Story Bird: Pipsqueak



On July 4, 2001, I picked Pipsqueak up at the airport.  She had flown over to the island of Kauai from her birth place on the island of Hawaii.  She was four months and one day old.  I immediately suspected something was wrong, she begged and begged for food.  The breeder said in his pre-shipping e-mail "This little bird is weaned, don't fall for her begging"  Seems that Pipsqueak had not been gaining weight as she should and had a bacterial infection.  A week before shipment, she was treated.  Once she started gaining weight, she was shipped to me.  I took her to the vet I use for my dogs and cats, he checked her fecal for bacteria and said she was fine.  Maybe I should hand feed her.  I started hand feeding her.  She seemed to be doing just great.  Unknown to me, she was not eating any of the foods offered in her bowl.  She also started to pick at a spot under her wing.  I didn't notice it, it was carefully hidden.  After a hectic schedule, which allowed only 30 minutes each morning and 30 minutes at lunch, and returning home at 9pm to put her in her bed, I found a hole in her side under the wing.  This is November 2001, my little Pipsqueak is only 8months old and almost killed herself.  The hole was only centimeters from a major artery.  This time I took her to the avian vet on the island.  She put a collar on her and suggested I board her for intensive care.  The wound healed, but when the collar came off Pipsqueak acted like "she had an alien invader under her skin".  If I took the collar off she ripped feathers, and punched holes in her skin attempting to get at "the itch".  We ran the "feather picking" blood panel on her.  $370 later, I was informed that she was calcium deficient and had problems with her liver function.  The avian vet suggested a skin biopsy.  I did not want to put Pipsqueak under anesthesia, so I found a third vet, this one Holistic.  He made lots of changes in her living area, diet and toys.  I also signed on for the "Parrot Behavioral Modification Kit".  Best $80 ever spent.  I learned more than I ever thought I could from that kit.  The new doctor gave her a tonic for her liver and suggested "full spectrum" lighting to help her process calcium.  Around her birthday in March, she was gaining weight and improving.  I decided to try to leave her uncollared.  She tore 6 holes in her self overnight.  Collar went back on and we began acupuncture treatments.  They seemed to help but the "itch" was always present.  I then noticed how there seemed to be a cycle, when she was most 'itchy" her stool was soft and she didn't want to eat or play.  2-3 weeks later, her stool hardened up and she was back to normal, well almost, still had to collar her.  Finally, in August 2002 I heard that this type of cycle could be Giardia.  I had the Holistic vet do two different 3day tests and he found nothing.  I also had the dog & cat vet test once also.  Nothing found.  Finally, I ordered the Fecal Trichrome kit (actually I ordered 2 have the other one on hand if we see a re-lapse).  The results came back with "rare Giardia cysts".  Seems it only takes a few to trigger the "itch".  No wonder the other vets never found it looking under the microscope.  I got the first Flagyl from the dog & cat vet.  His recipe called for 1cc twice a day for 7 days (extremely difficult to get 1cc to stay in a bird).  In 24 hours a noticeable change occurred.  She calmed down and didn't seem so "itchy".  But, 3 weeks later, "they're back".  That's when I found out the importance of disinfection.  Seems these little things can hang around for months and re-infest.  Finally on October 22, almost a year from the first mutilation, I returned to the avian vet and requested a second round of Flagyl.  This recipe was  much more concentrated.  It required only .02cc once a day for 5 days, much easier to get it all inside of her. This time, I disinfected and she's been uncollared with no signs of the "itch" for 3 days now.  If you bird had an "itch" that won't go away.  Get the Fecal Trichrome Kit.  Test the bird.  Treat it for Giardia, what could it hurt.  If I had known about Giardia earlier, I probably could have saved Pipsqueak months of agony.  I want to thank and suggest you contact the following for their support and help with this huge problem:  thanks Joe  thanks Charlie thanks claudia
Special thanks to Drs. Ahana, Woltman,Basko & Azeka