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My Saga with Chlamydia psittaci

Pixiebeak

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My saga with Chlamydia psittaci, a highly contagious bacterial infection of birds.. It can infect humans as well and then is often referred to as Parrot Fever. I just call it chlamydia, but I've seen it referred to recently as AC for Avian Chlamydia. That's a lot easier so for the remainder of my story I'll refer to the infection as AC.

AC is a tricky weird sneaky and kinda strange bacteria. When it was introduced into the United States by importation of wild parrots it caused a pandemic in humans . This was before antibiotics, so many humans died from Chlamydia psittaci ( bacterial) pneumonia. It was because of this Parrot Fever outbreak the National Institution of Health ( NIH) was created! ( if I can get extended editing privileges, I will come back and add some stuff on that)

A very brief overview on AC, in parrots it can cause acute disease and sudden death, or chronic low grade infection, or hidden carrie state with intermittent shedding, or the parrot can clear a non symptomatic infection on their own. It can remain dormant hidden inside a parrots kidney/liver / other for years, kept in check by the parrots immune system, but become active causing disease when the parrot is under stress. Stress from molt, cold snap, malnutrition , age, stress from dealing with a different infection, breeding raising chick's, or the stress of moving to a new home, weaning and post weaning stress.

AC is a systemic illness , as such it can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to sudden death being the only symptom ( usually in chick's prior to weaning for sudden death, but not always just in chick's)

Common AC symptoms, bright green urates or stool ( other than first morning poop) , fluffed, weight loss, ocular discharge in one or both eyes ( classic presentation in cockatiel), periorbital swelling, sneezing which can be intermittent with or without discharge, hoarseness or voice change , and more. Birds do not have to show all these symptoms to have AC.

Any symptomatic bird with any symptoms, diagnose by veterinarian must be treated to recover. Or you risk death of your bird either quickly or taking longer.

Treatment is doxycline for 45 days to clear it, do to dormancy periods. Your bird may seem to fully recover before the 45 days of treatment are over. Do not stop the doxycline you must finish the full 45 days! Relapses are common and a second full round of 45 days of doxycline needed. Because the bacteria aerosolizes and can persist in the environment for a time ..like in your vacuum filter, on your broom, a/c filter, porous perches and toys...

Ok , I'm sorry I need a short break, before I come back and share my flock outbreak story. If you have replies and comments, would you mind holding off? So my messy long story can flow together? Ty
 

Pixiebeak

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My AC outbreak started after lock down and lasted 6 months about.

This is how it begins...

I was called to rescue someones escaped/ released budgie. I had lost sight of him and was sitting and playing budgies sounds. Then a lady comes upto me with a budgie in her hands dripping blood. Her cat had caught it and she had extracted it from cats mouth and brought to me.

I do have some experience and knowledge in taking care of sick creatures. I was aware that pasturella a bacteria found in 90% of cats mouths is nearly 100% fatal to birds in hours to 24 hours on average. So I asked the lady for alcohol and peroxide and gave a quick flush to the 2 puncture wounds on his face on the spot.

Rushed him home set up his hospital cage with my sweeter heater. Flushed the wound again with doxycline in water. And gave him a dose of doxycline. And very carefully 1/2 ml of 50/50 sugar water for his shock . Called my veterinarian, who was able to do a video phone consultation due to covid. She informed me was pretty much a lost cause, 100% fatal in her experience. But all for me trying , gave me instructions on doxy dose by mouth . I flushed his wound every 30 minutes that first day , due to my knowledge on pasturela doubling time. By the afternoon he was down burd unable to perch and fluffed. Called vet again and she called in quick action azithromycine and coached my pharmacist how to make in suspension. I rushed to get and give him. This is all his first day. He was also a living skeleton, starved from being an escapee. So I gave him 1/2 - 1ml baby burd formula twice that first day. Did my last wound care at about 9pm. Covered him in his hospital cage with heater, expected to find him dead in the morning.

The next morning he was perching and eating seeds!!! His recovery had a few ups and downs but in about 10 days had gained back bunches of weight , wounds healed. He was wild active in his little hospital cage , very stressed and calling to my other budgies.

So I called my veterinarian and asked if I could let him out of quarantine. We both thought that with being a skeleton, attacked by a cat , and 10 days of antibiotics, and now seemingly fit as a fiddle, the chances of him having anything else were slim. As he plain would have died . My veterinarian still preferred finishing quarantine, but if was that stressed it was up to me.
So I let him out to join the flock.

Wouldn't you know it he sneezed a couple of times that first day with my flock .....called my vet we decided to watch. He never sneezed again. A couple of days later he started doing a lot of crop adjustments. Sent video of it to vet. Decided to examine him. As his puncture from cat had gone from outside cheek to inside his mouth. So while seemingly healed on outside of face maybe not on inside. I was able to see he had inflammation around back of mouth. Described to vet, we chalked it up to still recovery. He was as still eating and active. Crop adjustment resolved in a couple more days.

I warned you this was a saga!!

10 days after he joined my flock and 20 days totally since I had rescued the budgie.

Penny my older quaker got sick. She was normal in the morning ate breakfast joined the flock active and foraging. When I went to put her up in the afternoon , she passed a bunch of diarrhea. Then when I put her in the cage with her seeds she did not rush to eat them like normal. Hmmm...I thought. Maybe a little stomach upset.

In the morning she was fully fluffed, squint eyes, hock sitting, unresponsive. I put my sweeter heater on her . Took her out and weighed her- was her normal weight- and offered her all her favorite treats . She ate nothing. Called my veterinarian before hours left message. Tried getting Penny to eat all day and calling to connect with veterinarian. Got in touch with veterinarian by the afternoon. Did video consulting. But also by the afternoon Penny ate tiny amount like 2 peas.
I made one of the most common mistakes us bird folk do...but she was fine yesterday..this is just something that came on all at once!
Anyways veterinarian called in life saving fast acting Azithromycine. I was able to pick up.after 5:30pm. When I came home with the medication Penny was just about dead. Despite sitting next to my powerful sweeter heater her body was ice cold. Her extremities like her feet felt like ice cold dead burd feet. Her eyes were sunken in, she did not respond to me touching her eye lids or respond to me in anyway..if you have experienced an animal shutting down just prior to death...this was Penny. Im being honest and frankness as can be. I've never seen a creature shutting down for death in septic shock be able to turn around and survive......ever
I gave her the medication, made her as warm and comfortable as possible. And called my veterinarian sobbing. She told me fluffed down burds are 24-48 hours from death and was so sorry she was unavailable earlier in the day. But that azithromycine was a miracle drug for down burds due to bacterial infection. ( we didn't know what was wrong with Penny at this point) she told me chose azithromycine for Penny because its broad spectrum, and works amazingly fast in birds. To have hope, to remember how the budgie responded. I showed her Penny who looked dead but still fluffed upright...so she prepared me that she might not pull through..but that she truly had seen miracle turn arounds.

So this was Penny's first 24 hours from not eating dinner the night before, to just about dead by dinnertime the next day.

I checked the rest of the flock. Weighed and examined each and every one . The other 2 quakers perfect in every way. Spot on their normal weight. My gcc Ta-dah normal in every way spot on normal weight. The 3 budgie boys normal in every way spot on weight. The newest rescue budgie still gaining weight.

Everyone vocal and active poops normal.

So this was just Penny I thought. Maybe got contaminated food or water...or something age related or from past poor nutrition making weak immune system...like i had no idea.

The saga will continue for those who are interested . As all 7 ended up sick. And you do know I pulled all 7 through. ( much later I lost the rescue budgie to an accident).
It was a lot to go through. Im terrified of anything like that happening again......I hope sharing my flock outbreak helps others in someway, provide hope for some with sick ones.

It was a horror for me thinking I would loose every one of my babies at the same time!!!!!!@@@@

But I need a break from sharing. Its still hard to remember. And I'm fighting a kidney stone and infection right now. I will come back and keep telling the story
 

Pixiebeak

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So the next morning the amazing azithromycine had kicked in. Million blessings to my veterinarian!!!

Penny was still fluffed, one eye squint close, no interest in eating. But body was warm. She was reactive to me. Feet warm.

I struggled for days trying to get one bite of food into her at a time. I wasted a lot of time with this and she was loosing weight every day. I was too afraid to try baby burd formula. Im ashamed it took me so long to start support formula. Once I did it was surprisingly simple and she took it easy...tho at first 1ml at a time . My veterinarian had me make more liquid at first as she was dehydrated, for the first day and half. Then I started making thicker and giving more till we worked upto about 5-7 ml 4 times a day. During this first week she ate nothing on her own. 100% of the time fluffed and not moving sitting by my sweeter heater. Napping nearly all day long. Development green urates and increased urination. Fecal mattered formed but scant. One eye squint .

Day 7-ish ( memory unclear on exact day was so stressed) of Penny being sick , I weighed the entire flock again. I'd been keeping an eye on them but all were active vocal and eating. But when I weighed them every single one ( except rescue budgie ) had lost weight!!!!! I went out and bought a new scale and batteries .
Weighed with both scales each bird. Scales matched all burds had lost weight .
I checked each bird. I looked at poops. One of the budgies had soft but still formed stool but not nirmal perfect donut .

I called veterinarian. Video conference showed her flock flying around screaming looking great. We discussed if shake up in routine and my stress and all my devotion and time with Penny was the cause. Penny was still critical at this point being always fluffed not moving not eating on her own , sleeping all day. She expected Penny to have improved more after 3rd every other day azithromycine. But said the not eating was ok after septic shock she was still very sick abd burds can take awhile to start eating on their own. To keep up the 4 times a day hand feeding formula, was meeting needs as was starting to gain back the 10 grams she had lost before I took over with hand feeding.
Weigh rest of flock daily.

Weighed flock the next day. All had lost 1-2 more grams except rescue budgie. I then looked up how to calculate %body mass loss . Was freaked to find the flock individuals were down 3%-12 % body mass with Ta-dah my gcc being the one with 12% body mass lost. Ta-dah had also developed green urates now and some increase liquid urine 2 x normal to 5 x normal! More budgies poop was soft semi formed making me think at least 2 had abormal poop
My veterinarian was now calling or texting daily to check up. Told her %body mass loss and poop update. She wanted video of Ta-dah . Said Ta-dah skin around eyes tan( very subtle ) instead of white , eyes looked puffy.

Called in azithromycine for all burds in flock.

The next day I heard a few random sneezes. Now all burds had green urates. All budgie poop had green urates as well and zero normal budgie poops. All burds lost 1 gram.

So 2 weeks after Penny fell ill, my whole flock was sick. Penny was in her second round of 5 treatments every other day azithromycine and flock had started first round of azithromycine.

Penny was still very sick, started intermittent one sided clear nasal drainage on same side as eye squint. Was acting like in pain, was reluctant to open beak very much fir formula. I was still feeding 4 x daily formula she was eating zero on her own. Spent 100% time fluffed and mostly slept.

The rest of the flock includes Ta-dah who by now was down to 60 grams from her normal 74 grams! Were vocal, active, fly, play, squabbles and eating like crazy. They were eating more than ever before despite weight loss. Most would bite me and screaming mad when trying to give medication.
*Note sick birds can need 3x normal calories when sick, often they can't eat enough to keep up with body demands.

At vet check in informing her of now Penny intermittent nasal drainage on eye squint side. She said maybe that explains Penny not improving as expected as sinuses with fluid are harder to resolve infection. Did not want her to have pain meds.

Informing me likely we are dealing with Chlamydia, AC . Fits symptoms and responses to antibiotics, and the spread through flock. Due to covid lock down tests weren't possible. She would research to be sure azithromycine was appropriate treatment. Increase seeds and high calorie foods. Try supporting all with baby burd formula.

Pikachu developed one peri orbital swelling the next day, TA-DAH eyes looked swollen, all had green urates . Weights stabilized or gained back 1 gram except Ta-dah. When photograph eyes for vet. Realized Pikachu blue eyes now brown , TADAH brown eyes now black with red around eyeball edges.

I thought I remembered that red eyes or eye color change in parrots was indication of systemic body inflammation or localized sinus inflammation. Google research for ever . Found exactly one article on this . Confirming, and often linked with AC. Told vet and shared with her. She did research and couldn't find more information on this. But wow could she see in my pictures.
I will try and link that article later.

She shared journals articles on Chlamydia and research study of use of azithromycine to clear it. So we continue on.
 
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Pixiebeak

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Ok trying to only hit highlights.

All quakers took to baby burd formula supplement hand feed, gave them the spare left overd after each feeding of Penny. Probably they got 7ml total in a day and never stopped eating on their own.

Ta-dah would not easily take baby burd formula from syringe. Gave to her from finger tip which she took. And encouraged her to take from bowl ...she would some. ( have continued all these years later, and she takes great from a bowl now I give once or twice a month)

Gave baby burd formula with meds to budgies 1ml total . They wrapped in burd burrito.

Penny took over 1 month of 4 x daily baby burd formula before she started to eat a little on own. She was slow to improve with less naps and less time spent fluffed, slow increase in activity. I spent another month give support 2 x daily feeding as was eating but would drop weight. I finally flushed that intermittent draining nostril. Huge help with her having less pain after that and eating much better. Took another month 1 x daily support feed of baby bird formula. Before fully eating abd maintaining weight in her own.

Ta-dah would vomit her meds in the beginning of azithromycine flock treatment. She lost more weight . She started having 10 x normal amount of urine around stool . Still green urates. Shendropped down to 54 grams at her sickest from her normal 74 healthy weight. She started sleeping and fluffed. Im in daily contact with blessed veterinarian still at this point.
So she reviews everything with a fine tooth coomb . Ends up Ta-dah was getting under dosed plus with vomiting she was getting little meds in her. We adjusted. I now force fed and mixed meds in food. Then got her taking bread with meds soaked in . She responded and improved .

The other parrots improved by second dose of azithromycine. Stsrted gaining back lost weight daily at every weight check. .

By second week Pikachu eyes back blue.

We did full round extended azithromycine treatment in all flock.

A few days after stopping they all started loose weight again. So we switched to doxycline to 45 days.
All became perfect in normal weight no symptoms. Accept Penny who was a struggle with sinus infection.


Ten days after 45 day doxycline finished. Burds started dropping wright with green urstes again.

We researched, vet plus me. We implemented a very strict cleaning routine. She told me i couldn't use the vacuum, toss all filters, Brooms , mop, all toys, tear everything down and bleach toss all soft perches bleach the rest. To be clear I was doing huge daily cleansing already because of the aerosolizes and known re infection risk. But the big thing was vacuum, a/c filter abd tossing hundreds of dollars of toys and perches. Start use of disposable broom and mops.

Also budgies are notoriously difficult to clear AC in . From vet research. So budgies moved to quarantine room away from rest of flock and started on a 60 day doxycline treatment. Will be held in quarantine room 90 days.

Rest of flock started on second round of 45 days doxycline. Weight back to normal by a week in poops no longer green.

Run down on what symptoms i saw in each . To the best if my memory

Phoebe quaker
3% body mass loss
A couple sneezes before azithromycine.
Occasionally green urates.
Was rowdy rambunctious eating play through out.

Pikachu quaker
15% or a little more body mass lost
Occasionally sneezed
Red eyes
Peri orbital swelling one side
Green urates increase urine out put
Activities eating normal throughout.

Penny quaker ( senior citizen)
Near death
Weiggt loss 12% or so
Green urates
Increase urine out put
A couple of days diarrhe
Fluffed
Weakness
Sleeping all the time
One side eye squint
Intermittent one nostril clear drainage
No appetite or eat on own plus one month

Ta-dah gcc
Went from 74 grams to 54 grams
Swelling both eyes
Red conjunctivitis
Eyes went from light mid brown to black
Green urates , dark green fecal matter
+++++ urine output
Vomiting
Riund of diarrhea
One brief episode of extra napping
Ate like a monster , increased appetite and increased of time eating . Like never left the food bowl and ate snd ate snd could not keep up .with demands.
Only that few days of at worst with decreased activity. The rest of time her normal very active some times bratty self

The source
Rescue budgie
Sneezing
Crop adjustments all day for a few days
Loose stool green urates
Did drop 1-2 grams at one point

Cloud budgie
Lost around 5 grams
Brown stains above nostrils
Sneezing occasionally in beginning only
Loose stool green urates

Clear budgie
Lost like a grsm
Loose stool green urates
Bounced back fast from initial treatment
But did show stool changes again with flock wide relapses


Yay! Everybody fully recovered! Healthy happy flock

I hope take away
Already have an Avian veterinarian
Already have a supportive heat source .
Already have baby burd formula on hand.
Already know your birds weight and check and log weekly.


Please share any experience or knowledge you have with AC ! Any thoughts you want!

Thank you for letting me share
 

April

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What an absolute journey you and the flock went on. I am so sorry this happened to yall and for all the stress and worry that you undoubtedly went through. I am so very glad that everyone was able to recover and go back to normal.
Your love and dedication to your flock is too be applauded. They are so very lucky to have you :heart:
 

Tiel Feathers

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Oh my, what an ordeal! How scary and stressful for you. I’m so glad everyone pulled through!
 

NEVRM0RE_

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This is honestly...incredible. I am so happy and AMAZED you made it through all of that!!!! Did you experience any symptoms? This read was like...the most intense true crime but....not - that I have been committed to in awhile :sad11: :rofl::swoon:
 

Kassiani

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Thank you for sharing your story. I can't even begin to imagine how awful it was for all of you to go through that. I'm so glad that everyone came out OK on the other side.

This disease is one of the main reasons that the parrot rescue tests for it in all birds that are brought in and keeps new intakes in quarantine in foster homes for 30 days. They also require all boarders to have a negative test, too.
 

Pixiebeak

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This is honestly...incredible. I am so happy and AMAZED you made it through all of that!!!! Did you experience any symptoms? This read was like...the most intense true crime but....not - that I have been committed to in awhile :sad11: :rofl::swoon:
Several months into the AC outbreak, I did have a low fever and flu like symptoms . So I went to my doctor abd told her about 7 bird with AC .
She said the infection, if I even have it , is easy to treat in humans . She gave me 10 days of doxycline just be safe. No tests done.
Not sure if I even had
 

Pixiebeak

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Thank you for sharing your story. I can't even begin to imagine how awful it was for all of you to go through that. I'm so glad that everyone came out OK on the other side.

This disease is one of the main reasons that the parrot rescue tests for it in all birds that are brought in and keeps new intakes in quarantine in foster homes for 30 days. They also require all boarders to have a negative test, too.
Thank you. It was horrible. Traumatic, o had a time i thought o was going to loose 6 of them.

My veterinarian later told me she didn't think we could save Penny at all that first evening when her body was shutting down and she was cold and unresponsive. It makes me sob just to write and think about it. Azithromycine, Heat, and Penny's will to live thank everything for that miracle !

My veterinarian feels it was virulent wild bird strain of chlamydia.
That the rescue budgie was incubating it. Or just starting scrive infection. Can have a 14 day incubation period. That he received just enough doxycline( by chance because treat cat wound) to knock it down and keep his symptoms mild.


Kudos to you parrot rescue! That's excellent to do 30 day foster!

Im definitely interested in hearing more. I was lead to believe testing can be unreliable . Especially if not actively shedding or actively symptomatic.

Also many parrots have definitely been exposed at some point in their life . There are more shedders and chronic low grade infections out there than people think.
 
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Pixiebeak

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I found a couple of examples of Pikachu eyes when she had AC. Unfortunately I lost most with a phone crash
This isn't the worst it got , at the worst the swelling extended more towards beak . See where the feathers are thinner to the left and slightly up from the swelling in picture, the worst swelling extended into there. And her eye was redder
20220407_103726~2.jpg
This was the other side when she had AC also dark eye but without periorbital swelling
20220405_092317~2.jpg
This is after it started to reduce and her eyes became blue again
20220413_090350~2.jpg
 
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Pixiebeak

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Ok ran out if editing time above. But note the discolor of the white eye skin as well in her sick pictures. First pic also shows 3rd eyelid extended some. Especially in first 2 pictures before medication.

I really wish I had Penny's eye squint photos. She only had one eye squint and no swelling or discoloration . Later on the same side as eye squint that nostril would intermittently drain clear liquid.

Recovered Pikachu eye pic
20201117_112608~2.jpg

I very much wish I still had green urate poop pics for you all as well...
But I pray I never have again!!
 

Pixiebeak

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Graphic warning following link has dissection photos of pigeons , with pictures of eternal organs. If you scroll fast you can go down to excellent poop pictures with disease they are linked to. This is pigeons poop but applicable to parrots poop and associated health issues.

Phot credit toTHE AUSTRALIAN PIGEON COMPANY above linked articles extracted chlamydia green stain poop. I would sometimes see even more excess urine than in the below picture.
1670722627941.png
This was more like I saw below with stringy urates as well chlamydia poop in pigeon phot credit to above linked article THE AUSTRALIAN PIGEON COMPANY
dropping10_orig.png
 
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Emma&pico

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Oh my you really went through it it’s amazing you managed to turn them all round what a wonderful person you are your birds are so lucky to have you
 

Pixiebeak

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Oh my you really went through it it’s amazing you managed to turn them all round what a wonderful person you are your birds are so lucky to have you
Thank you, we all love them so very much , I'm so thankful all recovered.

And thank you sweeties for your love and support @April
@Tiel Feathers
@NEVRM0RE_
@Kassiani
It was one of the most trying times in my life, I felt like I was at war for their lives. And I do remain a little traumatized....I never thought I would ever face loosing all my babies st the same time

And I hope it is motivation to be prepared. Because you don't have much time when a burd shows symptoms of being sick.

You already want to be established with an avian veterinarian.
Heat is one of the best nursing things we can do for our sick parrots . So I recommend a radiant heat source on hand. Im always going to recommend sweeter heater.
Know your parrots weight and weigh regularly.
Be prepared to support feed..

Act immediately with any symptoms, call your Avian veterinarian.

A fluffed sick burd can be 24 -48 hours from death or less. A fluffed sick burd should always considered an emergency..
 

Tiel Feathers

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All such good advice @Pixiebeak! I used to weigh my birds every week, but I have become rather lax in that department lately. I’ll have to get back on my regular weighing schedule and check out that heater!
 

Pixiebeak

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Wow. You are amazing! I am at a loss of words here. They are so very lucky to have you. The amount of love, time, energy, support, and knowledge needed to save your FIDS.
Thank you so much! I love them with everything I am . Just like everyone else loves their babies.

Look at everything you are doing for yours!

I hope all of us who share our journeys with health issues help others in theirs.

For all who read who have healthy birds. I hope you always enjoy good health with them. But now is the time to be established with an avian veterinarian. Now is the time to know their weights and log regularly. Now is the time to have them used to eating an excellent diet. But especially to have some warm foods they will eat and like as these may be the only foods they will eat if really sick. to maybe try offer warm baby burd formula made thick from your fingers, or a feeding spoon... to have a supplement heat source. To act immediately if you see any signs if a sick bird. And to know it may take working with your veterinarian and follow up and even medication changes or add on's
 

BluJay

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Merry Christmas!

What do you use as your special heater? I have a room oil filled bird safe electric heater which keeps the temp in the room at 80. I also have a 12x12 bird radient heater I can use if he seems really cold. He dosent trust the radient heater to be near his home but it's what I can use if he gets worse it can need to go into the emergency box.

Cheers!

Jay
 
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