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Wing Flipping Advice

mars

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Hi all! This is my first post here.

I care for a 5 year old SI eclectus female, Nefertari (Nef for short). She's my only bird (and first "big bird"). I've had her for 3 years and she is the sweetest creature on earth.

I'm moving and inadvertently causing her a lot of stress. She and I are moving across the country next week and everything's moving around. I'm trying to keep her calm and compensate with more attention, but I think she's still internalizing it.

When I got her she was fed a pelleted diet with lots of dye and was nearly half yellow. Regardless, I thought I could turn her around and with very regular vet visits, she's made a remarkable recovery. Now, the vet she goes to (avian vet - really like her) openly admits she doesn't specialize in eclectus parrots and sometimes makes broad statements about diet that I know aren't appropriate for Nef. But that said, with a diet of fresh fruits and veggies and Roudybush maintenance pellets always available, she has beautiful feathers and her blood work has been normal. She's been very energetic and within the right weight on this mixture for years.

I'm very aware pelleted diets are the cause of a lot of wing flipping / toe tapping issues just by reading threads like this one. I've had a couple brief episodes with Nef before, but it was always resolved by not giving her any of my food for awhile (pasta, a very small amt of cereal - fortified stuff).

Two weeks ago she started wing flipping noticeably whenever she tried to sleep. I thought it was odd that she wasn't toe tapping at all and thought it could be resolved with just extra care not to give her processed treats. That didn't work. I've really limited her access to pellets for a week now, and it's noticeably worse. She has all sorts of fruits and veggies available and gets more exercise now than she ever has.

I've just never dealt with wing flipping before. Again, no toe tapping ever and wing flipping only when trying to sleep. And she has a repetitive head twitching thing. Attached is a youtube video that captures it perfectly. She's probably going in to do a blood panel next week - just got off the phone with the vet. I just doubt that's the issue. The vet's tentative suggestion is temporary antidepressants or muscle relaxants. I'm reluctant to try that.


Any advise or similar experiences would be helpful. Thank you!
 

Capt T.

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Not one response? Maybe the Ekkie population is not so high here, I'd try some other boards for advice. Good luck!
 

dragonlady2

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I would search under Laurella Desborough who is an Ekkie breeder. Check under "toe tapping" it covers wing flipping as well. In her article, she speaks about the possibility of the change in the female reproductive organs as a possible reason for wing flipping as well as other potential reasons. I believe you can contact her as well. I am useless when it comes to putting in links or I would add it here. I am in agreement with you about hesitating to give your Ekkie medication just yet. You haven't had a chance to rule out other things yet. Good luck.
 

sierraecho89

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Hi,
Could be an allergy. Our local and revered bird vet says this syndrome is most often caused by the following three things:

1. Corn products of any kind.
2. Wheat products (pasta?)
3. Spirulina.

Try removing those three things and see if it improves; if Louie so much as finds a single pellet that's not his special ekkie one (or a single kernel of corn, including popcorn!) he'll toe-tap like the dickens.
 

Birdbabe

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No Eclectus experience here, but, is she moutling? My IRN does that when he's moutling wing feathers,,,she is beautiful!
 

mars

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Thank you for all the responses!

I've read Laurella Desborough's everything multiple times. She's very knowledgeable - and somehow I had never considered trying to contact her. I'll give it a shot. But yeah, medication (while definitely sometimes necessary, I'm sure) seems like it comes with a lot of risks.

And Sierra, that's starting to be what I'm suspecting. She's on Roudybush maintenance now, and has been for many years. The main ingredient is corn. I always make sure she has some available and more fresh fruits/ veggies than she can eat. I did try taking her off them a week ago for 6 days and was worried it was stressing her out. She wasn't eating as much and the symptoms didn't noticeably change. Considering everything else that's going on, I've decided to not drastically mess with her diet until after we move (6 days from now) and she settles in a bit. There's too much going on for her nerves and mine. If the doc gave her some antidepressants we could probably share them at this point!!

Putting her back on the pellets has increased her appetite and droppings consistency. But in a moment of weakness yesterday I gave her a single piece of (cooked, unseasoned) pasta, and she had a really bad night last night. We went to bed late out of necessity and every hour or so I'd wake up to the "flip-flip" sound. Most days now I get her out around 3-4 in the morning to rest on my pillow while I nap. :/ She adores shared naps and doesn't have to worry about balancing on a perch, so I think it makes her a little more comfortable. Definitely not ideal, poor girl...

She's had toe-tapping episodes before, which is almost always consequence of me giving her too much of my food in the last week. I stop and it goes away overnight. This has been three weeks and she is completely exhausted. I don't know if they can just, quickly develop food allergies or it's the stress, or both... I feel like taking away her pellets won't help her stress and isn't the right path for the next couple weeks. But I don't know if that's the right thing to do either =n=

Birdbabe - she is molting pretty heavily! But this doesn't come off as a discomfort thing so much as a muscle spasm. It goes on all night, and never after about 9 am. It's like she's completely fine. It's bizarre. Ah! And that video isn't her! I'll attach a photo below :D !

IMG_1665.JPG IMG_1787.JPG
 

mars

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Her feathers are a bit thin on that first picture, but that's the molting. I've taken an obsessive number of pics of her over the years to tell lol.
 

EkkieLuv

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Hi there! I think I'd start looking at her food. My only TT/WF experiences have been with minor injuries and resolved without intervention... but diet is most usually the culprit from the many discussions I've read over the years. Have you considered transitioning her away from the Roudybush and onto an unfortified pellet? TOP pellets are great and do not contain the usual allergy suspects like corn and soy. It would certainly be worth a try before going the mediation route which can add stress (admin of meds can be difficult if she's not used to the syringe and being toweled) to your already stressful situation with the moving, etc. To truly do a food study, it's very intensive but you might start with eliminating those usual allergens and ALL fortified foods and go from there. My boys have done extremely well with no pellets at all so they're certainly not necessary if you can transition to an all fresh diet.

She is beautiful and you've done a great job!! You'll figure this out, too. :hug8:
 

mars

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Ahh! Thank you! I'll definitely transition to TOP, probably in a couple weeks. And I've never had to use a syringe or towel her for anything, so that would be a last resort. I know that completely natural diets can be successful, and it sounds like you've got it down! (Obviously pellets don't grow on trees). I tried it for a year with Nef and she started gaining weight (she's already a bit on the heavy side) and had a couple minor nutritional deficiencies, and the pellets really keep track of that. I'm not sure which things to eliminate for a food study, should that fail, but that may be getting ahead of myself. She's not a fan of a lot of hypoallergenic veggies, so she may not eat....

Thank you for the compliment! I've just been uniquely lucky, I think. I'd never tell anyone to expect a character like her if they were looking into caring for a bird - never nippy, only mildly hormonal, and very quiet. It's miraculous. I keep waiting for things to suddenly change lol.

:hug8:
 

EkkieLuv

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Happy to help you with diet if you need it. It's been one of my biggest concentrations since having ekkies. They're so unique on that topic :) Here's my post on that from another thread... hope it helps.

I wanted to post diet info in a separate space here - mainly because it's so important for ekkies. This site - diets
is very comprehensive and I think very good. Go through the links on the left and take time to read it all. You will hear opinions from both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between about what is right and good. As I mentioned before, do your homework ;)

More great info here - Psittacine Cuisine

My boys get all fresh and homemade food with the exception of some "store-bought" mixes. Those mixes are offered in small amounts - think side dishes or treats, not main course:
  • Higgins Worldly Cuisines
  • Dr. Harvey's Veg to Bowl
  • Dr. Harvey's What's Cookin'
  • Phoenix Foraging Unpellet Mix (excellent stuff!)
  • Volkman Eclectus Seed Mix (on occasion, not daily)
  • Nutriberries as special treats

Stuff I make:
  • Bird Bread (lots of recipes out there!)
  • Sweet Potato Puffs (Cook sweet potato mixed with chopped veggies and made into little balls, rolled in coconut. Freeze and defrost as needed)
  • Chop... details below.
  • They are always offered fresh greens (kale, spinach, etc. whatever I bought that week) and veggies (usually what I find in season and organic when possible). They're not really crazy about fruit unless I'M eating it. LOL Then they want some - they'll usually try banana, apple, cantaloupe, berries. I don't typically put fruit in their bowls because they always toss it out.
Ok, about the CHOP. Chop day is a big production at my house - and it's just what it sounds like - a bunch of chopped stuff. :) But I make it by the sink-full then freeze it in smaller portions for defrosting as needed. They get this for dinner daily. I mix it with rehydrated Goldenfeast Bean Supreme but you can serve chop all by itself, too. Basically it contains the following:
  • Variety of cooked beans - Volkman Soak & Simmer is a good blend or sometimes I just use a variety from the grocery store (black, kidney, garbanzo, pinto, etc.). They should be fully cooked!
  • Variety of cooked grains - brown rice, millet, barley, quinoa, buckwheat.
  • Chopped/diced/shredded Seasonal veggies, organic when possible - you can go crazy here. Staples in my chop are carrots, bell peppers, green beans, zucchini, yellow squash. Sometimes I add hot peppers, cabbage, broccoli, whatever looks good at the market!

Hope that helps you on the diet stuff! As for pellets, if they ate them in their previous home, you can still offer them a good pellet. Choose one that is NOT colored or artificially fortified. TOPs is a good one. Goldenfeast Golden'obles is also good.

If you have trouble getting them to try fresh/homemade food, eat some yourself, make a big deal about how yummy it is, etc. They'll watch you! You can also check out my blog that is all about parrot-safe human dishes to share with your fiddies! :) It's at Beak Bites!

Please ask if you have more questions! This is all a lot to absorb! :)
 

Lilyrat

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I have had wing flipping with and without tapping. It was diet AND hormonal. Going back to a strict diet and no more rubbing feet or stroking her back got us back on track.

You also mentioned moving and stress. Personally I would wait on the vet trip. For us it never solved any issues and only made things worse.
 

sierraecho89

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They can develop allergies overnight. Louie did--he LOVED corn for six months with us, and then one day, boom! Severe toe-tapping.

Switch to TOPS organic pellets--his issues stopped once we took him off corn. Now, so much as one pellet (we have an Amazon too on Roudybush) will set him off tapping again. :/
 

mars

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Wow! That's a fantastic reference! Thank you, Leslie. I'll be sure to make these staples after my next grocery trip. Really appreciate it!

And Lillian, thanks for the input. I think that's what's going to happen. I need to get her established where I'm moving anyway. They can do her blood work and exam there when the time is right. And for things you think are diet/hormonal related, there's not much a vet can do for instant relief, as far as I know. I will put effort into not petting her feet. Wasn't aware that was an erogenous zone. But Nef and I don't have an established mate bond. She'll "present" herself to people she's just met fairly frequently, because she knows she's not gettin' none from me lol!
 
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mars

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Thanks, Sierra- that's really helpful to know. TOPs definitely sound like the way to go. Do you think they have all the nuanced nutritional components of Roudybush? The majority of the reason she has them at all is to make sure I'm covering my bases on her nutrition.
 

EkkieLuv

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It took a minute, but I finally found the article I wrote several years ago for the Phoenix Foraging blog. It highlights the supplements/artificial vitamins, etc. of a particular Eclectus blend pellet... it goes into detail about the real food sources for those ingredients that you can easily provide in place of the fortified and highly processed pellets. Here is the link:
Phoenix Foraging Rolls, LLC: Nutrition- Additives to Pellets

As for TOP pellets, the ingredients list alone is 5-star compared to Roudybush. They are all GMO-free, whole food ingredients. The only food-sourced ingredients in Roudybush are common allergens! (corn, wheat, peanuts and soy) Yes, TOP is still processed but they use a cold-press method that is less destructive to the ingredients. If you successfully switch to them, they're a much better alternative as PART OF a healthy diet. It's still important to provide plenty of fresh greens, veggies, etc. A little more work but certainly not hard. :) The Eclectus digestive system is so efficient, they will get the nutrients they need if fresh foods are provided.
 

mars

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That's super helpful, Leslie, thanks! Do you have any preference between TOPs and Goldenfeast Golden'Obles? Some reviews suggest the latter and your article proves you're incredibly well informed in this area.

Nef finally got her first night of sleep after replacing her pellets with steamed brown rice last night (all veggies and fruits still available). I was so relieved!! Thank you again for your help!
 

Danita

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Looks like you have lots of input now, great!
Sometimes the posts get buried if it is a busy time.
Not one response? Maybe the Ekkie population is not so high here, I'd try some other boards for advice. Good luck!
 

EkkieLuv

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That's super helpful, Leslie, thanks! Do you have any preference between TOPs and Goldenfeast Golden'Obles? Some reviews suggest the latter and your article proves you're incredibly well informed in this area.

Nef finally got her first night of sleep after replacing her pellets with steamed brown rice last night (all veggies and fruits still available). I was so relieved!! Thank you again for your help!
You're most welcome! I'm glad to help - I was clueless in the beginning when Peanut literally fell in our laps! I was also very fortunate to find an amazing resource in The Eclectus Connection listserv that sadly doesn't exist anymore. So I learned a lot from them and love passing along the knowledge!

I really like Golden'obles as an option, too! I've offered both off and on through the years. At the end of the day my boys tend to ignore them for the most part (seemed to be an individual preference on which one was eaten most) so I stopped buying them and so far they've all been healthy without them. If you've seen my posts about Peanut's health issues, that would be the exception. But I don't think it's at all diet-related. Thinking cancer at this time but awaiting a possible biopsy in a few weeks. :(

 

mars

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Thanks again, Leslie - that was really helpful. I had a couple good nights where she doesn't wingflip at all on a non-pellet diet. Currently, she's going at it, but we just moved in last night and I think I can get it back under control.

I wish the best for poor Peanut :( that must be hideously stressful. Please let me know how you're both doing!
 

mars

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Just an update-

We've moved in and are starting to settle down. Nef's wing-flipping has gotten worse, more consistently. Right now she's on a diet of brown rice, collard greens, some spinach, red bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, peaches, strawberries, banana, and carrots. Sometimes watermelon and grapes. She's eating pretty voraciously, but today she was all fluffed up and wing-flipping at noon, whereas before it was only at night. And her night problems haven't gotten better.

Any advice...? Is there something in the diet above that sounds problematic?
 
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