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Strange Feathers

yeb90

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Hi All!

Meet Winston, my 14-year-old red lored amazon. He’s sweet as could be, very smart, has spunk for days and has been with me since I was a young teen.

About three weeks ago, Winston had a week where he was clearly unwell. His breath smelled slightly fishy, he did a bunch of head bobbing (essentially dry-heaving) that progressed to vomiting after the first day. His poop wasn’t quite right either, more liquid than normal and some very small and green (I think because he was having trouble keeping food down). He slept more than usual, spent a lot of time puffed, and had a couple of days of decreased appetite.

I took him to a vet who did a gram stain, an x-ray (to make sure he hadn’t swallowed something), and cultured his crop to test for candida. He sent me home with probiotics.

He got a lot better with the probiotics on board. His appetite returned with a vengeance, he stopped vomiting, returned to his normal, active and playful self, and his poop slowly returned to normal.

Fast forward to today, I finally received the test results from the vet via email and everything is normal. But that’s somehow more concerning than reassuring for me. He’s his normal self but I’m still noticing the occasional abnormal poop (like little pieces) and this started after running out of the probiotic.

I’m also noticing some strange feathers. He lost and re-grew some feathers while he was clearly unwell and has some feathers on his nape with stress bars. Those I’m not as concerned about — it makes sense. However, he also has some feathers on his wings that are yellowing on the edges, strange almost oblong feathers on the underside of his wings, some “pinched” down feathers on his nape, some broken feathers on his face (maybe this is just from lots of scritches?), and some feathers with dark edges. I did mention it to the vet but he didn’t seem concerned.

I’m kind of questioning the vet’s competence at the moment and wondering if that’s warranted. I like him and how he handles Winston but he didn’t call to discuss the results and possibility of continued probiotics or additional testing (despite assurance a week ago from the office that he would). I’m not sure if I should follow up with him and ask him it do bloodwork (he wanted to avoid it because he thought it was most likely an ingested foreign object, candida, or a bacterial infection that would be picked up by the gram stain) or possibly bring him to a different vet.

Thank you to everyone who has stuck with me through this (loooooong) post. I’m not entirely sure what I’m looking for here! Maybe thoughts on what I should be asking for from the vet? Opinions on whether it’s worth seeking a second opinion from a different vet? Money is, unfortunately, a concern as both my partner and I have been unemployed since the beginning of the pandemic and we just spent quite a bit on vet bills. That being said, if y’all think I should be seeking additional testing (at our current vet or a different one) we will absolutely figure it out! I’m worried about my baby and just want to do what’s best for him.

I’m including some images of the oddly shaped feathers under his wings and the yellowing feathers and one of the most recent not quite right poop. You’ll hopefully be able to see some of the dark edges as well (not the ones on his nape — that’s normal). 5C33FD00-2B81-4E19-80BB-493731112C35.jpeg CC34F29D-C468-4716-B394-977ED9EF1D2A.jpeg 8AA3F434-787D-463A-BD85-7AEBC98BA3E0.jpeg D5394E37-F5E8-45AB-9209-2BFEFB45E8D8.jpeg 4D9B1E9C-F943-4D70-8CC9-1469F8A8BECD.jpeg
 

Zara

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:bump4:
 

Macawnutz

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Oh Cutie!

Winston is in near perfect feather. Going over your pictures I see nothing at all concerning me. Amazons often have scalloping and the underside feathers you are circling are always low quality and light weight. They are covert feathers that cover the long main primary feathers and if you have a flighted bird they are often taking a beating. The black and yellow edges feel completely normal to me. I have a double yellow amazon and I feel the coloring is right in line. The shape is the only thing I question but because we are talking about the underwing primaries... I'm calling it normal.

The vet sounds weird. Any vet that thought an issue could be present while waiting for results would send you with antibiotics. Probiotics work to prevent things they don't cure anything. Always run bloodwork when you go to the vet. If something is wrong you need to know right away and with as little trips as possible. Always run a CBC / Chem panel / Gram stain. Those three things will 9 out of 10 times will give you the answers you need.

Minus the feather issues how is your bird feeling?
 

macawpower58

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I'm not much help with medical issues, mine have never 'crossing fingers' had health issues.
Just looking at your photos, your bird looks to have great feather health.
Beautiful bird.
Those tagged above and @Hankmacaw are the ones with the most experience in health issues.
Listen to what they say.
 

yeb90

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Oh Cutie!

Winston is in near perfect feather. Going over your pictures I see nothing at all concerning me. Amazons often have scalloping and the underside feathers you are circling are always low quality and light weight. They are covert feathers that cover the long main primary feathers and if you have a flighted bird they are often taking a beating. The black and yellow edges feel completely normal to me. I have a double yellow amazon and I feel the coloring is right in line. The shape is the only thing I question but because we are talking about the underwing primaries... I'm calling it normal.

The vet sounds weird. Any vet that thought an issue could be present while waiting for results would send you with antibiotics. Probiotics work to prevent things they don't cure anything. Always run bloodwork when you go to the vet. If something is wrong you need to know right away and with as little trips as possible. Always run a CBC / Chem panel / Gram stain. Those three things will 9 out of 10 times will give you the answers you need.

Minus the feather issues how is your bird feeling?
Thank you so much! This is exactly the information I needed. It felt really strange to me that he didn't do bloodwork. That combined with the fact that he hasn't followed up and is nearly impossible to reach makes me think it's time to find a new vet. I already have one in mind that comes recommended by the local bird store I trust quite a bit.

I feel a little silly for not knowing those feathers are normal! I'm either paying closer attention because I knew he wasn't well or they're more beat up than they used to be. He's become quite the skilled flyer and is flying A LOT more than he ever has in the past so that may have something to do with it.

He's doing well! Preening himself (well, now picking out the feather schmutz he's dropping into my hair) on my head as I type. He did that head bobbing thing once again this morning (I don't think it's hormonal - he does regurgitate or bob without bringing anything up sometimes but this looks slightly different) but only very briefly and he hasn't vomited since that first week. It's a little concerning to me but he is otherwise looking, behaving, eating, and pooping completely normally.
 

Hankmacaw

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@Macawnutz is the feather expert - not me - but Winston's feathers do look good to me. I also, believe that if there is any concern about your bird's health that the CBC, Chem panel and stains are called for. The Chem panel in particular can tell you if everything is working right inside, where it can't be seen. I've found that it is much cheaper to get the blood work done to start with rather than guess and make several trips to the Dr. and try several different medications. Be honest your Dr. bout your financial position, but impress on him that you are willing to spend what is necessary.
 

aooratrix

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As others have said, Sarah (macawnutz) is the Feather Queen. He looks gorgeous to me. My concern is that there is no diagnosis. Not knowing is the worst when it comes to medical issues. Your bird's test results seem to be great, but what caused the issue in the first place??? Probiotics making a difference suggest a gut issue to me. You def need to run some more comprehensive tests. Knowledge is power.
 

yeb90

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Update: I took him to a different vet. I’m so far feeling better about him. He did bloodwork and everything came back perfect. So still no answers

Winston vomited again (twice) a couple of days ago but hasn’t since and it’s very clearly not behavioral to me. He’s been more tired than usual (like he was at the end of February) but I wouldn’t say he’s lethargic and he’s eating well. Interestingly though — he’s much much more interested in fresh foods than his cage mix and he usually very happily chows down on both.

He had been off the probiotics for a couple of weeks when he vomited again as we had run out at that point and the original vet never got back to me about continuing them (I was told by reception, “I’ll leave a message for him but he’s very busy and doesn’t check them often. Your best bet is to make an appointment so you can speak to him” — absolutely infuriating).

He’s now back on the probiotics and our current vet thinks he should stay on them indefinitely if they seem to help. He doesn’t think there’s anything terribly wrong but I’m still quite worried. He said if he gets worse or doesn’t improve on the probiotics he’ll do another gram stain and then a repeat x-ray and a crop wash if nothing shows up in the gram stain.
 

Blueberry

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I don’t have any helpful input but just want to say he is Beautiful!!!!
 
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