Hi everyone! Long time since we've been here. Life was busy and then I entered into the world of assisting with elder care for a dear 90 year old relative, who peacefully passed away late fall. Am just now starting to catch back up on my regular routine, but wanted to jump in today to give a quick update on HRH Inara and some important info.
During the holiday season, I was away from home a lot helping my relative. At some point in the middle of the holidays, HRH started plucking for the first time in her 8 year old life. I kept my eye on things, chalked it up to the stressors of me coming and going -- especially since my Joe has always been the one to travel and I was always the one at home. Then she hit her usual mating/hormonal season and so I still was not super concerned but was concerned enough to give her (wonderful!) avian vet a call. Still not a huge concern because she was not doing super drastic type plucking -- just "snow flurries" in the bottom of her cage each morning and we thought that now that my routine was back to usual, that she would settle back down.
However, something just kept nagging at me as things did not settle down, despite that nothing else was changing with her. Her appetite was fantastic, she was chatting up a storm all day as usual, her weight was holding perfectly steady, she showed no signs of weird poo, and no respiratory distress signs. In any event, since it was time to take her in to get her beak tidied and polished and her talons blunted, I took in her morning poo sample and jogged our Vet's memory about what had been going on.
She asked me: With her new feathers that keep coming in, does the shaft casing look black or whitish pink. I said, hmmm.. now that you mention it, black. But since her feathers are grey, I just chalked that up to her coloring. Vet immediately said -- nope, that is an indicator that something is amiss. They should always be a whitish pink. So she was glad I had brought in the poo and when she was doing HRH's talons she did a shorter snip on one for a blood sample. Because she is an Avian vet and surgeon, she runs all of her own lab work herself right in the office so within minutes we knew what the deal was. Inara had a yeast infection and a bacterial infection. We could not pinpoint how she got the yeast infection because she does not get foods that are yeast based in her general diet. The bacterial infection, the Vet said was likely from her scratching herself open slightly with her beak while plucking a feather.
Then, our visit became like an episode of House, DVM ! Our lovely Vet looked at me with an expression akin to a light bulb going off, and asked, "When you were traveling so much, did your guy order in a lot of pizza?" I said, "Yes!! How did you know?!" She asked further, "Did he share with Inara?" I said, "Yes, actually and was tickled because they really bonded over it." She said, "Well their pizza parties have to come to a halt (I am paraphrasing this conversation) because pizza dough is one of the worst offenders for yeast infections." The pizza crusts often don't get cooked thoroughly enough to kill off the yeast and her little bites of pizza crusts were the culprit. It was a food she had never had in her little life, and is one that is of course completely off of her menu now forever.
My guy felt terrible -- I said, don't because who knew? And I felt terrible because I had fallen into the trap of "She's a Grey, Greys can be notorious for plucking when stressed." Then I conflated that with her hormonal bout and so the problem went on way longer than it should have especially because she was not plucking herself naked, just lots of "snow." And mostly some time during the night, which I now figure is because she was getting her usual shower every day, and is so busy during the days that even though she was probably itching to high heaven she was distracted all day. Then at night, when she was not distracted the itching would get to her and she was going to town on her feathers.
So good news: The antibiotic in her water dish daily, and her drops of antifungal daily have cleared up the entire shebang and she is back (so far) to leaving her feathers alone except for her normal preening. She has always been a super rough preener, she actually pulls my hair out when she tries to preen me (EEK!!) unlike my Congo (R.I.P.) who was so gentle that he would preen my eyebrows and eyelashes (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!). I would never let HRH anywhere near my eyes, as she also is just a completely different personality.
Very long story but the moral is: Even if you think that some plucking may be going on because of 1) Greyness, 2) Change in routine or stressful event, or 3) seasonal/mating changes, or 4) because you think it is just your bird's "habit" --- make an appointment with an Avian Vet, take in a poo sample and get a thorough once over. ASAP.
Fortunately, I know that I am not a bad parront. Most of my friends say that if they come back in another life they want to come back as one of my birds. But I do feel bad that even with close to 30 years total of living with birds, that I missed what a *new* parront might have been on top of in a NY minute. I was concerned, but conflated several things, and since she did not have any bare to the skin patches, I was not alarmed. Sometimes we need to take off our "experienced," lenses and re-look as a hypervigilant new parront might see things.
Usual update: OMG she gets funnier with each passing year, and is still learning more and more language and astounding our friends and family with her use of complete sentences. She now refers to herself as "Birdy" or "The Birdy." She will holler, "Hey Sweetie? Come get The Birdy out." or "Birdy wants to go out there to the tree, OK?" or "You go get The Birdy a carrot cookie, yeah!" And she argues now. If I tell her no, she will reply with, "Yeah -- or Yah!" And then she will keep asking for the same thing in several different ways, as if I am a dullard and just did not tell her No but instead did not grasp what it was that she really wants. She kills me! I have figured out how to upload to youtube, so will start posting some vids if I can get her where she does not clam up when she sees the phone/camera appear. Here is one of the two of us chatting from two different rooms (as we do) -- you may have to turn up your volume so that you can hear her. HRY Inara trying to convince me that "everybody is at the tree."
We've missed you all, and have a lot of catching up to do!
Jane and HRH Inara