In the past few days I have been experimenting extensively with foods to see what he'll eat. Counting on him to eat his pellets himself has been futile. He may nibble on them a little bit but he hardly gets any meaningful amount into his crop though. Normally if I stick a pellet in his beak, he'll at least chew and swallow it but not now. He just spits his pellets right back out. The first time I tried to feed him oatmeal he would not eat it. Later I learned that if I force the oatmeal into his beak, then he'll swallow it but only then. He has made very little independent effort to eat food since Sunday.
With my intervention, luckily his weight has remained fairly stable in the 305-315g range. He is no longer losing any more but it's been a tough fight to get enough food into him to keep him in this weight range. Normally he drinks a lot of water and in the week prior he drank profusely. However, since the medication change he barely drinks a few sips of water a day. And I know exactly how much he drinks because I do not leave water for him in his tub. The last time I did, he knocked it over and the whole tub was flooded. Since then, I just offer him water in a dish every few hours.
Surprisingly, Truman exhibits some interest towards vegetables. I don't know if he's just playing with them as a chew toy or actually ingesting them but I do see them fairly torn up when I offer them to him. While he rejected apple sauce (human baby food) and Lafeber's, he still has a taste for nuts. I've been giving him an entire walnut (partially cracked) and several almonds every day. He's too "tired" to eat his pellets but he can work at those nuts for hours on end.
I believe that I've noticed some improvement with his bad leg. He seems to stand on both legs a bit more of the time rather than on just one alone. He has a stronger grip and I can feel more weight in the bad leg when he is standing on my hand. However, I'm not certain if perhaps this is merely because his good leg is tired so he's just balancing out the pain between the two. When I leave him alone, he squats very low, almost on his belly. He leans over on one leg and a wing. It almost looks as though he is nesting. He used to sit up higher before the medication switch so I'm not sure if this is in any way indicative of his condition or if he has just learned over time the most comfortable way to sit.
For the last few days Truman has been very flighty. He has had at least 5 flights yesterday and about as many today. A week ago I could trust him not to fly but now he takes every opportunity to fly away when I'm not looking. Just yesterday I had Kili and Truman out. I was trying to have Kili fly a recall. She wouldn't come but suddenly I felt something land on my hand as Truman flew from behind me and came to me instead. Behaviorally, Truman has shown some significant improvement in recent days but his appetite seems to have taken more of a dip. I find it strange how he can be so energetic on so little food.
I finally got in contact with Truman's breeder and she gave me recommendations about hand feeding him. I would not have a chance to get to a bird store that would sell hand feeding formula so I had it overnighted to me instead. That cost a good buck but considering how much I've put out on vet care already, this was not so extreme. I wanted to have it on hand as soon as possible in case Truman is eating poorly. If Truman's weight continues dropping, I will have to bring him back to the vet, but with my continuing efforts we have been able to avoid this for now.
The breeder instructed me to mix the formula in a cup with 2 parts water for every 1 part powder. She also suggested throwing a bit of peanut butter and Lafeber's into the mix. I have not had a chance to grab the peanut butter yet but I did add the Lafeber's for some extra nutrition. She explained to me the importance of exact temperature control so I ordered a thermometer along with syringes in that overnight package.
To make the formula, I begin by boiling water and then letting it cool for a little while. Then I pour the water into a mug and mix the powder in until it gets a muckier consistency. I keep mixing with a spoon and begin monitoring the temperature. I wait until the temperature begins dropping below 115 degrees Fahrenheit and then proceed to prepare to feed. By the time it reaches 110F, I suck it up into the syringe and offer it to Truman. Earlier today he had a really big hand fed meal but in the evening he ate much less. Most of it he shook off and it ended up on the floor and on me.
Likewise he's been annoying about taking his medication as well. He used to take it pretty eagerly but now he closes his beak, resists, and then shakes it off or spits it out. Not only does he not eat on his own but he sure makes it difficult to get stuff into him as well. Luckily (for the most part), what I can sneak into his beak, he will consume.
Here is a video of how I prepare the formula, give medication, and then handfeed the baby formula to Truman. Please do not use this video as a reference for hand feeding baby parrots and don't ask me how to. I know next to nothing about hand feeding and this is just the second time I did it on an already weened parrot.
You have less control of the syringe due to the way you are holding it.. Hold the Syringe like you would a Joystick and your Thumb is on top controlling the feed rate. You will find you will have much more control.
I hope that makes sense.
If you can get him to hold his head up you will get much larger volume in at a quicker rate.
Good too see he is flying and eating. Hope he gets better soon.
Looks good Michael. From the consistency I'd say you could make it a little thicker... if it's too thin it is more likely to aspirate them and the older babies like thicker formula anyway. About the consistency of thinnish pudding is good. Also, you have a safe range of about 107 to 110 degrees so don't worry if it falls in that range while you are feeding. It's still safe to feed. And a tip... when I feed I start the water out at between 116 and 119 degrees and then add the formula. I find that by the time I'm done mixing up the formula and have the consistency correct, it ends up being at just about 110 when I finish. You'll have to experiment a little to get it just right but that's a good starting range. It sure beats waiting around for overly hot formula to cool down. Also, I assume Jean told you never to reheat formula in the microwave as it can cause hot spots. I'm very happy to see that Truman is eating his formula!
Eat Truman Eat. You could also try bananas and cooked sweet pototoes to give him variety, we make ours just warmed about 90degrees. What if you also puree the pellets to add to the formula? Do you think it would help to trim his wings a bit so he can't fly around as much and give himself a little more time to heal? We are sending good thoughts that Truman heals quickly and gains loads of weight and is back to himself quickly. Stick with the formula because that has the most calories.
I'm glad to see that Truman is eating his formula. That's a great way to help him regain his strength. I know how hard it must be on you to go through all this with a full time job and everything else you are doing, like making the videos and blogging. I still get so mad about what that vet's office did and how they treated you. But, I guess looking forward is best. It looks like he's on the way to a recovery thanks to your diligent effort. I am hopeful that all will be better for you and Truman soon. Thanks for taking the time to post and keep us all updated.
[quote="purringparrot":jz6he13y]Do you think it would help to trim his wings a bit so he can't fly around as much and give himself a little more time to heal?[/quote:jz6he13y]
Actually I think clipping his wings at this stage would be the most pointless thing to do. It's already been over two weeks since the break and the leg is already beginning to look better. A few more weeks and he should be able to walk on it. By having his flight he can stabilize himself and take weight off when he needs to. When he does take off, he is able to land very gently. I've felt how he lands on my hand. He keeps flapping and slowly eases the weight down. I think stepping up is more difficult for him than just flying onto my hand. He also flaps when he wants to turn around on a perch. If anything I think flight is helping him out for the most part. If I were to clip him, he'd still try to fly but just end up crashing and probably hurt himself more. By the time he would realize he is clipped and shouldn't fly, the bones would be healed anyway. He's not flying that much and he doesn't seem to be hurting himself in the process so I think it's alright.
Thanks for the tips and support.
This is one of those things that I chatted with my husband about...Do you think Michael should trim Truman's wings on a temporary basis? I am going to add the caveat that I really don't know...You are the only person who would know because you are there with the bird.
Any way, I posited maybe you should trim and my husband came back with the same point you made: "Truman now knows how to fly. If you trim, he might fall and hurt himself worse because it isn't what he's used to." - That is a good point.
I definitely wouldn't make a decision based on any sort of an "ideal" but would always make a decision based on what I thought would work with that particular bird. If Truman is doing okay, then why mess with him? Time, patience, and healing are your allies.
Any way, thanks for the discussion. I've been checking in on Truman and I'm glad he's doing better. Hope to see him feeling spunky and on the mend soon.....I guess sometimes, we have to trust that the birds will figure it all out. I know that I do that a lot with my flock. They aren't stupid. They do know how to take care of themselves if we give them a chance.
The most problems I have ever had is when I meddle just a little TOO much.....There's managing to help them learn to co-exist in our environment with us....and then there's meddling, when we get in the way of their learning and growing.....and it's a tricky balance.