Bird Nanny

I mentioned in my previous post that I had two reasons for its belatedness: the fact that my laptop died, and something more serious.  Now the post detailing my serious issue itself is belated, but this, thankfully, is the result of pop quizzes and night-owlness and just a general overload of stuff that must get done.

You know it’s bad when you’re measuring your homework load in inches.

So, here’s my story.

On Friday night, we took our birds to an avian veterinarian.  Citrus got his wings and toenails clipped and some blood drawn; mainly just for precaution, but also because he’s underweight and not gaining muscle mass as he should be.  On the way home we remained in a pouting sort of state (they got him in a TOWEL, my goodness!) and kept up his diva tantrum for the rest of the night.  I did’t really think anything of it; he’s got some serious attitude (though he’s very sweet normally) and it was totally within his capability to hold a grudge for a day and a half.

Then the next day he barely moved from his perch.  He didn’t eat.  He wasn’t chirping, whistling, making any sort of noise at all.

If you’re not familiar with birds, let me tell you that when they get sick, they get really sick.  They are a prey species, so their natural instinct when they are not feeling well is to disguise it so no predators will view them as easy pickings.  They don’t really get “colds”, like humans.  In my experience, if your bird gets sick the best thing you can do is just try to make their final few days comfortable.  It’s stressful and agonizing.  I was bawling my eyes out the entire day, utterly terrified for my bird’s life, trying to do anything I could to help him.  The fact that Citrus wasn’t eating, coupled with our other parrot’s sudden demise, had me in breakdowns, the most stressed I’ve been in months.  Things were looking very grim.

And Citrus probably wouldn’t be with us now, if it had not been for mash.

What is mash, you ask?  The delightful, heaven-sent combination of toast, hard-boiled eggs, brown rice, sweet potato, and peas.

Blended together and served warm.

Out of my mouth.

Yes, I fed Citrus out of my mouth.  Mash actually doesn’t taste that awful–sort of like some sort of tuna or chickpea salad.  Or maybe my taste receptors were totally influenced by the ecstasy I was feeling inside when Citrus actually ate mash from my mouth!  At that point, I would have done anything to get some calories in him, which was what he really needed.  Birds in the wild feed each other from their mouths, so this was (somewhat) a comfortable, natural behavior for Citrus.  At any rate, he ate mash from my mouth when he wouldn’t eat anything else.  I really do think that mash, the glorious soft food, saved his life.

Even after mash, though, Citrus still wasn’t better.  The most striking change was the fact that he wasn’t whistling–only when my bird was silent did I realize just how much pleasure I get from listening to him serenade the day.  My baby was fading from us fast.  According to our vet, some birds are prone to “exaggerated reactions” to blood draws.  This was understating it.

This went on for three more days–three days of my emotions toyed with at the end of a string, hand-feeding my bird every two hours, a heat lamp pumping out infrared light day and night and turning my room into a complete desert.  I slept in a little sleeping bag near the foot of my bird’s cage so I could check on him during the night by the light of the lamp.  I’m overstating this, but, yes–I was in a state of utter panic.

And then–miraculously–on Tuesday, Citrus just…blossomed.  He was back to chirping, whistling, dancing, spasmodically zooming around his cage and flying to the curtain rod.  Now my tears were of happiness.  I am so thankful that Citrus is staying with us longer; as I said on Tuesday, “the show must go on”.  It would be tragic if Citrus’ show ended at two years of wonderful life.  Praise the Lord, hallelujah!!!  My homework and the rest of my life is on hold, but my bird is okay.  I’m an emotional wreck, but I’m also on cloud nine.

So, yes, my Recap post this week was belated–because I was playing bird nanny. 🙂


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