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Old 09-30-2019, 01:37 PM
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Exclamation Potentially Solved: Diet Change leading to Cairo's Aggression

Not sure to put under “Eclectus” or under “Diet”, but here it is.

As most of you know, we recently had an issue with Cairo being excessively aggressive - dive bombing, biting and latching onto faces, etc. Due to our last minute trip overseas to visit family, I changed his diet from chop only to include dry food, such as TOPs pellets. It worked out that when Cairo wasn’t eating his chop meals during our initial days away, he would still nibble at the TOPs pellets while at his staycation and managed to put on some weight. When we got back, I left him on TOPs because his weight has always been a concern for me (our vet says he’s just on the skinny side of healthy, our breeder friend who knows Cairo’s breeder says it’s genetics).

As we were coming to our wit’s end and my partner started seriously bringing up the C-word (clipping), I was desperately trying anything (even bought dried organic chamomile). I reached out to our breeder friend again, and I reached out to the owner of Cairo’s siblings. They had us go through through every single aspect of Cairo’s life - photos of his cage, time schedules of his day, activities that he does, toys that he has, ingredients that he eats, etc. Based on those discussions, my partner fingered the pellets as the turning point.

So I just cold turkey-ed him. TOPs was gone the moment my partner mentioned it. I threw caution in the wind, was willing to let Cairo drop a few grams just to keep his ability to fly.

And within 24 hours we saw such a turnaround.

He went back to being our sweetheart.

I can’t express the change. From angry bird who constantly attacked without holding back to our sweetheart who will just stare disapprovingly when you slowly move to poke his belly, the gentle soul who gingerly pushes your fingers away when you offer him your hand, the clever boy who plays games of being naughty and running off laughing, the pilot who squeaks happily as he zooms through the air dodging imaginary foes and play attacking his toys, the eager learner who is always dancing to learn new tricks.

Nearly cried, I tell you. I still nearly cry just thinking about it.

Our breeder friend told us that spirulina, being so nutrient-dense, is often the cause of overexcitement in ekkies. And it’s commonplace in most pellets, often listed as seaweed, kelp, or spirulina. Looking it up, apparently it’s be somewhat documented (as much as a non-scholarly article online is considered): spirulina

Quote:
There have also been many reports that spirulina has caused screaming and aggression in Eclectus Parrots.
I feel so terrible. Even before we adopted Cairo, I used to read that website to plan chop, but that article never stuck in my head. I had always heard such positives about TOPs - organic, no additives, no extra nutrients/minerals, ‘the only pellets for ekkies’, etc. - so I trusted it.

I fed him something that caused him so much trouble (no creature wants to be constantly agitated and angry to the point of driving away flockmates). I started considering doing one of the worst things that could happen to a free-flyer. All because of one silly ingredient.

So if anyone with an ekkie finds an aggression problem arise, double check your diet for spirulina. We were doing everything else ‘right’ in terms of sunlight, sleep time, environment, etc. Just this one small ingredient.


It's been 10+ days now. And I am so grateful.
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Old 09-30-2019, 02:14 PM
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re: Potentially Solved: Diet Change leading to Cairo's Aggression

I’m really glad that the aggression has calmed down! Spirulina is often implicated in toe tapping, and usually recommended to avoid since it’s so nutrient dense. I haven’t heard about aggression and screaming, interested to research that a bit more.

However, id push back for the simple fact that TOPs website lists no spirulina in their formulations, and all pellets would list this as an ingredient. I think TOPs is actually Renowned for not having it, though might be mistaken.

I’d put this in the category of “if you think you’ve identified the cause of toe tapping, try to induce it to make sure you’ve actually got the culprit”. Coincidences abound in the bird world. Including often behaviors ending with termination of food, only to find the food want involved. I’ve been bitten by that many times.

I’ll simply point out your argument isn’t ironclad - you’ve got far more questions looking than answers to be setting off alarm bells and taking to public self flagellation (you’re too good a parront to Cairo for that). Doesn’t mean your wrong, not at all. You may be right. It just means that IF you’re right (and it’s possibe), it’s not for the reasons you think it is. Which opens you up to problems in the future.

I’d try inducing him a couple times. And work Back from there.
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Last edited by chris-md; 09-30-2019 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 09-30-2019, 02:24 PM
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re: Potentially Solved: Diet Change leading to Cairo's Aggression

I understand what you're saying, Chris.

TOPs does list "kelp", which is in the same family. I've been told to avoid anything that lists seaweed/kelp/spirulina as they're all in the same family.

And while I'm usually all for scientific theory and testing hypotheses, I can't justify to my partner why it's worth risking his face again and shaking his trust again. Perhaps if another time where we desperately need dry food arises again, we can test it. But at this point, my partner's wounds have just healed (quite literally), and I can't be the cause of opening new ones.
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Old 09-30-2019, 02:56 PM
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re: Potentially Solved: Diet Change leading to Cairo's Aggression

Theres no nice way to say it, but that's very bad advice.

Spirulina is an aquatic bacteria, kelp/seaweed are algae. They are about as far apart taxonomically as they can get.

Just because they are both aquatic doesn't mean they are in any way to be treated the same, any more than you would lump kelp and tuna together. Don't buy into that nonsense.

Common sense, its whats for dinner.
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Old 10-01-2019, 03:13 AM
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re: Potentially Solved: Diet Change leading to Cairo's Aggression

In that case let me ask a mod to either delete this thread or amend the title to something more accurate. But for Cairo, TOPs is off the table.
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Old 10-02-2019, 07:45 AM
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re: Potentially Solved: Diet Change leading to Cairo's Aggression

Charmed, I definitely don't think this thread should be deleted. Regardless of what the particular ingredient is that was causing the issue for Cairo, I think a reasonably compelling case has been made that something in the TOPs was the culprit.

All that seems to have been disproven is that spirulina was the cause. (Not that spirulina isn't problematic. It just seems that is not an ingredient in this particular pellet brand.) Maybe it was the kelp. Or maybe it was another of the pellet's ingredients altogether. But I would say you were correct in taking Cairo off the pellets. Given the extremity of his behavior while on the pellets, and for the sake of your poor partner's face, I think this is a case where you might skip the inducement phase of proving the hypothesis. Lol!
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