Friday, April 12, 2013

13 YO Spectacle Parrotlet Issues

Hi Sandee, I doubt you remember me, but my mother (Doreen Berg) contacted you some 13 years ago for advice on getting my little guy when I was 10. I still have my spectacled Parrotlet, Peppy, he is turning 13 this year. I am emailing you because he recently started to do some strange activity. It is becoming a frequent morning ritual where I am presented with an angry bird who, as soon as he is uncovered, will make a giant dropping. The first time I saw one of these droppings, I thought that my Amazon parrot had been in Peppy's room. I've read on many forums that this is normal for a bird first thing in the morning, but what makes this concerning is that I know he will be up for quite a while, prior to making these droppings, as he is the one who wakes me up. He also is spending a lot of time at the bottom of his cage. I feel like he thinks it is his nest... as he'll often regurgitate. I've read in many threads online that this is something to be concerned about. I took him to the vet recently, and brought up these issues along with his increased aggression to me (which again, on forums mentioned that during mating season would only last up to a week or so.. it's been more like 2 years). The vet suggested that I change his bottoms from shavings to news paper and try to take him off a seed diet (which I have tried to do many times over the 13 years). I am happy to say that I have successfully integrated wet pellets into his fresh fruit daily breakfasts. However, when I switched from shavings to newspaper, he started to chew soiled newspaper, so I switched back. Help! I am at a loss of what to do and I want to make sure everything is ok with him. Thanks, Denna Dear Denna: Thank you for your email. I'm not sure where to start except with the advice you are getting online. Please remember that a) most of these people have never seen let alone owned a Spectacled parrotlet b) most of these people have no idea what is like to have a parrotlet that is over 10 years of age and c) anyone with a keyboard and an opinion can make themselves an expert online usually by simply repeating other peoples' information with no idea whether or not it is valid information. First, it is not normal for a parrotlet to have 'giant' droppings first thing in the AM unless the bird is a hen about to lay an egg. After all, if it was normal, you would have been seeing it all along since you've had the bird for such a long time. Second, the only parrotlets that have breeding seasons are Mexican parrotlets. All of the other species, including Spectacles, have NO set breeding season and breed all year round. Now, that doesn't mean they don't have certain times of their year when either they are molting or have hormone increases or decreases but there is no such thing as a Spectacled breeding season. Also, your bird is 13 years old. Not likely the bird is exhibiting breeding behavior as it is simply too old and again, if it was, you certainly would have seen this all along in the bird's life. Being on the bottom of the cage and regurgitating, along with the changes in his behavior by being more aggressive with you, the changes in his droppings and the age of this bird indicate medical not behavioral issues. 13 years old is very old for a parrotlet these days so I'm surprised the vet didn't take blood and check to see if the bird had a geriatric medical condition. Birds are very much like people and can and do get diabetes, gout, kidney and heart failure. A 13 yo parrotlet exhibiting the kind of behavior and symptoms, especially one that has been eating primarily a seed diet all of its life, indicates to me either diabetes or kidney issues. I wish I had better information for you but you asked for my expert opinion and the is what I believe the problem is. I hope you find comfort that your parrotlet has lived a very long, happy life with you. He may have a few more years with you but 13 yo parrotlets are very rare these days. I wouldn't make a lot of changes in his diet or other stressful changes that may exacerbate his condition. Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S. The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner, Join the International Parrotlet Society, – the World’s Largest and Oldest Parrotlet Organization A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest. Camaroonian Phrase