Sad day for Baby :(

Posted By: Tigerlilylvr

Sad day for Baby :( - 11/19/17 04:56 PM

Not sure where to post this thread since it touches on so many topics so I’m putting it here.
We got Baby from a terrible situation about 2 weeks ago. With some great advice from members here and a LOT of reading we were making good progress with him! I adore this bird and this is why what happened today breaks my heart.
Baby had his first visit with the avian vet today. He had never been seen by one in 22 years of life except when he was still a baby bird. Additionally he has been kept in a “bird room” with many other birds in cramped filthy conditions with little human interaction for several years.

Two conditions came to light today that are the product of uncaring and awful human guardians. Baby has either an abcess or more likely squamous cell carcinoma on his preen gland. It is small enough that it can be treated if done soon. Surgery to remove and biopsy the growth and send for pathology will be $400-$500. If it is cancer it can still be treated by cryogenic methods which will be another $300-$400. At the moment it is not functioning so he is not getting any benefits from preen oil and it’s not helping his feather quality. It is also causing him to be in constant pain. The condition was caused by his poor diet of only seeds and dried fruit for his entire life.

The scarier condition, if you can call it that, is that he does have severe aggression issues. The vet who saw him has been specializing in avian medicine for over 20 years and was one of the first 100 vets to be board certified in avian medicine when they began doing so in 2002. Guy knows his stuff. Dr B said that Baby is the most aggressive bird he has seen in 15 years. Beat out only by another Triton as most aggressive bird ever... he went for the vet like a velociraptor the instant he moved in his direction after weighing him. (I had taken him out of the carrier and put him on the scale perch) I have (thankfully) never seen him act like that. This is not a bird that will ever be able to be taken out in the world for his enrichment as I had hoped one day I could do.

This both saddens and scares the crap out of me. I am sad for him, that he’s been so mistreated, neglected, and uncared for that he feels the need to attack so viciously. I am terrified because what if he decides to go after one of us one day? We spent a lot of time talking about how best to control his behavior, what he is and isn’t allowed to do, and how to protect ourselves from a very dangerous bird. He also wants to X-ray him and see if his testes are enlarged, if so we will be starting him on Lupron to decrease testosterone production. It makes sense- the mood swings he gets remind me eerily of a friend I once had who was a bodybuilder and got roid rage.

While both diagnoses are scary and not the best outcome I am happy for one thing- that we have him now. We may have spent $450 to “adopt” an older bird who now has some health issues but spending that $450 saved his life. For sure the people we got him from wouldn’t have taken care of his preen gland issue and it would have killed him. Of course when contacting them they aren’t willing to give us back the money to put towards his treatment but that’s ok. At least we will make it happen. Tax time is soon and Dr B said if we do it in the next few months he will be curable. The aggression issue is a whole other ball game. It’s possible that Lupron may help. It’s possible that he will get better with time and human interaction. It’s also possible that in a few weeks he will get dangerously aggressive with us and become cage bound for the rest of his life as the other highly aggressive Triton did. This is a very real possibility that the vet made extremely clear and said to be ready for. In any case we will love him and keep him as part of the family as long as he lives. If he must live in the cage he will always be in the house with the rest of us, we won’t banish him to a bird room.

For those of you reading this who are getting a “used” bird, PLEASE do as we did and bring them to an avian vet immediately. He looks healthy but he has a serious health issue. Don’t get a “cheap” bird and think that because you can afford a few hundred dollars you can afford a big bird. We knew we’d have to have cash for veterinary care and thankfully we were able to get started on it. A yearly exam with blood work etc is $250, pbfd testing is $90, poly vaccine is $50, gram staining another $80. Please be aware of these costs before taking on a bird so you can do right by them.

For those of you who have a bird and aren’t getting it the care it needs, please do or rehome (for free) to someone who will. If you can’t keep the commitment to your pet to give him or her the proper care you shouldn’t have one. It breaks my heart that those people claimed to “love” him and were all boo boo about letting him go but hadn’t brought him to see a vet in 20 years and were shocked that he likely has cancer. I told her last night that it’s unfortunate she won’t return our money to help pay for his care so we can do the first surgery immediately instead of waiting until January but that it doesn’t matter anyhow- rehoming him saved his life and for that I am thankful.
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Sad day for Baby :( - 11/19/17 08:00 PM

Personally I would take him for a second opinion regardless of the vet being board certified he is basically saying all Triton's are severely aggressive. I don't buy it and have never heard that before. In the right setting and with a good deal of patience he can come around. I'm so angry at this Dr.B right now for giving you more to worry about. Please don't let this sway you from trying with your guy. I have know some very sweet tritons and like other too species you get different personalities with each bird. My guess is Dr.B did in deed have a very bad experience with a Triton and now his expectation of these birds is they are bad and going to bite. I'm sure his body language is very clear when he goes to approach the birds and they react accordingly to that. Did he do a swab or staining of the liquid in the possible tumor? Or will he do that when he removes the growth? Did you by chance show a picture of this on facebook? I think I may have seen it.
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Sad day for Baby :( - 11/19/17 09:39 PM

I currently work at a veterinary clinic that routinely works with avian patients, and if I'm on shift I'm usually the one volunteering to catch/restrain the birds for our avian vet. Very, very few birds are happy to be at the clinic, and quite a few of them can become extremely fear aggressive - especially if you approach them bracing for a bite. I'd never judge a parrot's behaviour during this time frame, let alone label them as "extremely aggressive" and scare a client! I'd definitely take that with a heaping spoonful of salt, and I hope you're not discouraged. From what I've been reading, you've been making excellent progress! All birds can be moody, some more than others. My late Lucy springs to mind, and even with her extremely defensive aggression she was still manageable with the right tools.

I'm sorry to hear about Baby's preen gland - did your vet perform a fine needle aspirate at all? That would likely help to define exactly what kind of lump it is. though if it's painful it'd be good to get it removed anyway. Any pain meds to tide poor Baby over? I'd consider a second opinion just to make sure, but I'm super paranoid like that. That aggression comment really bothers me. frown

Keep doing what you're doing, and keep us posted!

Posted By: Tigerlilylvr

Re: Sad day for Baby :( - 11/20/17 01:20 AM

A piece of the growth fell off and he put it aside but said it wasn’t enough for pathology, he’d have to do surgery to remove all of it to send off. When he touched the growth you could tell it bothered Baby a lot. I didn’t take a pic but I should have, I was trying to find it to show Hubby today but didn’t know where to look. He let me manipulate all his feathers around where I remembered him showing me but I couldn’t find the gland. Is it on top of the tail feathers or below? No matter what it is, I want it removed, and as soon as I either get my next bonus check or my taxes, that thing is coming off my poor bird.

As for the aggression I think he really wanted me to just be aware that Baby could be a dangerous bird so that we don’t get hurt. I don’t think he was too defensive in his approach as he wasn’t really given the chance to approach before Baby attacked, but perhaps the bird noticed his apprehension. He stepped up out of the carrier for me without a problem and stood on the scale next to the tech who was also female with no problem even though he’d been hissing in the carrier while we were talking. The second the dr took two steps in his direction he leapt off the counter at his face. The dr deflected and he fell to the ground, then raced back at the dr and tried climbing his leg to attack when the tech threw a towel on him to distract him. Then they got him into the birdie straight jacket and did the exam.

I’m not so much discouraged as I am sad that he’s got this aggression issue. We intend to continue working with him and I hope that a better diet and environment will make a big difference in his temperament. Only time will tell. I might consider getting a second opinion but this dr came very highly recommended by a great friend who has used him for years with her birds, she’s got both farm fowl and parrots. At this point I’d just like to make him the best, healthiest bird he can be. Maybe I can even surprise the dr with what a great temperament turnaround I can deliver lol. However I’m pretty sure that he’s going to remember the vet and vehemently hate him again next time.
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Sad day for Baby :( - 11/20/17 05:39 PM

I still don't buy it. Any large bird can be dangerous, and as far as I'm concerned it's unwarranted fear mongering. Baby was just stressed and in a new environment. Hissing and lunging are normal behaviours In a clinic setting for many birds. Heck, my extremely gentle Monty throws a fit in the exam room every time! Just my two cents, though. I'm glad you're getting Baby help and sticking by him, in any case! I've looked after a number of birds now that would get overexcited and beaky (or were highly defensive, like Lucy), and I've found keeping a towel and a toy handy to be a great skin saver. If any of them started getting riled up, providing them some other target usually distracted them long enough for them to either settle down, or give me time to drape them with a towel and transport them if necessary. smile
Posted By: Tigerlilylvr

Re: Sad day for Baby :( - 11/21/17 06:43 PM

I’m going to keep on working with him and letting him settle in and hope that you guys are right and the vet is wrong. Nothing would make me happier!
Last night he was being a total brat- he’d step one foot on to my hand as if he was going to step up, then bite my thumb. He did it twice and I got wise to him. He was reaching for me like he wanted to come out of the cage but wouldn’t step up at all and the vet said he is absolutely not allowed to play on top of his cage any more. If he comes out he has to be away from the cage. Since he refused and kept pretending to step up just to bite he got put back in the cage. (He has a perch on the door so it got swung shut.) not sure what he was cranky about but he came out when Hubby got home and was chillen on the couch just fine for an hour. I’m just not the preferred person I guess lol. He will love on me while he’s out but will not let me take him off the cage...
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Sad day for Baby :( - 11/21/17 10:25 PM

I'd avoid asking Baby to step up inside of his cage - a lot of birds don't like it when you're in their space, and I've always found it extremely valuable to give them a safe space and choices. The whole "top of the cage" thing is largely dependant on the bird. Many birds are totally fine, and don't display any change in behaviour. Monty likes me to open her cage so that she can climb out herself, and will then accept stepping up from her door or the top of her cage. However, I'm also the only one to handle her around her main cage, so I'm not entirely sure how she'd react to someone else. Some individuals are more territorial in general. I'd definitely consider working on stick training (I think Nancy already mentioned it, but I might be thinking of another bird right now).

Keep a close eye on his body language - I've observed some birds raising a foot (and sometimes touching the offender) when they don't like/want to do something. Monty uses this warding gesture frequently when she's had enough of something - particularly when we're in public and she's had enough of people touching/trying to touch her. With her it's usually accompanied by a quick movement of her head to the side and a quiet "pfft". If the object of her displeasure doesn't go away, then she'll consider utilizing her beak. It took awhile (and a few nasty bites) before I understood her "okay, quit it now" behaviours. It's also entirely possible Baby was punking you for entertainment. Monty occasionally puts her head down like she wants scratches and then grabs fingers, though she doesn't usually break skin unless she's in a real mood and I can see her nonsense from a mile off at this point. It scares the bejesus out of people (she hasn't tried it on me in years... she knows I have her number!), and if there's one thing parrots love, it's drama!

Baby might need some time to settle back in after the vet visit. As always, take it at his pace. You're still new to eachother:)

Posted By: Tigerlilylvr

Re: Sad day for Baby :( - 11/21/17 10:40 PM

I’ll have to keep an eye on that, you could be on to something with the warding off foot behavior. He is terrified of sticks so that’s not an option- anytime I’ve tried to use a ladder or dowel he’s gotten super agitated and bitten the crap out of it, so that’s out for now.

Yeah, he didn’t break the skin, he was just giving me a bit of sass. He was on the perch with the door swung open or on the top of his door when I tried moving him, however I had tried reaching into his cage for a step up first so it’s likely I already ticked him off by the time he was on the perch,

This morning he was acting crabby so we did t offer outside time before we left but if he’s in a better mood tonight I’ll try to see if I can let him come onto the door before asking for a step up. The vet had said to not let him decide when to come out that we should be in control and when we say it’s time to come out he comes but maybe that’s not a battle to try to win right now. He mostly goes home without a fuss so I think I can live with that and the no top of the cage time (that really doesn’t suit him well, he turns into a total monster and will stalk us around the cage and try to bite hair and will not come down until we stand on a step stool to get him)
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Sad day for Baby :( - 11/22/17 04:55 AM

See, that old school mentality of "you've got to be the boss"/dominance training really doesn't work well for birds, and often makes things worse- and/or makes for an insecure, unhappy parrot! Here, take a look at this, it's one of my favorite reads on the issue:

In fact, read all the stickies in the Behaviour forum- There's a lot of gold there! smile

But yeah, some birds do get territorial on top of their cages. Seems to be a largely male behaviour, though I've seen it in a few females. Jeckyll, a cockatoo I took in for about 8 months or so, would often become aggressive if allowed on top of his cage for any amount of time, but was fine if on the door. Keep a towel/distracting item/step stool near his cage, and you should be fine. With Jeckyll, I'd lure him down to the cage door with a favorite treat (sunflower seed, sliver of almond... he wasn't too picky) and then coax him into stepping up with a second treat. Sometimes he didn't want to, and that's fine. Don't force the issue.

Jeckyll didn't like sticks either, but was ok being towelled and moved like a football. Try leaving a stick/etc within view (however close he'll let you get before he starts getting nervous) and moving it closer to his cage every few days, making a big loud deal over how near and good the stick is. If he reacts negatively, move it further away. Eventually he should allow you to approach him with the stick, and then you can work on actual stick training - showing him the stick, bringing it up to him, eventually luring him into stepping up with lots of treats and praise throughout each step. Keep sessions short (10-15 minutes less), work slow. Keep him comfortable. This method works with most object-related phobias over time. It's important to move at their pace though- if Baby's by okay with it, back off to where you were at the previous day. I know there are better explanations on the forum somewhere.

Posted By: Beeps

Re: Sad day for Baby :( - 11/24/17 11:23 PM

Originally Posted by Tigerlilylvr
Yeah, he didn’t break the skin, he was just giving me a bit of sass. He was on the perch with the door swung open or on the top of his door when I tried moving him, however I had tried reaching into his cage for a step up first so it’s likely I already ticked him off by the time he was on the perch,

This morning he was acting crabby so we did t offer outside time before we left but if he’s in a better mood tonight I’ll try to see if I can let him come onto the door before asking for a step up. The vet had said to not let him decide when to come out that we should be in control and when we say it’s time to come out he comes but maybe that’s not a battle to try to win right now. He mostly goes home without a fuss so I think I can live with that and the no top of the cage time (that really doesn’t suit him well, he turns into a total monster and will stalk us around the cage and try to bite hair and will not come down until we stand on a step stool to get him)

I only snipped the portion of your post that I wanted to respond to.

First - he wasn't just giving you a bit of sass. He was giving you a warning. Great job at heeding that warning and not continuing to push him!!! I firmly believe that most parrots don't want to bite (there are exceptions!) but we humans are terrible at recognizing and heeding the warning communication the parrot is giving us. Finally, the parrot resorts to biting because that is what works. It's really sad how many people inadvertently teach their birds to bite.

Amanda is right in that dominance/control for dealing with parrots is old-school thinking. Parrots are prey animals and need to be dealt with always with an eye towards that. Prey animals live in near constant fear that something is going to kill them, so their thought process is entirely alien to us humans.

You said that he goes home without a fuss, mostly. Another win!

My advice to you is to completely rethink the relationship that you and Baby have. Lower your expectations. These are not teddy bears or even dogs who want to please us and want to be touched and receive physical affection in the way we humans want. Work with Baby to figure out a routine that works for you. And by you I mean both of you (why doesn't English have a plural for this?) I fostered an amazon a few years back who was terrified of sticks and didn't know how to step up. I let him out of his cage, he hung out on his cage, and when it was time to go in, I'd place an almond in his food dish (his favorite; reserved for just this purpose) and he'd go in. In the months I had him, I trained him -- by saying the same thing every time -- so he knew when I said "Time to go inside!" that he'd go in and get a treat. He still had a decent captive life -- we had dance parties, he communicated with me verbally and non-verbally -- but he never learned to step up.

There are things that you can do -- such as clicker training, exercise, tricks, routine, etc. but he may never be capable of the relationship you envision in your mind. It's so sad, but these birds should not be in homes, and they adjust differently to captivity. I currently have two parrots, and I have extremely different relationships with both of them. The relationship I have with my grey is the one that most people think of when they think of owning a bird (steps up on command, almost always in a good mood, sings and dances, solicits attention, etc.) However, the relationship I have with my caique is not a relationship that anyone would desire with their parrot, but it's what he's comfortable with. I've had him for over 13 years, and he was severely neglected and abused before I adopted him. He doesn't like stepping up on my hand, but will occasionally step up on my arm if my hand is hidden. He takes food from my hand. He doesn't always want to come out of his cage -- when I'm around supervising, I leave his door open and he gets to choose if he's in or not.

I strongly disagree with anyone who claims you need to exert dominance over or try to control your parrot. What I strive to do is to form a partnership with my birds. Figuring out solutions that work for me and for the bird. You've got this! You and Baby can have a great relationship, even if it's a bit different from what your ideal is.
Posted By: EchosMom

Re: Sad day for Baby :( - 11/26/17 09:34 PM

I agree with the others, being the boss doesn’t work!!
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