out when someone approached him.

Fid (stealing some orange off my mum).

Now that he has been medically cleared, I’ve begun to socialise Fid with as many people as possible in order to solve this issue. We’re beginning to cover the basics in training. Desired learning outcomes include:

  • People are allowed to wear glasses.
  • All earrings do not automatically belong to Fid.
  • Snatching food from people is rude.
  • TV remotes aren’t edible.
  • Wrist watches aren’t edible.
  • Shoelaces aren’t edible.
  • Curly haired people don’t think it is fun to have their hair pulled and neither do straight haired people, people with ponytails or people with hair in their ears or nose.

You get the idea!  The hope is he’ll be able to join some of the birds on school or nursing home visits.

Visiting a Nursing Home - grabbing the arm of a pair of glasses is apparently easier from behind!

In the meantime, I’m having the fun of watching Fid learn about absolutely everything. My favourite has to be when he tries to eat a kiwi fruit. The evil parront in me finds it amusing to feed them to him whole.

He’ll pick it up, carry it over to the water bowl and stand on one foot, using the other to hold it in the water for up to 10 minutes trying to dissolve the skin. He’ll pull it out and look at it to see if it has dissolved yet and get really annoyed when it hasn’t. Eventually he gives up and throws it at the floor to smash it open instead (a method that he has found which works on most foods). One day he’ll work out that dissolving isn’t the solution, but wow it’s funny to watch him try.

Do I look like I'm going bald when I pose like this?

I have had some other issues with him. For a while, he was plucking at his chest feathers, damaging any new pinfeathers as they were coming in. The area that was bothering him was the area that he was receiving his injections, so this wasn’t entirely a surprise. Apparently, doxycycline injections hurt a lot! They certainly leave a nasty bruise! This has cleared up though, now that he is no longer having injections.

His other feather problems are obvious when you see his tail. Unfortunately he has broken a few tail feathers and they get rattier every day. I found myself complaining to the vet that it’s like he forgets he has a tail. This seems to be exactly what the problem is. He plays wild swinging games where he hangs upside down by one toe and then goes crashing to the ground. He never remembers to accommodate his tail in this, so he bends it on all sorts of unfortunate angles.

You can see the breaks/kinks in his tail where the feathers are eventually going to snap.

What I hadn’t realised is that this is common for a macaw of Fid’s age. I’ve been talking to other macaw owners as well as my vet and they all say that it can take baby macaws a few years to fully wean and learn that those extra long feathers are actually attached. So I can look forward to him continually hitting me in the face with his tail when he decides to do a somersault in my arms!!!

Fid had his wings hacked (I’d love to be able to use the word trimmed but hacked fits better) before he came to me. He has never learned to fly and that is actually slowing down the process of him learning how to deal with his tail. He is exceptionally clumsy and does a crazy kangaroo-style hop when he wants to get something. I can’t wait until his wings grow out, as he worries me when he is so accident-prone.

What do you mean make room for my tail?!?? What tail???

In the meantime, Fid is enjoying everything new that I can throw at him. It really is like having a toddler in the house. I can’t take my eyes off him for a second. Any time I do, he gets into some sort of scrape.

Behaving at the Nursing Home

He went after the tissues in a tissue box that I keep on a coffee table next to my armchair last night. He jammed his head through the hole and roared when he got his head stuck for a second. Now all tissue boxes apparently must die. I’m not sure what is going to happen when I next get the flu?

On the bright side? I’m never going to be bored!!!!

Hanging by a toe...

Mel Vincent works as an animal rehabilitator out of Australia.

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