Parrot Lost in His Cage

Last time I talked about how we adopted Bo Dangles and Blind Io into our flock. Io doesn’t say words that we can decipher, but he makes the best dripping water and ray gun noises I have ever heard. He also can sound like two overweight pugs whimpering and panting. The longer he has been with us, the less he lets the pugs out.060516 anatomy

He does the beep on our answering machine. He meows. He started making sounds like our dog Tilda whimpering. And at night when we say good night, he would make kissing sounds. We called it moochies.

In the morning, I play with Bo and her favorite bell. When Io heard the bell, he would say, “Whoop-oh!” Unlike some of our other birds, including Bo, he doesn’t chatter or make sounds like words that just can’t be made out. He’s a special effects bird and that’s that.

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No one ever worked with Io to make him social or tame. When we brought him home, an hour car ride, he screamed the whole time. In a day or so he was used to his new cage, about four times as big as his old one, and used to our voices. He found his food, his water, and a few favorite perches. He had toys all over the cage, one of his favorites being the skewer we put apple or corn on. When it’s empty, he swings it around and around.

When I clean and replenish Io’s dishes, I tell him I’m going to touch his beak. I’m going to touch his feet. He tolerates that touch at that time, but no other. When doing a full clean on his cage, grabbing him with a towel to put him in a temporary cage is awful. He screams just like he did when we brought him home. Once back in his proper cage, he’s fine. I give him lots of cardboard boxes stuffed with paper to chew on and explore. There’s not much I wouldn’t do for this little guy.

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We have game parties about once a month on a Saturday night. The birds do get excited as people come in the door, but then they settle down. I have no clue as to what happened last month, but Io was startled or touched when he didn’t expect it, and he seems to have had a fit or a spasm. As people were leaving, I started to hear an odd noise. Io was making a little cry every few minutes. Watching him, it seemed he almost couldn’t keep his throat from sending out the noise.

We had no idea what to do for him. I hoped that overnight he would calm down. But he kept on crying, all night. And all the next day. By Sunday night, the cries stretched out with longer breaks between them. Monday morning, he was quiet, but then I noticed he had not been eating or drinking as far as I could tell. I bought some Pedialyte and used a syringe to squirt it into his beak. Io didn’t like it, but he did swallow some of the liquid.

I tried handfeeding formula and baby food fruits, but there was no way to get him to take them without toweling him. I feared that would make him relapse. We considered taking him to a veterinarian, but really if it was a mild stroke or other type of episode, there wouldn’t be much the vet could tell us.

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I set up a heat lamp over Io’s usual perch, and then he began to show signs of real improvement. He ate his food. He drank his water. He eventually started playing with his toys and boxes. We leave the heat lamp on so he can sit under it or move away. He’s started whistling and making some of his usual noises again. Not until he began vocalizing once more did I realize how much this situation was like losing a bird. He was still in his cage, but he wasn’t the Io we were used to.

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It’s wonderful to have him mostly back. He’s not up to making his kissy moochies at night, though he does make that noise during the day. I hope Io will return completely in a few more weeks. But no matter what, he’ll be loved and nurtured here for as long as we have him. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

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