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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all,

I think that my senior pigeon Philly is recovering from a leg injury, but I’m trying to make sure that there isn’t anything else going on. Just last month Philly lost his wife, NuNu to whom he had been married for six years. Philly seems to have been holding up well, chasing my recently adopted pigeons around, cooing at everyone, and generally seeming to have a lot to do and not feeling too depressed or lonely. I think that he was going through a molt but his activity and weight has been pretty steady over the last month.

But just recently it looked like Philly may have hurt his leg jumping down from his perch (Philly can’t fly - he was found with a wing injury that left him flightless 8 years ago, and that’s how I got him). The suspected leg injury didn’t seem serious at the time; he wasn’t limping or showing any other signs. But I noticed Philly acting a bit less active, weighed him, and found that he was losing weight (he went from 350 g to 340 g, and then all the way down to 324 g at the vet). I took Philly in to the vet and we did x-rays and a blood panel (his stools have been good so we didn’t test his droppings, although they do have a sample that we can run if we get suspicious). We couldn’t find any visible injuries or arthritis on the x-rays and his blood panel came back completely normal.

My vet and I suspect a soft tissue injury to the leg. We have Philly on Metacam and I have set up additional feeding stations on the elevated surfaces up to which Philly likes to climb and on which he likes to hang out, so he doesn’t have to hop down or walk far to eat or drink. I’ve been able to see Philly eating a good deal at the new feeding stations (including by spying on him remotely with a web-linked camera), and his weight has started to creep up (he was 326 g yesterday and 329 g today).

Philly is definitely chasing the other birds when they get close and when he decides he wants to hop all the way down from his perches and go after them on the ground – and he can run very fast when he wants to. (I feel so very lucky that the new birds all defer to and run away from Philly without fighting him - I don't know what I'd do if they tried to fight my poor senior boy!). He also seems quite perky a lot of the time. It’s just that Philly does seem to not bother with chasing the other birds as much as he did a few weeks ago (including some time after his wife passed away), and I have noticed Philly sleeping a bit more than I had previously.

Now, as to not bothering with chasing the other birds quite as much, I was thinking that Philly could be coming to accept the new birds, and that he might not feel as possessive when they get close to his food on the ground because he now has more feeding stations including the ones up on his elevated perches. As to noticing him sleeping / resting more, I was thinking that some of this could be because I’m just monitoring him more closely than before, but I’m not sure. Also two new birds were just released into the main bird room in the last few weeks, so it could be that there are just more birds for Philly to chase, and it's more tiring for him to try to chase them all the time. (Similarly, I recently built Philly a new climber in the area where the new birds were doing their introduction so he could climb up and see them, so in addition to chasing the birds there is more stuff for him to climb on, and thus a further set of opportunities to exert himself physically).

I was just wondering if there is anything else that could be going on here that I might be missing. Is it usual and not necessarily a sign of ill health for senior birds to rest their eyes more? Could Metacam make him a bit drowsy? If there are too many birds to chase all the time (in addition to recently added climbing areas) could Philly be in danger of over-exerting himself - can he be counted on to learn to cut back on the chasing (which he may be doing) or might this be something where it would be important for me to intervene so he doesn't over-exhaust himself? Would most dangerous health conditions that cause weight loss and reduced activity have shown up on Philly’s blood test (or caused diarrhea), or are there other things I should be looking out for here?

Thanks so much,
Howard
 

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Aggression is extremely stressful, it could definitely cause weight loss. I don’t know how you introduced them, but you should do it slowly, without the resident birds feeling like their territory is being invaded. It’s great he’s getting used to them though.

I also wonder what his climbing perches look like. If it requires him to jump down I would reevaluate.
 
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