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Old 10-31-2016, 09:43 AM
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Re: I Love Amazons - An On-Going Journey!

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'Boats, I have to remember to not read your posts while at work. It's not good when a senior manager gets teary eyed. Thank you for the poem.
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 10-31-2016, 09:45 AM
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Re: I Love Amazons - An On-Going Journey!

Steven, this is a fantastic thread, thank you so much for taking the time to post it.
That poem has me sobbing, it is so spot on.
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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 10-31-2016, 10:28 AM
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Re: I Love Amazons - An On-Going Journey!

Geez Steven... You have me running to Amy and scooping her out of her house and hugging/loving on her.
I read EVERY line..as if it were her saying those things to me.

She was never a rehome. I was/am her dad since she was just a babe. And I keep telling her,she WILL be mine,til the day I am no longer here,or vise verse.
Your poem hit home hard Steven..reading some of the stories that get posted here. Some that turn out awesome ( Texs' Bella for one) and others that have failed ( My Jonesy for one)

makes a parront think REAL hard...


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Old 11-01-2016, 10:26 PM
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Re: I Love Amazons - An On-Going Journey!

Thank you for the beautiful poem, Steven. So beautiful and so true, a couple of my dearest feathered friends could have written it from experience. Very thought provoking.
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Old 11-02-2016, 08:22 AM
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Re: I Love Amazons - An On-Going Journey!

Steven, thank you very much for this thread. It is both extremely informative and deeply moving. Very much a must read for amazon parronts new and experienced alike.

And you're right. Much of what you have posted is applicable to parrots in general.

Ah, and that poem. Beautiful.
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Old 11-02-2016, 11:52 AM
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Re: I Love Amazons - An On-Going Journey!

The vast number of Amazons that have shared our home (Okay, Took Over) have come to us suffering years of neglect and commonly stored in grossly undersized cages with like under sized perches. This has resulted in the group as a whole have foot problems.

This reoccurring problem is the foundation for this next segment: Getting to the Foot of the Problem. Since it is based around a medical discussions, it is rated as: Can be Read Near Anywhere!

Enjoy!

Last edited by SailBoat; 11-02-2016 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 11-02-2016, 11:54 AM
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Re: I Love Amazons - An On-Going Journey!

Getting to the Foot of the Problem
By: Steven (SailBoat), 2016

It truly amazes me that Companion Parrots can spend nearly their entire life on their feet. The average modern Human spends, at most, several hours each day on their feet, while the average ‘kept’ Amazon spends 99.3% of each day and night on their feet. With that level of demand placed on the pads of their claws, it would only be fair on our part, to assure they have a large and varied selection of perches to choose from.

The Avian Vet Community, its supporting experts and long time Parrot Owners, have long ago recommended moving to larger perch sizes for Amazons. Today, a ‘minimum’ size perch would be 1-1/2” (38 mm) and then varying in both size and shape, up and over 3” (75 mm) in diameter using a broad selection of different natural wood perches. Parrots need to have a large selection of different size perches to choose from within and on their cage(s), play stand(s) and tee-stand(s).

A concrete perch should never be used ‘if’ your Amazon has developed foot problems, like thin/redden pads, as this type of perch will only increase the seriousness of the problem. In addition, this type of perch should never be placed in a location, which would encourage roosting. Concrete perches are best used in front of the feeding and water dishes to aid in the trimming of their nails and cleaning and shaping of their beaks.

The goal of moving your Amazon to larger perch diameters with greater variations and choices is to lessen or forestall degradation of the leg/claw structure. If your Amazon has foot problems, you should already be working with your Avian Certified /Qualified Veterinarian. It is important to note that not all Avian Qualified Veterinarians have experience with older parrots and their more specialized needs.

That is not to say that foot problems are limited to older Amazons. Spending too many years on too small and similar sized round dowel or perches can result in foot problems much earlier than would normally be expected. If your Veterinarian is not familiar with the health problems of older and/or special needs Parrots, please assure that they at least have a sound body of resource experts to call upon.

With re-homed and rescue Parrots, their history and age are rarely known. However, the wear on their claws is rarely hidden. Amazon’s that have spent too many years on too small and similar sized perches have very telling wear patterns to their pads, degrading of the muscles near the nails and/or the onset of arthritis, far too early for their sometimes ‘estimated’ age. It is very important to remember that Parrots are predominantly ‘left-footed;’ therefore it is common to see the beginning of problems in the left leg and claw. Other early signs are Night Falls and/or ‘predominant roosting’ using both legs instead of only one. A detailed examination of the leg/claw structure is a necessary part of any re-homed, rescue and/or older Parrot’s yearly physical examination.

Why are larger diameter perches healthier for Amazons to roost on? The answer is found in the structure of a Parrot’s leg and claw, which is designed to allow it to catch and hold prey and/or other food sources, much like a hand. This adaptation forces greater weight (load) on the rear-facing Digits (toes) as the diameter of the perch becomes smaller. Although, the adaptation allows the Parrot to maintain a tight grasp on a food source and smaller perches, at the same time, it increases the load on the rear pads just under and behind the connection (somewhat like a wrist) with the Tarsometatarsus bone. The smaller the diameter of a perch, the greater the load on the rear Digits and more specify their bone segments and pads nearest the joint with the Tarsometatarsus. With time, the skin thins as the pad structure crushes resulting in damaged pads, which presents pink/red in color. In addition, the natural action of roosting places the parrot’s body lower; this in turn lowers the angle in which the Tarsometatarsus and Digits join, increasing the weight on the rear Digits nearest the joint. As the diameter of the perch increases, the weight shifts slightly forward reducing the load on the rear pads under the joint, which supports the use of larger perches.

A surprising point of interest (concern?) has developed with the advent of square metal bar now commonplace in the construction of birdcages and stands. When an Amazon perches on the square bar of the cage, the rear Digits carry none of the weight! The rear Digits fall along the back surface of the square bar creating a 90-degree angle at the apex of the front and rear Digits. There exists no research on the long-term effects of Parrots perching ‘solely’ on narrow, square metal bar or narrow square-cut wood perches. From a structural standpoint, this would simply move all the weight to the front Digits, shifting the effected area from the rear pads nearest the joint, to the front pads closer to the joint. The implication would be that the front pads would degrade quicker, since they would be carrying 100% of the parrot’s weight.

The leg and claw of an Amazon is formed around a bone structure. That bone structure, plus its muscle mass and skin defines the physical size/dimension of the leg and claw. Any change in the physical size of this structure is therefore limited to one or all three components, but primarily a change in the muscle mass and/or skin. More commonly, this structure is affected by swelling (enlargement) or stiffening (limited motion) of the muscle and skin resulting from problems like; sores, cuts, infections, infestation, and arthritis (not all possibilities listed), and can also be seriously effected by underlying physical problems, the effects of toxin and chemical exposure including heavy metals and poisons, ailments like gout, neurological disorders and age progression. Arthritis will degrade bone, which is clearly a permanent change in the appearance and flexibility of the leg and claw. Although rare, the leg/claw structure can also be affected by muscle spasms.

Continues as part of the Post below

Last edited by SailBoat; 11-02-2016 at 02:28 PM.
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  #28 (permalink)  
Old 11-02-2016, 11:56 AM
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Re: I Love Amazons - An On-Going Journey!

Continuation of: Getting to the Foot of the Problem:


If your Amazon has already developed problems with its pads and claws, the important thing is to provide greater surface area to rest the claw upon. This is when a wider, flatter surface maybe needed (thin/redden pad application). For our Amazon’s, I use 2-1/2” (63 mm) wood flooring plank, cut to length, the tongue and grove cut-off and all four edges cut at 45 degrees, then sanded smooth on all surfaces. This application allows a wider surfaces area for the pads to rest upon, reducing the load on the thin areas, yet still allows the claw’s nails to close over the front and rear edge for stability. A large selection of other varying sizes and type of natural wood perches are still kept available. Parrots, which are larger or smaller then Amazons would require either a larger or smaller flat surface. Taking the time to observe your Parrot perching /roosting will provide a clearer determination of its specific needs. Observations are required from all four sides (front, back, left and right) and for each Digit, on each Claw.


For a more seriously affected Amazon, we would use a very soft and warm covered perch using a wide (4+” (100+ mm)) ‘old style’ stairway handrail top (found at specialty millwright shops). The selection of a cloth wrapping is very specific to the Parrot’s likings and varies widely from white terrycloth hand towels to high-end cloth table toweling of very specific colors and patterns. Our Cleo (now past) would only perch on autumn colors in a checkerboard pattern table towel. Never Cut Corners with your Special Needs Parrots! The cloth toweling is sized left –to- right for the perch, then tightly wrapped and safety pinned (on the underside) into place. This attachment style should never be used around more active Parrots! The covered perch provides a slight contour front –to- back, very wide resting (balancing) surface, and the towel assures a comfortable and non-demanding gripping surface for the nails, plus a warmer surface needed with arthritis.

There is another covering, which can be used on a broad cross-section of perches. Your Veterinarian’s office will call it; Vet Wrapping, it is also referred to as Athletic Wrap and is commonly available in retail stores such as Walgreen’s, Wal-Mart’s, etc. This flexible wrap will not adhere to feathers, fur, skin, etc., but only to itself. NOTE: This type of wrap should be a standard component in your Avian Medical Kit. It makes an excellent perch wrap as increasing the number of over-wraps can increase this wrap thickness. It comes in a wide range of colors and sizes. As with the towels, color choice is based solely on what your parrot prefers. As the number of over-wraps is increased, the cushiness is increased, and therefore less irritating to your Parrots sensitive pads and leg/claw structure. As with cloth toweling, the wrapping needs to be changed regularly to maintain a clean perch.

Taking the precaution now, by changing to larger and more varied natural wood perches will lessen the likelihood of your Amazon developing leg and claw problems.

If you have or know of someone who has a Special Needs Parrot, I strongly recommend an Internet Word Search using ‘special needs parrots –or- special needs birds.’ There are vast resources available, please use them!


NOTE: Parrots are very successful in hiding their illness; one of the clearest insights to the onset of an illness can be seen in a sudden, rapid, or substantial change in its behavior, manor, activity level or change in its eating pattern. Any indication that your Parrot maybe sick must be treated as if you’re Amazon is very sick. Seeing your Avian Vet ASAP will likely save your Amazon’s Life!



Amazon’s Have More Fun!

Sources: The Complete Pet Bird Owner’s Handbook (New Edition), Gary A. Gallerstein D.V.M, and The Amazona Society - Online Group
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  #29 (permalink)  
Old 11-02-2016, 12:28 PM
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Re: I Love Amazons - An On-Going Journey!

Great lessons, Steven!
Beautiful poem, for any kind of bird.
Okay, I'll keep the Rbird another 20 years, but then I'm reconsidering.
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Old 11-02-2016, 03:12 PM
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Re: I Love Amazons - An On-Going Journey!

As requested, here is a picture of Gus the blue & gold macaw on the new perch suggested by SailBoat. The perch is about 3" in diameter where he's sitting. He's small for his breed, not quite 900 grams, and has a misshapen spine which seems to make it difficult for him to perch comfortably and securely. Thanks 'Boat, it's just what the doctor ordered.

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