(Sorry, long story)
I need help with a possibly sick, definitely ultra stressed young budgie.
Two days ago, I unexpectedly inherited four new budgies. Somebody died and the family can't take care of the birds.
One of the birds (a lovely blue boy) died this morning. I took him to the vet at the earliest time I could get an appointment, and she put him in an incubator, but it was already too late. He died a few hours later. Vet said he was 50% under body weight and it was probably an infection as a result of his being so run down and stressed. He had no respiratory symptoms, but a really dirty vent.
The previous owner handled the birds very roughly so they are all traumatised. Two of the others show no symptoms, are eating, seem fine although nervous.
The third, a young female, looks like a juvenile to me (black eyes, some striping on her head still) is either sick, or just completely terrified. Whenever I see her she's panting and her tail is bobbing. And she goes "peep, peep, peep," sort of under her breath.
I can't take her to the vet as the only bird vet near here has no appointment times until next week. I spoke to the vet on the phone, she said it would in any case be a very bad idea to handle or transport this bird now as the shock and fear might kill her.
I covered the cage to keep them all as quiet as possible and am playing them bird sounds. But every time I change their water, or put in new food, I can tell the little girl is terrified.
I think at the moment my only option is to keep her as quiet as possible until the vet has an open slot again. Even then, I can't really see how I can take her to the vet without traumatising her again.
Is there anything more I can do to help her? Is it actually best for me to keep the cage covered like this, or is it better for her to start getting used to seeing me move around the room etc?
It sounds like there could be a case of Avian Gastric Yeast (AGY), also known as Megabacteria or Macrorhabdus. It can be carried in budgies and not show any symptoms and can flare up and quickly kill a bird under stress.
When a bird has AGY, they will be severely underweight, will have a messy vent, and can die very quickly. It is contagious, so all your birds will need to be treated for it.
Did the vet to a crop swab or fecal test on the bird that died?
If she is panting out of fear that should stop once she feels safe and comfortable, if she is panting due to an illness that is a different matter and needs to be addressed immediately. AGY is a fungal issue and needs appropriate meds for that and sometimes when a bird has AGY they will also have a secondary bacterial infection that needs to be treated with an antibiotic. If the vet does not have any appointments until next week I would at least talk to them about bringing in some of the birds droppings for them to test to see if there is an infection or AGY, if they can determine the issue then maybe they would give you some meds to start before the appointment. Time is of the essence because once a bird is showing symptoms of an illness it has likely already been ill for some time. What are you feeding the birds?
Cody, the previous owner fed them just millet seed.
I'm giving them mostly millet (so it's not a big change all at once) and have also put in some chopped up green beans, broccoli tips as well. I have the cage covered so it's hard to see if they're eating that.
The vet told me to add Versele Laga Premium Prestige Budgie food - so I've adding a bit of that too.
How infectious is AGY? My own two budgies are in a separate cage, but for complicated reasons I'm only going to be able to move their cage to a different room tomorrow. (I know. I regret this situation immensely but it's what it is.) I've been keeping food and water bowls completely separate and washing my hands etc. There has been no contact between the birds, or with their droppings or anything like that.
I don't really understand how the vet practice works yet, it's the first time I've used this vet (we moved recently so everything is new). I'm going to try to find out tomorrow whether she can do tests etc already, or whether all of that can only be done next week. It's possible that she only comes in to the practice once a week.
Try uncovering the cage just on one side so they can see what is going on around them, just don't make any sudden fast movements or noise around them. Since there has not been any contact between your birds and the new ones and you have been taking precautions by washing, there should not be any contamination if it is AGY. If you can have the cages in different rooms that would be best, new birds should be kept separate from existing birds for at least 30 days even when no illness is observed to make sure that nothing arises that might require medical attention. Some illnesses need direct contact to be passed and some do not so to be safe keep them in different rooms if possible.
Thanks you, Cody.
I've moved my birds into a separate room now. Am seeing the vet tomorrow, she's agreed to chat to me between her appointments. Am going to take some droppings in case they can test those for AGY. Apparently the one that died was put in a freezer and they can no longer test him. I wish I'd thought to ask them at the time but I was too upset by the news.
The dropping sample should be as fresh as possible. Put a paper on the bottom of the cage below where the bird sleeps, this will catch all the night droppings and hopefully there will be one that can be tested. It's good for the vet to look at the droppings anyway so make sure you show them to her. If you can take a video of how the bird looks at home that may be of help also.
I went to the vet and had a long conversation with her.
( Just to recap, the young female bird I'm concerned with has only one symptom - she sometimes seems to be breathing with difficulty. Her breathing "ticks". It does seem to happen only when she's stressed, but she's so hair trigger that it's sometimes hard to tell. If I look at her from a distance, she often seems to breathe fine. It also seems better when I play her bird sounds and music but I'm not sure. There was the bird who died, which worries me a lot. I had a conversation with somebody who knows the previous owner, and she says the previous owner didn't reliably feed the birds, they were in a dark outhouse out back, in tiny cages, and the bird that died was probably at least 6 years old)
The vet conversation was not as helpful as I hoped! There seem to be some limitations as to what tests can be done in this practice. She said that she could test for diseases such as Chlamydophila psittaci and some others, I don't remember what now, but that the tests would be sent to a lab in another city, would be very expensive, and not conclusive - that is, they might come back negative even if the bird is sick. The treatment, if the results are positive, are also quite stressful.
Seeing as she's had such a hard time and is already so stressed I've decided to rather keep her as quietly as possible, feed the best food, and hope for the best. My original two budgies are in a separate room, the new, rescue budgies (three of them) are together in a cage.
They're all eating and playing quite well. I was worried that the little scared female wasn't eating, but then I saw that the little male is regurgitating food for her, and now she's eating just as much as the others. They are all eating veggies as well as seed.
So my question is - accepting that I can't look to the vet for testing or treatment - what can I do to improve her chances? Is it possible she might recover, assuming that she is sick?
The vet told me the symptoms of Chlamydophila psittaci to look out for at that's the one she was most worried about and apart from the breathing thing I've already mentioned, I don't see any other symptoms, no discharge from eyes or nostrils, droppings normal etc.
Chlamydiosis is contagious to other birds and to humans, if the vet is concerned about Chlamydiosis a/k/a Psittacosis, it does not sound like you were given any info regarding precautions and I would have hoped that you would have been given some medication to at least try to see if symptoms improve, it is commonly treated with Doxycycline and here in the U.S. there is a form that can be put into the water, check back with the vet to see if it is available where you are. Here is a link to an article about the disease that explains many factors, https://nilesanimalhospital.com/file...diosis-New.pdf