Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Orlando, FL Shown: Baby sun conure
Through the whole process of losing CJ and trying to deal with the guilt, grief and overall loss of her presence... the breeder, Katherine, has really been there for me fully. She was there to listen to me scream and cry in hysterics seconds after I found CJ lifeless and she was there to tell me to shut up and give myself a break for what happened. Saying I saved 3 birds, not lost one. "Imagine if it was the other way around and it took you 3 deaths to realize they were all sick." she told me. I couldn't get over my devastation of knowing it had cost one life for what I didn't know enough about. And what's worse is Katherine has taught me the signs that I need to be aware of since it all happened by coaching me through it and what do I do? Now that I know I tell myself, "I should have known! So obvious!" yeah, obvious once you know but not obvious to the one that doesn't know.
I thought of all the in-home consults we did and how people were missing their birds obvious signs that I clearly saw and how this part of birds was like that for me. The vet said is like that.
However, through it all I've learned that the absolute best breeders and best vets will TEACH you along the way. Katherine told me about her vet in Miami and how great he is. How he walks her through things so she learns each time and can better care for her birds. Teaching people shows you care about the well being of the animal. I literally had one vet refuse to not treat the 4 conures for less than $300/each just to LOOK at them. That tells me all that vet cares about is money, not if my animals live or die which is devastating to anyone.
Through Katherine I have learned what look in CJ's eye was the same sort of look I saw in Phoebe and why I missed it and Katherine taught me about the various yeast and bacterial meds out there. How when treating for one you need the other and how to best use the medications to get them to work. Sadly, we were told to give one of the medications WITH formula and when listening to Katherine she told me that medication doesn't work unless given on an empty crop and let to sit 5-10 minutes before feeding. That killed me because I was giving the girls these medications - staying strict to what the vet told me because I wouldn't know otherwise to challenge them - and it wasn't even making them feel better! It made me livid.
However, through it all I have more confidence in my breeder than I do my vet and I realize I'm not the only one to make mistakes. Even the best of the best in vet care make mistakes - no one knows it all even if many act like they do and if everyone would just swallow their pride and fess up to the most recent humiliation by admitting what they did wrong, they could LEARN what they missed and pass it on to save more lives.
Caring for baby birds is damn hard and I don't recommend anyone do it. Even the difference of how I raised my other birds from 1-2 hand feedings per day, to these baby conures that were still in a brooder and featherless on 4 - there was a huge difference for me. The hard part, in my eyes, was over with my older birds. The weaning came easily. But weaning doesn't always come easily - some birds start to refuse feeding and lose weight and it scares the absolute crap out of you. There's so much that can go wrong in so little of time.
So when getting into anything in life, the best people to follow are the ones that will share their information and teach you along the way. Which is what Katherine is doing now, and I thank her for that. I thank her for not holding me responsible (in a negative way) and losing all faith in me like I did with myself after CJ, but lifting me up to realize the chance to learn and teach and go on.
Someone commented on facebook and I apologize for not remembering who it was, but she said she liked to think that CJ gave her life to save her sisters and it made me burst into tears the second I read it because I realized without CJ dying, I wouldn't have known anything was wrong with Detka and Lily and that that person was right. It was the one thing that could happen to let me know to get them to Katherine immediately and I did and Katherine told me it saved their lives. I just will never stop wishing it didn't take that kind of sign to let me know what to do and I promise CJ it won't ever take that in the future and I will pass on her wealth of teachings so that other lives may be saved.
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.