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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
During the Summer, my son found a Woodpigeon chick under a tree. No nest was in sight so he brought it home. I fed it a mix of my own "pigeon milk" that I have used successfully with feral pigeons and Collared Doves in the past. He thrived and is now a large Juvenile (male) starting to show some adult plumage. However, something has gone wrong!

He has recently started to have ad hoc fits, when he seems to lose coordination, his neck twists and he ends up as a flapping bundle of feathers on the floor. When I say, ad hoc, he had two of them in the evening about 4 days ago, a mile one yesterday (he just propped himself up against the side of the open door pet carrier he is roosting in inside the house.) And this evening, we had another bad fit on the scale of the first two.

He then responds well to gentle handling - soothing noises and stroking around the neck, when the neck twisting eventually stops. He is then more than willing to take to the hand and snuggle up, burying his head as best he can like a chick with its mother. It takes a good 30-60 minutes before he starts to feel okay, when after he begins to preen, take some food and generally behave as if nothing had happened. However, in addition to these fits, he also seems to keep coming over as if he has a temperature, fluffing up the feathers as sick pigeons do.

Any ideas how I should treat this?

Direct communications very welcome - [email protected] - but please share them here anyway.
 

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Hi

As he is hand reared and in a safe environment, I guess it would be difficult for him to have picked up a viral or bacterial infection - unless he has recently been in close proximity to any other woodies (or ferals) who could be sick, or in some 'accommodation' previously occupied by a sick bird. Otherwise my first thought would have been PMV or Salmonellosis.

What food do you provide for him? It is possible for neurological symptoms to be triggered by toxicity, which can come through a bad batch of feed from wherever you source it. Another possibility is a vitamin deficiency, depending on what he is eating. Toxic reactions can also come from something in the environment - common household products, nibbling on the wrong houseplant ...

What are his droppings like? They can sometimes help to identify possible illnesses, in conjunction with other symptoms.

Really, getting a vet to analyse a sample of poop is probably going to be the first recourse for an unknown condition. Do you have a bird-friendly vet you can consult?
 

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Can you try calcium? Indoor birds would not have the exposure to viruses or bacteria that wildies have, so infection is not so likely, but they can suffer from calcium and vitamin D3 deficiency. Even in the wild, young woodies are susceptible to this

With this in mind I did a search for bird+fits+ calcium and found this on the Birdcare Company website:

We often get calls and e-mails from people whose birds are showing a number of different symptoms of poor nerve and/or muscle function. The most common are fits, twitching, neck twisting (stargazing), poor flying, inability to perch properly and twirling. Twirling is when the bird gets onto its back and turns around in an attempt to get back upright.

Although there are a number of nasty possible causes of this sort of behaviour (infections, epilepsy etc) by far the most common cause is a simple shortage of calcium in the nerves and muscles. So it is easily fixed by feeding Calcivet (CalciBoost) directly into the beak. This can be repeated every two hours or so until the bird recovers. We then recommend that you give your bird Calcivet (CalciBoost) five days a week for about a month to ensure that the bones are well topped up with calcium.


Worth trying!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi

As he is hand reared and in a safe environment, I guess it would be difficult for him to have picked up a viral or bacterial infection - unless he has recently been in close proximity to any other woodies (or ferals) who could be sick, or in some 'accommodation' previously occupied by a sick bird. Otherwise my first thought would have been PMV or Salmonellosis.

What food do you provide for him? It is possible for neurological symptoms to be triggered by toxicity, which can come through a bad batch of feed from wherever you source it. Another possibility is a vitamin deficiency, depending on what he is eating. Toxic reactions can also come from something in the environment - common household products, nibbling on the wrong houseplant ...

What are his droppings like? They can sometimes help to identify possible illnesses, in conjunction with other symptoms.

Really, getting a vet to analyse a sample of poop is probably going to be the first recourse for an unknown condition. Do you have a bird-friendly vet you can consult?
Hi John
You have given me a lot to consider!
All the food is from a local pet shop although in addition to some sunflower seeds from there, he's also had a few from Tesco! (Sunflower seeds are his favourite, and he refuses wheat altogether. ) Otherwise, I'm giving a variety of foods from split corn, wild bird mixture and corn free seed mix.

I suppose there is a risk the cage is contaminated, so I'll deal with that. Otherwise he's not had any contact with other pigeons since before he was passed to me some months ago.

The droppings ... they recently have turned into a green colour, sometimes purely liquid, sometimes a little more solid but not solid in the normal way, which I recognise from the past when I have had sick birds.

I did wonder about the environmental impact. He is in a back room where I also work on this laptop. Surface pace is limited and he has always been sited on top of an old boiler - nice and warm. (I have only introduced him to the cage to restrict flight during some parts of the day but, as is my usual practice, I did not "cage" him as a chick or fledgling, and even now, I generally leave the cage door wide open when I am in the room. I did wonder if carbon monoxide might be a problem but I have a detector above the cage by the ceiling and it shows no sign of the gas being present. (The room is well ventilated anyway.) Besides, I'd not have associated the symptoms I have seen with carbon monoxide poisoning, and it would be affecting me also, I think. (I've been poisoned with it once in the distance past and remember what it felt like - tired, headache and a feeling of being detached from the World, which I nearly was - permanently!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Salmonella?


Can you post some good close up images of the poops?
Here's one shot. I can't get any closer with this camera. I'll try to get a better shot with my other one, which isn't close to hand. The clour balance ain't great - the green is a little brighter (compare white paper, which isn't that grey!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Can you try calcium? Indoor birds would not have the exposure to viruses or bacteria that wildies have, so infection is not so likely, but they can suffer from calcium and vitamin D3 deficiency. Even in the wild, young woodies are susceptible to this

With this in mind I did a search for bird+fits+ calcium and found this on the Birdcare Company website:

We often get calls and e-mails from people whose birds are showing a number of different symptoms of poor nerve and/or muscle function. The most common are fits, twitching, neck twisting (stargazing), poor flying, inability to perch properly and twirling. Twirling is when the bird gets onto its back and turns around in an attempt to get back upright.

Although there are a number of nasty possible causes of this sort of behaviour (infections, epilepsy etc) by far the most common cause is a simple shortage of calcium in the nerves and muscles. So it is easily fixed by feeding Calcivet (CalciBoost) directly into the beak. This can be repeated every two hours or so until the bird recovers. We then recommend that you give your bird Calcivet (CalciBoost) five days a week for about a month to ensure that the bones are well topped up with calcium.


Worth trying!
Thanks - I'll try that (and bare it in mind for the future, too.)
 

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The worry with wood pigeons is that they seem to lack the resistance of feral pigeons to disease and need to be treated fairly quickly if they become ill. Do you have any antibiotics?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The worry with wood pigeons is that they seem to lack the resistance of feral pigeons to disease and need to be treated fairly quickly if they become ill. Do you have any antibiotics?
Unfortunately no antibiotics, but then, I suppose if it were PMV, they'd not make much difference anyway, PMV being a viral infection.
 

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if it were PMV, they'd not make much difference anyway, PMV being a viral infection
Yes, I know. I was thinking of the poops and possible bacterial infection. We have had a lot of deaths among our resident woodies, post mortems showed no connection between the deaths but the last three we have treated promptly with Baytril and Flagyl and they have survived. But none of them had fits.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes, I know. I was thinking of the poops and possible bacterial infection. We have had a lot of deaths among our resident woodies, post mortems showed no connection between the deaths but the last three we have treated promptly with Baytril and Flagyl and they have survived. But none of them had fits.
Sorry to hear that about your Woodies. Never more disheartening than when birds you nurse back to health die in care of something else.

I'll be seeing the vet a.s.a.p. on Monday. (I hope the treatment doesn't cost much ... I have nothing like the funds I did 15 years ago when I had my refuge for the disabled birds.) The bird had another fit this evening.
 

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Don't let them put him down. Even avian vets don't know very much about woodies (mine is an avian vet). Try antibiotics and calcium but if you give Baytril give the calcium well between the Baytril doses as calcium can bind Baytril. I give Baytril only once a day, but John's avian vet prefers twice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Don't let them put him down. Even avian vets don't know very much about woodies (mine is an avian vet). Try antibiotics and calcium but if you give Baytril give the calcium well between the Baytril doses as calcium can bind Baytril. I give Baytril only once a day, but John's avian vet prefers twice.
No worries - we've invested too much in this bird to give up on it! (Yeah, I know it's not good to become emotionally attached to rescued birds because a lot of them die anyway, but some of them just get under the skin and we can bond with them just as they do us!)

I am assuming the Baytril can only be obtained via a vet (in the UK.)
 

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Hi Harry,



I think you would do well to regard his affliction as a Bacterial infection effecting his Liver and maybe effecting parts of his Nervous system via Toxins produced Bacterially or Anaerobically.


Baytril ( or Enroflaxyn, or Cipro ) would be a good one to try.

Maybe also add Metronidazole just for good measure.


They can get germs from people, kids especially, if their Beaks are touched or if their Foods are touched...this might be an e-coli or a Salmonella or who knows.


Keep him warm, and, maybe have the famous 'ACV-Water for his drinking Water also.



Best wishes!


Phil
Las Vegas
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hi Harry,



How 'bout some nice images of Mr. Woody himself?




Phil
Las Vegas
One of his looking pretty miserable was taken today. The picture of him on the laptop keyboard was yesterday, and the other, just a few days after I got him. (He can be quite ferocious when people he doesn't like the look of try to touch him, so my absent wife calls him Eagle. I usually try not to a fix names to the birds I have rescued - it helps me a little to keep emotionally unattached and that makes it easier for me if they don't survive, but I'm failing to stay unattached in this case!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Latest news. Two more fits today and the top of the bill has become pink, which I understand indicates it has a temperature. But he still preens (the feathers are a little scruffy but not greasy, but I suspect that's more to do with a gentle moult), he quietly grunts at me when I'm near and still displays the gentle beak snapping. (I'm not used to the grunts and beak snapping with the feral birds I've handled in the past - I presume these are communications peculiar to Woodies, although I did wonder if the beak snapping was copying my mouth opening and closing when I speak. Anyone else witness this behaviour with a wild Woody?)
 
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