Fortunately, I noticed quickly that he was not bothering to go down to his seed pots so held seed up to him. He was still eating but was just too lethargic to go & get the seed himself. Once he knew I would give him seed, he would indicate he wanted some by bending down & looking out the main door. We did this for about two weeks.
When I was out I left millet in the cage & the wild grass helped enormously. He was looking very tatty during this time & towards the end lots of pin feathers came through on his head.
When he started going to get his own seed it was a good indication that things were returning to normal. I think the early seed intervention helped him power through the moult.
The day had to come. It could not be avoided. My trusty & loyal handheld vacuum cleaner stopped working.
For those in bird-keeping circles, you will know the importance of having a handy & quick way of hoovering up seed, husks, feathers, poop & dander! Not to mention remains of chewing sessions on various materials.
Expanding on my previous post regarding emergency evacuation procedures (click here), I have given some thought to emergency food supplies.
I worked out roughly how much seed is consumed by (currently) 3 birds & bought about 9-12 months worth. These are stored & used on a rota system to ensure no seed goes past a certain date.
Seed is stored in a cool, dark & dry place.
This system has been in place since last summer & is working well. I tend to mix two seed mixes, so have two containers on the go. The same containers are used for long-term storage also, so I can easily move them around.
On Friday 20th August, I noticed Lennie was not eating the evening millet. Normally they have red millet but I was unable to buy any online so got some nice, fresh-looking ‘normal’ millet from a local pet shop. I wondered if Lennie just did not like the change in colour, however when I offered a bobble of red millet (leftover bits in the bag) he refused it. I thought that as he was moulting he was probably just ‘under the weather’.
As the weekend progressed, his poops turned a deep green, with a bluish tinge. This can indicate lack of food. I was offering all sorts of food but he just was not eating anything, in fact he was physically moving away. Either that, or he was so sleepy he did not even notice me waving a basil leaf, piece of celery or broccoli in front of him. Occasionally he would go to the seed pot & rummage around but he was not eating, he would just pick up a seed & drop it. I got an appointment with the vet on the Monday afternoon (23rd).
This was a trip to the clinic, so Lennie had to endure the travel cage & a taxi ride which fortunately was pretty quick at around 30 mins, but we had to allow extra time in case of traffic. (It would have been an arduous trip on public transport via three buses).
When we arrived, I said to the vet, who knows us well (!), “I think he has a touch of the Bezukhov’s“, in reference to dear Bezukhov’s Extreme Moult Experience when he was moulting & also not eating. The vet took Lennie into the consulting room for examination (I was not allowed in). His weight was 53g, which, on the face of it, is actually not too terrible, but it was an astonishing 20g weight loss from his last weigh-in. He has a fatty lump covering his front but the vet could feel his keel bone behind it & could tell he had lost considerable weight. His temperature was normal & his heart sounded fine. Continue reading “A touch of the “Bezukhov’s”?”→
The supplier I normally buy Dalai, Perry & Lennie’s seed from, put up their prices. Significantly! This led me to source another brand with a view to mixing them & thereby reducing the cost but still retaining quality. This approach also ensures that we are never dependent on one brand.
To make sure they approved of the new seed I had selected, I put some in a separate seed pot. In Dalai’s cage it was in the small treat pot, & in Perry & Lennie’s cage it was in the seed pot at the back. The new seed looks pretty much like the old seed, but with less red millet (see side photo). I then just had to monitor their preference.
Dalai seemed non-committal in that he ate from both the seed pots, with no obvious preference.
Perry appeared to prefer the new brand, eating quite a lot of it, even with the old/current brand available next to him.
Though Lennie ate the new brand, he seemed to steer more towards the original brand.
Conclusion? Budgies are individuals with their own likes & dislikes! Dalai, Perry & Lennie are generally okay with the new brand.
A couple of days later I forgot I had separated the different seed brands & mixed them, so the experiment had to end! So currently, they are eating a mixture of the brands although still a majority of the original one.
It was one week ago, with a sense of déjà vu, that I noticed Bezukhov’s poops did not look right. They were sludgy & dark green.
Instinct told me this was Bezukhov’s reaction to losing Phineasbecause the poops reminded me of just over a year ago, when we lost Cagney, & Bezukhov stopped eating (click here for post).
I knew Bezukhov was upset by the change in routine, actually, the change in everything, as evidenced by not going into the Villa (Phinny’s domain). He would go in briefly for water or to chew on the iodine block, but not sit in there. Also, overnight sleeping has switched, at Bezukhov’s insistence, from the Villa to the Manor.
In the days leading up to the discovery, I had noticed Bezukhov was eating more pellets (in dishes on top of the Villa) but it was not until I saw the dodgy poops that I realised he was barely eating his normal seed mix. Behaviour-wise, Bezukhov became very loud. He was constantly shouting & often looking out of the window. Normally he would shout at things outside but each time I looked I could not see anything; he was just shouting for shouting’s sake. Sometimes he would go to one of the five seed pots but would only eat one seed before looking distracted & moving on.
Last year, when Bezukhov lost weight, I encouraged him to eat by following him around & offering food at every opportunity. One of the things I used was the little red seed pot.
The little pot is the bottom of a fountain seed feeder. I like the little pot because it is… well… it is little (!) & shallow. It is handy for putting small amounts of food in, like chopped vegetables. I have used them a lot in the past but not so much now as the bars of the Manor are too widely spaced and the Silver Villa has vertical bars.
During the drive to help Bezukhov put weight back on, I would also offer food to Phineas (hence two little red seed pots) in the hope that Bezukhov’s flock mentality would kick in & he would eat too. All this worked in the sense that Bezukhov regained his lost weight but it had the unfortunate consequence of Phineas becoming overweight! At this point I scaled down use of the little red seed pots. I would only offer it to Bezukhov (usually when Phineas was otherwise engaged).
Over time, the little red seed pot has become Bezukhov’s pot. His weight is no longer an issue but I still offer it to him when it looks like he wants to eat in peace. It is ‘our thing’. When Bezukhov wants to eat from it, he usually goes to the top of the Villa door & looks down at my (empty) hands. At which point I get the seed pot & hold it up to him for some one-on-one bonding time.
The only recent change has been Dalai’s presence. Though Dalai is not tame, he is curious. He has noticed this little red seed pot ritual & approached recently when he saw Bezukhov eating from it. I have encouraged Dalai’s curiosity as any way to get him closer to my hand & to see that I am not a threat, is welcome. Twice now, Dalai has been brave enough to eat from the little pot (with me holding it!) Bezukhov still gets his opportunity to eat from it & I do not see that ritual changing any time soon.
Who knew that a little red seed pot could be so pivotal, significant & useful?
When Dalai came to us, he brought his own seed in case he did not like ours.
His seed looks different to ours; the over all colouring looks more yellow, though we can see lots of similar seeds. Over time, I have gradually added more of our seed to his non-specific seed mix, so that by the time we have run out of non-specific seed, he will be happy to eat our seed.
Although it is normal for seed mixes to have some shell in them, I was surprised to see these tiny, perfectly proportioned shells in the non-specific seed mix:
Previously, I alluded to Bezukhov & Phineas having a new home. The new home (in waiting) is the Liberta Oregon cage.
The reason I decided to buy (yet) another cage is because since Cagney’s sad passing, Bezukhov has moved into the Ferplast with Phineas. As much as I like many aspects of the Ferplast Piano 6 cage (& it has been popular with all who have lived in it) it is an awful cage for catching a bird – as detailed in my post ‘Medication & the Ferplast‘.
Ideally, they would have both lived in the Manor but it seems it is not suitable for bedtime. I suspect this is because at bedtime, they need to sleep at the highest spot & in the Manor this means the loft area (domed part). The loft area itself is quite small, compared to the rest of the cage & I believe this makes it difficult to share with Phineas. In the old days, the loft area comfortably housed Atilla, Raspy, Cagney & Bezukhov at bedtime so it must be the combination of the size & Phineas.
So, assuming the Manor will no longer be used for bedtime by Bezukhov & Phineas, & Bezukhov’s medication regime is long-term, I felt that a new cage to replace the Ferplast was the way forward.
After much deliberation, I chose the Liberta Oregon cage. A pet shop about 40 minutes drive away actually had it on display so, unusually, I was able to see it ‘in the flesh’ before buying. On the shop floor I also simulated chasing Bezukhov around it! It has a flat top, so no confined dome area to cause problems at bedtime & more importantly, has a large front door to facilitate a more evenly matched chase. As with all cages there are some design issues but I will address these another time. For now, it had what I was looking for.
So, cage bought, delivered & assembled. It was introduced to Bezukhov & Phineas on the 16th October. I decided to ‘go for it’ & when they were both out of the Ferplast, I did a straight swap; new one in, old one out. I arranged the furniture in the new one as near enough to the Ferplast as possible.
Predictably, they gave the new cage a wide berth. The manor was now the place to be. However, I took the opportunity whilst Phinny was jiggling away on my hand, to gradually move my hand (& him) into the Silver Villa. He was too wrapped up in his jiggying to notice, but when he finished the job, he found he was in his new home. What to do? Find a way out of course! On his way out, he found some millet by the door so had to stop & eat that, as witnessed in this video: