Rescuing Big Bird

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Rescuing Big Bird

In the winter of 2003 we were called to pickup 2 greenwing macaws and a rosebreasted cockatoo from a lady who'd had surgery and couldn't go up and down the basement steps anymore.Her birds were in the basement where her furnace was.The furnace had recently been repaired and though instructed not to use harsh chemicals several birds died. We took the remaining three. They were all older birds who'd been breeders. One greenwing macaw, Girly Girl, had a good report from our vet. Big Bird had numerous problems and Rosie (rose breasted cockatoo) had severe bumblefoot.

Big Bird was the weakest. At 75 years old he was malnourished, weak, had scoliosis, a torn eyelid, deformed feet (from years of walking on flat cage bottom due to no perches), fused wing joints (cage was too small to stretch his wings) and a bacterial infection. Respected members of the rescue community advised euthanasia but my vet, Thomas Bankstahl, saved him. 

Big Bird was put on a course of antibiotics to begin with and meloxicam for inflamation and pain. At that time he was extremely weak and lived in a large, padded Rubbermaid tub. I handfed him for a week, warm oatmeal with ground pellets plus vet prescribed nutrients and and his strength slowly improved. When the bacterial infection was gone Dr. Bankstahl taught us the necessary exercises for Big Birds therapy. All together, when Big Bird came into rescue he required $1600.00 in vet care. That doesn't include the prescribed medications, soaks, massage oils and hours spent rubbing and stretching feet and exercising wings. After hours daily of handfeeding, physical therapy and medication Big Bird moved from his tub to a modified cage specially built for him. Perches were low but present in numerous areas, special food dishes were set 5 inches from the bottom of his cage so he needed to stretch to eat. By this time he'd learned to love to eat. Physical therapy continued until it plateaued. At 76 and, after just 4 months of care, Big Bird was able to perch, eat, climb and soften a fall with his wings. His pain was over thanks to love, therapy and Meloxicam. 

Big Bird spent the remaining years of his life giving and receiving love while enjoying his new found health and comfort.  His is a story of healing and dignity that all companion parrots deserve.

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