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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-25-2005, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
 
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Problem with birds

Okay folks- I need advice.

3 weeks ago while in Dallas I agreed to take in a pair of healthy looking finches. It was a long trip back to the Ozarks and I decided then Never to do that to birds again. I noticed nothing wrong, no difference in stools, eating habits or behaviour until the night before they both died. That evening I pointed out to my husband that they were both quiet and in the corner and that was unusual- It was extremely cold that night. We were going to the vet the next day- they didn't make it through the night. I had changed their cage weekly and did add a differn't seed, but hadn't taken away their old seed, just added a seperate bowl of the new seed. We have cats and I do not know wether their previous home did, but they were hung on the wall. When I gave them a close inspection after death their keel bones where terribly thin and their excrement had whole seed in it indicating wasting disease as apparrently their gizzards were not functioning. The vet said that it could have been something I did or something they already had and I wonder if the stress of the move could have triggered it. I am heart broken and don't know how to tell the lady I got the birds from that they are dead. The vet recommended I destroy everything that they came in contact with to be on the safe side, in case it was a viral thing. Now- the night before they died, a parakeet came into the shelter and because I was unaware their was a problem I placed his cage next to theirs for company. I knew him already to be healthy. I am scared to death of doing something wrong with him and causing his demise. Bird Enthusiasts Please Advise. I am terribly distraught over this development. I did bring a sick rooster into the house for a couple of nights(he had frost bite on one leg-no idea how as they have a coop and no one else had, I have 5) but none of our wild finches have been found dead and there or no other apparent health issues with the other roosters. I am beating myself up trying to find the root cause and have the budgie to be concerned for. Thanks in advance for your help.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-25-2005, 02:07 PM
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I'm sorry for your loss. But don't panic or beat yourself up, It doesn't sound like there were many things (if any!) that you could have done better or differently.

First off, finches and parakeets aren't that closely related. Not that many fatal, virals in common with each other. They didn't share bowls for food, they didn't come from same place, and they didn't go to the same place. Sounds like a very limited exposure to each other. I wouldn't rush to diagnose Proventricular Dilatation Syndrome (PDS) without having a vet confirm it. PDS is usually found in psitticines, and although it's possible it can occur in passerines, I couldn't find any literature that included small finches in the list of species susceptible to it (One resource was here with the Int'l Aviculturalists Soc.: http://www.mecca.org/~rporter/PARROTS/pds.html). There is a syndrome of finches that causes them to waste away but I believe that there are a number of causes for that, and it may not be viral (ie non-contagious). (Here is a source on that: http://www.lostmymarblz.com/fl-health-goinglight.htm)

The fact that they both had the same symptoms at the same time and died the same night is puzzling. I guess it's possible they were exposed to something at the same time and it had an identical incubation period in each bird, but in reality that rarely happens. If it did, it probably happened before you got the birds.

I guess a stress event is a possibility also (you described a long car trip, although I have traveled many times with birds in a car and no bad after effects), but I'd expect something like a cat knocking their cage off a table. Something would have to be pretty traumatic to affect them that strongly, and it would have to be fairly recent.

In my mind, the only thing that comes close to explaining a double death like that would possibly be a quick acting, airborne toxin of some kind. Carbon Monoxide is one, there is also a colorless oderless gas which is given off by heating some items with non-stick coatings. Did you do any cooking the night these guys crashed? Was there a space heater of any kind running?

You probably already know that finches have super fast metabolisms, that they hide their symptoms until the last possible moment, and when their health crashes, there is usually nothing you can do about it ...they go down quickly. Nothing you could have done would have changed this. Even if you had taken them to the vet at the first sign of symptoms, it might have already been too late. So don't kick yourself over it.

To sum all this up, I'd keep an eye on the parakeet, but not worry overly much. I think it's very unlikely you did anything to harm it by merely hanging its cage next to the finch cage. You will probably never know what happened to them. I think it sounds like you did your best for them, and that's all that can be expected of anyone.



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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-26-2005, 09:08 AM Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your support.It was your second resource listing that caused me to check their keel bones(terribly sharp) and closely examine their droppings.(undigested seed) I too thought it was suspicious that they both died together. The only conclusions I could come to there was that it was terribly cold that night(outside) and we use wood heat. My fire keeper over slept and the temperature in the house dropped unacceptably low(60 degrees) and/or possibly carbon monoxide? These are hypothetical as I did not notice being uncomfortable or ill myself and I am extremely sensitive to these changes as I suffered toxic poisoning as a fire-fighter and have a brain injury that causes me to be highly suceptible to these changes as well. Though certainly not as suceptible as finches, esp. ones who were poss. hiding an illness. We purposely do not use teflon cooking ware for the toxcicity involved in high heat usage. I have wracked my brain over the issue and this is all I can come up with. Thank you again for your support. I do feel better knowing that someone with more bird experience than myself feels it sounds as if I did my best by them.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-26-2005, 11:45 AM
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Always at your disposal, even though I'm sure there are folks here lots smarter than me!
Feel free to PM me or email too if you ever have an issue I can help with.'

Cheers!



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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-26-2005, 02:18 PM
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Also Gypsy, they could have been sick before you got them. From wh at I u nderstand, birds are masters of disguise. So please don't blame yourself
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-26-2005, 07:14 PM
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Okay, sorry to beat this to death, but when you mentioned the temperature drop something clicked.

I'm going to ramble here, so bear with me. I talked this out with a friend of mine who is also a falconer and strangely enough, it made sense to him. Here is what I think may have happened:
There is a syndrome that occurs among some raptors in the winter, I've also seen it a couple of times in falconry birds. Dr Pat Redig called it "Midwinter Anemia" in a paper he published on it in a falconry journal. This is a very simplified overview of what happens: a wild bird has a few days of bad luck hunting and it uses up its fat reserves. Then if the outside temperature drops suddenly, there is nothing to draw upon, and the bird will metabolise its own muscle mass. The bird reaches a point that even if given food, the energy needed to digest it is more than the bird has in reserve. They are found the next morning frozen stiff with a razor sharp keel. There is more to it than that, but that is it in a nutshell.

If your finches had been stressed out, and had reduced their eating before you got them, ...say from the stress of the original move to the shelter, the time there and the trip all combined to raise their stress/metabolism and limit their eating by some amount. They could have used up any fat reserves they had by this point ..but still look and acted "normal". Trying to eat, combined with the drop in temp could have pushed them over the edge. With no spare energy to even give the crop in order to grind the food, they would have metabolised themselves and died overnight. Seeds would have passed through whole, and keel would be sharp.

No way you would have spotted this, as they would seem to be eating and moving as normal right up until the very last minutes. You'd have had to actually catch them up and feel their keel to even have a clue what was going on with them. Nobody I know does that with finches.

If this is what happened, it was a chain of events that led up to their deaths. No one thing was at fault, but everything had to fall in place "just so".

It could have been a disease, it could have been a toxin, but I think this is most likely what happened. They were really just victims of all the accumulated stress, and there was really nothing you could have done. If the temperature had not dropped, they may have still been do far down as to be unrecoverable. The fact that you noticed symptoms before the temperature dropped leads me to that conclusion.

Anyway, that's my theory, I'm open for alternatives.



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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-27-2005, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
 
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That makes sense! I do not have the lady's e-mail anymore whom I got the birds from and she has not ever contacted me again since I took them. I do have her phone number laying around though so I can give her a call- I just dislike being the bearer of bad news. Sky, the young parakeet who just came in is doing well. He has quickly learned that I put fresh veggies and fruit in his food dish and everytime I open that compartment to add something he goes immediately down to see what it is. I really appreciate you sharing that with me- it makes me feel much, much better. And Eli- Your support as well is heartwarming. You guys are great. Invitation's always open for canoeing and camping in Arkansas! 25 acres and the Buffalo River at your disposal.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-18-2005, 03:21 PM
 
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Don't beat yourself up over this. Nature does, unfortunately take it's course. Before introducing brand new birds into your flock- home you should have a 24 hour quarentine before you bring the bird into the home, because as strange as it seems the rooster you had there could have had a contagious viral infection and passed to the babies.

The stress of the trip I doubt did anything. I travel with my parots and they are perfectly fine.

Having a disease prior to you getting them is possible too.

Perhaps they were not weined right?

Perhaps you should have kept back the new seed and gradually mixed it into their diets.

THere is just to many should have's and shouldn't haves.

Forgive yourself, keep reading up on parrots and start fresh again.


Good luck.
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