Parakeet Seizure

by Jen
(Trumbull, CT, U.S.A.)

Our parakeet, Buttercup (8 months old), shares a cage with our other parakeet, Lucky. At 1:30am this morning, we were woken up by very loud, anxious chirping. When we arrived to the cage, we found Buttercup bleeding from both of her winds. It appeared as if she had been bitten.

However, Lucky had no blood on his beak and would never do anything like that to his girlfriend. Her wings were very bloody, but it appeared as if the bleeding had stopped, so we waited until 8:30am to take her to the avian vet. The vet said that Buttercup had a seizure and had done the biting herself. He gave her a shot to reduce the swelling and said that the seizure was probably caused by lack of calcium in her diet and we should add egg shells to her diet.

I have a few questions. What can we do to prevent another seizure from occuring? Also, she is picking at her wounded wings quite often. I am worried that she is going to make them bleed again. Should the vet have given her a head cone?

One more thing....two days ago, we bought two new parakeets. They are in a separate cage from Lucky and Buttercup. We have not allowed them to interact in anyway yet, however, they have seen each other through their cages. Do you think the anxiety of having two new birds around could have triggered Buttercup to have her seizure?

We are very concerened especially since she is so young and small. We wouldn't want her to have to go through this again. Please write back when you can.

Thank you,

Comments for Parakeet Seizure

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Nov 18, 2010
by: Adriana

My quaker parrot has been having seizures at times also.We dont know why or how.But her leg is always shaking but not her body I need help to figure out why and we havent tooken her to a vet.Instead of taking her to a vet what can We do to help stop the seizures?

Editor's note: You posted your question as an answer to this other person's question. Please post your questions as new questions under "Parrot Questions". Please take your bird to an avian vet for help.

Aug 21, 2009
Parakeet seizures
by: The Vet

This is a complicated situation and I do not have enough data to be able to make a definitive diagnosis as to what occurred. Certainly calcium deficiency will cause seizures. Also calcium deficiency will cause bleeding. I have never heard of a bird biting himself during a seizure. I suspect that the thrashing caused your bird to break blood feathers, but again this is not something I can state definitively since I have not examined your bird. But this is what I see more commonly.

If she is biting herself, then some king of restraint device should be considered. I do not use the cone collars, though. I use a tube collar that is more comfortable. But this would be a last resort for me. Biting would be treated very different that broken blood feathers.

The eggshells can help with the calcium deficiency, but is will not be sufficient. Your birds need to be switched to a pellet diet to get a complete and balanced diet. I recommend Harrison's and Roudybush pellets.

I do not know if the two new birds triggered the seizure. I doubt it. But they could have caused a startle behavior and a night fright thrashing episode.

Dr B

Aug 20, 2009
Response to Linda
by: Jen

Hi Linda,

Thank you so much for your helpful advice. Everything that you said makes a lot of sense. I forgot to mention in my post that this night, that Buttercup had her supposed seizure, we had put her cage directly next to the cage with the new parakeets. We covered the two cages together with one sheet. This was different from her usual bedtime routine. The first night we had the new parakeets, we didn't do this, so this was the first time. So, thrashing makes a lot of sense to me. I am sure that the sound of the new parakeets startled her in the middle of the night. We also kept the room they sleep in completely now, after this incident we have been keeping a dim night light on and putting the cages in separate rooms, just to avoid another incident.

Buttercup is doing so much better! Her wings are healing (she doesn't pick at them as much) and she is back to being herself. I just worry about her having another seizure, if the vet was indeed right.

I checked out the website that you suggested - Harrison's Bird Foods. I defintely would like to get them started on something like this.

Your advice was really helpful. I feel better knowing that this incident may not have been a seizure. She is so young, and the thrashing suggestion makes more sense to me. But, I guess we will never know the truth behind this incident...but we will do our best to prevent it from happening again. Thank you so much again.

Take Care,

Aug 18, 2009
by: Linda

Jen, it could be that your bird fell to the cage floor and thrashed. This is a common occurence when a bird is frightened during the night by something or someone. I am not sure this was a seizure in the true sense. The two new birds could have made a noise or fluffed their feathers during the night and frightened your other bird. When birds are frightened in the night, they fall off perch, are in a "shock state" and do not know what they are doing. They thrash around in the bottom of cage hitting their wings, heads, feet and legs on any and everything within reach. It looks like a seizure and is not.

I recommend you get the cone on her if she keeps picking at her wings. I also recommend that you cover both bird cages at night which makes birds feel more secure and they are less apt to thrash. It has happened with our birds when electricity goes out here. I keep a very low light nightlight in their room, and when electricity goes out, it is black dark out here in the country. We have a large cover for their large cage, and they sleep more securely than they ever did without one. You can use old sheets that are faded. Birds are afraid of bright colors, so use pastels or white sheets. Cover them up, and I think they will do better.

DO NOT FEED ANY EGGSHELLS TO YOUR BIRDS AS EGGS AND THE SHELLS GROW BACTERIA EASILY AND WILL POISON YOUR BIRDS. Do get started with changing them over to an organic high quality pelleted diet like Harrisons. It takes some time for the changeover from seeds and is well worth the time and effort. Tracie carries Harrisons and Golden Feast out here both of which are organic and have to be refrigerated after opening as they have no preservatives. For more information go out to where they have information on changing over from seeds to pellets plus a lot of products to help your birds be more healthy and eat a balanced diet. No vitamin or mineral supplements are used while feeding the Harrisons as it is a complete diet.

Keep us posted on how everything is working and thanks for writing.
PS your little one may, in fact, be having seizures, but it sounds a lot like thrashing to me. I am not a vet, so am offering advice from my personal experiences with birds.

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