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Young cockatiel foot won't curl

Cockatielier

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Help. We bought the teen a baby cockatiel 2 months ago. It is required by the pet shop to stay at the store where they feed it special food until weaned. It is supposed to take 2 months but it seems to be going a little longer. The teen visits the bird several times a week and loves it. The only problem is about 2-3 weeks ago she went to see the bird and its foot would not curl. So it is flatfooted on one foot. The staff do not seem to know what is wrong with the bird. At first they said it was reverting to babyhood and would mature out of it. I find that a little hard to believe. While it was out in the public area in a cage, it is now in the locked "sold" room so no more chances someone can pick it up even tho there are signs not to hold the birds without asking. So. Does anyone know what is going on with a cockatiel about 3 months old with a foot that does not curl. I am worried because the bottom of the cage is wired. If it cannot hold on to a wire, then that must make it very uncomfortable for the bird. It is able to climb the side of the cage even with one foot. Any ideas or suggestions or advice?
 

Ripshod

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I'm going to sound blunt but to the point I have to be. You do not want this bird, it is injured.
You want any monies you've already paid returned. No one wants a lame bird. You really should follow up and make sure he gets the attention he needs.
As an afterthought:
You'd already paid for the bird in full? They had a duty of care to your bird and were responsible for it's care, and it's injury. Throw that at them if they make a hoo-haa about it.
 

Cockatielier

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Thank you for that reply. We would be perfectly willing to care for a lame bird as best we could, and make cage adaptations for it. Poor thing. But, beyond that, we did sign a waiver when we bought the bird. I don't remember exactly what it said, but it was something about the store would not be responsible yadda yadda yadda. But hmm. We could probably push that issue further. I do feel sorry for the bird tho, and hate to think what would happen to it if we didn't take it. We paid $250 for the bird.
 

Zara

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We would be perfectly willing to care for a lame bird as best we could
If you are willing to go the extra mile to give this bird a good life, then please take him home. It sounds like your teenager loves this bird and has spent a lot of time with him. Try and get some of your money back though, or a store discount or something.
This bird probably won´t be able to perch well meaning he would need a shorter (not tall) and longer cage. Ramps etc.
Modifying a cage for a bird with special needs is not too difficult and there is a forum here dedicated to just that. Special Needs Crossing | Avian Avenue Parrot Forum
It is important your teenager understands this bird has special needs that must be met, and will rewuire a lot more patience, and that is a big commitment from your child, but I´m sure you will help :)


@Hankmacaw any opinions on what this could be?
 
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Cockatielier

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Thanks Zara, I think that's what I'll do. Contact the owner of the store (it's staffed by teens) and tell them the bird is lame and we would be willing to take it but would appreciate a partial refund. My teen has been begging for a bird for years now. It took about a year to even get this one on a waiting list. She absolutely loves them. She doesn't care if the bird is lame. I'm just worried about whether it will be able to eat okay, etc. Thank you for the link, that will be really helpful!

Actually, if they don't want to do a partial refund, I could also ask for a store credit, because we'll need calcium and vitamin supplements. Also, I used to be a special ed teacher working with multi-handicapped teens, so this shouldn't be too unfamiliar. :)
 

Zara

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Take the issue to top dog. Manager or above only. Tell them you would like a refund, (try for half at least) to cover vet bills etc.

Store credit would be the same as like you say, you can pick up toys and food. In retail, you will usually get more money if you are willing to accept store credit.

Weaning can take very different amounts of time for different birds. Just be sure the bird is fully weaned before bringing him home and you should have no problems with him eating. You may want to think about where you place the food bowl. I had issues with Adelie and her food bowl as she also hasa bad foot and couldn´t perch on the bowl. Her cage set up is listed on the special needs crossing link I posted before.

It is not unknown here on the forum, that I have been trying to wean my lovebird for quite some time. She is not ready so I leave it up to her to tell me.
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Has the store told you anything about the progress of the bird? How ofter eating formula? How much veg, seeds or other food the bird is eating?

I used to be a special ed teacher working with multi-handicapped teens, so this shouldn't be too unfamiliar. :)
This is good, it means you will have the patience to deal with the bird :)

 

Hankmacaw

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If the flat foot appeared suddenly after you had observed that it was fine, it is probably an injury. It could have gotten it's foot caught in something and fought, another bird may have bitten it, someone may have dropped it.

If the foot has always been compromised, it is more likely a congenital defect. My macaw's foot was not placed correctly in the egg and she was hatched with three toes forward and one back. It caused her all sorts of problems including early arthritis, until it was removed. It is much better now.

Actually a compromised foot should cause your baby very little problem, but you need a veterinarian's opinion on that.
 

Kodigirl210

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I would definitely check on the Tiel’s progress. Please be aware your Tiel is probably taking longer to wean because the of the foot. For the foot to no longer function properly means that it most probably has nerve damage. If it is nerve damage, it’s probably permanent now.

Since there is no way to prove how the damage occurred, I think it would be an uphill battle to get a refund. I absolutely agree though, that they do owe you credit, first for allowing the fid to get hurt and not taking it to the vet, as it might have been something that could have been fixed if they had the Tiel seen right away and second for way over charging you. Tiels normally run $150 on the low end and $200 on the high end. Hopefully, that information will give you some leverage when you go to negotiate with them.

Sif has issues with her feet and has 3-surgeries on them so far. I know that she will need more as time goes on. It definitely affected how long it took her to wean. Even now I still feed her warm pellet mash every day to keep her weight up. So there’s the possibility that he may never be completely weaned or will need assistance in keeping the weight on. He also might heal, with some interventional and physical therapy, though in which case he will eventually get back on track.

Focus on giving him platform perches rather than round. His foot will also probably cause an unnatural stance and gait. This being the case, I would highly recommend not using any type of pumice or pedi-style perch if you choose to use round perches. My vet is totally against them and I agree. All they did to Sif was make her feet raw with lesions. If his damaged foot seems to be taking a beating, cover the perches with foam pre-wrap and vet wrap to make it softer. Or wrap the platforms in non-pill fleece from any fabric store or places like Walmart.

I would absolutely insist on seeing him though. You’ve paid for him and it’s your right especially if they refuse to get appropriate treatment. I would want to make sure there isn’t damage being hidden by his feathers. Make sure there’s no cut or anything that could point to an infection. Also check the bottom of the foot to make sure there are no sores or lesions. I would probably insist on having him a cage that he can walk around on something else besides wire. If it is laying flat, even with no sores yet, there will eventually be, that’s just basic anatomy. Ask them to feed him in front of you so you understand the mechanics of it becomes necessary to do it at home. A spoon is safer than a syringes but not all birds will switch.

If you can, the next time you see him, take pics. It might help clarify what’s happening with him or maybe we’ll just get to enjoy some really cute baby pics :)
 

Cockatielier

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Has the store told you anything about the progress of the bird? How ofter eating formula?
The employee feeding the bird told me they are now switching down to 3x per week, and that weaning usually goes pretty quickly after this and it should be 3 weeks until the bird can come home with us. I was dismayed because in the beginning it was supposed to take 2 months and now it seems like it's dragging out to a 3rd. I have watched her feed the bird in the evening, they use a syringe and it takes about 2 seconds to squeeze that food into the bird. I thought that was kind of drastic, but this is my first experience. I kind of wish we could do the feeding here at home because then we could give the bird more attention than it's getting in the store. I feel uncomfortable that a baby bird is spending so much time alone in a cage. Seems like it's a pretty important developmental and socializing stage, and if his foot cannot manage the wire bottom of the cage, that makes it more stressful. It must feel like solitary confinement to a flock creature. My teen tries to visit about 5 times a week for about 1-2 hrs. at a time. Anyway, I'll go next time too and talk to the girl handling the birds about providing a more solid surface than the wire bottom. And we'll check for observable foot damage.
 

Zara

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I'll go next time too and talk to the girl handling the birds about providing a more solid surface than the wire bottom
A good idea. A bit of cardboard on top of the wire or removing the grid.

I kind of wish we could do the feeding here at home because then we could give the bird more attention than it's getting in the store. I feel uncomfortable that a baby bird is spending so much time alone in a cage. Seems like it's a pretty important developmental and socializing stage,
More important than socialising is staying alive and handfeeding can be quite complicated. I personally wouldn´t recommend you take the unweaned baby.

they are now switching down to 3x per week, and that weaning usually goes pretty quickly after this and it should be 3 weeks until the bird can come home with us.
What about this chicks siblings? Are they eating the same?
How old is the chick now? Tiels usually wean around 10 weeks.

My baby lovebirds siblings all weaned at the end of January (The norm for a lovebird is 6-7weeks). My chicks eats formula twice a day and has done for quite some time now, I think a month.

 

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I'm going to sound blunt but to the point I have to be. You do not want this bird, it is injured.
You want any monies you've already paid returned. No one wants a lame bird. You really should follow up and make sure he gets the attention he needs.
As an afterthought:
You'd already paid for the bird in full? They had a duty of care to your bird and were responsible for it's care, and it's injury. Throw that at them if they make a hoo-haa about it.
That is certainly one way to look at it...but if you are already attached to the bird I would ask for a discount and bring it home. Even if they refuse to give a discount I would bring that bird home. Things happen and birds can get injured, the foot can be accommodated and you will have a very special companion for many years to come :).
 

Cockatielier

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What about this chicks siblings? Are they eating the same?
How old is the chick now? Tiels usually wean around 10 weeks.
I think the bird is about 3 months old now. I'll have to check that. Also, the bird has an albino sibling there with no foot problems. That bird was always kept in the locked "sold" room of the store, our bird was out in the public area with a sold tag on it. Not anymore tho, our bird is in the back now too.

Where do you all buy your birds? We waited on a waiting list for over a year for this bird. Are cockatiels that hard to get?
 

Zara

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Why was your bird not put in this ¨sold¨room? I don´t understand that.


I live in Malaga, Spain. I just had a look out of curiosity and there has been about 30 listing selling Tiels in my area in the last couple of hours. 20eu (22.50usd)for a papillero (unweaned), 50eu (56.20usd) for an adult pair, a dna sexed female fallow 50eu. Here you don´t usually get to go and meet all the chicks. The norm is you call them, tell them you want a chick, and they meet you in a petrol station etc for changeover to make sure the chick isn´t stolen. The same sometimes happens with puppies. If you find a good breeder with an aviary, you can go and pick you on chick. I picked my Sydney. I don´t know what happened with Jaime, I sent my man out to get a green bird.....
 

Kodigirl210

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@Zara - Sif is weaned per se. She eats regular food but unfortunately due to issues with her feet she can’t eat normally and therefore doesn’t eat enough or it’s so labor intensive she burns more calories than she eats. She has to be supplemented with ground pellet mash via syringe otherwise she would lose weight drastically. As it is, I’ve never been able to get her to a normal weight, even with supplemental feeding. :(

With Tiel having perhaps having permanent nerve damage in the foot, it might be in a similar situation where it eats all day but never eats enough because it’s such a huge effort to eat.
 

Kodigirl210

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@Cockatielier - I am in Southern California and there are always more Tiels than can be bought. It’s definitely one of the birds that babies can be found for all year long. The same with lovebirds, conures and most Poi’s.
 

Cockatielier

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Why was your bird not put in this ¨sold¨room? I don´t understand that.
I'm not sure, but I think they like to keep some of the birds in the public area to attract customers. Mothers with their kids love to visit the pet shop. They're not supposed to open the cages, just look at the birds. In some ways I liked the bird being around people more, but we were warned by another bird owner visiting their unweaned bird to ask to have the bird put in the back room so it doesn't get hurt. We never spoke up tho. Should have!

So in Spain, does the breeder keep the baby bird until it's weaned? Or do you order it and then just wait a couple months to pick it up.
 

Cockatielier

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@Cockatielier - I am in Southern California and there are always more Tiels than can be bought. It’s definitely one of the birds that babies can be found for all year long. The same with lovebirds, conures and most Poi’s.
I'm in New Hampshire, which is fairly rural, and I don't guess they have as many suppliers.

I might have to watch out for this bird not getting enough calories. Do you put the bird on a postage scale and keep track of its weight?
 
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