Falling off perch through the night

Judith Boyd

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I hope you guys can help... I'm panicking and have been in tears more than once today (no sleep and being a trainee teacher and a Mum doesn't help!!)

Aku (African Grey - age unknown) fell off her perch 4 (maybe 5) times last night... once she got trapped (removed the natural perch that she got stuck on immediately) and once she landed on her side on floor of the cage and cried and was disorientated... she snuggled up with me after that time, and she was twitchy (I think perhaps this is what my grandmother meant when she said she was having 'fits' last Jan... I inherited Aku after my grandmother passed away in July...) she was unbalanced after each 'twitch'...

I have removed all the high up perches... but she is now trying to sleep holding onto the edges of the cage... so I am sure she will fall again... I am so worried about her.

We have no idea how old she is, as my Grandmother rescued her, but we can't remember exactly when (around 15 years ago though probably...) and we don't know how old Aku was at that time...

What might this be? Could it be old age?

Since coming to me, she's had a solar lamp, she's been on a mix of cooked food and a little of her familiar sunflower / seed mix, but I'm just transitioning over to pellets supplemented with some 'chop' style food (parrot friendly versions of our dahl / stir fries generally) and palm oil on toast each morning... I've been putting about 5 drips of calcivet onto her toast every few days and also mixing in some fussy feeder supplement with her palm oil... although, now she is on pellets, I guess these are unneccessary... I'm calling the vet tomorrow... but given that I'm at a school in one village and the vet is in another town, and my house is in another town, and there is half an hour between each of these places, I really don't think I can physically get her to the vet before the weekend... :/ I know we need to do bloods... But I am terrified they will advise putting her down (she has plucked herself so badly again :( she always did pluck... but it's worse again, in spite of everything I'm doing.) I know my grandmother would never have agreed to that... and my grief for my grandmother is so badly mixed up in caring for Aku, it's making this all ten times worse... (& it would have been bad enough anyway as she is just the absolute sweetest African Grey I have ever known... she is so gentle, no matter what...)

Please, any advice?! Any tips? How can I make her cage safer? How do I reduce the risk of her falling? What might be causing this?

Thank you...

Judith.

xxx
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
you can pad the bottom with cloth for now and place a perch up but not too high but at a level she will settle on. you do need to get veterinary help and get bloods checked to see if it is a problem in what her body is digesting, it dose sound like fitting but I am not a vet so you will need to see them, I have had birds that suffer with fits and normally its more stressful for us to see than for the bird as they will not realise they are fitting,

try not to worry as many reasons for a bird fitting can be treated so it is important that you bird gets checked by an avian vet, in the mean time pad the bottom of the cage and try to keep the area below the perch clear of obsticals
 

dianaT

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Staff member
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Hi Judith sorry to hear this is happening and always such a worry and very upsetting.
I read that she has regular calcium like Calcivet sprinkled on her food regularly as greys often lack in calcium which may contribute to her falls. Have these falls started since the change of food which has included pellets? they are not suitable for all parrots and an older one may find whatever is in them difficult to absorb. Aku is probably grieving too for your grandmother our parrots grieve when they lose a companion whether it be another parrot or a human. I very much doubt a good avian vet would consider putting her to sleep so don't worry on that score. Anyway, in the end that is your decision.
Michael has given good advice in padding out the floor of the cage also to not put a perch too high up. Also a flat perch maybe wide across a corner may give her better balance too so she has the choice.
Do keep us up to date. xx
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
Can I ask How long has she been with you? have you looked at your home to make sure there is nothing that can be affecting her, they are affected by smells and chemicals by many normal products, there are threads on this subject under home hazzards
 

Judith Boyd

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Registered
Thank you both so much for your responses!

I have her on calcivet, I think my grandmother did that too when she had fits back at the beginning of the year... I will definitely keep doing that! Thank you! It is so reassuring that the fits won't distress her! I will put a folded towel under her newspaper! (does that sound right?)

Diana - it does seem to have got worse since I introduced the pellets, yes... she was having a fall occassionally before... but never a fall (that I heard, and she's in room next door in a small maisonette) during the night... and she had four over the course of last night :( (around 1am, 3am, 4am and 5am...)

I'm sure you are right, that she is grieving... she has had a lot of change :( That being said, she is such a sweet, sweet bird, and is so affectionate... so I hope that she is feeling connection with us here too... (we certainly love her!)

Flat perch sounds great! Do you have any recommendations where I could get one from?

Thank you again!

Will definitely keep updated!

xxx
 

dianaT

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Also could there be something disturbing her during the night. Do you cover her cage or about three quarters cover it with a sheet that may help.
She could well have arthritis which would make her lose her grip and that is controllable with medication.
 

Judith Boyd

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Registered
Can I ask How long has she been with you? have you looked at your home to make sure there is nothing that can be affecting her, they are affected by smells and chemicals by many normal products, there are threads on this subject under home hazzards
Hi Michael,

Yes, I've looked at our household chemicals, you were really good at telling me about that when I first joined the site!
I will check them again though, in case there is anything I have missed or that has crept back in to use inadvertently!

She joined us here in August. (she was at my parents briefly before that, and did fall down a few times there as well, but it wasn't a 'regular' thing and she just seemed to brush it off... certainly nothing like last night!)

xxx
 

dianaT

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Staff member
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Corner perches - have a look on here also other on-line companies sell them too.
 

Judith Boyd

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Also could there be something disturbing her during the night. Do you cover her cage or about three quarters cover it with a sheet that may help.
She could well have arthritis which would make her lose her grip and that is controllable with medication.
That does sound plausible! She seems to struggle with grip (hence me thinking she may be fairly old...) she used to like pootling around on the floor at my Grandmother's (she held court under a spare bed!!)

I do cover her cage... wondered after last night if I was making it TOO dark! (was trying to keep her environment dark for longer to encourage good sleep - so old black out material I had lying around over half the cage and a blanket over the other half... (I washed the material as it smelled musty... could the smell of the non-bio washing powder [& fabric softener] be a factor?)

it also could be a problem with her ear causing her to shake her head and loose balance, sorry I forgot my manners Hello and welcome and thank you for taking your grans bird on what's her name
That feels more like what I would imagine from what I saw her doing [I imagine a fit being rather more sustained?] She ended up going to sleep on me for a while after the 2nd or 3rd fall, so I was able to watch her... she was twitching and then seeming unbalanced every so often [intervals varied...]

Please, no need to apologise!! Her name is Aku. I've been on the site before... but not for a while... life as a trainee teacher is very busy!!

Thank you all again so much.
I'm feeling that there are options and explanations, where before I was just feeling despair and fear!!

xxx
 

Judith Boyd

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I gave her cage a thorough clean (on the bars) with washing up liquid over the weekend... could that cause this??? I didn't even think about it... just saw there was some poop on there and thought I'd better clean it off... (& I'm sure my grandmother used to do that... :/ )

xxx
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
Sorry I did not recognise your name, Aku I can remember as she is so like my Holly. fit can be quite short so cannot be ruled out, I have a King parrot that went through problems with his ear, he is ok now but still have the occasional shake of the head, did you wash the perch in clean water after? its always advisable, get some F10 its the best bird safe cleaner
 

dianaT

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As Michael just mentioned best to use just hot water or if you have any F10 dilute that and use it (you can read about it on the website I sent re flat perch). Also best not to use fabric conditioner on any cloths you may use as a cover for her.
A vets check will put your mind at rest - have you a good avian vet you can get to? Try not to worry she is with you and being loved and well cared for. Also if you have one of the little plug in night lights that may help her overnight too.
 

Judith Boyd

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Registered
Sorry I did not recognise your name, Aku I can remember as she is so like my Holly. fit can be quite short so cannot be ruled out, I have a King parrot that went through problems with his ear, he is ok now but still have the occasional shake of the head, did you wash the perch in clean water after? its always advisable, get some F10 its the best bird safe cleaner
No worries! It's a big forum and I've been very absent! You gave me a wonderful welcome and your knowledge and support are so reassuring now!!

I cleaned outside of cage but not inside perches... I didn't rinse :/ (worth doing now??? Or tomorrow ok?)

Attached is her cage as it is now... and how she is attempting to sleep! (Ignoring the short bar I just raised up for her... totally unimpressed! Tempted to remove it again as its just another thing to get trapped / caught on if she falls... what would you do?)

Xxx
 

Judith Boyd

Regular Member
Registered
As Michael just mentioned best to use just hot water or if you have any F10 dilute that and use it (you can read about it on the website I sent re flat perch). Also best not to use fabric conditioner on any cloths you may use as a cover for her.
A vets check will put your mind at rest - have you a good avian vet you can get to? Try not to worry she is with you and being loved and well cared for. Also if you have one of the little plug in night lights that may help her overnight too.
Thank you! :)
I'll rewash it to get the smell out!
No night light per se... but as I have kids our landing light stays on for them... so her cage is probably not completely dark...
We do have a vet - in Andover - Anton Vets - but since I work in one village, we live in another town and vet is in a 3rd town, I don't think I can get her there until Saturday :(
When she had her checkup, they did say her heartbeat was slightly irregular... but that it may have been the stress of being manhandled...

I absolutely have to sleep...

... But first to move perches as per Michael's suggestion!! Thanks Michael!!!

Night all!

THank you!!
Thank you all so much!

Xxx
 
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Judith Boyd

Regular Member
Registered
Perches rearranged!!!

Although she is actually on the diagonal one now!! So that is good!! :) (She's using one claw on edge of cage... but I guess that is quite a secure way to stand! & I think she is holding on with her beak as well...)

Fingers crossed for a better night for both of us!! We both need it!!

Thank you again all of you!!!

xxx
 

plumsmum

Regular Member
Just to add that I have placed a quilted bed cover folded many times in my Rubes' cage in case she slipped or fell as has a wing injury atm. I found she didnt like low perches and still went high but clung on to the sides of the cage instead. Move anything out that she can hurt herself during the fall. Place food pots at the least favoured end of the cage ie where she doesnt like to sit often.

If she is falling or fitting often then perhaps see if you can obtain a dog crate* from a pet shop and fit that out with perches and a soft bottom. I use these as night cages and had to confine Rubes for a few weeks. I was able to get second hand ones cheaply that were cleaned thoroughly with F10 etc before use.

Karen at The Natural Bird Company will hand make specialised perches for you.

John Chitty at Anton Vets is Avian btw.

Make sure that the toast and palm oil do not contribute to a lot of her daily intake. If she is not eating very much then the right foods are the food you need her to eat, covering as much of the nutritional spectrum as you can.

A qualified avian vet will need to assess how strong she is regarding any treatment.

:)
 
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