African Grey :
- 5 Things You Need To Know About African Grey Parrots :
Before you bring your African grey home, find out everything you need to know about this smart, sensitive parrots.
4) Supply a healthy diet and living space to avoid common illnesses in African greys. Greys are prone to some vitamin deficiencies, such as vitamin A, D, and calcium. Greys are also susceptible to a few illnesses and diseases. "Atherosclerosis — the buildup of plaques inside the blood vessels — seems to occur most often in African grey parrots, but can occur in any parrot species. So remember to foster a heart healthy diet, monitor weight and allow for exercise,” Bono said.
Of the two African grey species, the Congo African grey is more popular as a pet.
With their well documented high level of intelligence, African grey parrots prove we’ve been using the term "bird brain” wrong. As their name implies, this gorgeous gray birds come from the rainforests of Africa. Though they are unfortunately becoming rarer in their native forests, they have become popular pet birds. However, these are not your average birds and require a lot of understanding and research before bringing one home.
To start off, here are five things to know about African greys:
1) There are two species of African greys. First there is the Congo African grey, which is probably the bird most people picture when they think of African greys. They are distinctive for their bright red tail, and black beaks.
The other species, the timneh African grey is a bit smaller and has a tail that is much darker. Their beaks are also lighter in coloration. Both have powder-down feathers that cause these birds to have more dander than most parrots. Asthmatics should take this into consideration.
2) Not all African greys talk. Although many are capable of learning numerous words and phrases, not every bird will talk simply because it is an African grey. Lisa Bono, associate certified parrot behavior consultant for the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and owner of the Platinum Parrot supply store said, "One should never buy a grey with that expectation [that they can talk]. If you do, you are setting your relationship up for disappointment and perhaps failure. Even if your pet grey does not use human language, they can and will communicate in other ways.”
3) African greys are intelligent birds that need to be respected and treated as such. After an African grey named Alex, a parrot that was part Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s Avian Learning Experiment that studied animal intelligence, became widely known, African greys have been regarded as one of the smartest parrot species. This means that greys need to be stimulated intellectually to avoid boredom and subsequently behavioral problems.
Bono added, "I usually tell people that greys do well in quieter homes with calmer environments. They are not suited for homes with a lot of commotion or confusion. They are cautious, smart and sentient beings. Even though I have lived with birds for nearly 39 years, I waited 15 years before I brought a baby grey home. I wanted to make sure the environment was suited to raise a well-adjusted baby and that all family members were on board.”
After an African grey named Alex, a parrot that was part Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s Avian Learning Experiment that studied animal intelligence, became widely known, African greys have been regarded as one of the smartest parrot species.
5) Due to their popularity and intelligence, African greys have appeared in a variety of popular media. From novels, to movies and more, greys have played many roles onscreen and off. There is even a death metal band called Hatebeak whose lead singer is Waldo, an African grey.
African Grey Parrots
courtesy to : www.animal-world.com
African Grey Parrots are intelligent and charming,... and the best talkers of all the exotic birds!
The African Grey Parrot is one of the most popular pet birds with an amazing ability to talk. This fabulous bird is not only handsome, but is also an inquisitive, interactive and charming companion. Their personality and intuitive nature will amaze and delight you, and their antics will amuse you to no end. These are very intelligent social creatures, making them an excellent pet for a devoted parrot owner.
African Grey Parrots are sought out as a pet for their good looks and strong speaking ability. Yet talking is just one of the Grey Parrot's learned skills, they are also great mimics of the sounds in their environment. They can distinguish and mimic the voices of individual people, as well as things like the other birds, the phone ringing, the microwave, and more. Although they can talk and mimic, they are neither overly noisy nor tend to engage in loud shrieking calls like some of the other vocal parrots.
With all these great qualities, African Greys are very favored parrots to keep as a pet, but these parrots do take a very committed keeper. They are highly intelligent so can quickly become bored if not provided with plenty of stimulation. They need continuous human interaction along with lots of safe, but destructible toys to manipulate.
Greys like being handled, but are also perfectly content to just be around the family. They have natural wild instincts still intact so must have supervision and care taken when interacting with people. They can be likened to the intellect of a 5 year old, but the emotions of a two year old. So they need strong socialization when young, and then ongoing training to be good members of your family.
The bird guides for each of the two common species, the Congo African Grey Parrot, and the Timneh African Grey, provide in-depth information about living with them and their activity needs, along with housing, care and feeding.
African Grey Parrot Origin:
The African Grey Parrots Psittacus erithacus are found in a broad area of Western and Central Africa, inhabiting both primary and secondary rainforests. African Greys usually reach maturity at about 4 or 5 years of age, and have a life span of about 50 (or more) years in captivity.
African Grey History:
The keeping African Grey Parrots as pets is noted throughout history, probably back to biblical times. One early author of the latter part of the 1800's, Dr. W. T. Greene, wrote several volumes on bird species including "The Grey Parrot and How to Treat It", 1885. He believed this parrot was actually known to the ancient Hebrews some 4000 years ago. In early days the Grey Parrot was frequently called "Jaco" relating to the sound of their natural cry, possibly originating with Portuguese seafarers who kept their company on long sea voyages.
There are a number of literary citations and other examples of early keepings of this parrot as a pet. The wealthy nobility of Europe valued this pet for its attractiveness and speaking ability. In the early 1500's it is said that King Henry VII of England had an African Grey Parrot at Hampton Court.
A well-known manuscript by the German naturalist, Johann Matthäus Bechstein, in his classic treatise on cage birds written in 1774, describes an African Grey owned by Cardinal Ascanius. This pet parrot could recite the Apostles' Creed in an articulate and uninterrupted manner. The oldest surviving example of bird taxidermy is an African Grey Parrot that can be seen in the Westminster Abbey in London. It was the pet parrot of Frances Teresa Stuart, Duchess of Lennox, and it died in 1702, shortly after its mistress.
2- Timneh African Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus timneh
The Timneh African Grey Parrot naturally occurs in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the western most parts of the Ivory Coast. It is known as TAG in aviculture.
The African Grey Timneh is darker gray than its Congo counterpart, and with a maroon tail and it has a pink color on the upper third of the upper mandible. The Timneh also differs from the Congo in its size, being noticeably smaller. The Timneh ranges between 11 - 13" (27.5 - 32.5 cm) in length from beak to tail, with a weight between 275 - 400 grams.
African Grey Types:
There are only three distinct birds in this genus Psittacus erithacus, with the two most popular being the Congo African Grey Parrot and the Timneh African Grey. Whether or not these three birds are different species, subspecies or simply variants of the main species, Psittacus erithacus, is still an open debate.
1- Congo African Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus
The Congo African Grey is the nominate species of this genus. It is found in the west-central part of Africa mainly within 10 degrees north and south of the equator. This parrot is also known as the Red Tailed Grey, and in aviculture its name is shortened to CAG.
The African Grey Congo is dark gray with a red patch of feathers on the underside of the tail. They vary between 13 - 16" (32.5 - 40.6 cm) in length, from beak to tail, with a weight between 400 - 650 grams. Occasionally this bird can be seen with some red feathering throughout its body, and this variant is known as the Red Factor Grey.
3-Psittacus erithacus princeps
Another seldom seen African Grey Parrot, Psittacus e. princeps, can only be found on the islands of Principe and Gernando Po in the Gulf of Guinea. This bird is darker than the regular African Grey.
4-African Grey Mutations
As with most parrots, mutations occur naturally in the wild. Naturally occurring Grey mutations include:
Albino (Blue Ino)- no pigment and are all white
Incomplete Ino - with only very partial pigmentation
Blue - white pigment in the tail
African Grey Behavior :
African Grey Parrots are highly intelligent, inquisitive, and love to interact with people and objects. Yet they have a long life span, it can be 50 years (or more) in captivity. Many of the available pets being are only a generation or two away from their wild counterparts. They still have their wild nature intact and can be unpredictable at times. Their many qualities that make them desirable pets also require a special commitment from their keepers of regular one-on-one interaction and on-going training.
The African Grey Parrots make very loyal and devoted companions, but they are not for everyone. Being a caretaker of an African Grey is not easy. They require lots of love, time, patience and effort to build a relationship. Being somewhat shy and cautious by nature, they are reserved with new people and objects. They tend to sit back and watch before giving of themselves freely. They are also are very intuitive to emotions, so are best approached in a calm manner. Once your Grey is comfortable and trusts you, you are on your way to a lifelong friendship.
An African Grey will need frequent interaction and playtime outside of their cage. Their cage needs to be large, and they need a lot of toys that are safe as well as destructible. They have a habitual nature and develop a strong bond with their family. They become comfortable with their space and human companions; changes in environment and people, or unfamiliar objects, can cause great stress. They can become nervous and fearful
When Greys are not provided with a comfortable, known environment that is secure yet stimulating, they can become nervous and fearful. Unpleasant behavior and even health problems can develop. Such things as feather plucking and nipping are common undesirable results. Once established, these types of problems are difficult to remedy. It's much better (and easier) to address the needs of your pets right from the start.
To have a well-adjusted African Grey, they should to be exposed to different situations and handling by different people while they are young. They require ongoing attention by their keepers and stimulating interaction with various types of toys. This will help them cope more successfully whenever changes occur, being less fearful and timid, and more social.
Very few of these naturally occurring Grey mutations have been bred successfully in captivity. In captivity, mutation is the result from altering the genes to adjust the melanin level, and to add other colors. Much work has been done in by breeders in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Scandinavia to make mutations that are subcategories of the naturally occurring coloration.
The earliest Ino mutations date back to the 1800's. One of the more recent developments was the first all Red African Grey. It was developed by in 1998 by Von van Antwerpen from South America and his New Zealand partner, Jaco Bosman. They developed this bird from selected F2 Pied mutations.
Grey mutations include:
Red-pied - red flight feathers
F2 Pied - broad red band across the abdomen
Grizzles - soft pinkish scalloping found in its feathers
Ino (Albino) - all white except for the tail, which is red
Incomplete Ino - mostly white, but with a small amount of melanin giving them black / gray in the wings
Ino Blue - no pigment
Blue - white pigment in the tail
Parino (or Pallid, Pastel) faded coloring overall
Lutino - yellow pigment
Cinnamon - brown instead of gray
Parrot Talk - Intelligence :
Experts regard the African Grey Parrot as one of the most intelligent birds, and in the class with the most intelligent animal species. Their talking has been determined to be a learned skill, and not mimicry. They have been found to speak in sentences, respond appropriately to questions, and are able to physically manipulate objects with a purpose.
They have been known to have vocabularies of well over 200 words. In one case a bird named "Prudle", a male African Grey, is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having a vocabulary of over 1000 words. However these parrots don't usually start talking until they are about a year in age. There are many that can start earlier, many that don't talk until about 2 years of ages or older, and some simply may not talk at all.
Research done by with captive African Grey Parrots by Dr. Irene Pepperberg of the Alex Foundation, has scientifically demonstrated these birds have the ability to associate words with objects, color, numbers, and more. She has has been studying the intelligence and reasoning abilities for almost 30 years. Her most notable subject was the African Grey Parrot Alex, who died in 1977. More recent work is being carried on with two new African Grey additions, the parrots Arthur and Griffin. These parrots are classed along with the most intelligent animal species Experts now believe these parrot perform cognitive tasks at the same level as dolphins, chimpanzees, and even a toddler.
Animal-World References: Pet Birds - Exotic Birds
Arthur Freud, All About The Parrots, Howell Book House.
The Alex Foundation Research Publications, The Alex Foundation
African Grey Parrot, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
DVD Filmed by Eelco Meyjes, Birdkeeping the South African Way, Part 4: Keeping and Breeding the African Grey, promoted by Birds of a Feather
Annette Wolter, African Gray Parrots, Barron's, 1986
Poppy the African Grey's best talking video
How To Breed African Grey Parrots
If you are interested in raise African greys pairs and chicks, here's 5 tips.
I think African parrots are truly great breeder birds. There rarely are problems with eggs or chicks in the nest. African greys (Psittacus erithacus) or timneh greys (Psittacus timneh) sit tight and feed their chicks well. Above all, the pair should be in good health. One should have a good rapport with an avian veterinarian for annual check-ups on the pair, and especially in case of emergencies with the pair or their chicks.
1) African greys reach sexual maturity at about 5 to 7 years of age. Birds who were hand-fed and were once pets can be problematic in not knowing how to copulate, although there are a few that make wonderful breeding pairs. The best birds for breeding are usually either fed and weaned by the parents or if hand-fed, flocked in groups after weaning. They should pick their own mates once sexual maturity starts to set in. They may start copulating a month prior to egg laying. African greys lay an average of three eggs, but may lay as many as six. A pair can easily feed a clutch of five if they are provided good food to feed the chicks.
2) Of course, one must have a true pair. If the sex is unknown, it is important to have them DNA sexed. Birds of the same sex often appear as bonded pairs, with one presenting as the opposite sex, feeding and preening each other. Behavior and displaying is not an indicator of the sex of the grey.
3) African greys are not usually aggressive to other greys that are introduced. They tend to either like, or not like, the intended mate. If there is an instant dislike, it may prove beneficial to switch partners, if one is available.
4) Bird cage sizing, in the home, may be a standard Amazon size cage, especially if they have some freedom to be out and about. An outside aviary or flight should be a minimum of three feet wide, three feet high, and about five to six feet long. With small caging the nest box should be hung on the outside, while in large flights it may hang on the inside. The nest box may be a grandfather style with a floor space of about 12 inches by 12 inches, or the "L” shape boot box with the floor measuring approximately 12 inches by 24 inches. The bedding used is usually pine chips rather than fine pine shavings. A thick layer (5 inches or so) of bedding should be used, as greys do sit tight and chicks may be squished if not enough bedding is added to the box. Also a few pieces of wood can be added for the birds to chew on as they are working their nest.
5) Chicks may be removed from the nest at 10 days to as long as eight weeks in age. The later "pull” may require a day or two of hand-feeding in semi darkness, but after that they do wonderful. The temperature for housing the chicks will depend on their ages. African parrot chicks have very little health issues overall. If all parameters are correct — i.e., housing, temperature and humidity, amount fed — one will rarely see slow crop, bacterial or fungal infections.
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Common Illnesses In African Grey Parrots:
courtesy to : www.pets4homes.co.uk/
Most parrots are susceptible to certain illnesses and behavioural problems and African Greys are on the list. Some of the behavioural problems that can affect these intelligent birds can have physical side effects and vice versa. Therefore, it is always important to keep an eye on your bird for any signs of physical or behavioural changes that may be masking something more serious.
Hypocalcaemia & Vitamin D deficiency
One condition common to African Greys is hypocalcaemia, a syndrome associated with low calcium levels. It is the commonest cause of seizures and central nervous disease in the breed so it is important to be aware of it. Symptoms include a lack of coordination and imbalances such as falling off perches, hypersensitivity to noises or movement and convulsions and seizures.
The best way to deal with the condition is to seek a vet immediately where calcium supplements will be given and often have a near instant affect. But prevention is always better than cure so experts recommend supplementing the bird’s diet with calcium and vitamin D to help stop the illnesses occurring.
Access to natural sunlight is also important because glass windows are designed t filter out UVA and UVB rays but these are nature’s way of providing vitamin D. The birds take in this vitamin by preening their feathers in the sunlight. Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include a weakened immune system, soft bones, splayed legs, abnormal beak development as well as problems such as becoming egg bound, laying soft shelled eggs and dying chicks in female birds.
These deficiencies can also be a side effect a malfunctioning gland that produces Vitamin D3 in an oil that spread across the feathers and is made into active D3 when hit with UV light.
Feather problems :
There are a variety of feather related problems that can affect African Greys. One of them is if the bird doesn’t have any red feathers across its body apart from the normal tail feathers but begins to grow red feathers. This can be a sign of damaged feather follicles, often as a result of feather plucking or can be due to medication that the bird is already taking. It can even be a symptom of malnutrition, liver problems or kidney issues. On the good side, however, it can be a naturally occurring genetic mutation in a young bird, especially if the red feathers develop slowly.
Feather plucking in itself can either be a symptom of a problem or the problem itself. If it is connected with a behavioural problem, it can a sign of boredom, stress, loneliness or even the location of the cage. Food sensitivities and allergies can also cause a bird to pluck its feathers and deficiencies such as calcium, manganese and zinc can also lead to loss of feathers as well as itchy skin and brittle feathers.
Feather plucking can also be a sign of an illness. For example, if a bird is in pain, it may bite at the area causing it or pull the feathers, say around a joint if suffering from arthritis. It can also be a sign of illnesses such as psittacosis, aspergillosis or even heavy metal poisoning. The latter is where the bars of the cage or something else that the bird chews is allowing heavy metals into their system and this can be very poisonous.
Another illness related to feathers is Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) that is a circovirus infecting and killing the cells of the feathers and beak. It also impairs the immune system and can be fatal. It originally started infection cockatoos but is now found among many parrot species including the African Grey and affects the immune system in such a way that it is often secondary infections that are the cause of death. However many birds that contract PBFD will fight it off with their own immune system though seeking a vet is always best.
Weight loss again is a symptom usually of an underlying problem that may be something as simple as a dietary imbalance or allergy to something much more series such as PDD.
Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD) is a inflammatory wasting disease, also known as Macaw Wasting Disease that can actually affect any of the parrot family. It was formerly a fatal disease but new developments have meant that treatments have been found that can have a big impact if the illness is caught early enough. It is a disease that can be carried by many birds without suffering from it and there are not many actual symptoms. However, things such as weight loss can be a sign.
Liver disease in birds is a process where the liver tissue is replaced with fat and as it progresses can cause physical symptoms. Female birds are more often affected than males, believed to be due to the hormonal activities connected with reproduction and juvenile birds may also have the condition when they have been hand-fed.
Symptoms that may indicate the illness include difficulty in breathing as the liver takes up more space inside the body than it should, the abdomen becomes distended and the droppings change colour or consistency. Feather changes have also been noted, such as the growth of red feathers in African Greys and dry, itchy skin patches can develop. The end stage of the disease if untreated can lead to seizures or problems with blood clotting when, for instance, a feather pulls out.
As with any pet, noticing early signs of a potential illness is the best way to get your African Grey the help he or she needs and getting them through the illness. And while these may sound terrible illnesses, many can be recovered from if treated properly while many birds will go through their life encountering nothing worse than a bad moult once in a while or a bit of an upset stomach, just like we humans do. Vigilance is key and hopefully if something bad does strike them, the right help will solve the problem.
courtesy to : theworldofafricangreys.weebly.com/disease
Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)
What is PBFD?
PBFD stands for psittacine beak and feather disease. This viral condition of birds is responsible for damage to the beak, feathers and nails as well as the immune system of infected birds.
Which bird species are affected by PBFD?
PBFD affects both pet and wild parrots. The virus is found most frequently among cockatoos, African grey parrots, lovebirds, Lories and lorikeets, Eclectus parrots and budgerigars.
What are the symptoms?
As mentioned above and implied by the name, PBFD typically affects the feathers of infected birds; over time the beak and nails may also become affected. These classic symptoms are often first seen in African grey parrots and cockatoos between 6 months and 3 years of age. Birds may first lose their powder down (the white, fine powder produced by specialized feathers to help maintain feather health). This is typically noticed by a beak that has become glossy rather than the more typical matte appearance that is caused by powder down. More abnormal feathers will then develop progressively. These feathers are short, fragile, malformed, and prone to bleeding and breaking. Over time there will be a significant loss of feathers as the follicles become damaged. Some birds may survive for many months with this condition, but over time the beak and nails may become brittle and malformed. This condition is painful for the bird and also allows secondary infections to take hold. While an avian veterinarian may be able to make sick birds more comfortable and treat many of these secondary infections, the vast majority of birds will ultimately die from this disease.
Young birds, particularly African grey parrots, may become sick and even die before feather changes occur. Often these birds are less than 7 months of age. These birds will lose their appetite, only be able to slowly empty the crop and gastrointestinal tract, and may regurgitate. Many of these birds will die of the acute form. Young cockatoos can also develop this acute form. In addition to the non-specific symptoms observed in grey parrots, feather changes are more likely to occur in sick young cockatoos.
How is PBFD diagnosed?
Sometimes your veterinarian will have a strong suspicion that your bird has PBFD based upon appearance, age and species. However, it is quite likely that your veterinarian will also suggest performing a PCR test to confirm the diagnosis. This test uses advanced techniques to look for the virus’ DNA. Typically the test looks for the virus in blood, but your veterinarian may chose to take a swab from your bird’s mouth and vent. As mentioned above, your veterinarian may also suggest testing new birds, even if there are no signs of disease. This may be done to protect other birds in your house, or to increase your awareness that your new pet may be carrying this potentially serious and life-threatening virus.
If your bird is a susceptible species, young and sick with non-specific signs, your veterinarian will likely suggest performing baseline tests such as a complete blood count and a chemistry panel. These tests may then strengthen the suspicion of PBFD and your veterinarian may then suggest performing the specific DNA test for PBFD.
In any case, a positive test should be rechecked 90 days later as there are instances in which birds — even those of highly susceptible species — can be transiently infected and clear the infection without ill health. This is important to keep in mind as a single positive test should be taken seriously but not as a certainty of severe disease and death.
Can you treat PBFD?
Unfortunately there are no antiviral drugs available to fight the virus. Your avian veterinarian can help keep your bird comfortable and fight secondary infections for variable periods of time. Sadly, however, the majority of clinically affected birds will die within a few months to a year.
Is there a vaccine to prevent PBFD?
Despite extensive research, there is still no commercially available PBFD vaccine.
How can PBFD be prevented?
Great steps have been taken to reduce the prevalence of PBFD. This condition used to be far more common prior to the ban on importing foreign parrots in 1994. Since that time, many breeders have taken pro-active steps to reduce and eliminate this virus from their flocks and subsequently from the pet bird market.
Unfortunately not all breeders have taken these steps and even if one breeder has, birds may be commingled with birds from other breeds as they travel from wholesaler to retail pet distributors and their new home. As such the best thing you can do is have your bird examined by an avian veterinarian and allow diagnostic testing for this and other diseases that your bird could have been exposed to. In addition to testing new birds, it is also wise to institute a strict quarantine of new additions for up to two months to help ensure they are free of disease before introducing them to other birds in your household.
What is aspergillosis and what causes it?
Aspergillosis is a respiratory disease of birds caused by the fungus Aspergillus, which is found almost everywhere in the environment.
A. fumigatus is the most common species of the fungus to cause disease, although A. flavus, A. niger, and others can also cause problems. Aspergillus grows readily in warm and moist environments. The microscopic spores of the fungus become airborne, and poor ventilation, poor sanitation, dusty conditions, and close confinement increase the chance the spores will be inhaled.
Usually, the fungus does not cause disease, however, if a bird does not have a healthy immune system, it can cause illness. Predisposing factors include other illnesses, stress, poor nutrition, poor husbandry or unsanitary conditions, another injury to the respiratory system (e.g.; smoke inhalation), and prolonged use of certain medications such as antibiotics or corticosteroids.
The combination of the number of spores in the environment and the presence of predisposing factors determine which birds are most at risk of disease. Aspergillosis appears to be more common in parrots and mynahs than other pet birds.
What are the signs of aspergillosis?
Aspergillosis can follow one of two courses - acute or chronic. Birds with acute aspergillosis have severe difficulty breathing, decreased or loss of appetite, frequent drinking and urination, cyanosis (a bluish coloration of mucous membranes and/or skin), and even sudden death. The fungus generally affects the trachea, syrinx (voice box), and air sacs. The lungs may also be involved. Diagnosis is generally made through a post-mortem examination.
Chronic aspergillosis is much more common, and unfortunately, much more deadly due to its insidious nature. The bird may not become symptomatic until the disease has progressed too far for a cure. The respiratory system is the primary location of infection. White nodules appear and ultimately erode through the tissue, and large numbers of spores enter the bloodstream. The spores then travel throughout the body, infecting multiple organs including kidneys, skin, muscle, gastrointestinal tract, liver, eyes, and brain.
Respiratory symptoms will be the first to occur but will depend on the location of the greatest areas of colonization. Difficulty breathing, rapid breathing and/or exercise intolerance are common. If the syrinx (voice box) is involved, a change in voice, reluctance to talk, or a "click" may occur. Nares may become plugged or you may see a discharge. Eventually, severe respiratory compromise may kill the bird.
Other signs and symptoms will vary, depending on the other organs involved. If any portion of the central nervous system has become involved, the bird may have tremors, an uneven or wobbly gait, seizures, or paralysis. With liver involvement, a green discoloration to the urates may be seen, and the veterinarian may feel an enlarged liver. Generalized, non-specific symptoms can include loss of appetite leading to weight loss, muscle wasting, gout (painful, inflamed joints due to urate deposits), regurgitation, abnormal feces or diarrhea, excessive urination, depression, and lethargy.
Spores can penetrate fresh or incubating eggs and will kill the embryos.
How is aspergillosis diagnosed?
Aspergillosis can be very difficult to diagnose since the signs of disease mimic those of many other illnesses, especially in the chronic form. The veterinarian will need a detailed history of the course of the illness, and an accurate description of the diet and husbandry of the bird. Radiographs, a complete blood count, and a chemistry panel may help support a diagnosis. Endoscopy can be used to view lesions in the syrinx or trachea, and a sample can be taken for culture and microscopic examination, and possibly PCR testing for the presence of Aspergillus, which can confirm a diagnosis. A diagnosis can also be supported by a specific blood test panel to look for aspergillosis. Sometimes, however, the test can be falsely negative or falsely positive, so the tests must be interpreted in combination with the other findings.
How is aspergillosis treated?
Surgery may be performed to remove accessible lesions. Antifungal drugs such as itraconazole and amphotericin B may be administered orally, topically, by injection, or nebulizing, depending upon the drug. There are several reports that itraconazole may be more toxic to African grey parrots, when compared to other species. Therapy needs to be continued for weeks to months and more than one antifungal drug may be used. Supportive care such as oxygen, supplemental heat, tube feeding, and treatment of underlying conditions are often needed. Unfortunately, the prognosis is always guarded.
How can aspergillosis be prevented?
The importance of good husbandry and diet to prevent outbreaks of aspergillosis cannot be overstated. Keep your bird in a well-ventilated environment. Clean food and water dishes every day. Replace substrate (material lining the cage bottom) regularly. Remove your bird and thoroughly clean cages, toys, perches, etc., at least once a month. Pay attention to good nutrition, offering the right combination of fruits, vegetables, pellets, and only a sprinkling of "treats." Essentially, you want to do everything you can to alleviate stress in your bird's life and provide a scrupulously clean environment.
HYPOCALCAEMIA - LOW CALCIUM
Seizures caused by Hypocalcaemia syndrome associated with low calcium levels in the blood. Supplementing the parrots' diet with calcium and Vitamin D, and providing access to natural light are important factors in preventing this problem. Birds aged 2 to 5 are most commonly affected. Vet's often treat grey parrots suffering from seizures presumptively with intravenous calcium gluconate, as well as with diazepam.
A lot of the health problems associated with low calcium levels can be prevented by providing sufficient natural sunlight to our pets. Even those situated by a window will not benefit from the sun because the window blocks the UVA and UVB rays needed to synthesize vitamin D necessary for bone health. Birds use sunlight by preening their feathers. The substance on the feathers will undergo a chemical reaction from the sunlight producing Vitamin D3 which the bird ingests with further preening of the feathers. The indoor bird does not have the benefit of this reaction.
The most common health problems associated with vitamin D deficiency are: weakened immune systems / susceptibility to diseases, soft bones, bent keels, splayed legs, abnormal beak development, reproductive problems (egg binding, soft-shell eggs, dying chicks) as well as seizures and, to a lesser extend, Stargazing (twisted back) In areas where access to natural sunlight is limited (such as in the northern hemisphere during the winter months), full-spectrum lamps can be used to provide UVA and UVB rays.
Signs of Possible / Potential Illness in an African Grey
There are early warning signs that your grey might be becoming ill. Below are some possible / potential illness signs in an African Grey. These helpful tips areinformational only and are indications of a potential or possible illness.
Any doubt in your mind, contact your avian veterinarian immediately. They are there to assist you in the care and health of your bird.
Activity – sudden listlessness; sleeping when it normally does not; being quiet when it normally isn't; decreased or not eating and/or drinking.
Droppings ("poop") - any observable change in urates (white part) or feces lasting more than a day or two.
Diarrhea - shows up as undigested food, droppings that don't have the three distinct parts (green/brown, white and liquid urine), and weight loss. If you think your grey has diarrhea, contact your vet immediately.
Weight loss - your bird feels "light" when you pick it up, keel bone becomes more prominent
Feathers – abnormal looking feathers including things such as a prolonged molt or continuous presence of pinfeathers; unusual or dull color; broken, bent, picked or chewed feathers; fluffed up feathers all the time.
Sneezing – our bird makes the noise of a "sneeze" and imitates the different sneeze from each person in the house – what you're looking for is "their" sneeze with a possible discharge. Look for stained feathers over the nares or around the face or vent and / or crusty material in or around the nostrils.
Regurgitating / Vomiting – greys and all birds regurgitate as a sign of "affection" – you're looking for long periods of time which could indicate a crop infection
Respiratory – signs of respiratory distress can include tail bobbing up and down with each breath and a change in breathing sounds, wheezing or clicking noise when it inhales.
Balance – falling off its perch and huddling at the bottom of cage
Eyes – appear dull and / or squinting; redness, swelling or loss of feathers around the eyes.
Feet – scaly, flakiness, baldness or sores on the bottom of the feet
Head – excessive head bobbing and shaking