Questions about my Green Cheeked Conure
Hi -- this post will be long, but people on this site have given me good and valid advice before and I would really appreciate some thoughts regarding my Green Cheeked Conure, Tiki Bob. I need to relay the whole story.
I will have had him for one year in April and am still new to having a companion bird. I love him so much! He was purchased from a PetCo and they guessed he was a couple of years old. Avian vets have since disagreed, estimating his age to be four or five years old.
As you'll read below, we have had a very unsatisfactory experience with an avian vet. We now have a new one and will be returning in a couple of weeks -- so Tiki Bob is under medical care now. I'm relating our situation and asking questions mainly to see if anyone has had a similar experience and what your thoughts on this are.
In late January, I took him to an avian vet who was referred by my regular vet. (She only works with fur, not feathers; hence the referral!) This was for a check up. For the most part, he gave Tiki Bob a clean bill of health. There was a small abrasion on one foot, but the vet was unconcerned. He told me to treat it with Vaseline or Bag Balm. He recommended a pellet diet. Before, I hate to say, I was feeding him commercial bird food but I didn't know that was a bad idea.
I immediately ordered Harrison's High Potency food and power treats. They arrived 48 hours later and I'm happy to say, my boy accepted them right away. He transitioned without missing a beat and loves his Harrison's! Also -- and this might be important -- the vet and his assistant trimmed Tiki Bob's nails. The vet held him while the assistant worked with an electric trimmer.
After this visit, I immediately noticed that Tiki Bob was having problems hanging onto my shirts! He was losing his grip, but I assumed it was due to the shorter nails. As the next few weeks unfolded, though, I noticed that his toes were looking a little gnarly, though he was still very mobile.
Also, we have a parakeet. He and Tiki Bob have separate cages but would sometimes hang out together without incident. One day,though, the parakeet plucked some feathers from Tiki Bob's head... I caught him red handed! The two have been completely separated ever since, but Tiki Bob continued to loose feathers in the area, there has been no regrowth and he's turning into quite the chrome dome. While he is still incredible handsome to me, I know a bald conure is not normal. Regarding the foot abrasion, there had been no improvement but no progression either.
We went back to the avian vet. The feet and balding issues did not concern him! He said nutrition was the culprit and that it would take six months before I saw any benefit from the Harrison's. Well, I was not comfortable with this AT ALL. I contacted an acquaintance who raises exotic birds and she referred me to her avian vet. Our appointment was last week --
his knowledge of and compassion for birds was evident from the start.
He began tests on Tiki Bob, including full x-rays that revealed my boy's toes had been broken!! They had healed, but not in the right direction. Now, Tiki Bob's feet were normal BEFORE we went to the first avian vet. Is it possible they broke his toes while electrically trimming the nails???? I can not think of anything else that could have caused trauma to almost every toe he has. Again, his toes looked and performed completely normal prior to that visit. This had to be painful, and I can't imagine not recognizing that Tiki Bob was suffering -- we are together so much -- but he remained mobile through this and I understand that birds are masters at disguising pain and injury.
Labs showed that Tiki Bob also had an infection in both feet as well as his skin. He received an anti-biotic shot and was put on the oral variety. He is still on them. (Oh, and he loves them. I thought giving meds to a bird would be as challenging as giving them to a cat, but Tiki Bob gets so excited when he sees the dropper!)
We are on day eight of the meds and here is what I'm seeing: the foot abrasion is completely healed. His toes look better -- perhaps because some swelling went down -- but are still deformed as would be expected since the bones did not fuze correctly. He runs and skidaddles like always and very much enjoys time on his perch. He has really, really been enjoying perch time a lot more since beginning the meds. He can grip them a little bit but mostly balances. I have moved all his perches lower in the cage in case he falls off. Using his toes to climb is a problem, but he compensates with his beak and takes off like Super Bird.
I am wondering if there is anything that can correct or at least improve his damaged feet. Surgery? Physical therapy?
There has been no feather regrowth on his head. I did see that he would scratch around the base line and suspect this might have contributed to his increasing baldness. Applying Harrison's Soother Plus seems to have helped with any itchiness he may have had. (He also loves having that massaged into his feet!) Someone told me that, if he regrows those feathers, it won't be until after he's gone through a molt -- is that correct? He appears to be going into a molt (as is the parakeet)now, so I'm hopeful...what I do see on his head are very light strands of what looks like hair. Actually, it looks like thin string or netting.
This has been there all along; however, since starting on the meds, I'm seeing some very tiny bumps emerge on his little bald head. Could this be the very beginning of feather regrowth?
As I said, we'll be back to see the newer vet soon; meanwhile, Tiki Bob is active, eating well and certainly responding favorably to the anti-biotics. I'm just really wondering if anyone else has experienced something like this and has any advice or info. Thanks! Donna and Tiki Bob