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Two birds died in two days

TessaG

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I am well aware of my responsibility in taking care of my birds, and I take full responsibility for what happened to my prized lovebird pair. This is a warning/question all in one. I had a lovely pallid blue peachfaced lovebird with a yellow forehead, and she had no interest in the males in the aviary. A friend asked me to take care of two of his birds because he suddenly found himself travelling - a LOT. One of these two birds was EXTREMELY shy, and would back away from the food dishes when the other birds (my existing flock in an aviary) approached. They were BEAUTIFUL birds. I noticed about two weeks ago that the male was mostly walking around on the floor when I let the birds out, and was letting me pick him up without argument or struggling. I contacted the guy who owned them, and mentioned that I was concerned. We decided to put him in with my pallid in a breeding cage, since she was constantly fighting off the males in the aviary, and had no interest in them. It went well - and those two were looking bonded by about 5 days ago.

I noticed that the pair were eating 3x as much as the other birds. All my birds eat Roudybush California blend mini, they were starting to get witte molen egg food as of a few weeks ago, and a calcium/vitamin D supplement in case they bred. They got corn, organic spinach, shredded organic carrots, finely chopped organic apples, and chopped broccoli in the mornings; pellets, egg food; and the calcium/vitamin D supplement every other day. While my other birds never finished their fresh food or pellets, these two finished EVERYTHING, and I'd have to give them a third dish of pellets by nighttime, which was also gone by morning. All my birds also get seeds on Saturdays.

Yesterday, I watched the two playing on their swing, their swing bridge, playing with their wicker balls, and cuddling when they slept. I came up at 11pm, and noticed the female bent in a weird position over the male. I jumped up and went over to the cage, and saw that he was dead. I took him out, and he was still warm. He was clearly too skinny. His keel bone was sticking out to some degree, and there was little muscle/fat on either side of it. Today, I let all the birds out to fly free, and his partner dug right into some corn on the cob I'd picked up the day before. She tucked right in and devoured one by herself. She also had a decent helping of seeds/pellets. BUT - she was getting tired in between eating, until I couldn't see her anymore. She was hiding behind the cage sleeping alone. I was able to pick her up without any difficulty (she's also not hand-tamed). She only protested mildly, but I recognized the signs. She didn't try to get away. I wrapped her in a blanket, and gave her some bird formula, but couldn't get her to take much. I had her wrapped in a fuzzy blanket, wrapped in a heating pad on low to keep her warm, as she was starting to shiver. She started to come around, and opened her eyes fully, and even stood up - then died, right in my hands. Before i wrapped her in a little shroud, noted her body composition was worse than her mate's, and she had bloody scratches all around her neck, yet I'd NEVER seen either bird scratching or pecking at each other.

I'm waiting to hear back from our avian vet to do a necropsy, but I suspect worms - yet it still seems very strange to me that they died within a day of each other. I think I know how they got the worms - from a bird I bought from a breeder that died the day after I got him, who was in a similar body condition. I thought I had done a good job of sterilizing the cage, yet at the time, I'd thought that that bird had just not been properly taken care of. Now I think it had worms, and passed it onto my other birds. Has anyone else every experienced this?
 

expressmailtome

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I am sorry for your losses.
 

Vmax

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I’m sorry for your losses, too.
 

rocky'smom

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So sorry for your losses
 

A.K

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Sorry for your losses
 

Tiel Feathers

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I’m so sorry for your losses. :sorrow:
 

BirdG1rl

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I am so sorry for your losses. What a terrible situation to be in! :sadhug2:
 

sunnysmom

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I am very sorry for your loss. I didn't think worms were common in indoor birds, mainly with aviary outside birds. Please let us know what the results. I hope your other birds are okay. Are you having them checked?
 

TessaG

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I am very sorry for your loss. I didn't think worms were common in indoor birds, mainly with aviary outside birds. Please let us know what the results. I hope your other birds are okay. Are you having them checked?
I dropped off both my deceased babies at the Avian vet's today, and hopefully well have results soon. She said we would deal with the rest of the flock AFTER the necropsies (because she is literally the ONLY Avian vet here). Both birds were between 7-8 months old (different breeders) and she said they can lose weight fast when they get sick, whether it's worms or other disease. I've been busy sanitizing the room, vacuuming, steam cleaning, bleaching, and will have to find a way to soak the aviary in a bleach/water solution for at least 20 min if it was worms - ugh...the breeder cages are easy enough, they fit in the bath tub. So, yeah, they'll be getting checked out next. I'm doing daily body composition checks now (feeling on either side of the keel bone) to make sure none of them are losing weight. Clearly the amount they eat meant nothing for the two that passed away, and that's what's got me scared.
 

Tyrion

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So sorry for your loss :(
 

Wardy

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Sorry for your loss
 

Fuzzy

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So sorry for your losses :sorrow:
 

TessaG

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UPDATE: The vet ended up doing a necropsy on both birds, just because she was 'curious'. I had assumed they both died of the same thing - but they DIDN'T!!! The male, who came from another breeder recently, had Avian Gastric Yeast - it's a parasite! But, that's not all - she also found TONS of metal in his stomach - flakes of gun-metal black on one side, silver on the other, that she thought was made of zinc. He has slight internal bleeding from it, but she said it was the parasite that killed him - he was absolutely infested with it.

The FEMALE, whom I've had for months, hatched November 21st 2021, died of congenital heart failure. Her heart was 2x the normal size for a wee one like her - the vet said it's so rare, that she consulted with a visiting Avian vet to have a look, and he said he's never seen it before either. She ALSO had the Avian Gastric Yeast, but the vet felt it came from the male, as it was hard to spot, so she said it couldn't have been a factor.

The explanation on the congenital heart failure was that, the fancier your lovebirds (color mutations, etc.) the more likely they are to have congenital defects, and they apparently have a shorter life span.

As for the Avian Gastric Yeast, I now have to scrub down everything, soak the cages in bleach, but it will NOT clear up in my other birds - they're going on two medications - Potassium Benzoate in their water, and something that goes in their food. It will knock it back significantly, and then she said to give them an apple cider vinegar/water mixture for the rest of their lives. 1 tsp apple cider vinegar to 2 cups of water. It has to be their ONLY source of drinking water.

She also said that this is a COMMON infection in lovebirds. I will be bringing the rest of the flock in for testing to see if they all have it, and if not, I'll separate the healthy from those who have it. The biggest problem with this parasite is you'll think your birds are fine because they have huge appetites - they'll eat everything you put in front of them. So you think they're fine - but the parasite acts like a fast metabolizer, so they're always hungry - so they lose a lot of weight very quickly. I'm praying my other birds don't have it, but if they do, I'm going to have to figure out where to go from here in terms of breeding them.
 

Craftydan

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After a heartbreaking loss like that, It's good to have answers that you can act on.

Thank you for sharing that update, and, naturally, my condolences on your loss.
 

sunnysmom

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I am glad you got some answers. Avian gastric yeast I think used to considered bacterial but is now considered fungal. It seems to be more prevalent with budgies and other smaller birds. It can be very contagious. So it's good to get your other birds checked out. And also one of the reasons it's good to quarantine any new birds before introducing them to other birds. Again, I am very sorry for your losses.
 

Fuzzy

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Thank you for the update. I didn’t know AGY was a parasite. I thought it was fungal. So sorry your flock are going through this.
 

TessaG

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I am glad you got some answers. Avian gastric yeast I think used to considered bacterial but is now considered fungal. It seems to be more prevalent with budgies and other smaller birds. It can be very contagious. So it's good to get your other birds checked out. And also one of the reasons it's good to quarantine any new birds before introducing them to other birds. Again, I am very sorry for your losses.
Yes, it's fungal, but she also said it's a parasite. And highly infectious. $90/bird for testing, and we have 8 more birds. ugh...I won't breed them if they have it. I think I know which breeder they came from. Unfortunately, quarantining them doesn't really help - because they have a great appetite, and appear fine - until they don't. He was eating and playing right up until he died. She said it's getting to be more common in general, and it's common in lovebirds.
 

TessaG

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That's factually incorrect -- quarantining is always beneficial.
Oh, sorry, don't get me wrong - what I was saying is that even after a 6-week quarantine period, or even 8, the Avian Gastric Fungus could be INACTIVE in some of the birds, and not even show up on tests, so they may appear completely healthy (as mine did, until he keeled over and died). DEFINITELY quarantine new birds, but do NOT assume that they don't have this, because it can lie dormant for months or even years. When it's active, they eat extremely well (too much, actually) and he was playing in his cage with his mate, Tiffany, all day. I had gone downstairs to grab a drink, and after I settled in bed, I looked over at them, and Tiffany was leaning over him, in a weird position - he was dead. She died the next day, but NOT from AGF - she was born on 21 Nov 2021, and she died of a congenital heart defect - the vet said there was so little of the AGF in her gut that she almost missed it. An incredible, crazy coincidence was what the vet said. All my other birds have now been quarantined in separate cages except the four who have bonded, who are in two separate cages - I think one pair never came into contact with this bird at all. So I'm begging you all, please, please, add that 1tsp ACV to the 2 cups water, and give it to them DAILY - take weights once a week if you don't already - and if they start losing weight, GET THEM TO THE VET immediately. I've been breeding for 20 years - that's a long time - and only ever lost ONE bird, and she was old, she died of an upper respiratory tract infection. The ACV has lots of healthy benefits and minerals etc., and it can only enhance their diet - it will NOT kill the disease, but it will keep it at bay unless there's a bad flareup. It's also NOT a treatment for the disease - it's just to keep it knocked back after it's under control.
 
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