Joy and Tears

This has been a very difficult season for me. I wrote before that we said goodbye to our oldest lovebird, Piro. Since then we also lost Fletch, one of our oldest cockatiels. When you lose an older bird, one who has been acting sleepy and quiet recently, you are more prepared. The loss still hurts, but solace might be found in the fact the sweet little one is no longer suffering. Even if not sick or injured, old age brings some pain with it. (Warning — the last photo may be disturbing to some people)

We lost unexpectedly one of the parrotlets I had been given. By the time he showed signs of illness, it was too late. He possibly had a stroke or seizure. One night he was having trouble walking around on the bottom of the cage, and the next morning he had passed on.

Featured image  Beautiful Male and Female Zebra Finches.

One of our male zebra finches passed, not at all expected, but he was pretty old for a finch. His hen readily accepted a new male, and life goes on.

Tragedy struck when I attempted to get four lovebirds to share the same cage while I made arrangements for them to go to a new home. The more aggressive of the hens attacked and killed the older of the males. Lorrie had been a rescue, and as sweet as can be for not being socialized after being hand fed. His loss will hurt for a long time, especially as it can be laid at my door. I know better than to put females in with males they didn’t choose. The signs of aggression were there, but I chose to ignore them.

Featured image  Lorrie is on top of the cage, Jake below.

The biggest and most horrifyingly sad event involved my last hand fed lovebird, Fin. He had been saved to go to a new home, but the man already had a pet lovebird that he is very attached to. He worried that introducing a new lovie would lure his bird away from him. So Fin, I said, would go to the bird store that wanted to buy my handfed birds.

The day before, we clipped his wings. Lovebirds are such good fliers that giving them an attractive clip, leaving the leading edge feathers still in place, won’t prevent them from flying. I knew better but we gave Fin that attractive clip.

Featured image  Fin before the tragedy.

I hadn’t meant to let Fin out of his cage. I wanted to change his food and water, and he sneaked out the open cage door. He went straight over to the African Grays’ cages, the reason I had wanted to clip his wings in the first place. I came back to the room with fresh food and clean water, and saw him beak to beak with Io, our blind CAG. How cool, I thought, if Io could accept a friend to preen him. But then, I thought, no, this is not a good thing. I raced the few feet to the cage, but too late.

Fin screamed and flapped, and got away from Io’s bite. Blood and panic filled the room. Crying, I got a hold of the lovebird, and saw the full extent of the damage. Oh, Fin. Cold water stopped the bleeding, antibiotic ointment helped with the pain, but the right side of his beak was mostly gone. The tip of Io’s beak had gone in to Fin’s right nare, and left him with a diagonal cut out of the upper mandible.

Yes, I should have taken Fin to the avian veterinarian immediately. I didn’t. I was in shock, I had an appointment, I feared the vet would want to put the baby bird down. I knew I could keep Fin alive. I would continue to hand feed him, and we would see if the beak could partially grow back.

Featured image  Fin a week after the bite.

The good news was that his lower mandible was untouched. His tongue was also whole. For days he slept when I wasn’t feeding him, often he fell asleep in my hand, or under my shirt. I can’t tell you how horrible and responsible I felt and still feel for this whole thing. I worried he would die of shock, or loss of blood, or infections. But he survived.

Eventually Fin remembered he is a bird. He started playing with toys again. He started chewing on my fingers. Not very hard, of course. But enough to exercise the muscles. He loves for me to gently rub around his injury. I am falling more in love with him every day.

He’s a funny looking bird. He still has issues with his hips, so he stands funny. His toes never corrected their three forward, one back issue, and without his beak to use while getting around, and the lack of a strong foot grip, he has fallen a few times. But Fin never gives up.

He’s eating lots of millet. He likes the parakeet mix. He loves peanut butter. He’s taking less hand feeding all the time. And Fin’s lower edge of the right side of his beak is growing. He now has one cutting surface and the point of his beak is also growing out. The left side of his beak, where Io’s lower beak cut, is not likely to ever regrow. Oddly, it’s the side that looks the least injured.

Just a few days ago, Fin knocked out the huge clot and scab that was under his beak. He lost a bit more blood, but it seems a nice, clean area now. I believe that he will continue to improve, and continue to live a happy life. I’ll never be the same person I was before this happened, but that’s not all bad, either.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.

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