By Angela Rolland
I am re-posting this story about a special bird named Chit Chat. It’s an important reminder of how quickly our parrots can get into trouble. It also shows that metal toxicity is a real threat that can and does occur in parrots.
Our nightmare started on Friday, April the 30th, 1999.
Damian and I had been extremely busy the previous weeks, me with QPS (Quaker Parakeet Society) stuff and Damian with building an extravagant iguana cage for some friends. He was using hardware cloth that was coated with zinc. Usually we deoxidize any kind of wiring that we bring into the house but this being for an iguana and not our pet we didn’t do it. However, we did instruct the owners of the iguana to do it after all this has happened. Damian completed the cage Friday afternoon, cleaned up his mess and took the cage to our friends.
I took a break from getting ready for a bird show I was attending that weekend and took Riff Raff and Chit Chat, our Quaker Parrots, off of their play gym to play with them. We played as I watched TV, and I got interested in whatever was on. Next thing I hear is Riff and Chit arguing. They were where Damian had built the iguana cage, and they were playing tug of war with something which isn’t unusual. I got up to go look, and they had a piece of the wiring from the cage that Dame had clipped off. I took it away from them and threw it away and forgot about it.
That night we noticed that Chit Chat, while sitting on a part of the play gym, had chewed a whole in the wall. Completely through the sheet rock! About 30 minutes after that she started throwing up. I attributed it to the sheet rock.
The next Morning I went to the bird show. We came home elated that we had talked to so many people about QPS, but we couldn’t find Chit Chat. We looked and looked. We finally found her in the bathtub! No one saw her get off the couch or go in there. I took it as her wanting a bath. I gave her a bath, and she threw up some more. She had thrown up 2 times during my absence according to Damian.
I hand fed her some formula to keep up her strength. About 20 minutes after I got through feeding her Riff Raff started throwing up. Like a lightening bolt I knew what it was. It was the wiring that they had been playing with. It was a Saturday night, and I had 2 birds that had metal toxicity. Great.
I called my vet and got the emergency # – they don’t treat birds. I got on the net and went into Quaker Chat to get some info from them. All were helpful, and I also got some emergency vet #’s from some local people, all of which I called, but no one worked on birds. I knew why they were sick and knew what had to be done to save them but could find no one to help.
Finally after about 3 hours of searching I found someone that would look at them. They did try to dissuade me from bringing them up there though. Damian rushed them up there; by this time it was midnight. They gave them an injection of Baytril and hydrated them and sent them home. They said they had a bacterial infection due to Riff eating some finch food.
In the morning when I got up they were worse, so I called the vet back and asked when they needed the next dose of Baytril and if I should try to handfeed, etc. They could tell me nothing at all. So once again I was in a panic. A list member of the Quaker Parakeets mailing list sent me to a vet that she had found. I called him and he advised me to call TX A & M.
At this point Chit Chat was throwing up constantly. She was ruffled up and sitting very still. Her poops were black. Her eyes were closed, and she would not respond to words or to us petting her. The only time she would respond was when we picked her up. Her feathers on her chest were caked with this clear stuff that she was throwing up. I took a wash cloth and wiped off her feathers, but since she was throwing up constantly it did no good. Riff was not as bad, but he was still throwing up and had that stuff caked on his chest too.
I called Texas A & M and explained what I knew was wrong, and they said that it sounded like a blockage, which is what the vet that referred me to A&M said. A&M also said that they doubted that Riff and Chit would survive a car trip right now. They advised me to get Metamucil and Pedialyte and start them on that and try to keep them alive until Dr Moore would be in Monday. I got another call from someone else who said that their vet recommended Psyllium and Infalyte so that’s what I did.
Riff Raff responded immediately, but Chit didn’t. She grew worse if at all possible. As soon as I would give her some of the Psyllium or Infalyte she would throw it back up, but I knew she was going to die if I stopped. So as soon as she threw it up, I was pumping more into her at about 15 minute intervals. I knew if I could keep her alive until Monday morning she would have a chance.
Chit continued to throw up at an alarming rate. Dame and I decided to weigh her. She had weighed 111 grams earlier in the week. At the vets Saturday night, she weighed 99 grams. When we weighed her Sunday, she weighed 91 grams.
She looked dead. The only thing that let me know that she was alive was the fact that she was standing on both feet. This continued all day. I gave up trying to keep her clean with a wash cloth so as not to disturb her anymore than I absolutely had to. She was in bad shape.
After a sleepless night, I went to check on Riff and Chit at 6 AM. I had them in the bathroom where it was warmer. Chit was shaking violently, and her mouth was open with this clear liquid “stringing” from it. Her eyes were closed, and she was fluffed. She hadn’t pooped in 12 hours. I pumped her up with more Infalyte and Pysillium and prayed. At 7 AM, I called Dr Moore’s office. He wouldn’t be in until 10:30. Dame and I decided to wait until Dr Moore got there to take them in.
At 10 AM, Dame started to the vets with them. Chit hates riding in a car. She freaks. This time, however, she didn’t move. Dame left both of our babies there and came home to wait for a phone call from Dr Moore. He finally called late that night. He had removed 6 pieces of metal flake from Chit’s crop, but she had 3 more in her gizzard. He was treating her with EDTA. It was up to Chit Chat now. He told us that if she made it the next 24 hours that she had a chance. Chit Chat now weighed 86 grams.
Tuesday Morning I called the vet to see if she had lived, and she had!!
However, at 3 PM Dr Moore called to say that Chit’s digestive system had shut down. He was feeding her through a catheter and said that she had less than a 50 % chance of surviving now. At this point I knew that Chit was not going to live. She weighed less that 80 grams. But he had hope. He said he has seen worse make it, although they were bigger birds.
That evening I told Dame that I was going to download my emails and then I was going to bed. I was depressed, and I was exhausted. I downloaded my emails and read all the emails where people were praying for my Chit Chat. After I got through, however, I just sat there. I sat looking at my inbox waiting for another email. Not surfing, just looking at my inbox. I didn’t want to go offline. Finally I knew I had to.
5 minutes after I had disconnected, we got a phone call from Dr Moore. My precious Chitty Chatty Bang Bang had died. When she died, she weighed 66 grams.
She is in no more pain now. She is eating apples, which was her favorite food along with eggs. She has all of her toenails and is showing all her other new friends in heaven how to roll over and how to say, “Who’s your Momma”. She will be there to welcome us with open wings when we cross over.
My Chit Chat, you will be forever in our hearts and in our souls.