Puzzled by sudden death of Blue & Gold Macaw

by Karen
(Los Angeles, CA USA)

My blue & gold macaw (Freeway) was approx. 40 yrs old. (I had him for 32 yrs) The other night I heard terrible squawking, rushed to his room to find him on the floor, on his back and what seemed to be a seizure. I noticed he had vomited and that it contained undigested sunflower seeds. Rushed him to emergency where they gave him a couple shots of valium (I think) to help stop the seizure. It did not help. They kept him overnight but no better in the A.M. His temp rose to 107 and he was burning up. We had to euthanize him.
I am in complete shock.

He had been his usual self; no previous symptoms that he was ill. Ate & drank during the day, poop looked normal. Nothing had changed in his environment. For the past 20 years his cage has been in an enclosed sunroom(not too cold/not too hot) which was located off of the family room, so he was always visible. My cat slept in the same sunroom. Litter box was up high on a cedar chest, so that the bird could not explore. So I know it wasn't anything to do with that. Nothing toxic that was out there.

Again, there was nothing different. Keep beating myself up about what could have happened? The only thing that the bird sometimes did, was to try to come down and get into the cat's dry food. I would catch him and chase him back up his cage.

I guess I am in shock since I thought 40 was fairly young for a macaw and I saw no ill symptoms and it was all so sudden!

Emergency vet suggested that it might have been a brain tumor. But wouldn't the bird have demonstrated some signs of that before? Do you think his nibbling on the cat food might have caused something?

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Jun 22, 2016
by: Caryn

I lost my yellow nape amazon two weeks ago....got him at 6mos old and he died at 32 yrs old.
The only GOOD thing is that he died in my arms so I am glad I was there.

He was never sick, was fine the night before and the next morning he was on the bottom of cage almost like a stroke.

He called my name three times and fortunately I heard him and came running.....

I too am beating myself up because I feel like I did something wrong.
Have no idea what caused it, am soooo sad.

I share your grief

After reading some of these posts, I feel fortunate that I did have him 32 yrs. but this is the worst loss I have ever encountered.


Don't know that I will have another because I am 62 yrs old and don't have that long on this planet, and I could never take another heartbreak like this

I am looking forward to meeting NoToe at the Rainbow Bridge

Tears and tears and tears.

Jun 03, 2016
i lost my baby
by: jazz

I had my macaw from when he hatched . and now he passed away yesterday , I was not home at the time . my brother tells me he went off the cage and went down the stars to him he loved to play so he threw It everywhere. he was 13 years old I am soo heart broken

May 04, 2016
My lovely Green Wing Died today
by: Anonymous

My lovely Gaia died today 4/5(16, internal bleeding of some sort, she had lost weight and I'm a plain fool to not take her for check up, we were 17 years together and when my wife died 6 years ago she became my close and affectionate companion, very spoilt and lots of cuddles nad masses of attention, she was a wonderful bird.
I think the cat food she nibbled did it, I always warned her away..but. I feel culpable and very sad indeed, not sure how I will adapt to life without her. I keep thinking it was my damn fault!...and it likely was, ahat a failure of care! I'm ashamed. She was very loved though. I just missed all the signs, I guess. (Thanks for listening)

Jul 13, 2015
Macaw sudden death only 10 year old
by: Rob

Just lost me best mate gutted he was not just a bird in a cage these animals are so clever and smart ther nearly human he loved watching newcasle and would showt toon army and if a goal was scoed he showt f._king get in gana miss u charlie proppa gutted ripx

May 02, 2015
We live in plumas lake Ca
by: Anonymous

My green wing 22 yrs old just became ill last Friday he quit talking and screaming he was lethargic we noticed he vomited he could only grip with 1 claw. He continued to get worse weak couldn't even eat or drink then Sunday he was normal again for about 30 minutes then he had almost seizure like symptoms he got worse Monday night I took him to a bird Vet she ran cultures and lab work. Everything was normal we are waiting to find out if he has PDD. He comes and goes back to normal for short periods then he is detached he use to be social and interactive with the family now he just wants to be on his cage. He doesn't scream or anything just chews on his cage. He has a poor prognosis from the vet I'm not sure if he will die but I don't think he will come back to normal. He is on cipro an anti inflammatory drug a Parkinson medication and celebrex. No warning just woke up with a new bird it's sad. The only thing that changed was he was outside while we lay wood chips the vet said she doesn't think that was the cause idk.

Mar 19, 2015
My macaw is in dyer need
by: Anonymous

My B&G is dying as I write Suddenly sick I just got him from rescue about 6 months ago & he was abused and he's very aggressive. I would stress him the vet said to struggle to wrap him and the cold, to come in. I'm pushing water but this is the 3rd day Please any suggestions He is only 6 and he has been great till this point. The vet gave clean bill of health 2 months ago. I have the heat up and pushing liquids. He is trying to eat and drink but it keeps coming back up. He has not talked or any noises thru this. His wings are out like he's hot, he's so weak....I don't want him to die and I fear that Its the wasting diese

Mar 15, 2015
mcaw death
by: john

our bi just died about 45 minutes ago. chichi had been flapping his wings rapidly but no noise like he usually did.we did not bother to get up but when the wife finally did she found him on his back he had vomit on his beak,we don't know what happened he will be missed my son was out of town but on his way back

Nov 26, 2014
My 7 yr old Macaw died
by: EJ

My blue and Gold Macaw just died yesterday- she had tumors all though her body. She was acting normal but sometimes, recently, I could look at her and tell something was wrong. Took her to the vet and they diagnosed her with some word to long to remember. They advised me to have her put to sleep but I did not- Vet said she most likely will not make it to next week, which is Thanksgiving and even though you hear it, you can't believe it until... my sweetie walked over to me and collapsed right at my feet- she was acting normal up until then

Jan 22, 2013
by: Anonymous

Maybe he died of pasteurella from the cats food

Jan 08, 2013
by: Karen

Thank you for your input/concerns/regrets, etc. Regretfully I hadn't taken Freeway to the vet in years. He was being weighed when I would go for clipping, however, his chart is at the facility and I can't remember?

The emergency vet suggested that it could have been a brain tumor. The only thing that puzzled me was that I never saw any previous symptoms (or maybe there doesn't have to be any?) From what I saw, I thought it looked more like a stroke; not sure? He couldn't open his right eye. Do birds have strokes?

I really don't think it was cat litter, as the enclosed litter pan was not accessible to him.

Vet said that when temp gets up there, it could start to burn their internal organs, is this true?

Did not have a necropsy done. It was going to be over $1500.

Again, I appreciate your response and will just try to accept the fact that he is gone. He was a wonderful friend for 40 years.

Jan 06, 2013
Macaw with access to cat food and cat litter
by: The Avian Vet

Temp of 107 is not concerning. Normal for birds is 105, and with seizure activity, I would expect a slight rise. I am so sorry that you have lost your bird. Did you have a necropsy (an animal autpopsy) done?

What was his diet? Do you have a current weight or any past weights?

What type of cat litter? I have seen a similar occurrence with exposure to toxic cat litter.

Had he been seen regularly by a veterinarian? Like annually or every couple of years to get a check up? Was blood work ever done?

Brain tumors do occur in birds and they present similarly to what you bird did, without necessarily showing previous symptoms. However they are not very common. Many disease can cause the symptoms you describe and only a necropsy could tell you for sure. Everything from trauma, lead poisoning, to bacterial infections, to virtual infections, to sarcocystis parasites can cause seizures.

Dr B

Jan 04, 2013
Puzzled by sudden death of Blue & Gold Macaw
by: Linda

Your story is heartbreaking, and I feel I must say a word or two. When you get another bird, please keep him/her caged unless you are right there to see what is going on at all times. Birds left out even in a supposedly safe place can and do get into trouble. They are like children and in fact have roughly the emotional/mental development of a 4-5 year old human child, so they are always children no matter their chronological age. Macaws can and do live 95-100 years, though this is not as common as it could be for various reasons mainly poor diet and poor overall care which you are NOT guilty of not providing. The only thing here would have been to keep bird caged, and even then, this may have gone exactly the way it did.

I recently lost one of our beloved dogs to something unknown. She ate her dinner as usual and a few hours later was in process of dying. We did not understand how serious it was because she'd always had some physical issues. Next morning she was dead, and I'm still beating myself up over it thinking there must have been something I could have done. There was not for me, and at the critical time for you there was also nothing you could have done. Your bird could have had a slow growing brain tumor, and even though they grow slowly there comes a time when it becomes critical, and it usually goes as you described so nothing for you to have done.

Well, I've written more than a word or two and just wanted you to know that sometimes our pets lives are out of our control. It takes something like you and I have experienced to begin to really appreciate every single moment we are granted with our beloved pets. Your sweet M
My sincere condolences for your loss which really means nothing at a time like this. It's just a way we have of letting another person know we have also suffered the way you are doing now. We are always here for you and any future birds you may give a home to.

Take care and God Bless,
Linda and Family

Jan 04, 2013
Sudden death of Blue and Gold
by: Anonymous

I am so, so sorry for your loss. Thirty two years is a long time to have a companion and for them to die suddenly is such a shock. I have only had my bird for three years and I don't know what I would do if I lost her. Don't beat yourself up, your bird had a long, happy and healthy life with you.

I'm sure the dry cat food might have contributed to your birds' death. If you caught him trying to eat it, you know he was eating it when you weren't looking. Also, even though the cat box was out of reach, cat litter always tracks when the cat leaves the box and your bird could have picked up some of it off the floor.

Again, I am so sorry.

Jan 04, 2013
Puzzled by sudden death of Blue & Gold Macaw
by: D. Singh

First of all, I must say how sorry I feel for you both. I know what it is to lose a bird like this and how much it hurts but please do not beat yourself up. WE are NOT perfect and NO ONE is. A lesson learned, you should never let your bird eat, smell or reach anything that you're not SURE if it's safe. My bird only INHALED a few drops of Citronella oil with water added, which was put into a cup UNDER THE LEGS OF HIS CAGE to ward off roaches; he died within 15 seconds. I CAN be wrong but I do THINK it was the cat's food that your bird had eaten and died. Please take care of yourself, you'll worry a lot but as time passes your worries will become less. You'll remember him and feel happy that he was a part of your life. You'll never forget him but you'll cope with it better later on. Do have faith in the Lord and in yourself and you'll get by. God bless.

Jan 04, 2013
by: Anonymous

I am soooo sorry for your loss! Sudden too, So heart broken for you. The best way to get to the bottom of these things is to do a NEOCROPSY, the examiner would have thoroughly checked all and come to the diagnoses of death! I don't know if you had time to even consider that, since he was already put down and arranged differently but that is the only way. Guesses never work on these types of things. I have two parrots and if either one ever had a sudden death that is exactly the approach I will take because I need to know for sure what happened and consider saving my other live parrot if it does have something to do with my way of handling them. Otherwise, I am sorry, I wish I could have said something more encouraging.

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