African Grey Traumatized? Will he ever be normal again?

by Tracy
(Colleyville Texas)

I have an African Grey Timneh nmed Charlie. I hand fed him for 3-4 months. We had major incident when he first decided to fly and hit a window. Spent several days at vet and seemed to be normal . He learned to talk, was actually very affectionate, would give me kisses and actually try to steal food from my mouth. Ive never had any biting issues, feather picking , nor screaming etc. He may have bitten me once in two years. I have had parties at my house and people have looked t him, and keep their distance and children in room, and he never became ill or stressed afterwards. I also have a cockatoo in same room in seperate cage.

Now I have a Huge problem. Ill start with events leading up to it, but dont believe that it can be the cause and need feedback. He was fine after we took week vacation and my daughter stayed here with the birds. Then a couple weeks later I had my step daughter here with her 4 chidren. I was very stressed out and Charlie probably heard me yell at kids a few times and heard kids yelling and jumping around. They did go in and see birds, but I never let them out while kids were here. We usually let them out of cages at least 3-4 times a week and hang with us.
There was a time they were out more often and there are times less often and seemed fine with the varience. I do give him pellet diet, fresh veggies and fruit daily and I make my own birdy bread that he gets warm every am.
After the kids all left, I finally got to take Charlie out, rubbed his head, did the usual kissing..talking etc. The next day I noticed he was missing feathers in one area on one wing. The next morning it was on other side. I assumed it was feather plucking from stress or behaviors- he started to become aggressive and never wanted to come out of cage and stopped talking-seemed strange since one night he was fine and his whole personality changed the next day.
I took hm to vet- blood tests did come back days later with little low in calcium and low in protien-I did not do extensive Feather plucking tests- just tests to be sure it wasnt any major organ issues. Stool test was normal. He gave me antiobiotic and said he was underweight (before we had test results) . He put collar on him. Clipped his wings and trimed his claws while he was out under anthestisia. Next day his crop was swollen, I gave him a drop of olive oil and it went down, but think it was from him pulling at collar. I finally took collar off, hand fed him for about 4 days to hopefully get him to gain a little weight and gave him antibiotic through syringe. He made a couple peeps and seemed to be getting better. He still would not come out of cage or step up.

Then all of a sudden he wouldnt take hand feeding at all-squalks like Im gonna kill him flaps all over cage and ultimately falls to bottom from freaking out. Ive left him alone and just talked to him. 4 days and he isnt taking antibiotic, no handfeeding- he is eating his normal food... but isnt talking or chirping or whistling. He sees me coming and hdes in corner of cage and gets ready to snap and bite me if I get too close. His spots where the feathers are missing seem raw on one side, but I believe its from falling and flopping around. Is he traumatized from me taking him to vet and giving him that awful tasting antibiotic? What do I do now? Will he ever like me again? Is it worse if I keep trying or should I leave him be alone in cage? How long does it take if he will get over it?

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Jul 23, 2012
3000 word limit-okay here is part 2 of my questions
by: Tracy

I do have a scale- not likely Ill get him on that anytime soon. But anxious to make sure he is gaining weight.
Worse case scenerio- the leather glove- he wont hate me more and remember that?
Okay two more questions-He has never liked showers or baths. I have tried for a year and half. Its not going to happen. The cockatoo on the other hand wont get out of shower. I put a bowl on bottom of Charlies cage. A few times I have had to mist him for just plain cutting down the dust, he hated it. Would misting him down help with the areas where feathers are gone? or soothe him or stress him out more because he hates the misting? I could make my husband do it so he hates my husband and is more likely to come back to that bird pyschology? haha! Can a bird really hold a grudge forever? Is that a remote possibility?
Thanks again for your response, I dont feel as worried as I did!

Jul 23, 2012
all of the responses are very helpful!
by: Tracy

Okay, I have a little more hope now. I SO appreciate your feedback and to hear fro different people. I need all the suggestions I can get as I am so worried about Charlie.

I did order Harrisons yesterday from this site. I started on Harrisons, but it wasnt easy to find it and I just need to be diligent on ordering it online. I do also already play classical music every night as it is the cue that its time for bed for the birds. I play feathered phonics during the day and once a week will play bird DVDS in room for them. I have been doing a lot of cooing and talking to the cockatoo and rubbing his head hoping to make Charlie Jealous- he does make the effort to lower his head or raise it to see around the toys to watch me talk to Bell the cockatoo. Wonder if birds can feel jealous or he may just be thinking good the predator is on to the other bird now! My husband put new foot toys in cage so Charlie isnt bored. But I havent seen him play with any, nor is he making any sounds except when he sees me he does this screech at a low pitch as if he is petrified and flops around hitting sides of cage on way down to bottom. Should I put a cushion on top of grate for now with paper over it? Im afraid he is going to injure himself. So not sure if me being only contact is the way to go since it makes him flip out and fall to bottom of cage, I dont want to change cage out to one that isnt tall and causing more stress, yet he needs to be fed. I can barely get his water dish out without him freaking out. I did order some stuff to reduce stress to see if that helps. I feel like what I could do to help will cause stress and make him worse. What I dont do may cause stress........agh! My avian vet suggested prozac-I cant even give him antibiotics right now that he is supposed to get. Im the one who needs the prozac now! But I will try the Harrisons- should I just stop the veggies and fruit daiy - cold turkey? The other thing I wanted to mention is Charlie will not eat the bigger pellets, will not eat nuts or seed. I think maybe I prolonged hand feeding too long when he was young? Seems strange for a bird not to prefer seeds and nuts over pellets-even though it may be a good thing since pellets are healthier.... I have to buy the fine for him and coarse for the cockatoo-I assume as long as he eats it that will be okay? Do I still need to add calcium to diet?
So this GRUDGE- I cant for the life of me figure out what happened between having him out and acting normal and then next AM a totally different bird.
Mad because I put him back in cage and he had just spent three weeks in it unable to come out? He acted if he was ready to go back in cage. If kids had colds-is it possible the bird got sick from the kids? He doesnt have any signs of any cold. Maybe some other illness from kids and it finally hit him in the AM after having him out?

Jul 23, 2012
I agree with number two?
by: John Fahlsing

Keep at it, its a phase and it will pass. Birds have good memories and it will come back to him that you are the one he loves and who loves him. If you get frustrated, do you have classical music nearby, that helps my Cockatoo and my Quaker. Tunes work really well. No visitors for a long while and make you the only contact, your going to have to earn that trust again. I took Sunni (blue and gold macaw) to the vet, she was fine, singing, talking, rode my shoulder all the way there. afterwards, wouldn't talk to me for days, wouldn't come out of the cage and ate slim bits here and there. It passed tho, she fine, yours will be too. Sounds kind of funny, but pray with your bird, read to him, even sing good songs, never give up. As a last resort, leather glove, make him step up, but don't remove from cage unless he's ready. One thing i have learned is My Cage, My domain, not a punishment area, not anything but my Happy Place! God bless, Ill add a prayer for you and yours too!

Jul 23, 2012
African Grey Traumatized? Will he ever be normal again?
by: Linda

If your birds are eating organic pellets like Harrison's, found here, there is no reason for the underweight. That is the problem here, and there is a reason for it.

If you're feeding zupreem or lafaebers understand they contain high amounts of chemicals in the form of preservatives. Lafaebers uses a chemical in their foods that is used in the makeup and face cream industry because it tastes like sugar. Birds become addicted to this chemical and refuse to eat plain foods. Zupreem is simply junk pellets full of dye and preservatives, so is not a good food for birds.

It may be a good idea to try some of the Harrisons as it comes in two flavors--regular and pepper. My Amazons have been eating it for 20 years, and we have no physical issues. They go to avian vet a couple of times a year for beak and nail trimming. Get the course grind which is the size pellet for both your birds. Also, you may want to get a gram scale and keep track of your Grey's weight. It will take quite a while to see any difference with a new food, and I think you will see benefits from the Harrisons. Also limit fruit and veggies to no more than 10-15% of diet which means smaller amounts a few times a week and not everyday. If your birds are getting fruit and veggies everyday, then they may not be hungry enough to eat more of the pellets. The pellets should be 80-85% of total diet with NO human foods given. Harrisons also has a bird bread mix and get Sunshine Factor's organic red palm oil to put in. It calls for the oil, two eggs and water. The base mix is made just like Harrisons pellets and can be up to 30% of the diet. My birds love it, and I know they are getting balanced nutrition everytime they eat it. We feed it to them a few times a week as it is not necessary to feed it everyday unless it's helping birds to get used to the Harrisons pellets.

I'd keep an eye on weight with the Grey because something is causing bird to be underweight and since tests were clear, it may be diet. We can literally kill our birds with kindness. They are just like children in that they eat with no thought for nutritional value which is where we come in.

Keep us posted and thanks for writing,

Jul 23, 2012
Concerned for Your Parrot
by: Morales329

Wow, in reading your detailed story, I also became concerned. It is very strange how things went from one extreme to the next. Personality change like that is just way too strange and too fast to happen. He obviously did not take well to something and is connecting YOU to it. If all of the exams are good then don't force yourself onto the bird. Stay gentle and patient. Keep offering outside time. Maybe allow him to see you dealing with the other bird gently and lovingly to see if he can turn that switch back on about you. If it isn't an issue in health then he is just seriously holding a grudge and thats not good. That means if it happens now it will happen every time your bird doesn't approve of something! Just like a KID, they are amazing aren't they. You really can't force your bird to freely get over and just come to you. I think your bird will come around but at his pace not yours. Continue to show care, love, feedings, don't give up even though you get frustrated and want to throw your hands up. Monitor that feather plucking too. Make sure it doesn't progress and make sure your bird isn't intentionally doing other things to hurt itself! Keep up the work and keep us posted!

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