Fluffed feathers, unable to fly, overall signs of weakness
Some info about the bird:
My budgie (who is a female, but I originally thought was a male, so I still refer to the bird as HIM--but be clear, the bird is a female) is turning 11 years old in a couple of weeks, and he has had his fair share of ailments. He suffered from bumblefoot for most of his life and is quite fat (probably has some kind of fatty tumor in his stomach area as well). His right foot is completely paralyzed and his left foot has lost a lot of dexterity. To make it worse, his talons are not growing in correctly so it makes it hard for him to grasp onto things correctly. Even when both his talons had dexterity, he often had a hard time balancing on his perch...it seemed like his back was a little weak. For example, after a bath, he would wobble a lot because his tailfeather was wet. This might have been due to him being overweight. Another thing: 3 or 4 years ago, many of his chest feathers were quite overgrown a lot. He looked like a fuzzball because these feathers were quite stringy. He was unable to fly for a while, but we started taking much better care of him, took him out a lot more often, and he regained his flight to the point where he was flying almost frighteningly fast. I know everyone will say the same about their budgie, but he really is a tough bird. I do give him fruits and veggies (oranges, iceburg lettuce, carrots, apple, grape), and an occasional treat like a few sesame seeds, bread, and even boiled chicken breast, all of which he has enjoyed for many years. But he has mainly been on a seed diet. He's lived in rather cold climates for years. My mum likes to leave windows open even during the winter months, and she doesn't use the heat very often. It's been like this since the day we got him 11 years ago. Combined with his sicknesses, limited to no use of his talons, and high weight, he's always found a way to cope.
I've seen an avian vet before, but not much could be done about his bumblefoot. His high body fat has clearly inhibited him but I've done what I can and it seems we've all just learned to live with it.
My current problem:
Recently (the past three days or so), his feathers are always fluffed, and his flying is very weak. On top of that, he is constantly napping, far more than usual. This all started a few days ago, when these symptoms were probably at their worst. He wasn't responding to much--I could poke at him and make noise around him and he would barely even open his eyes. I gave him some sugar water, hand fed him some seed, carrots, etc. He was unable to fly; he could only fly downward to break his fall and he could not go upwards. Over the next few days I took him out occasionally and played with him, and now he doesn't appear to be sick, but still acting strange. He smells like his usual self, he is eating like his usual self, getting enough water, his droppings seem normal, and at times he is quite chipper and active. But his flying is strenuous at best (sometimes he can fly upwards, sometimes not), he is still fluffed all of the time, he doesn't chirp as often or as loudly, and he is napping a lot more often (and during said naps, he doesn't get distracted as easily as he did before--he doesn't care if i get up close to him, talk loudly, etc.). Just last week he was able to fly amazingly fast for an overweight, 11 year old bird, and was quite loud while doing so. Now he is barely flying, fluffy, and rather quiet.
For as long as I can remember, he always shivers his wings once in a while. He has this bad habit of eating off his floor, sometimes used oat groats, sometimes his own crap! Just today, when I put him back into the cage, he literally ran to get to the bottom of the cage to eat stuff off the floor, and he did this over and over after picking him up each time. Recently (past two weeks) i have given him half of a honey nut cheerio, which he has enjoyed. That's the only thing I've done differently the past little while. And I know you will all be critical of me, but I haven't given him a cuttlebone in years. I know it's something I should start doing, but he's been fine for so long without it, so I wouldn't directly attribute his strange behavior to the lack of a cuttlebone.
The bottom line:
He's been sleeping a lot more often, fluffed up all the time, can't fly very well, and he's quieter than usual. Having seen him sick before, I don't think he's actually sick. Is this simply old age? Is he perhaps physically injured (broken/sprained wing)? Is it something else?
Sorry about the long post, but I wanted to be as detailed as possible as my budgie has a lot of health issues that he has lived with for a very long time, and I wanted to make note of them. Thanks so much in advance!
Addendum: about 4 or 5 months ago, he started having night terrors frequently throughout the night. He would fly wildly around the cage, and I'd have to turn the light on to put him back up to his spot. Minutes after turning the lights back off, he would again fly around in his cage. This, combined with the fact that he has trouble balancing, means that he now sleeps with the light on at all times (he never sees complete darkness).
Last edited by SultanOfSwing; 06-01-2015 at 06:23 AM.
Reason: Added some details
I am sorry your budgie is displaying a number of symptoms that are not good.
Eleven years of age is a great milestone for a budgie but he should definitely be taken to an avian vet for a check up.
As you yourself said you have not provided him with cuttle bone, fed him foods he should not of had.
He needs to be placed in a warm and covered cage, place food and water on the bottom of a clean cage take perches out use ramps or flat surfaces for him to lay on .
Being overweight is not good for him at all , can you limit the amount of seed he eats?
Your budgie is sick, he is also an older budgie being older makes the being sick worse for him.
Please take him to the vet, ask for their opinion regarding his situation.
Please don't poke, make loud noises or other frightening gestures he is very weak by the sounds of things .
I don't poke and prod at him to frighten or annoy him. I only mentioned it because i found it strange that, for a while, he was barely reacting to me.
Regarding foods he should not have eaten, I think all of those foods are considered acceptable. I've never given him something that he inherently should not have eaten. Sesame seeds for example have only been on occasion.
The problem is that unless he is in his normal cage at his normal sitting position, he freaks out. We have a small carrying cage that we use to transport him, but he gets really stressed out in it. I've retrofitted an old square of cage (about 4 inches by 4 inches) and placed it at his usual perching spot. He has food and water within wing's reach.
If placed on the floor with food and water, he will simply fly or attempt to fly back up to his normal spot whether or not there is a perch there. He simply hates it anywhere else. I think the flat surface he is sitting on works for now and I'm working on creating a larger pad for him to permanently use in place of the perch entirely.
Regarding a vet, I'm not sure if that's possible (and I know you get that a lot). Money is tight right now as I am currently on student loans and in the red (in debt). If things get a lot worse, I may have to dip into the emergency money, but since things have overall gotten better the past few days for my bird, I'm wanting to wait it out and see.
Do you (or anyone else for that matter) believe that he is sick with some type of illness, disease, sickness, etc., vs. having some type of injury that will heal?
I do think he is indeed sick and needs immediate health care. I am sorry you are having money problems ,perhaps the vet does a payment plan ? Together with his age and the symptoms you are describing I fear for his health. I hope others can e more helpful for you.
Well I'll have to call my vet and ask what the initial exam cost is. The problem is that the office is closed today (it is 3 AM on a Monday where I am, won't be open until Tuesday at 10 AM), and they are the best avian vet nearby (my bird has been there before). So it will have to wait until then.
I should also point out that he sleeps with a light on at night. He never sees complete darkness. The reason for this is because of a combination of his difficulty balancing and that he constantly has night terrors. It got to a point where I would turn the light off and 3 minutes later he would be flying wildly around the cage. He would do this multiple times in a night, so now we just leave the light on.
He's since mellowed out a bit and he now has a flat platform to sleep on, so he would probably be okay without the light on. I'm not sure if I should start giving him total darkness to sleep in, especially since he doesn't sleep in the same room as me (he must be in a different room as me due to my highly irregular hours).
Seniors can be a worry, no-matter what breed they are...hoping your vet can help the little one and you can perhaps obtain a payment plan with them...in my Prayers...
This is an 'aged budgie' page I found...maybe able to help... Care Of The Ageing Budgie
__________________ I never for a day gave up listening to the songs of our birds, or watching their peculiar habits, or delineating them in the best way I could.
Thanks Brienne, I've read through that web page completely it looks like I won't be able to bring my budge into a bird veterinarian until tomorrow at the soonest as everyone is booked or closed.
In the mean time, should I be giving him sugar water at all, or any fruits/veggies? He's always sleeping right now. I've read about boiling an egg and mashing it up or even giving sick budgies a runny yolk (which allows for easily digestible protein). Any suggestions to wait it out the next day or two?
½ cup hot water
3 ½ cups water
2 Tablespoons honey (or sugar if you have no honey)
½ teaspoon salt
Optional: 2 Tablespoons Orange or Apple Juice
Mix the honey and salt with the hot water until dissolved
Add the room temperature water and juice and let cool to room temperature before using.
I would not use milk with your budgie even though it is recommended in the "Care of Aging Budgies" page.
I've read that budgies are unable to digest milk easily so that could make the situation worse in my opinion.
Since he's used to having a light on all the time, then you should continue that practice -- changing it willl simply be too stressful for him.
Egg yolk is high protein and my father would give the soft cooked egg yolk to our budgies when they became ill so it's definitely worth trying if you can entice him to eat it.
Good luck and please let us know how things go with the vet appointment. Sending lots of healing energy, postive thoughts and prayers for your little fellow.