Posted By: AJMontyBird

Updates - 07/26/17 05:37 PM

I haven't been around the forum much for the last year or so, so I thought I'd pop by and give a quick update! After a couple hiccups and yet another move, I'm happy to report that Monty and Lucas are going stronger than ever! Everyone's happier with the new place and job, and it definitely shows. I've been largely working evening shifts (after 5), which has me at home with the birds for the bulk of their waking hours. They definitely like the change! Her highness is even gracious enough to let me go back to sleep after her 6 am feeding, produced that I turn on her radio. She wakes me back up by 9/whenever she gets bored enough. In the case of overnight shifts, I can hit The "snooze" button by offering her additional activities, though I imagine I'll never get a full 8 hours!

Monty had been picking pretty extensively at her feathers for the last two months, particularly her lower abdomen, legs, back, and under her wings. These sites have never had many feathers to begin with in the five and a half years she's been with me and at first i didn't pay much attention to it, especially since she was in the middle of a moult anyway. But then she started getting really quiet and just wanted to sit on my lap. I brought her to the vet right away (only 3 months after her wellness exam and bloodwork!), and one skin slide later Monty was diagnosed with a yeast infection to her skin that the vet suspects has been there for awhile. We're about 3 weeks in to treatment with a topical spray, a better humidifier, and extra baths, and Monty's back to her usual self! Though looking especially scruffy. Patches of skin that have always been bare are starting to show signs of possible growth, so I wonder if she's had a yeast infection all along and it took a flare up for us to catch on? It must be such a relief not to be itchy anymore!

Beyond that, not too many changes for the birds beyond the unintentional adoption of a baby European starling that was brought to our clinic. The wildlife park won't take baby birds during the peak season, let alone starlings, and the poor bugger was slated for euthanasia. Long story short: rehab won't take starlings, a single baby is unreleasable due to the mechanics of imprinting, and they're legal to keep as pets in Canada. I didnt have the heart to kill an otherwise healthy baby (I wish people would stop bringing us babies - It's usually a death sentence!), so I raised Benjamin Button as a pet. He's a very happy, surprisingly affectionate bird!



P.s. touch screens are awful. Sorry about any typos or out of place words! Especially with Monty wanting to get in on the action.
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Updates - 07/27/17 10:16 AM

Amanda looks like things are going well for all. Would love to see a picture of Benjamin Button. They are supposed to be quite the talkers once they start. Do you have a picture that you can post a link to?
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Updates - 07/27/17 05:36 PM

I don't have any current pictures on me right now and am on vacation with Monty at the cabin, but I'll try to get a more recent pictures when I get home! Benji's in the middle of his first moult, and he looks like a new bird every week. He's about 9 weeks old now, and was about 5 in this picture: He has full juvenile plumage in that picture, and has since grown out near half of his adult feathers.

Benji's a real riot to have around - definitely no regrets! The one sort of downside is his aversion to touch. He adores people and wants to be on and around them, but you're in for a solid peck and a telling off if you try to touch him anywhere other than his chest or feet and he can be a nightmare to get back in his cage! He's fully flighted and incredibly acrobatic - good luck catching him if he doesn't want to be caught! Thankfully he usually only gives me the run around for a few minutes, then he'll step up and allow me to put him back. He tends to be more compliant if I place a fresh bath, salad, or new toy in his cage first and make a big deal of it. I'm still figuring out what'll work as training treats, especially since he isn't very food motivated. He seems to prefer toys and verbal praise more than anything else at this point.

He'll definitely be a good talker - He's already mimicking Lucas' impressions of Monty, making conure noises, mimicking the birds outside (he does a pretty good robin!), and trying to say "good bird" and "pretty" amongst a lot of nonsense chatter! I'm really impressed with him, even if all the research I've done says that starlings learn most of their vocalizations in the first 3 months.

Sorry if I'm rambling - I've become very, very fond of this little bird and an advocate for starlings in general over the last two months. grin
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Updates - 07/27/17 09:55 PM

He's very cute! I look forward to hearing more about his antics.
Posted By: bellesmom

Re: Updates - 08/16/17 04:17 AM

Glad to hear everything is going well for you and your flock. Benji is adorable, looks like he knows he is handsome.
Posted By: Charlie

Re: Updates - 08/21/17 09:11 PM

Thanks for the great update. It's good to hear that you are settling into a new routine. Better late than never for Monty's yeast problem. You must be very happy about that and he surely is. Thanks for the picture of Benji. Sounds like a real clown. Hope things continue to go your way! :-)
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Updates - 08/27/17 09:51 PM

Things took a steep downturn when i got back home on the 31st of July, and I haven't had the energy to post. Clearly I jinxed myself by saying that things are going well.

Benjamin was in starvation condition and severely dehydrated when I got home, and was on the bottom of his cage fluffed up, listless, and extremely thin (he was ideal weight 8 days previous). My housemate, who had agreed to take care of Benji and Lucas while I was away, had not followed my care instructions and starlings, being primarily insectivores, have an especially high metabolism. He was being fed less than half of what he needed, his water was not being changed ("I couldn't figure out he to remove the covered one". You know, the only one that stays clean for more than half an hour), his cage hadn't been cleaned, and his refrigerated/frozen food mix had gone bad! I have no idea how this happened. I had made sure to have extra in the freezer, and there was none in there. I don't know if my housemate forgot the food out of the fridge a few times and took the frozen portion or what, but something went sideways. It's even more upsetting given that I called every evening to make sure everything was alright! I made him some fresh food (which he ate an alarmkng amount of) and took him to the vet the next morning. Lucas wasn't harmed.

In 8 days, he lost 25% of his body weight. Granted, a lot of the weight loss was water weight.... but there was considerable muscle wasting. With lots of TLC and good food, he's about back to normal... though his moult (which he was in the middle of) went a little funny and feathers in his head are falling out much faster than they're growing in. I had a long talk with my housemate, and he's appropriately chastened... though he'll never be looking after my birds for more than a day ever again!

Four days after I got home, Monty had a grand mal seizure at 7 in the morning lasting somewhere between 10-15 seconds. I was panicking a bit too much to get an accurate count. I deal with seizures at the vet clinic I currently work at on a pretty regular basis, but having it happen to one of my own pets -let alone Monty! - was completely different. Immediate afterward her left wing and leg weren't operating correctly (limp, weak), but these symptoms faded by the time I got her to the clinic a couple hours later. She has since had multiple blood panels, fecals (one of which was sent out to test for giardia dna), an avian bornavirus culture, a two-view b-day, and a heavy metal toxicity screen. All tests were inconclusive or negative, though she continued to be extremely lethargic and inappetant. She had slightly elevated white blood cell numbers, but it's very possible that was due to stress or even her lingering yeast infection. Over the last week she's improved dramatically and is both regaining her appetite (I changed her pellet brand in hopes that she was bored of her current ones; it worked!) And her overall energy. She's still a little reserved and has had a couple falls at night (i moved her to her carrier to sleep after the second one). The falls do not appear to be seizure activity, and have only occured when she's lacking sleep. I tightened up the sleep routines and try not to be on the computer after birdie bed time, and she hasn't had any more falls since.

We still don't know exactly what went wrong, but Monty seems to be out of the woods now. I'll keep a close eye on her, and if she starts to backslide I'll see about an ultrasound, a barium swallow study, and possibly a CT scan. These are high stress procedures that i'd prefer to avoid, given that the experts say that her radiographs look normal. I'm inclined to think at this point that her symptoms were stress induced, possibly with a side of smoke inhalation (it's been very smoky in the valley, with all the wildfires).

And speaking of smoke and wildfires... in the midst of all of this, a quickly growing grass fire started up and started rapidly expanding barely 500 feet from my residence on our neighbour's property just down the hill and we were forced to evacuate. I wasn't home at the time, and it was a real nightmare scenario. Thankfully I was able to get back within 20 minutes to get the birds out of the house and away from the smoke, though it took some convincing to get pasture blockade at the end of the street. I keep my room unlocked for just this reason, and no one tried to get my babies out of there. It makes me spitting mad just to think about it. Between this, the Benjamin issue, and general drama with my landlady, I think it might be about time to find a new place to live.

It's been along month.

Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Updates - 08/29/17 12:22 AM

I'm sorry to hear things have been so bad. But happy to see that Monty is bouncing back to normal. That must have been so terrifying for you. BC sure has had more than it's fair share of fires this year. Hopefully you'll get lots of rain soon.
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Updates - 10/28/17 10:32 PM

I'm happy to report that Monty's back on track and doing better than ever! After switching up her diet (more of a variety of pellets available, more foraging, parrot "chop" daily), gaining some weight, and lots of TLC she has more energy than shes ever had, and is even starting to realize she has wings! She's picked up that I get a kick out of her snapping her wings while she's on her stand (im working on turning it into a useable behaviour, like her "handshake" when i want to see her nails), and has attempted a few tiny hop-flights in my direction. She's a tad uncoordinated, but she's slowing herself enough that I'm not truly worried about her hurting herself. We'll work on recall and such as she grows more confident. As it stands, she seems content to make one or two small attempts a week. Monty's diva personality is bigger than ever, and she really does seem to be happier in general. Hopefully things will stay that way, and there won't be any more health scares in the near future!

On a somewhat related note, it was pointed out to me by a LSC2 owner at work that Monty doesn't quite match the description of a LSC2; she exceeds both the weight range (even while thin) and size range (she's a bit over 40cm) and her beak is slightly smaller in proportion to her body. I guess I always chalked it up to her being female... ive only ever met male LSC2s, and her previous owners weren't exactly a reliable source of knowledge. Monty dwarfed the LSC2 in question by easily a quarter of its total size (we had both been waiting in the lobby for rechecks). Next leading guess as to species would be an Eleanora/Medium sulphur crested cockatoo. Not that it matters what Monty is - i just found it interesting!

Benjamin is talking up a storm now. At just a bit over 5 months old, he's both much clearer than Monty or Lucas and has a more expansive vocabulary - as well as a remarkable ability to pick things up after only hearing them a handful of times! He calls both parrots by name, says his name and variations of it (Ben, Benny, Benji), Hi, hello, hey, pretty bird, good bird, whatcha doing, clever bird, shhh!, time for bed, and many sound effects and learned calls on top of the sentence fragments I can't quite make out. His favorite by far is sing while throwing in a bunch of "good bird". During a session he'll go through most of his repertoire; I need to try to get it on tape, but he's so fascinated by the phone that he ends up stopping asking me "whatcha doing?" and trying to get at it. He's a very interesting little character! He's nearly impossible to get in his cage unless he wants to go back or I withhold food, though. He's incredibly agile!

Physically Lucas is doing well, though right now I'm having a really hard time with him. He's been getting increasingly aggressive toward Monty over the last ~6-8 months, and I'm very worried about her maiming or killing him. Normally I'd just move him to another room, but with my living situation I'm not able to do so (shared accomodations)... and even with his wings clipped Lucas is fully capable of short flights across the room. When caged he'll provoke Monty into yelling, and when out he'll ofren try to get at her. If i leave the room with him to give him some one on one time, Monty shrieks the whole time. It's not exactly conducive to shared living! Lucas has also grown more and more finnicky with hands - specifically mine. He's totally ok with my housemates. I'm guessing It's largely hormones, and I'm hoping it lets up soon before I have to start considering options. I don't want to rehome him if I can at all avoid it, but I also can't afford to move to accommodate his needs - not for a few more months at the very least. I worry about his emotional health, and I do know people who'd be interested in taking him... I might try a short term foster and see if it sticks, push comes to shove.

Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Updates - 10/29/17 12:57 PM

Wonderful update on Monty, I'm sure she will continue to do well with your efforts. Benjamin sounds like a hoot! Hope you get that video of him soon. I do hope that Lucas calms down soon. The conures can be a little too spunky for their own good putting themselves at risk with the bigger birds.
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Updates - 11/14/17 07:11 PM

I impulsively purchased an acrylic foraging wheel a few days ago, and honestly didn't expect Monty to take to it. She's usually a very low effort bird, and if she can't get something relatively easily, she has a history of giving up. Best 30 bucks I've spent in recent memory! I don't know if it's because she can actually see the food (unlike with cardboard foraging systems, which she never did take a shine to, though I still offer them occasionally), but put a couple crumbled up NutriBerries in that wheel and she'll be occupied for up to an hour! She's even been favouring it over easier food sources, which is the real surprise - sometimes even her favourite baffle cage is ignored! Unless I recently refilled it, in any case. But she definitely likes it better than her bowl! While it was clear the first day that she was just fussing around with it until she got at the reward, she's seems to have a clear idea of how to operate it now and moves with purpose (and a distinct lack of fruitlessly running her beak over the acrylic!). I'm sure the novelty will wear off soon and I'll have to find something else (I think I'm going to go back to the store and buy the rest of their puzzle designs!), but for now I'm happy to have something that keeps her busy and engaged. Monty's not much of a chewer (not most hanging toys at least), and finding cage activities for her can be a real challenge. An additional benefit is the increased percentage of the NutriBerry actually being consumed, rather than crunched up and thrown everywhere! Though granted, if it gets tossed to the bottom of her cage Monty will usually climb down and fish it out of the grate at some point during the day.

It goes to show that you need to keep trying new things with these guys, and repeating old ones - even (especially!) if you think it'll never work. I never would have pegged Monty as a bird that would enjoy acrylic puzzles. i'm embarrassed to admit that I wasn't confident she would figure it out in the first place! Closing in on 6 years, and we're still learning about each other... clearly it's time for me to stop underestimating her intelligence. smile

Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Updates - 11/14/17 11:51 PM

I need to try some more with Cassie. I think you have something there about the clear design. I have a wheel with different doors that she loves. That one is clear too. I also have two that are not clear that she isn't too interested in.
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Updates - 11/27/17 01:52 AM

There's definitely something about the clear ones... I got Monty a clear tower contraption with drawers, and it's also a hit - though she hasn't quite mastered it yet! The wheel remains her favorite, and she's learned to compensate for her beak not being long enough by sticking two toes through the hole(s) and scooping food closer. Clever girl! Also, a recent photo:

It was a tough call and i feel really torn about the situation, but I found a really awesome home for Lucas. The couple in question have a fair bit of bird experience, but no current pet birds, and the husband is retired and around the house for most of the day. They have great references, including a stamp of approval from a good friend of mine who works with the wife, and most importantly Lucas hit it off with them right away. I've been keeping contact with his new family (and getting second hand updates from my friend), and so far he's doing amazing in his new home. He's being spoiled rotten and has taken a real shine to the husband. Sounds like he's happy to be the only tinysaurus in residence! I'm just happy that he's happy... Lucas was so clearly frustrated and stressed with the situation here, and I won't be able to make any big changes for at least a year by the look of it. frown

Monty seemed upset for the first week (investigating the space where Lucas cage was, excessive vocalizing, increased clinginess, decreased appretite), but has since settled back in and now appears to be enjoying her status as uncontested queen. Ben seems largely unaffected beyond being a tad quieter for the first couple days and making more conure-esque sounds.

I still haven't managed to get a good video of him talking, but i did manage to get a couple passable ones of Ben with all of his adult feathers! This is one of my favorites.

I'm sure I'll end up fostering or adopting another bird sometime in the nebulous future, but I'm a little gun shy now. It's especially tough when I already have a client (he's part of a local bird fostering and rehoming program) asking if I'd like to take on one of his birds (a very gentle, geriatric LSC2). Charlie's very sweet and slow moving, and i don't think Monty would mind him too much - her primary complaint seems to be fast moving, loud animals (and people!). I'm super concerned about Monty not reacting well, though, and now's probably not the time to rock the boat... especially not so soon after needing to rehome Lucas. I don't know. Maybe after things improve around here I can mull it over properly. I can always offer to house sit his fosters in the mean time; I know how hard it is to find competent bird sitters, let alone when you're caring for 20 of them!

Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Updates - 11/28/17 12:08 AM

I think I should get the wheel for Cassie, I bet she would enjoy that. Well after the hormone season passes.
I absolutely love Ben's adult feathers. He has hearts all over his chest!!!
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Updates - 11/28/17 06:26 AM

Isn't he pretty? He sure thinks so- one of his favorite phrases is "pretty boy"! And to think people call these guys ugly pests... Ben's my little species ambassador. Im still working on getting him used to his travel cage; he gets super excited and I worry he'll hurt himself with the way he bombs around that little thing!
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Updates - 11/28/17 08:00 AM

What if you got him one of the canvas bird carriers.
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Updates - 11/28/17 11:19 PM

Hmmm, that might be a good idea! Maybe I'll order him a Pak-o-bird next time Monty's due for an upgrade (her's is starting to fall apart) and have it ordered with an extra perch or two. I have a soft sided cat kennel for airline transport that I can try for now. I can always bring his harder cage for when We're not actively moving and He's being less nuts. He loves people so much, it's crazy! Singing, trying to sidle closer, crazy pacing by the door... i wish i could have him out of a cage in public, but he can't be trusted to not go exploring and he accelerates too quickly for a parrot harness (and getting it on is a nightmare!).
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Updates - 12/13/17 07:59 PM

I lost track of the date while I was scrambling around trying to meet Christmas deadlines, but Monday (the 11th) marked my 6 year anniversary with Monty! I can't decide if it feels like just yesterday that I brought her home, or like she's been here with me forever. I can't quite picture life without her, in any case! Here's to many more. smile
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Updates - 12/13/17 11:48 PM

Happy Anniversary!!
Posted By: EchosMom

Re: Updates - 12/16/17 10:11 PM

Happy Gotcha Day!!
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Updates - 01/22/18 09:03 PM

It's been a cloudy, miserable winter here in the valley, and Monty appears to be suffering from the "blahs" really badly this year, and just in general seems depressed (I know I am; she might also be picking up on that). Her appetite was extremely poor (she was barely touching her nutriberries and nuts, her favorite treats), and her energy levels were way down again. Took her to our AV, and Monty was given a few vitamin shots as well as a recommendation for full spectrum lighting. My usual supplier's website is down at the moment, but as soon as it's up I'll order in a FeatherBrite fixture for her and Ben. I'm also debating ordering in some avian probiotics. Can't hurt might help, right?

Monty perked up within 24 hours of the shots and her appetite is about back to normal, but if she starts to backslide again she's going to get her annual work up (wellness, bloodwork, fecal) done early this year. According to my kitchen scale she's holding steady at 420g, though she seems just slightly on the thin side. This time last year she was closer to 440, and her highest weight was a couple years ago at 460. She's exercising a lot more than she used to and has higher overall energy, which may account for the bulk of the weight loss. I'm having a hard time finding a pellet that she'll eat consistently, though she's definitely taking Zupreem (natural, macaw/cockatoo) better than Harrison's. Zupreem has all sorts of flavors and shapes available, so I'll keep experimenting.

Looking forward to warmer weather and some Sun! I know Monty misses our walks as much (and probably more) than I do. Don't worry - the little girl stays in her Pak-o-Bird unless we're inside. smile It's almost warm enough now, as long as her backpack has it's fleece cover on... at least for short trips. That might cheer her up a bit - she hates being cooped up in the house all the time.
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Updates - 01/23/18 12:36 AM

Have you tried the Lefabers Macaw & Cockatoo Pellets with her? Cassie is picky also and loves those and the Oven Fresh Bite Pellets. Was she low on Vitamin D?
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Updates - 01/25/18 06:12 AM

Low vitamin D is the leading suspicion right now, yes, though we didn't do any bloodwork at the time. Apparenty there have been a lot of birds in the area suffering from low vitamin D. The vitamins definitely picked her back up, in any case!

Monty was eating Lafeber's macaw/cockatoo maintenance pellets a couple years ago, but she went off them. I can definitely try them again! I made the mistake of buying her the slightly smaller Amazon pellets about 5 months ago (they were out of the bigger stuff) and she wouldn't touch it. She can be frustratingly picky about the size, color, and crunch of her pellets!
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Updates - 01/25/18 12:36 PM

Cassie wont touch the Amazon ones either. My girl is the queen of picky. She doesn't eat what other birds love like grapes, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sweet potato.
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Updates - 01/25/18 10:53 PM

Monty's generally a good eater when it comes to her fruits and veggies, thankfully! The only things she won't reliably eat are leafy greens. Pretty much anything else she'll at least pick at, but leafy greens? Nah. She does like to play with them, though, so I've yet to lose hope! She likes orange/yellow/white fruits and veggies best, and amongst those carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, and yams are almost guaranteed hits.

She's just being super fussy with her pellets. I'll pick up some macaw Lafeber's this weekend to try. I also have access to Roudybush samples at work, so I can try that too. I'll find a pellet she's eat one way or another! She's definitely snacking on the Zupreem though, so that's a start.
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Updates - 02/20/18 03:27 AM

We finally seem to be making headway! Monty's taken to eating Zupreem "Smart Selects" and "Pure Fun", and her weight is slowly increasing. I think she might have been bored with her pellets having uniform shape/color/texture. She's also taken to Pretty Bird's "Birdy Banquet", which I've been using as a base to add chop to, and overall get appetite has been better. Her poor, flakey legs and feet have also improved with the addition of a once a day application of a little bit of raw coconut oil. grin
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Updates - 02/20/18 12:13 PM

That's great! See the best pellets are the ones they will eat! I need to start putting the oil on Cassie's feet too. They are really getting dry lately with the weather.
Posted By: RB2sMom

Re: Updates - 02/20/18 01:34 PM

You never know what they would like until you try it. My RB2s really do not like fruit, but they like the fruit flavored Zupreem pellets over the other kinds they make and other brands of pellets.
Posted By: AJMontyBird

Re: Updates - 04/02/18 06:41 PM

Monty has gained a solid 15 grams (up to 435!) since changing diets, and her feather condition is steadily improving. She finally doesn't seem so scrawny anymore! Her hormones are a little put of control right now, though, and while she's as awesome with me as she always is she's turned into a bit of an attack bird with anyone else in the house! When she's being difficult but still wants to be around people, I've been putting her in her Pak-o-Bird with the blinds up. At least then she can still be around people and partake in communal meals, with the added benefit of containing her messes. She doesn't seem to mind much (she's much calmer in her carrier), and it opens up the possibility of bringing her with me when I'm visiting less pro-bird family members. I prefer not to leave Monty at a boarding facility if I can get away with it... She never eats properly and is always super anxious and clingy when I get back

Benny got a huge cage upgrade and is doing pretty great! Turns out he is a She, though - their beaks lighten to yellow during breeding season, and males develop blue at the base of their beaks. Benny's is definitely pink. Oh well... "Benjamina" it is then! Unfortunately, she injured her legs bombing from the top of her cage to the bottom without hitting the brakes. She has considerable periosteal swelling on both legs, and has been a little sad and quiet. It's a slow recovery, as it's very difficult to slow her down! We're due to go back for a recheck with the vet soon and see if she needs more Meloxicam/Metacam or if we should try something else. Poor little thing... the breeding hormones are hitting her hard and fast and she's just not all there in the head.

In other news, we're in the middle of moving! The new place has a pretty good set up (studio style), so I'm hoping it'll get the bird stamp of approval. Monty didn't seem to mind when I brought her by to supervise me assembling furniture at any rate!
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: Updates - 04/03/18 12:18 AM

Good news for Benny! We love our Pak o bird. Cassie uses a smaller table top cage for eating dinner and traveling. Our bird sitter retired last year. This year Cassie has come on vacation with us. We are in SC right now. We drove straight through leaving at night. Cassie rode in the carrier while sleeping and then switched to the cage so she could see during the day light hours. Worked out great so far. I'm sure that Monty will do awesome with his carrier too. Hope the new digs go well for all of you! Open floor plans are great for the birds, they get to see everything.
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