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Delaney 09-19-2016 05:28 PM

I lost my lovebird, missed window for necropsy, help me narrow this down!
Thanks so much for giving me your time. It means the world to me right now.

First off I want to say, this is a little long but I feel everything I included helps to paint the picture here. Any thoughts or help would be appreciated. I assume I messed up, but don't be too hard on me because I swear I mean well and I've got such a passion growing for these incredible animals. I've got learning to do, however, if I want to responsibly care for a bird again.

I'm completely new to this community. If you'd asked me 6 months ago to rate my parrot knowledge on a scale from 1-10 I'd have given myself a 9. Now I think I'm closer to a 3 or 4...

I've owned two birds in my life, both who left this world too early. First death was absolutely my fault. Skinny Bones the parakeet, hatched from my mom's pair but with splayed legs (she didn't provide adequate nesting material). I decided to try my hand at being a bird mom. There was an accident involving something hot (I'll leave it at that) and Skinny Bones had to be put down immediately after. This poor bird was dealt a terrible hand in life and I managed to screw things up even worse. Made mistakes hand feeding him (which he survived) which also just seriously makes my stomach churn to think about to this day. How could I have been so naive as to go into that blindly? He was only a few months old when he was put down, and I had fallen hard and fast for this little guy. I was wrecked for a good few weeks as a result of this. Completely blamed myself, I did nearly zero research before taking him into my home and I really blew it. I was 20. Though this whole experience was rather traumatic, Skinny showed me how much I closely I could bond with a parrot and since him I've dreamt of another chance. :greenyellow:

My experience with bird number one haunted me badly. I waited a few months to regroup, get a larger cage and pick a species I thought would be a good fit. I got Cricket, my lovebird, in June of 2013. The breeder let me take him before he was done being hand fed (probably a sign this breeder was bad news from the start?). She gave me a lesson after I told her about what I did incorrectly with the first bird and off we went with our syringe and formula. :green1:

Cricket grew up fast into a strong beautiful young man. He flew around our long, one story house with grace, he had perfect little feet (Skinny Bones had the disfigured legs so I was always happy to see Cricket's healthy little dextrous legs and feet). If I'd known then what I know now I would never have gotten one lovebird on his own. The affection he gave to certain toys made it obvious that he longed for a little buddy to give kisses to and always have at his side.

Anyways I felt like Cricket was spoiled rotten. No incense/candles, no non stick surfaces, no harsh chemicals, no sleeping in our bed, no fire in the fireplace, no ceiling fans, no gas leaks, no new carpet fumes, no open flames, no slamming drawers or doors, no walking without watching your step, no crystal clear windows or mirrors. Both my front and back doors are double doors so there's no chance of an escape. I just felt like I had my bases covered.

Three days ago I thought he maaaybe seemed a tad quiet that day? He seemed a little "sleepy" (maybe in pain? But I'd seen Skinny Bones in pain and it didn't look the same or as consistent). He'd still whistle with me and hop around his house ringing bells and cuddling his toys, he just seemed maybe 10% sleepier.

The next morning I wake up (large studio apartment) and look over to see Cricket in his cage at my bedside, laying feet up. I gasped, and called for him and shouted for my fiance, Jake. He rushed in and we both were just in awe at what we were seeing and then broke down of course. Calling our moms and crying while delivering the news. Like...we LOVED this little creature. But that was it, poof. As we slept next to him the night before, he took his final breaths. Cricket used to throw his little treat cup on the floor of his cage when he wasn't interested in it anymore. I'm a heavy sleeper, but Jake said that morning after some reflection that in his sleep he heard something fall in the cage and said "but now thinking back on it it sounded louder than his food cup falling." We're thinking that was the moment he fell (died), falling from the top of the cage by his water dish and seed cup, on the opposite side from his main perch and favorite toys where he usually sleeps. I worry about my bird's safety and often have bad dreams about bird injuries (sounds fun right?) so I'm quite sure that if I had heard any kind of sound of distress, squawking or gasping, I would have jolted awake. Certainly Jake would have because everything wakes him up, but Cricket was seriously 2 feet from us and we heard nothing. Just that thud that Jake figured was the seed cup. Cricket Bug really can chuck that thing hard if he feels like it or if he wakes up on the wrong side of the happy hut. But his seed cup was still in its place so we know it was his body falling. :(

When it happened I felt like I didn't even want to know what happened (didn't get necropsy), I heard the cost was $400 (which now I think it's cheaper than that), I felt like I'd spend the money and my bird would still be gone, and I felt like if birds are this fragile maybe I can't handle caring about another one.

Now, another day later, I've got a different mind set. I want to know, or at least try. So from here, I'm going to list off some possible mistakes that were made in the home that could have caused Cricket's death. Tell it to me straight, folks. I'm pretty sure I'm going to want another bird some day (for sure, adoption) and I want my home to be safe. I can't bare to loose another and especially so young.

Do any of these explain such a sudden death?

1. Regurgitation. Cricket reaaaally liked his set of plastic keys. We called it his girlfriend. If he had the food to spare, he'd spend a lot of time (maybe 2.5 accumulative hours a day on his worst days?) regurgitating on his keys. He kind of did this off and on. I always knew he liked his keys a lot, but sometimes they'd get extra attention and even some humping. I knew what he was doing, and I knew it was natural, but now I'm reading that they can do it too much. Could he have inhaled something while regurgitating? Or deprived himself of nutrients?He was really good at regurgitating and graceful about it so I'd be surprised if something went wrong but I'm not ruling anything out. His keys were on the other side of his cage from where he fell too so he probably didn't choke or fall while regurgitating.

2. Diet. I never got him into fruits and veggies. He would fling it around and that's the best I ever got out of him so I thought maybe he's getting plenty from his seed mix. (I know, or think at least, this is baaaaaaaaad bad bad but have heard/read mixed opinions). I had him on Sunseed VitaPrima Cockatiel Lovebird which has pellets, nuts, fruit and veggie pieces mixed in with lots of types of seed. When buying his food, I thought I could trust the companies claim on the packing that this was a complete balanced diet. Now I'm reading you can't trust them but also that if you feed your bird too much, he has the option to be picky and only eat his favorite stuff. Could Cricket have been malnourished? He was the happiest, loudest, brightest little wide eyed perfect bird. He looked like a perfect sculpture. Perfect beak and nails. Groomed himself often, never a feather out of place. From what I've read about malnourished birds he should have been looking a little disheveled or been showing symptoms of some kind.

3. Smoke. I can smell (faintly, maybe 3-4 times a week?) that the upstairs neighbors smoke pot and our air ducts are connected. Each floor of the house is very open, though not connected to each other by staircase just by vents. We always have a fan going and at least a window open, but could small amounts of smoke in the air have no affect on him at all his whole life and then one day drop him dead? Cricket lived in a big open room, it wasn't like smoke was pumping through the vents and filling a small room where his cage was or something. No excuse, the tenants leave this fall and if we get more birds, there will be NO smoke of any kind in the house except for occasional kitchen air pollution. We installed a range hood that vents outside so that Cricket wouldn't have to breath in cooking oil in the air.

The upstairs tenants also have a bird, though a medium/large one (I think it's an amazon?) that is upstairs alive and well. Not sure if the upstairs tenants overheated a teflon pan early in the morning, but if they did surely their parrot would have been killed too? If upstairs bird had an illness that hit Cricket hard and killed him wouldn't upstairs bird be sick or dead too right now?

If I adopt a bird I will honestly study my butt off to understand every aspect of keeping my next birds safe if we decide to go that route. I hope to maybe find a pair to adopt if I can get this figured out.

I appreciate your bird knowledge, your detective skills, your advice, and your support. I've got 6 more ideas typed out in comment section. Ran out of room!

Thank you.

Sad Bird Mama

:greenyellow: :green1:

Delaney 09-19-2016 05:30 PM

Re: I lost my lovebird, missed window for necropsy, help me narrow this down!
1. Stain. I stained a fireplace mantel about a month ago one morning. It was a little stinky, but wasn't a varnish or anything that had to cure, just a stain that absorbed into wood and was dry within a couple minutes. Cricket was outside for the day on the front porch, all windows were open and I had 3 fans running to keep air moving. Looking back, I think I took a risk bringing him in that evening but the smell seemed to have completely cleared. I kept fans runnings and windows open for 2 days after staining as well, once Cricket was back inside. But weeks later, without any symptoms, could this have caused his death?

2. Dust? We have a chop saw in the basement. We're replacing some trim in different rooms and Jake cuts the pine trim in the basement with a saw. Could that amount of dust on a different level of the house hurt my bird? He didn't have ANY coughing, sneezing, wheezing, nose drips the entire time I was his mama so I can't imagine this could hurt him but thought I'd mention it.

3. Paint. Fiance and I have a small painting business. We don't paint in the house around Cricket, but we do frequently wash out rollers and brushes in a slop sink in the basement. Cricket's cage was on the opposite side of the house, and on the next story up. So there's a floor between bird and slop sink. It it possible that washing latex paint down a sink on a different level of the house could kill him? Wouldn't this happen more slowly and I would see some signs if he was being poisoned by paint fumes? These are all low voc, just latex wall paint. I thought it was oil based and solvent based stuff that was super dangerous.

4. The car ride. We took Cricket for a car ride the night before he died. I was so glad we did (I think?) because he loved car rides and that was the first time in probably 2 months that he had been in a car so I feel really lucky that we got him out of the house (instead of the usual 1-3 hours flying outside of his cage and spending time with us) to get some sun shine and feel some wind in his feathers. I set up his favorite perch in the travel cage and hung a bunch of his little favorite things in the cage for the car ride too. Bells and balls and of course the plastic keys. Here's my question though, our car is used (new to us) but was purchased from a dealership 3-4 weeks earlier. As it's summer time, we've been driving with windows down primarily. When Cricket was in the car and we weren't on the highway (i assume the wind gets too intense for them) we had the windows down as well. Could cleaning chemicals left over in the car get in his system and then not strike until that next morning? We are non smokers as were the previous owners of the car.

5. Crickets "Necklace." He had this little loop of wire strung with beads, maybe 2 inches side to side? You could fit a hot dog bun through it (though it'd be snug.) It was easy for him to get his head in and out of. He'd play with it frequently. It wasn't new to him at all. He'd run over and slip it over his head like a cool outfit and show it off. I'd say where's your necklace? And he'd run over and shake it around for me. Sometimes in the morning (I think to wake us up?) he would kind of lunge at it and shake it around but he'd seem bothered by it. Other times he'd really like it. Two times it has fallen and I've put it back up and Cricket bit me both times. Could he have lunged too aggressively at his necklace and strained/broken his neck and fallen? Pretty sure we would have heard him rattling that thing around.

6. Cage cleanliness. It never got too bad, but I was definitely not cleaning as much as I should have. Maybe once every 6 weeks. :( Using wet clothes or paper towels to wipe perches and toys. I was pretty good about placing perches/food/water so they didn't overlap and get messy. Like most cages I assume, there's a grate at the bottom of the cage and a pull out tray that yucky stuff falls through to so I just thought "oh it's away from him, he can't touch it, he'll be fine" between cleanings. Mistake, I'm sure. He did have his food and water bowls cleaned every other day (now I think it's supposed to be daily) but his cage itself definitely went longer between cleanings. I never used soap because the breeder said any kind of soap is toxic to them but now I'm reading soap is important. I also did NOT let water dishes dry out completely and I've since discovered that that's a mistake because bacteria can grow. But if that were happening, wouldn't this bird be more sick?

Okay here's where things are more complicated, when I cleaned out his cage to wash it and store it away after he died, some of a recent regurgitation pile had what looked like little mold spores just beneath the surface. Cricket couldn't have reached these to ingest them (I don't think?), but could this have killed him just by having it close by? And kill him so instantly like it did? I had cleaned his whole house about a week and a half before so this pile wasn't some rancid old pile of seed shells and and mold. We've had an insane amount of rain so I'm sure humidity in the air helped to cause the spores.

Delaney 09-19-2016 05:44 PM

Re: I lost my lovebird, missed window for necropsy, help me narrow this down!

CherylCali 09-19-2016 06:27 PM

Re: I lost my lovebird, missed window for necropsy, help me narrow this down!
I dont know enough about love birds to say, but I'm so sorry for your loss.


Allee 09-19-2016 06:37 PM

Re: I lost my lovebird, missed window for necropsy, help me narrow this down!
Delaney, I'm very sorry for your loss. It's obvious you loved Cricket very much, he was a beautiful little lovie. I'm glad you had a strong bond, your happy memories will help you to heal.

Even with your very detailed account, any reason we gave you for Cricket's death would only be a guess. In some cases, even a necropsy doesn't result in a specific answer.

Birds are very good at hiding symptoms of illness as long as they possibly can, it serves them well in the wild. For that reason by the time our birds show symptoms, it's often too late. It's a good practice to consult an avian vet at the first signs of unusual behavior.

Are you certain Cricket was a male? You mentioned regular regurgitation, is it possible Cricket could have been egg bound?

Of all the things you listed, the stain you used, the paint fumes, the chemical cleaners in the car, any or all could be highly toxic to a bird. There are only a few paints that are safe to use near birds and even those should be used with extreme caution.

The second hand smoke from other tenants while certainly not ideal is not the likely cause of death.

Again, I'm very sorry for your loss. I wish I could be of more help.

Anansi 09-19-2016 06:50 PM

Re: I lost my lovebird, missed window for necropsy, help me narrow this down!
My deepest condolences for Cricket's passing, and welcome to the Parrot Forum family.

Okay, let's see. I'll go through each item from both posts.

Regurgitation: Highly unlikely to be the direct cause. Now, if he was actually vomiting rather than regurgitating, it could've been a symptom of a serious illness. But considering the behavior you described, I doubt it.

Diet: His diet definitely could have been better. But while a seed diet would likely have shortened his lifespan in the long run, it likely wouldn't have killed him at 3 years old. Not unless you got a bad batch or something.

Smoke: Hard to say for sure. I have no idea of just how deleterious weed smoke might be to a bird's health. But considering how faint you said the aroma was, the fact that there was apparently a lot of ventilation, and considering that they have a bird (admittedly larger) that seems entirely unaffected living in far closer proximity, I think this possibility unlikely as well. (Though bird respiratory systems are FAR more delicate than our own.)

Teflon from the upstairs tenants: Again, highly unlikely. Teflon concentration strong enough to kill your bird in an entirely different apartment would almost certainly have killed their bird as well.

2nd post
Stain: This as the cause is possible, though not very plausible. Don't get me wrong. Fumes could definitely kill a bird. But a month later? Without any prior signs? I'm not leaning toward this as the causative agent.

Wood dust from the basement: From the way you describe it, there wasn't much of that dust making its way upstairs. Not to mention that wood dust isn't the lightest of airborne detritus. So this seems less than likely to me as well... unless clouds of this wood dust was being allowed to enter your living area. But again, you don't give that impression.

Paint from the basement slop-sink: Depends. Were you able to smell these fumes from upstairs? And is the ventilation quite poor?

Cleaning chemical fumes from the car ride: If strong cleaning agents were used in the car, then yes, they might have been the culprits. Are you saying that you had the car detailed or something right before?

Cricket's necklace: The possibility of this having been the cause is quite high. If I'm understanding you correctly, at any rate. Such a small wire hoop would definitely be a danger to a bird. Getting twisted up in it, or losing his balance at the wrong moment could've brought about a freak accident resulting in his death.

Cage Cleanliness: Going 6 weeks without changing his cage tray could also have been a cause, as the fumes from his own feces would have been overwhelming at times and might have given him a respiratory infection. Or a fungal infection. Add to that your belief that you saw mold in his regurgitation pile? Yeah, such a level of uncleanliness in his cage could have affected him in any number of ways.

You seem to be focused on something having killed him instantly. Such might have been the case, but it is not necessarily so. Parrots are prey animals. As such, they hide their illnesses. After all, predators instinctively go after the weakest ones in the flock. For them, it's a survival instinct. But in this case, it might have allowed an illness to remain hidden until it was too late.

Consider also, however, that it's possible none of these things was the cause. There might even have been an undiagnosed illness that he contracted somehow. Or a genetic defect with which he was born.

No matter what, you need to approach the situation as though he died of a highly infectious disease. Throw out the toys and any kind of fabric associated with him. Then thoroughly disinfect his cage, perches, cups and any play stands and such. Better to be safe than sorry since you will never know with any degree of certainty what truly happened.

And yes, work to fix/remove any of the things that were even potentially injurious to a bird's health. Again, I am so sorry for your loss. And I think it's good that you are doing proper research before looking to welcome another bird into your home.

wrench13 09-19-2016 07:03 PM

Re: I lost my lovebird, missed window for necropsy, help me narrow this down!
Sorry for your loss. However, if you get another bird, please clean and change water and food bowls, and cage papers every day. piles of poop, regurge stuff needs to be cleaned asap, not left to grow mold and more yukies. Did that kill your bird? Didnt help.

Puck 09-19-2016 07:06 PM

Re: I lost my lovebird, missed window for necropsy, help me narrow this down!
I am so sorry for your loss! I am sure it's been really tough. Allee is right that we can only guess--there are so many possible reasons. I recently lost a sunny girl to bug spray ten DAYS after the house was sprayed and aired out, so I know that even the smallest of toxins can sometimes result in bad stuff, so the varnish could possibly have done it. Or other things. I hope you figure it out. It's always a tearjerker to lose a friend!

SailBoat 09-19-2016 07:49 PM

Re: I lost my lovebird, missed window for necropsy, help me narrow this down!
"No matter what, you need to approach the situation as though he died of a highly infectious disease. Throw out the toys and any kind of fabric associated with him. Then thoroughly disinfect his cage, perches, cups and any play stands and such. Better to be safe than sorry since you will never know with any degree of certainty what truly happened.

And yes, work to fix/remove any of the things that were even potentially injurious to a bird's health. Again, I am so sorry for your loss. And I think it's good that you are doing proper research before looking to welcome another bird into your home."

I pulled the above from Anansi's Post because it clearly provides a path forward. A path that will offer you the peace of mind and comfort to open your heart to move forward. Once completed, you will be ready to start anew.

No, the pain /emptiness never goes away. But your heart will be ready to Love a new member for your family.

Once cleaned, take the cage and its remaining stuff out and let the bright Sunlight dry it over a course of four or more hours.

- The two very in depth reviews of the information you provided and their determinations could only be improved, but very very slightly, with a necropsy by a certified Avian Vet. As stated, it is very possible that the necropsy may not have even helped. -

Time to begin the process of moving forward. Complete the recommended changes and cleaning. Once everything is fully cleaned, let it all sit 'dry' and 'open' for about six weeks. Once that time line is completed, you're safe to begin looking at bring a new family member home. Lots of people may disagree with the length of my 'sit time,' but I find that it works to assure that my home is safe for a new arrival.

Piasa 09-19-2016 07:51 PM

Re: I lost my lovebird, missed window for necropsy, help me narrow this down!
I am so sorry about your little lovebird, and that you are hurting as well.

What sticks out to me most is the mold. If you can see it growing, then there are also many too-small-to-see colonies going as well. Many molds produce neurotoxins, and also plume spores into the air -- some spores are pathogenic (like black mold Stachybotrys and Aspergillus). They all damage the immune system to varying degrees, birds and people. An FYI on cleaning molds, bleach makes these situations worse not better. Hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, or the best option is quaternary ammonium.

Keeping a bird's whole environment clean is so important. I thought I was good, but my birds each have chronic illness because it wasn't enough. It's a hard and terrible lesson to learn.

Anansi gave you a very detailed rundown of the other things to look out for. Read up on toy safety too. Cloth especially can be dangerous if your bird ingests some.

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