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Old 08-11-2019, 11:14 AM
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Lesson: 19 years old Sun Conure looks acts healthy but isn't

My Sun Conure named Putter is 19. He looks great. Behaves as he always has. He had not been to the vet for many years. I figured wing clipping and a look over we'd be good to go. The vet said, 19, wow that's old for a Sun. Really, when I got him as a baby his feathers all green, no bright colors yet, the lifespan I found online back then said 40 years! I figured we'd cross the finish line on this Earth about the same time. Sadly, the vet found Putter is under-weight at 95 grams (normal I was told is 100-120 or so). The vet said Putter's wing muscles have wasted away. He sternum is sharp to the touch. But he looks so normal I said. Yep, the vet says they don't reveal their illness because of predators in the wild. Sun Conures do their best to disguise they're vulnerable due to illness. For $230 lab work I will find out Tuesday what's wrong with him. Could be end-of-life organ failure or just not enough Vitamin D in his diet due to lack of sunlight (replace with UV light is an option), so is a cuddle bone (which he normally had until a couple of months ago), or eggshells in scrambled eggs (we're trying that.) The possibility of him passing soon saddens me. As I looked for the experience of others while I await his lab results there are some things that give me hope. Somewhere I read that a move can stress a Sun Conure. We did that two months ago. Also, those plug-in air fresheners can make Sun Conures sick even kill them. Since this place is new and never lived in there was kind of that new construction smell I wanted to cover-up. The plug-in air freshener went immediately. And we're returning to Harrison's. We've used them on and off regularly for his whole life. When he was young that's all he got. His then vet (years ago) said his enzymes were elevated. Harrison's only diet would do that. He is an avian specialist. He said no more than 50% the rest should be regular food like cereals, dark green vegetables, nuts, a little fruit. So maybe Putter is at the end of the trail sooner than I was led to believe but he is living longer than most, or maybe this is just a scary bump in the road and we caught a problem we can fix and we'll have another 20 years together.
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:14 PM
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Re: Lesson: 19 years old Sun Conure looks acts healthy but isn't

I'm so sorry, Putty isn't as healthy as you once thought. I am hoping it is something you can turn around. Stay strong for your sweet Putty.
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Old 08-11-2019, 01:16 PM
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Re: Lesson: 19 years old Sun Conure looks acts healthy but isn't

Curious, did you take Putter to an avian vet (a vet who specializes in birds and only treats birds) or a regular vet? While his lab tests should reveal any issues, which is a very good thing you agreed to them, some things you've said do not necessarily speak to illness. Also, a vet experienced with birds exclaiming that a 20 year old conure is “old” doesn’t add up either. They’re expected lifespan under good care is about 30-40 years. 20 is by no means “old” for a sun conure. Atrophied muscles, slightly underweight and being able to feel the keel bone can all be symptoms of a bird who is out of shape due to not flying (my healthy and young non flighted amazon is on the light side for his species, has less developed chest muscles and a more prominent keel). When a parrot doesn’t fly, they do not develop thick chest muscles, making their keel bone more prominent. Flighted parrots also typically weigh more than non flighted. Not one of those 3 issues is necessarily an indicator of poor health. They could be, but I wouldn’t panic just yet. Especially if he’s eating well, poops are normal and he’s otherwise behaving normally. I would also be sure you see an avian specialist, a certified avian vet if possible.
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Old 08-11-2019, 02:05 PM
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Re: Lesson: 19 years old Sun Conure looks acts healthy but isn't

Let's hope that whatever is going on with Putter can be fixed and he lives another twenty years. Hang in there.
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:02 PM
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Re: Lesson: 19 years old Sun Conure looks acts healthy but isn't

Welcome to the forums, I hope your bittersweet introduction and veterinary quest reveals a bright future for Putter. Birds are indeed masters of disguise, and you were wise to seek care. Comprehensive labs ought shed light on your options, hopefully improved diet + a bit of exercise will improve health.

Please keep us advised, we're always here to assist and support!
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:27 PM
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Re: Lesson: 19 years old Sun Conure looks acts healthy but isn't

Welcome and thank you for sharing. Do keep us updated on Putter's results and well-being. I hope that you both walk the trail together for many years to come.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:08 AM
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Re: Lesson: 19 years old Sun Conure looks acts healthy but isn't

I hope Putter’s results will explain his symptoms and give you positive solutions to improve his health. It sounds like you’ve had a wonderful journey together so far, hopefully this bump in the road is just a bump.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:20 AM
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Re: Lesson: 19 years old Sun Conure looks acts healthy but isn't

I'm also concerned. Did you notice if he started flying less?

Putter is still in his prime years, and I'm hoping with you that you'll get to enjoy another couple of decades together.
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Old 08-12-2019, 12:11 PM
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Re: Lesson: 19 years old Sun Conure looks acts healthy but isn't

I’m sorry to hear that initial vet visit raised concerns and I’m hoping for more positive steps to come from the bloodwork. Lots of conure people here - please let us know how we can help.
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:52 PM
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Re: Lesson: 19 years old Sun Conure looks acts healthy but isn't

I'm saddened to hear this and wish you both the very best of luck. I can totally understand how you feel about the possibility of Putter passing too soon. My cockatiel Peaches passed away in 2015 just a few months shy of her 21st birthday. She passed from old age and I was so grateful for that. She had been to the vet six months prior and while she was in fine health (for her age), she was also showing serious signs of old age.

I had a budgie named Sammy for eleven years and one time, when he was 7, he got sick and the vet told me he would probably pass, but he got better. About a year later he got caught in a fly trap and the ER vets told me he'd likely succumb to shock (and he likely would have, but I stayed up all night with him, I cleaned him off and wrapped him in a towel, made some coffee and sat by the oven door holding him til morning. He was fine. He was 11 years old when he passed.

The point I'm trying to make is that we can't go by statistics when it comes to our fids. As much as we want the reassurance (and I am one of those!) we have to realize we can only control so much. So much of this depends on us and how we care for our fids but so much also is out of our hands. Its the latter that is so very difficult for most of us.

I too had read that sunnies can live UP to 40yrs. While that is TECHNICALLY true (just like budgies can live to be 20 and tiels can live to their mid30s) these are under OPTIMAL conditions with ideal genetics and there's just no way of knowing where our fids will fall on that scale.

I will say that while 19 is a long time for a sun, its not what the vet is making it out to be. My avian vet told me she's seen sunnies pass at 10y/o and others living well into their 20s. The ONLY consolation I can say is that its completely normal to anticipate that your sunnie will live 20-30yrs with proper care.

I am glad I found this thread. Skittles goes to the vet on the 21st and I was going back and forth on whether to request blood work. I may insist on it now, since Skittles is over 9 years old.

I do think you should find out (if you don't know already) if your vet is a certified avian vet. You can find out following this link: https://www.aav.org/
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