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Old 11-05-2018, 10:00 AM
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Encouraging disabled bird to be more active

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I don't post here much, but I'd thought I'd give it a shot.
I have a special needs parrot named Java. He is missing a leg, and his remaining leg has severe tendon entrapment, leaving him with very limited mobility. He cannot extend his leg or use his smaller back toe at all. I've had him for 9 months, and I want to encourage to move around so he isn't sedentary. I know that inactive birds tend to live shorter lives, and I want to make sure he's around for a long time. He's 9-years-old.

He has a plethora of toys, and his cage door is open all day, but he chooses to sit in one spot. If anyone can give me any insight, I will gladly accept it. Thank you.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:15 AM
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Re: Encouraging disabled bird to be more active

Could you bring him outside in a towel or sorts and let him sit on your lap to catch some of those rays? Maybe just a change in scenery and some vitamin D could help him become more active, at least mentally. Not sure if he would take flight but it could be a start to just change his routine and make him go places with your help. Sorry that's my best suggestion, I'm sure it is no fun watching him sit in one spot all day.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:18 AM
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Re: Encouraging disabled bird to be more active

I've taken him outside many times (with a harness, of course) and all he wants to do is hang onto my shirt, and if I put him down, he just sits there. Now that it's getting colder, I don't know if it's a good idea to take him outside. Unfortunately, he wasn't allowed to fledge, so he has no clue how to fly without slamming into whatever's in front of him.

I've put him on my desk, bed, the floor, lap, recliner, and all he does is sit there, even when I'm trying to engage him with toys and encouragement. I'm at a loss on what to do.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:21 AM
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Re: Encouraging disabled bird to be more active

Quote: Originally Posted by Brittany0208 View Post
I've taken him outside many times (with a harness, of course) and all he wants to do is hang onto my shirt, and if I put him down, he just sits there. Now that it's getting colder, I don't know if it's a good idea to take him outside. Unfortunately, he wasn't allowed to fledge, so he has no clue how to fly without slamming into whatever's in front of him.

I've put him on my desk, bed, the floor, lap, recliner, and all he does is sit there, even when I'm trying to engage him with toys and encouragement. I'm at a loss on what to do.
You have clearly tried many things to try to entice him to do different things with no luck ugh, I feel your frustration on this. Hopefully some members with birds that are disabled will chime in soon and offer some more help. Don't give up....even if that means just loving him the way he is, sitting there and all.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:22 AM
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Re: Encouraging disabled bird to be more active

Thank you. Isn't it detrimental to a bird's health to be sedentary? That's my biggest concern. I don't want his life to be halved because he isn't active.
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Old 11-05-2018, 11:27 AM
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Re: Encouraging disabled bird to be more active

Hmmm, my first impulse was: let him fly again.
Landing on one crippled leg might be a challenge though... make him some soft sports to crashland?

Not sure how his wingsituation is, but if he can learn to backwing, hover, stall and controlled-crash he will have gained so much freedom.

Even just flap-flapping while you hold him is a huge exercise for him!
Not going anywhere, but draining pent-up stress and energy that way might wake up his brain enough.

alternative: flip him on his back and engage beak and left-over foot -> anything to get the old neural pathways firing again.

You can even work on "wingsignals" - up, high, low, out and fold on command (go small so there is no balancingproblem or just do it in nestinposition with his keel supported in your hand / that way you can help him balance)

Aks him to chose beween objects and between colors (go ALEX/Pepperberg on him) - even not wanting to play will result in frustration-flinging things away --> presto, you have activity!
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Old 11-05-2018, 11:50 AM
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Re: Encouraging disabled bird to be more active

Thank you so much! I'll give that a shot. I have tossed him onto the bed to get him to fly but I didn't want to do it too often since he starts panting after a few flaps.
He does fling things when I hand them to him, so I'll start give him an option and build from that. Even though he hates when I take him away from the cage, it may be for his own good, so I'll work on that as well. I'm hoping, in time, he'll get a grasp on flying, even if I have to teach him. Thank you again.
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Old 11-05-2018, 01:04 PM
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Re: Encouraging disabled bird to be more active

It's taking Penny a while to figure out flying too...I talked to my old vet and she worked with an African grey and it took a year to start flying and get active after a previous abusive life .. so there is hope untill the last day of life . I would try confidence building, he needs more confidence in himself, though you would hav to google ideas lol ...I know some one legged birds do pretty darn good, I wonder if he lost his dominant foot that would be really hard.....you could take for car rides ...wish I had better ideas
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Old 11-05-2018, 01:26 PM
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Re: Encouraging disabled bird to be more active

Sherman, WCP, has a foot/leg problem and doesn't fly. Our biggest problems are exercise and mobility. She has a favorite place to sit, too.

I moved her in with the other birds and she is learning what toys are. She started copying the budgies' fake flapping using both wings. The list is good and bad, but that's the fun of all creatures.

What seemed to help most was moving her food bowls and adding another water dish. That way she is forced to move in her huge cage if she wants to eat.

Another thing was perch-size. Sherman uses only budgie-size or smaller natural branches. Instead of constantly falling, which had her eating as much food as possible in the shortest amount of time possible. Unfortunately, this with the lack of exercise lead to an overweight bird.

Birds with special needs, particularly foot/leg problems, tend to have bad posture making sleep difficult. Add more perches (Sherman has three.) for two main reasons. First, there will be another perch to step on instead of falling. Second, it forces the bird to lean more forward.

Finally, all toys are stationary. IOW, all are hooked at the top AND the bottom. Swinging toys can add to an already stressful life. Two of Sherman's three (She's never had toys before so they're added slowly.) have ringable bells now but initially bells couldn't ring.

Every disabled bird comes with its own set of special needs. Java is lucky to have someone willing to make those accommodations. You might want to read methods used by other owners of crippled birds. My AV and behaviorist have helped immensely as well as the web. Check how birds with splayed legs learn to survive and fly for exercise.

Good luck and thanks for loving Java!
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Old 11-05-2018, 02:19 PM
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Re: Encouraging disabled bird to be more active

Quote: Originally Posted by LeslieA View Post
Sherman, WCP, has a foot/leg problem and doesn't fly. Our biggest problems are exercise and mobility. She has a favorite place to sit, too.

I moved her in with the other birds and she is learning what toys are. She started copying the budgies' fake flapping using both wings. The list is good and bad, but that's the fun of all creatures.

What seemed to help most was moving her food bowls and adding another water dish. That way she is forced to move in her huge cage if she wants to eat.

Another thing was perch-size. Sherman uses only budgie-size or smaller natural branches. Instead of constantly falling, which had her eating as much food as possible in the shortest amount of time possible. Unfortunately, this with the lack of exercise lead to an overweight bird.

Birds with special needs, particularly foot/leg problems, tend to have bad posture making sleep difficult. Add more perches (Sherman has three.) for two main reasons. First, there will be another perch to step on instead of falling. Second, it forces the bird to lean more forward.

Finally, all toys are stationary. IOW, all are hooked at the top AND the bottom. Swinging toys can add to an already stressful life. Two of Sherman's three (She's never had toys before so they're added slowly.) have ringable bells now but initially bells couldn't ring.

Every disabled bird comes with its own set of special needs. Java is lucky to have someone willing to make those accommodations. You might want to read methods used by other owners of crippled birds. My AV and behaviorist have helped immensely as well as the web. Check how birds with splayed legs learn to survive and fly for exercise.

Good luck and thanks for loving Java!

I never thought about swinging toys being an issue. How do you keep the toys from swinging? I have a lot of Java's toys on the bottom of the cage so when he decides to go down there, he can play without dropping his toys all the time.
And I really like the idea of moving his bowls around so he can eat. However, he's stubborn. He will only go from his sleep perch to the platform on his door, even if the food is out of reach. How do I go about this?
Also, I cover him up at night, but I use a dark-colored fleece blanket. I've thought about using a light-colored one so he could see better but I worried that it would keep him awake. What do you think?
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