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General Health Care Remember to use common sense and consult with an avian veterinarian.

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Old 12-29-2018, 12:12 PM
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Voice Change - Injury?

Hi all,

My wife and I have a 12 year old female Eclectus (Becky) who suddenly had a change of voice.

There is a story to go with it, so bear with me.

She is full-flighted, and while she is usually content to be in the room my wife and I are in, sometimes she likes to stretch her wings and fly upstairs. Usually I can have her step up and come back downstairs, but every once in a while she'll get aggressive and defend the bathroom with her life.

This is easily remedied by picking her up in a towel, but the other day I needed to quickly use said bathroom, and snuck around her defenses.

On the way out, she attacked my pant leg as I was stepping forward, and kind of catapulted herself down the stairs. More of a drop to the first step and then rolled down the rest (there are 7 steps).

After this, she seemed perfectly fine, no sensitive areas on her body or abnormal behavior. She's eating and drinking fine, and she even flew up the stairs again later that night.

However, she seems to have hurt her voice. She can make any low-pitched talking/sounds she made before, but higher-pitched ones and her flock call are scratchy.

She usually does three very loud squawks whenever she is left in a room by herself, but now I'm getting one short scratchy caw. She has also been sneezing every once in a while, before I'd maybe get a sneeze a month, if that, out of her.

So everything points to some sort of syrinx damage from the fall.

The closest Avian clinic is about 4 hours away, and even though I'd do anything for my bird, since she's acting normal otherwise, I'm hesitant to make the trip.

Anyone have any advice or similar experiences?

Last edited by EclectusDad; 12-29-2018 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 12-29-2018, 01:18 PM
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Re: Voice Change - Injury?

This is a new one, I've not ever heard of a bird's voice changing...But honestly, because you know that there was a specific, physical accident that caused the issue, and because it's very likely that she did suffer a physical injury to her throat, and combined with the sneezing, I'd be getting her to the nearest Certified Avian Vet or Avian Specialist Vet immediately, regardless of how far a drive it is (and you definitely do need a CAV or Avian Specialist Vet for this, not an Exotics Vet)...The problem is, besides her voice changing (which is just a side-effect of whatever the actual damage is), is that you have no idea what actual, physical damage has been done to her throat/neck or even to her cervical spine. The voice-change/scatchiness is simply an effect of the underlying injury, and because of the many structures in her neck/throat and because there is often involvement of the cervical spine in neck/throat injuries, and because her sinuses seem to also be involved, she needs an X-Ray done ASAP to make sure she did not fracture any of the bones in her sinuses/face/neck, and to make sure there is no bleeding, etc. You have no idea what is going on in there, and you need to find out, because if it is something serious you likely won't find out until it's too late, as I'm sure you know that all birds hide any and all outward signs of illness, injury, and pain for as long as they possibly can...the change in her voice/scratchiness is something that she cannot suppress, and is actually a very good thing because it's the only sign you have that something is wrong/damaged...
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Old 12-29-2018, 05:00 PM
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Re: Voice Change - Injury?

Birds voice can change with a psittacosis infection, and yes they can have the bacteria for years, then develope the infection all of a sudden. With sneezing and voice change, for me that's enough for a trip to the vet, even if it's a long haul, it takes me close to two hours to get to my vet, and I may end up changing vets to one that is three hours away so I feel you....I don't know if the injury is what caused the voice change or not, but sneezing ( if it's not right after a bath ) would worry me, abd ad you know birds hide being sick...do you keep tract of the weight of your bird? That helps to determine sickness too..
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Old 12-29-2018, 11:40 PM
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Re: Voice Change - Injury?

Aww I'm so sorry for what happened to Becky! I agree with the above posters. ANY noticeable change in chirp,caw,call, or tweet should merit a warning flag. Most commonly they can be attributed to some type of respiratory infection, or as Laurasea noted "Psittacosis" - but since you stated the physical trauma she went through it could be something to do with the tumble she had taken down the stairs.

Keep us updated on how she is doing! In my personal opinion I would look into taking her into the vet.
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Old 01-03-2019, 06:09 PM
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Re: Voice Change - Injury?

Just to give everyone an update on how Becky is doing.

I got her into the vet the other day. The holidays made the wait was a little longer than I wanted, but she has improved in the days leading up to it. No more sneezing, and she can do a moderate volume call now.

Vet didn't see any signs of broken bones, bleeding, or psittacosis infection. Her throat and the rest of her respiratory system is fine, no breathing constriction. Weight and all other vitals checked out fine as well. He agrees that she probably contused her syrinx or the area around it when she fell.
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Old 01-03-2019, 06:15 PM
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Re: Voice Change - Injury?

Did he do blood work, fecal gram stain, cultures? Anyway glad to hear all seems better! But I do hope you at least had blood work done, that's a good idea even for a well bird exam....
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Old 01-04-2019, 09:26 AM
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Re: Voice Change - Injury?

I'm hoping that this vet actually did a throat/sinus culture to actually rule-out Psittacosis, as there are little to no "signs" or symptoms when birds get sick...Like I stated before, the voice-issue isn't a sign that your bird could hide, but he can hide everything else...And the only way to rule-out Psittacosis is by doing a throat/sinus/nostril culture and sending it out...Along with Blood-Work like Laura mentioned...And I'm also not impressed that he didn't take a regular old x-ray of his neck and spine to make sure there isn't an actual injury besides a "bruise".

The reason we're being a little harsh on this vet is because birds aren't like people or dogs or cats, you can't just say "it's probably a bruise, we'll wait and see how he is", because when you do that, 90% or more of the time they die.
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Old 01-04-2019, 09:50 AM
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Re: Voice Change - Injury?

Aspergillosis is another common cause of voice changes. You might consider monitoring and adjusting humidity as long as the vet ruled out injury and other more easily detected disease.
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