Monday, December 13, 2010

On a Cold Winter's Day

Last week I was given a shocker, I found bleeding red scabs on Achilles's back. Before I found them on my cockatiel I noticed odd preening behavior from her. She would be perching perfectly happy and content when all of a sudden she would start to vigorously preen her back but it wasn't just her feathers, it was skin she was attacking. And while it may seem silly I just thought she was preening. I honestly thought she was preening the fluffier down feathers located near the skin. So I took little notice of it and thought it was just normal 'tiel behavior because if you own a cockatiel you know how much they love to preen. But one winter Sunday morning, while Achilles was preening on my shoulder and I was grabbing a cardboard box of corn chex for  breakfast, I glanced over to see my bird pull (and I mean she pulled) a matted feather from her back and it was lightly spotted in blood.

After seeing that matted feather I calmly sat down with her and understood what was happening; she was irritated with her back and wasn't just cleaning it hardily. So I began to inspect her back to see where that blood had come from. She was still preening the same area so I simply started to "help" her preen it, which she likes, but this time I needed to move past all the thick, white cockatiel fluff to see her skin. After a little work I made my way through the forest of feathers and found the pink plains of skin. There it was, a little nick of epidermis slightly oozing with drying blood.

"Okay" said my brain to itself. "It's not bad, I'll just give her a warm bath and snip some fresh aloe for her. I bet it's just the dry winter air." And that's exactly what I did. But I found two more areas on her that had scabs or new wounds. This area is the worst one.

What was I to do? I really started freaking out now that I saw she was covered. My regular vet, and all other vets, are closed today. But should I take her to the Emergency Clinic? Probably not as she was not in a life or death situation, the damage on her showed that she must had been picking like this for a while. So what's a caring mother do? I whipped up a mix of oatmeal and home-grown aloe in a blender and filtered it out so that only a refined liquid was left. The process was a bit messy and I had to be careful not to get it on her feathers, as they would never dry out if the mix touched them. I kept a close eye on her all day and the problem appeared to be solved, she wasn't scratching any more.

The next day she was taken to my regular avian vet and Achilles was sent home with a clean bill of health, a bottle of lotion and a bottle of baytril. My vet said she probably got a cut that she scratched at and she didn't stop scratching. She also gave me high praise for doing what I did for Achilles because she was half healed already. I took a look while apply her new cream that day and by golly, she was already healing wonderfully.
Three days later and she looks fully healed. Five days later the meds ended and she's still fine. One week later and she still seems to be doing well. The photo below is what she looked like after three days.

But this all leaves me wondering how it all got started. If it was a scratch that started it how was something able to scratch her? I had to go through a forest of soft feathers before I got to her skin but could something else get through? Could it not be a scratch but instead a crack of dry skin from the cold weather? The vet did say her skin looked a little dry. And as I continue to hypothesize I begin to think about allergies, infections, bugs and boredom! Innumerable possibilities but only one answer. It remains an enigma to me.

Copyright 2013 Caitlin Bird
The Sequential Psittacine Blog
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