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Loose feathers over my budgie's ear

3476 Views 14 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  BudgiesAreBest1
I recently made a post here about my budgie, Darwin who got sick with something, likely some sort of bacteria or virus. He had breathing problems that are getting much better, he seems more active, and has been starting to sing more. He even got grumpy and started to squawk until I put some lettuce in the cage, which he has not done since he got sick. A couple days ago, I noticed that there were some feathers that were missing over his ear. The strange thing is that this appeared seemingly overnight. There are still feathers covering his ear, but it is possible to see inside if you look from the right angle. The inside of his ear looks clean, and the feathers look clean, they do look slightly out of place though.

He is currently going through a molt right now as well. His behavior seems pretty good and he seems comfortable. He is eating normally, he more than usual likely because he's molting. He does seem to be able to fly, but he can only fly for a few seconds before he starts losing height and control. He has had some very minor crashes due to this, so maybe he lost some of his feathers from this. I suspect that this is the case because I only noticed this the day after, I feel like I would have noticed this before. He does not seem injured at all, he shortly went back to normal after he figured out how to get back to his cage. I do have another bird named Alex, but I don't think Alex would have pulled out Darwin's feathers. Alex is a very gentle bird, and something like this has never happened in the past.

To sum it up, Darwin acts very normal and does not seem bothered at all by what ever is going on with the feathers around his ear. If he didn't have the missing feathers around his ear, I don't think you could tell that anything is wrong, even if you looked closely. If anyone thinks they know what could be going on, if it's some illness or if it's just molting, i'd really like to know what you think is going on.
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Can you post a picture of the area where the feathers are missing?
Got a pretty good angle when his feathers were a little bit ruffled, it's hard to see inside though.


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Since there is no discharge from the ear and as long as the skin around the ear is normal and he is not scratching the area excessively it is probably from the molt and the feathers will regrow.
Thank you so much, i'll make sure to keep an eye on him to make sure everything is good. He woke up today with a lot of energy so that's a good sign.:001_smile:
Please give us an update in this thread in a week or so to let us know how things progress.

Best wishes!
So today, I noticed some concerning things. Darwin has had an increased appetite, this morning he spent about 70% of his time eating. He would stay at the food bin for more than about 20 minutes at a time. He seems more lethargic as well. But the most concerning thing I have seen today, is his droppings are sticking and collecting at his vent. I sprayed him with some water to loosen the droppings so it would fall off. I also noticed that a lot came out at one time and got stuck to the feathers. The colour of his droppings are very dark green, almost black. He keeps picking at his vent while preening himself as well. I'm worried it might be mites, worms or possibly something wrong with his liver. His diet consists of mostly seed and lettuce. I try to get him to eat the pellets in his food bin but he flings them out instead. I will most likely take him to the emergency vet today, I can't take him to the regular vet due to covid. They can't have as many patients as normal and the earliest appointment I can get is in late December.
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Yes, it's good that you are taking Darwin to the emergency vet today.
He is obviously ill from the symptoms you've described so getting the proper diagnosis and treatment plan from the vet is the right step to take.
Good luck and let us know how things progress.
Hey, a little update here, Darwin ended up improving quite a lot after I made my previous post, i'm not sure how, but he did somehow. He started to move around a lot more, and even chirped a little. I decided that I should wait to see if he continued to improve the next day, since the emergency vet is a 30 minute drive, and the last time I had to go when he first got sick, Darwin despised every second of it. It's also a $200 fee just for a check up, and depending on what treatment they need, it can cost even more. The days up until now have been good, his vent was still stained but nothing was stuck. He was preening, eating, drinking, and playing enough as well. He would even have these short 5 minute bursts of energy where he would jump between perches and chirp a lot.

Starting today, I noticed his vent was getting clogged again. I can tell the droppings were either wet or sticky, because one would get trapped, and others would come and stick together. Eventually it started to block the entire vent, but it fell off shortly after. Another smaller clump of droppings followed shortly after. Unlike when his vent was clogged before, this time he didn't seem as bothered by it. He was still preening, eating, and did a little bit of chirping, and his movement around the cage seemed normal. As far as I know, Darwin has never thrown up. I notice he has been preforming a yawning motion where he opens his beak and stretches his neck. So far, when I have been watching I counted him doing this three times today.

Currently his vent still has a clump of droppings stuck, but it's not as big as earlier. He was singing a little bit just a little while ago as well. Right now as of writing this, he's sleeping a little bit. He still has an issue with flying, but two days ago he manage to fly from a perch outside of his cage to the top of his cage. The distance is about two meters and the perch and the top of the cage are level with each other. He has not been able to do that without landing on the side of the cage before.

If it's useful, i'll talk about what happened when he first got sick about 2 months ago. I woke up one day and noticed Darwin was sitting very low on his perch and he looked quite lethargic. I waited to see how he looked the next day to see if he improved at all. He stayed about they same the next day, so I decided to take him into the emergency vet, since the avian vet was too busy to get an appointment anytime soon. The emergency took him in, I unfortunately could not come with him due to covid, so I had to wait. The emergency vet was not able to check him out right away, because there were other more critical patients. I decided to go home after waiting for a long time, and on the way home I got a call saying Darwin was about to be looked at because he started having breathing problems. When I got home, I received another call with terrible news, Darwin was really struggling to breathe and I had to choose if I wanted them to give Darwin extra oxygen so he can breathe better, but this choice was quite expensive. I ended up deciding to have Darwin get oxygen, along with antibiotics and antifungals. He had to stay there overnight as well. Darwin was in better condition in the morning, but he had to stay for another night because he still wasn't healthy enough. The next day he was looking good, so I went to pick him up. He had to take antibiotics and antifungals for 10 days at home after that.

After those ten days, we had a week of Darwin looking pretty healthy. But one night he suddenly started panting in short bursts, often when I would approach him. This continued for a while but it stopped after about a week. Darwin was looking more healthy for another week after that until he started having loose feathers over his ear. This went away after a little more than a week, but then then he started to get droppings stuck to his vent. This would bring us to now.

I would really appreciate if you could help me try to get a better idea on what is going on with Darwin, because he has been giving me some very mixed signals with his higher level of activity and his vent problems. I'm not sure if he's going through a small infection in his digestive system, or if it's something more serious.
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It's not possible for us to diagnosis what the problem is, however given the fact that the droppings are abnormal a good guess is something in the GI tract, whether beginning in the crop or further down. Do you have a history established with the regular vet for Darwin? I suggest calling either his regular vet or the emergency vet and ask if you bring in fresh droppings if they can run a gram stain test on them. If they agree to that, the test will tell you the % of bacteria present, if there is yeast present and if parasites are seen. The same thing can be run on a crop/mouth swab but you need to bring the bird to the vet for that. My vet will treat if there is more than 20% gram negative bacteria found. Have you tried giving a probiotic to Darwin, you should ask the vet about that it may be of benefit to him.
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I was actually already planning to call the vet tomorrow to see if they are available to test his droppings. I won't be able to take him in to the vet anytime soon, but I do have an appointment booked for late December for both of my birds because they really do need a checkup and they need to get their nails trimmed because they keep getting caught on the carpet. Unfortunately I can't take him in anytime sooner, and the emergency vet does not specialize in birds they only take them in, so the most the emergency vet can do is do a small examination of Darwin to make sure there's nothing really dangerous going on, or try to keep him alive if he ends up going downhill. I'll ask about probiotics as well.

I have a little bit of good news, When I let my birds come out for their daily fly around, Darwin decided to come out of the cage, and actually managed to fly from the top cage door to the perch without many problems. He didn't land on the perch exactly, rather he landed on the spiral rope perch hanging from one of the wooden perches, but he did make it there without losing altitude. He was also quite vocal when I let him out and he was singing almost non-stop for more than 20 minutes. Darwin's vent is still kind of dirty, and he appears to have a small clump of droppings tangled in his feathers, but it's no longer almost completely blocking his vent. I noticed one regular sized dropping come out without problem while I was watching him.
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Hello, sorry I forgot to give an update recently. So when I called the vet, instead of testing his droppings, they offered to schedule an examination for him so we can learn more about what's going on with him. The visit to the vet was today, and I just got back from it. The vet examined his droppings and discovered that Darwin has a yeast infection. The yeast infection currently is not too serious, but something still needs to be done. For now, we are going to be giving him something called potassium benzoate to help reduce the infection. Darwin's currently on a seed diet, so the vet suggested that I switch him over to a pellet diet. It will be a lot healthier for him in general, and it will also help with the infection. The vet says Darwin looks pretty healthy right now, he has put on weight since he lost some of it during his visit to the emergency vet. His posture also looks good. I'm going to watch him for the next week, and see how he does, and i'll give an update as well.
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Is what you are giving him actually "Sodium Benzoate"?
This is often used for Avian Gastric Yeast.

I give it to my birds as a preventative.

Avian Gastric Yeast/Sodium Benzoate
The stuff I was given was called potassium benzoate. potassium benzoate can also prevent the growth of yeast. I forgot to mention the vet also said we should start using something called fauna flora in unison with the potassium benzoate. The potassium benzoate will stop the growth of the yeast, and the fauna flora will help Darwin to fight off the yeast as the potassium benzoate stops the yeast's growth.
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