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Buyer beware cockatiel story

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  • Buyer beware cockatiel story

    We love our cockatiel and couldn't be happier with him. No regrets. But . . . . I was a pretty stupid buyer!

    My daughters and I loved him from the minute we walked through the door. I got one story about his history over the phone before we showed up, another after we walked in, and yet a third when I called back a week later to ask a clarifying question. (In that week, his reported age doubled from five to "maybe ten.") He had blood on his sides when we met him, which the seller said was from having a night fright in his cage and breaking a feather on his cage bars. The way she reported it, it was a brand new, minor, and temporary injury.

    I took him to the vet after buying him, and learned that someone had apparently ripped his flight feathers out with pliers. The wounds were old, crusty, and scabby. He's having surgery tomorrow to remove the broken stumps.

    He'll be fine, and my vet is WONDERFUL. I am still glad we added this bird to the family. I sure was made a fool of, though . . .
    My ears hear a symphony of two mules, trains, and rain. The best is always yet to come, that's what they explained to me. —Bob Dylan

    Fenway Bartholomule ♥ Arrietty G. Teaspoon Brays Of Our Lives

  • #2
    Originally posted by didgery View Post
    We love our cockatiel and couldn't be happier with him. No regrets. But . . . . I was a pretty stupid buyer!
    Not stupid - just trusting. I hate to say it, but unless you personally know and trust a seller there can always be surprises. It is wonderful that you are committed enough to get him the treatment he needs.

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    • #3
      ripped his flight feathers out with pliers? OMG that poor bird! Do ppl do this all the time? I had a keet and trimmed them but dang! Rip them out... WOW

      Do they grow back?
      Draumr Hesta Farm
      "Wenn Du denkst es geht nicht mehr, kommt von irgendwo ein kleines Licht daher"
      Member of the COTH Ignorant Disrepectful F-bombs!*- 2Dogs Farm

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      • #4
        That poor bird...I'm surprised he survived...birds don't have a lot of blood to spare...
        Sue Myers
        www.MistyMeadowsHorseFarm.com

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Nootka View Post
          ripped his flight feathers out with pliers? OMG that poor bird! Do ppl do this all the time? I had a keet and trimmed them but dang! Rip them out... WOW

          Do they grow back?
          The vet thought that his last two flight feathers on each side will be damaged beyond repair or regrowth—the wounds are pretty gnarly looking and the quills will need to be completely removed and stitched up. I wanted to think it was accidental—cat attack, perhaps?—but the vet reminded me that the symmetry points to it having been done by a person, on purpose.

          Here's something interesting: when we got Kevin, he was open to being held (good at stepping up onto a hand) but totally terrified of being pet or touched on any part of his body except his feet. From the moment the vet flipped him over and examined his wounds 'til now, he's been 100% friendlier! From that moment on, he's been perfectly happy to let us pet him, touch his wings and back, etcetera. You can accuse me of anthropomorphism, but I honestly believe that he experienced our gentle inspection of his wounds and decided we cared.
          My ears hear a symphony of two mules, trains, and rain. The best is always yet to come, that's what they explained to me. —Bob Dylan

          Fenway Bartholomule ♥ Arrietty G. Teaspoon Brays Of Our Lives

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          • #6
            Wow that poor bird. I am so glad he is with you now.
            Just like our eyes, our hearts have a way of adjusting to the dark.--Adam Stanley

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            • #7
              That is completely sickening and I would have been very tempted to make a not so nice call to the so called previous owners to rip them a new one, BUT I am so glad you took him into your home and now he will be able to experience being loved. And yes, birds are extremely smart, he knows what you did for him
              The one good thing about repeating your mistakes is that you know when to cringe.

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              • #8
                I had a conure that upside down magically tamed. She was a wild caught import, probably abut 15 when she came though my store. She bit me bloody every time I touched her for about 6 months. I bought her, since I knew no one else ever would, and figured I'd just never be able to touch her. Then one day I decided to trim her nails. When I flipped her on her back, she suddenly fluffed up and wanted petted! She was tame upside down or right side up for the rest of her life.

                Also, not excusing what was obviously done very wrong to this little guy, the correct first aid for a broken blood feather is to pull out the feather by the root. Little guys I could get with my hands, but we used pliers on the bigger birds. When you pull the feather out, the blood vessel seals and the bleeding stops. It sounds like maybe the owners tried to do that, but accidentally broke off the quills short. If you don't know how to do it, it is easy to mess it up. We also plucked broken tail feathers the same way- if you leave them in, they don't regrow until the next molt. If you pluck them out by the root, they regrow immediately.
                ~Former Pet Store Manager (10yrs)
                ~Vintage Toy Dealer (rememberswhen.us)
                ~Vet Tech Student
                Mom to : 2 Horses, 4 Dogs, 2 Cats

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                • #9
                  I had a cockatiel for a couple of years, I loved that bird ! She showered with me, ate with me and we just hung out together. She loved to be petted and would get a bit "excited" some times. Love cockatiels but I have never heard of pulling out feathers, we just clipped her wings, we also let her fly in the house.

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                  • #10
                    SHAY above is correct...The proper way to stop a broken blood feather from bleeding is to indeed use a pair of pliers to pull the entire feather out. If the bird is bleeding heavily, it could very easily bleed to death without this intervention. I'm thinking the cockatiel had a night fright, broke a blood feather and they interveined, but just didn't do a good job at it... Good for the OP for taking the bird in to get the proper care though, and good luck!

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                    • #11
                      Yup, what they said, a night fright could very well result in broken blood feathers and the quill of a broken feather is like a straw and it will just keep bleeding, it won't clot and you do have to pretty much pull it out in order to stop the bleeding.
                      Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.
                      Bernard M. Baruch

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                      • #12
                        My 'tiel used to have night frights quite frequently until I started leaving a light on for him. My dad made me a cage heater out of 2 coffee cans and a light fixture that I used to put very low wattage bulbs in (my room upstairs was really cold). I put it between my tiel and lovebird cages and covered the whole thing. Anyway, it was a smaller can on the bottom and a larger can over it. So I just propped up the the larger can so the light would be visible but not too bright. Maybe you could do something with a regular night light ? It sure did seem to stop him from doing it and it was an easy fix.

                        And yes, you have to pull out a blood feather with plyers or tweezers or they will not stop bleeding for a long time. You may want to have the vet trim his flight feathers a bit as that will make it less likely for him to break one of those long feathers again.

                        My tiel lived to be 18 years old, and he refused to eat a 'healthy' diet and was a seed junkie. (so presumably a bird fed a healthier diet might live longer) So 10 isn't terribly old for a tiel.

                        Sometimes birds don't like being handled by strangers. So maybe he's gotten to know you a little bit now and you guys are not so scary.

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                        • #13
                          I had a cockatiel for 27 years till my mother's dog got him( accident) and we only trimmed his flight feathers with scissors. I loved that bird and I still miss him.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DarkenStormy View Post
                            I had a cockatiel for 27 years till my mother's dog got him( accident) and we only trimmed his flight feathers with scissors. I loved that bird and I still miss him.
                            Sorry to hear about your bird.

                            And yes, they trim the feathers with scissors, not surgically. But if the bird is going to be out anyway for the surgery, it's very simple to have the wings trimmed at the same time.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Wow .. I learn something new every day
                              Draumr Hesta Farm
                              "Wenn Du denkst es geht nicht mehr, kommt von irgendwo ein kleines Licht daher"
                              Member of the COTH Ignorant Disrepectful F-bombs!*- 2Dogs Farm

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by AzulBlue View Post
                                SHAY above is correct...The proper way to stop a broken blood feather from bleeding is to indeed use a pair of pliers to pull the entire feather out. If the bird is bleeding heavily, it could very easily bleed to death without this intervention. I'm thinking the cockatiel had a night fright, broke a blood feather and they interveined, but just didn't do a good job at it... Good for the OP for taking the bird in to get the proper care though, and good luck!
                                Ditto. I've owned, bred, & raised birds for many, many years now, but when our newly-purchased cockatoo was found with a freshly blood-spattered cage one morning, I didn't hesitate to get her to our bird vet asap.

                                While I know all about broken blood feathers, etc., I simply was not up to holding pliers & a cockatoo (about 3 times the size of a cockatiel) & yanking out bleeding feathers - especially since I was home alone & wouldn't have any assistance. Even though our bird is a hand-raised love bug. So off to the vet we went. We trim her feathers regularly ourselves since it's not safe to have her zipping around our very open-floor-plan house in full flight, but unless it was a life-or-death emergency, I'd much rather have a qualified vet do anything else.

                                Kudos to the OP for doing what was necessary. Cockatiels are adorable. I had some as pets, bred some, & even rescued a couple over the years.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Thanks for all the kind posts! Answers to a couple of questions:

                                  1) Kevin doesn't seem to have any flight feathers left. He just has a row of prickly stumps, as they seem to have all been plucked. The vet did not go through with surgery today after all—on closer inspection, he could not find any definitive signs of broken feather stumps, just some VERY irritated follicles. A whole long row of them.

                                  2) I do know about blood feathers, but this is something strange and different: horrible irritated wounds where EVERY flight feather should be!

                                  3)Kevin has never had a night fright since he came home with us, about three weeks ago. His night cage is upstairs in a quiet bedroom and he does have a blanket on top and a night light behind the cage in a nearby wall outlet.

                                  Kevin's wounds have been sanitized by the vet twice in the last ten days and now we're going to watch and wait. He's not self-plucking or messing with his wounds, so that's good!
                                  My ears hear a symphony of two mules, trains, and rain. The best is always yet to come, that's what they explained to me. —Bob Dylan

                                  Fenway Bartholomule ♥ Arrietty G. Teaspoon Brays Of Our Lives

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Aw I hope he gets better! I wanna see a pic of him ~~JINGLES Kevin!~~~
                                    Draumr Hesta Farm
                                    "Wenn Du denkst es geht nicht mehr, kommt von irgendwo ein kleines Licht daher"
                                    Member of the COTH Ignorant Disrepectful F-bombs!*- 2Dogs Farm

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Nootka View Post
                                      ripped his flight feathers out with pliers? OMG that poor bird! Do ppl do this all the time? I had a keet and trimmed them but dang! Rip them out... WOW

                                      Do they grow back?
                                      Yes, they'll grow back if you just trim them like a normal person (if you want to permanently de-flight a bird you'd have them pinioned--take the wingtip joint off surgically. Zoos will do that so birds don't have to be in indoor enclosures all the time.) But no, 99% of bird owners would just cut the primaries back far enough the bird can't get lift, but not so deep they cut into a blood feather. When I was going to move my budgie (he traveled well) I'd have him clipped so even if he got out of his carrier he couldn't get very far.

                                      I can see if they mangled him trying to pull out broken feathers, I guess-tiels get night frights sometimes and crash around in the cage. But yeesh. Put some bloodstop powder on it and take the bird to the vet if it gets gunked up.

                                      And night frights can happen even if they haven't happened for weeks or months. Mine only had them every once in a while.
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