by Jan Smith
(Winston Salem, NC US)
Nanday Conure, Jakes Digs
I have had the distinct pleasure to be rescued by several, cough ten, beautiful parrots. But with this wonderful experience comes some pain and heartache. I have shared my story of Cass, the African Grey that had a stroke as I held him. I also lost a Green Cheek after Cass bit him on the beak. It was a natural event for Cass, a natural reaction to my greenies overwhelming curiosity. The loss of that greenie, Squeakie, was almost as hard as losing Cass and in some ways harder. Squeakie was sweet to the core, not a rescue and I have since come to learn, sort of unusual for his species. But this is about Jake.
Jake is a Nanday Conure that was dumped at a local pet store unceremoniously a few years ago, sad and untouchable. The owners of the pet store are dear friends, and they also are the founders of a parrot rescue that I helped start with them. I went in and saw Jake and began the task of befriending him.
As most of you know, birds pick people, rather than people picking them, if the match is successful. Jake picked me in a simple way in that he ate from my hand right off, and had not shown an inclination that way before. So, I worked on nurturing him and soon took him home.
I learned that Jake must have been in a home where someone named William lived, and he also ran like wildfire if he got to the floor, to hide. I felt that William was a child who chased him or another pet. He would say "really, really, really William" over and over, and then, of course, Malaika, our female African Grey, soon said it as well.
From the start he was easy to get out and handle but had very poor balance and something in his mannerisms just made me feel that he was older. In retrospect, it may have been is illness causing me to feel this way. He had only been fed seed and I had to wean him to a pelleted diet, along with veggies and fruit. He did very well with that. He was stuck on shelled peanuts though. I allowed him those on a limited basis, cooked ones only, but I soon learned he ate the shells and not the nuts. Oh no mam. I just stopped that all together. He was a strange one.
Because of his balance issues, I would have him step up on my finger, then offer the forefinger of my other hand to his beak and say "hold on" and he would take it in his beak and balance to steady himself to get wherever we were going. He was very smart, learning to shake hands very quickly. However, he would freak out and get on the floor and run like crazy, hiding. I never could break him of that. It was so deeply ingrained in him to hide. It was also very frustrating.
As time went by, he lost his ability to easily perch and where he once could fly, he no longer could. I clip all my birds wings but allowed him his a tad longer as he has a weird wing pattern on one side, almost like someone broke his wing. I eventually clipped him to help with balance. His mobility soon became stilted and I began to feel guilty. I feared that he had harmed himself going for the floor several times. Not that it is about me, but I am so glad that I did not hurt him.
I began to exercise his left leg, as he seemed to be getting so stiff, and his foot on that leg seemed to be frozen. I also began to soak his daily almonds in black cherry juice for the natural pain help as it is an anti-inflammatory. I had long before started baking them all bread, fruit and veggie, every week. I never use flour but instead take their pellets and grind them to the dry goods and use that. I take their veggies or fruit along with two eggs for each pan, and bake them. It helps me get the foods into these birds that reject this food. Jake began to not eat the bread, choosing to eat his almonds, and his pellets, only and seemed to be getting thin. I then began weighing him and his pellets to be sure he was eating. He would take Nutriberries.
I took him to the vet this week and found out he has gout. It is heart breaking. He has lost his bliss. He has stopped talking all together. He is immobile and while the exercising, lightly, three to four times a week helps, he is stiff and in pain. The Dr. advised for drops of apple cider vinegar which I do two times a day, along with water, which I make sure he gets by hand serving it to him several times a day with a dropper. I have decided to stop the almonds, and replace them with macadamia nuts. He had gotten to the point where he only wanted Nutriberries, so I am making him his own baked food which I bake in small balls to look like Nutriberries. I take rice flour, some rice baby cereal, egg whites only, chopped dried apples and apricots, chopped walnuts and macadamia nuts, add water, then roll in light millet seed to get that Nutri look. He seems to love it. This gets some of the better fruits in him, low fructose, except the apple, and low protein food. I may have to give him some almonds as he loves them but I will alter them somehow. I have macadamias in cherry juice, and I have some black cherry preserves that are pure fruit, no sugar added, and some blackberry as well. That is his.
I just want him to eat. I will make him some balls with vegetables too, and we will see. He has a prescription at the pharmacy that I must pick up, so our plan is the meds, apple vinegar, lower protein food, more water, light exercise, and anything already mentioned above that I am forgetting to put here. The vet does not care about the food, just wants him to eat but it feels wrong to give him high protein when that is what may kill him.
I love him and am asking those that pray to pray for him. He is wonderful. He deserves to make it and to have this pain go away. Gout can be made better if I am lucky.
I also altered his cage to be handicapped friendly. I will post a pic to show how. Anyone going through this, they need to not have a ways to fall, but need to feel they can perch if they must. It has been hard to find "his" level of happy in his cage. That is the key.
Thanks for reading, any success stories are soooo welcome. And yes, he definitely has gout. He weighs 64 grams and his uric acid was 29. Before anyone asks, and also his feet and legs have just begun to show joint deposits of the uric acid. That heartens me, that has just started.