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Ringo's Losing Feathers


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#21 Siobhan

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 04:14 PM

I'm going to look into brands of puppy or dog food for little dogs with perhaps a calcium supplement. I think a lack of calcium is likely the problem. Though I poked through the archives on the starling forum and apparently a very ugly first molt, with bald patches, is unusual but not unheard of among captive starlings. This has gone on longer than a molt should, though. So ... I'm going to pop by Petsmart on my way home from work and see what I find.



#22 LindeeV

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 05:19 PM

Since she needs a lot of protein, have you tried offering her little bites of raw chicken or beef? Something about *bug* size?

 

I really feel at a loss to help here, but I'm glad you're getting good suggestions from others.

 

As a last resort, let me know if I need to knit her a tiny little starling sweater to wear to cover up the bald spots. tongue.png


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#23 Siobhan

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 06:28 PM

I have tried to give her people food and she will occasionally accept, but she thinks it's a toy to be carried around and thrown at Mommy, even if I eat some in front of her. I think she gets enough protein from her food, but that maybe what's lacking is calcium. Isn't that what builds strong feathers? I wonder if she'd eat yogurt. 



#24 Cindi&Jeriel

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 06:29 PM

I have seen yogurt chips in a bird shop. I wonder if she would eat those.



#25 cnyguy

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 08:44 PM

Vitamin A is also important to healthy feathers. Some foods that are a good source of Vitamin A are carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, red peppers (including the seeds), squash and parsley. Now, if you can just get Ringo to eat any of those things. biggrin.png



#26 Siobhan

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 10:08 PM

I know broccoli's a no-go. I've tried that she snatched it away from me and played basketball with it. I'll try some of the others.



#27 Allee

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 10:29 PM

Cornell Ornithology lab is a wonderful idea! Good thinking. They should have an answer for you.

For what it's worth, my vet buddy answered my e-mail. The rehab center he still volunteers for does take in a few starlings. They feed them the basic dog food mixture found on any of the websites as their main diet. They use Purina One Senior Protection Formula Dry Dog Food and poultry mash. He said dog food is better than cat food for adult birds. They also use powdered vitamins, he suggested Hagen's, it's close to what they use. He also said you could give her cooked chicken and cottage cheese, organic dandelion greens and veggies and fruit if you can get her to eat them. Crickets and mealworms aren't necessary but are okay as treats. He said he would be happy to examine her. I told him I don't think we can talk Ringo into flying to Texas just to see him. He also told me to go save a whale. I might have been a little radical when I worked for him. I shamed him into doing volunteer work. I guess he still resents it, but he still volunteers. :) I'm sorry, I know that is nothing you haven't tried already. Maybe Cornell will have something more helpful.

#28 Siobhan

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 09:31 AM

Thank you. I'll get her some dog food today and some poultry mash tomorrow and try that again. She absolutely rejected the poultry mash before, but now that she's used to eating the Kaytee Egg-Cite, which looks similar, maybe she'll be more willing to try it.



#29 Siobhan

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 04:18 PM

Update: I went out to the Illinois Raptor Center today to do a story and was able to consult my friends who run the place, and both of them agree, after listening to my description and looking at photos of Ringo, that she is just having a lengthy and delayed winter molt. (They also end up rehabbing rescued birds who are not raptors, and have extensive experience) Ringo got her adult feathers on schedule, but both of them said she should have long since had an adult molt -- they're supposed to do that once a year -- and she hasn't. Living indoors, with artificial light, and a steady temperature, her body didn't get the memo to put on her winter feathers. Now instead of molting gradually, she's doing it in clumps. They assured me that her diet is fine and the feathers will grow back, but it might take a while. As long as she's eating and pooping normally, and everything else is as usual, don't stress over bald spots. They've seen it before and it's really not as bad as it looks. Whew. I feel better now. She does have two windows and I pull the curtains back every morning and she spends a lot of time perching in them watching Bird TV, but of course that's not the same as being outdoors and subject to the weather. 


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#30 Allee

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 09:12 PM

I'm happy to hear that but not surprised. Everything I read said you were doing everything right. The vet said the same and his info was from the rehab center he volunteers for. That's a relief. I'm so glad Ringo is healthy! :)

That is so sweet. Birdie TV. Popeye likes to sit in the window seat and watch the wild birds. Harry will watch from my shoulder and Zeke from my head. He's not brave enough yet for a shoulder.
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#31 Siobhan

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 09:29 PM

I posted on the starling forum that my rehab friends -- THE LICENSED EXPERTS in wild bird rescue and rehab -- said Ringo was just having a bad molt. What did they say? "NOTHING Ringo is eating is on the approved starling diet" with links to the "approved" diet instructions and another link to a past forum discussion "proving" the reliability of the "approved" diet. I'm afraid I lost my temper a bit and pointed out that I have tried that in every form I can think of and she won't eat it. She will starve herself rather than eat it. I SAW her lose weight and refuse to eat one bite of it for three days. I am not going to starve my bird because of some "approved" diet when my licensed and experienced rehab contacts tell me that what she's eating is fine. And the poster in question said cat food is one of the things I should give her. That's what I give her! But apparently it's the wrong brand and formula. I'm beginning to think those people work for the manufacturer of the cat food brand they insist you must give starlings. I don't want to not give her what's good for her and will adequately sustain her good health, but I can't hold her down and force her to eat it. I think the starvation method is what they want me to do. Give her the "approved" diet and nothing else and be more stubborn than she is until she is so hungry she has to eat it. That could take a week or longer and starving herself that long will do more damage than the lower quality food. My rehab friends said any cat food she likes is fine. I think they probably know their stuff.


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#32 Allee

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 10:10 PM

I think you are absolutely right! No one knows your babies as well as you do. I think the only difference in the brands they suggest is the fat and protein content is maybe closer to what the EXPERTS think they get in the wild. There isn't that much difference. If she refuses to eat at all, that gets serious, really fast. Her overall health is just too good to think her diet is not adequate.

I was really surprised to find out that pet starlings don't need more insects. But the texts I got from the vet said as long their main diet is the dog food, or in Ringo's case the cat food mix the rest is not necessary but beneficial. If she won't eat it, she just won't.

I worked for the veterinarian I contacted for three years as his assistant and groomer. I learned a lot from him, but when it comes to my pets, just like my human children, my own opinion is the one I go with every time. I never hesitate to argue with anyone in the medical profession. It keeps them honest.

#33 msdani1981

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 10:11 PM

Aww, I'm sorry they're being stinkers.  Do what it takes to make sure Ringo is eating, that (to me) seems like it should be the most important thing.



#34 Siobhan

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 11:28 PM

The latest post says I need to make the change gradually and she will capitulate. Sigh. There's no point in explaining to them, again, that as a veteran of switching a stubborn Quaker parrot -- and WE all know how stubborn THEY are -- from seeds to pellets, I am an old hand at the gradual change in diet to what the bird needs to eat. I did that. I gave her some of her Purina Cat Chow and the starling mix they suggested. I reduced the cat chow over several days and increased the mix. Every day she ate only the cat chow and ignored the rest. Then came the day when she didn't get any cat chow and only the mix. And that's when she stopped eating at all. Most if not all of the people on that forum rescued their birds themselves and hand fed them as babies and weaned them onto this mix. Ringo was 3 weeks old when I got her and had been weaned onto cat food only. And because what you wean a starling onto is the thing the bird recognizes as food, and the only thing the bird recognizes as food, I don't know how to convince her otherwise. Starlings aren't like parrots. Parrots think of humans as their flock and they want to do what you do. If you eat something, they want to eat it, too. Starlings learn habits as babies from their parents, how to make sounds, how to find food, and they imprint those lessons and those are their permanent habits. After babyhood, starlings might hang around in groups, but they don't have a cooperative society. She doesn't figure that if I'm eating something, she ought to join in and eat, too. She just thinks I'm eating something, so what?

 

I am going to try again to get her a higher quality cat or dog food and the chicken mash they say she ought to have, I read the ingredients on her cat food and it's not very good stuff. But I'm going to mix hers in with the other stuff to ensure that she does eat and I'm not going to starve her. She absolutely LOVES the snail's pellets and I read those ingredients, too, and it's largely made of different kinds of fish, with several kinds of vitamins, including Vitamin A. No garlic or other stuff she shouldn't have. Lots of protein. So I let her have a couple of those tonight and she GOBBLED them. She gobbles blood worms, which are closer to what she'd eat in the wild. They're freeze-dried, but nothing is added. It's just worms. I've been parceling those out just as treats, but maybe I should let her have more of those than I have been.



#35 Bene_Gesserit

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 07:11 AM

I'm glad you found answers on this one, and that Ringo's ok!



#36 Siobhan

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 10:41 AM

Yesterday I bought her another bag of the Blue Buffalo cat food (which is the good stuff) and didn't mix it with the mix of layer mash and cat food. This way I can put some mix in her bowl and a handful of cat food and a few sprinkles of the dried egg on top so she's getting more good cat food and less cheap cat food. I'm tempted to give her the occasional worm from my salamander's stash, since he's hibernating and not eating and I have a whole container of worms who will not keep forever. Wild starlings eat worms. I've seen them do it.

 

Last night, she had a temper tantrum because her meal worms were all gone out of her rock garden -- I put dried meal worms in there to encourage her to peck at the rocks to keep her beak from getting overgrown, and it works beautifully. But she'd eaten them all and wanted more and she really had a fit. It was so funny to watch. Then she went to the container and pecked the lid and had a fit because she couldn't get into the container. Then she cussed at me and pecked me because I didn't open it. LOL Meal worms, at least the dried ones, aren't terribly nutritious and it's like giving a child candy. It's fine to have a little each day, but not depend on it for her diet. She disagrees. Vehemently.


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#37 msdani1981

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 03:46 AM

LOL I can just see her throwing a fit because she wants her meal worms...PRONTO!!!!! :D



#38 Jan Cullen

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 03:54 AM

Are you sure she isn't part quaker?  I cant imagine Ringo having a temper tantrum.



#39 Allee

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 09:19 AM

Or maybe the Quakers are a bad influence on sweet natured Ringo. :)

I'm so glad you got her diet sorted and she's begging for birdie candy! :)

#40 Siobhan

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 11:01 AM

She lives separately from the Quakers but she can hear them (and does a spot on impersonation of a mad Quaker squawk) and probably they are a bad influence. LOL