Saturday, November 17, 2012

Linus is a new man! (er, parrot)

When I got Linus back several years ago, he had liver damage, his preen gland was malfunctioning, and he had started plucking. He also was extremely anxious. Since then, he has improved, thanks in no small part to his adopted mother Ava, but he still was a very anxious fellow. Rarely did he look relaxed- if ever I saw a parrot with an anxiety disorder, it was him. After Ava passed away this past Spring, I moved Linus into my bedroom, away from the other parrots. That helped, certainly, since I was with him a fair amount, he was in a very calm environment, but more importantly (as I did spend a lot of time with him in the bird room, too) he was with me when I was relaxing and/or sleeping, and relaxation is catchy. A bit like yawning, I suppose. But still he was extremely jumpy almost all the time.

(Just a note, this picture was not taken when he was upset-
that would not be the time to shove a camera in his face.
It does show how I often found him, though.)

This summer I did another round of herbal treatments for his liver, and this time, instead of just helping his liver, they also almost totally stopped the anxiety. Really,  about a two weeks in I noticed some improvement, and a week later it was very obvious to everyone. His panic attack moments are quite rare now, and he is now showing more of his personality, playing, eating better, and demanding attention! Instead of thrashing around when I put the food dish in (even though he has outside access doors and was in other ways semi-tame) he would just wait for me to finish, and dive in. No more slamming into the bars when the door to the room opened. And plenty of time spent relaxed, with his cheek feathers fluffed out, his crest at "half mast", and singing softly. Or loudly. He does love making noise. Seriously a lot of noise.

Now, when he is afraid of something, or wary, instead of becoming what can only be described as hysterical, he visibly makes a decision to abort, by leaning back, backing away slowly, or as a last resort flying off, or even occasionally stand his ground and hiss.

I am really amazed at his progress, up until now I just wondered if he would ever be relaxed and happy, let alone really tame. I suppose his amygdala (part of the brain that handles stress response) finally decided he was healthy enough to calm down! I have felt rather guilty about him for quite a long time, since he came back in fact; as it would be for any parrot caretaker, it was upsetting for me not to be able to help him more. I could rarely even take him to another room, or even outside in a carrier, something he did very much seem to enjoy, as he loves sitting in the sun. I really had to catch him on a very good day to do much with him. And living with that can be hard, you have to remind yourself often you are not a failure, and just keep trying everyday. While Linus might have seemed like a"difficult" parrot, much too hard for a first time caretaker, in actuality, anxiety aside, he was quite easy to tame and make friends with. That is why I say what you need most when taking on a rehome is patience and some good parrot books to help you through, not necessarily a degree in parrot wrangling. 

He is even brave enough to admit his well-loved 
cage cover is bright pink with monkey faces. 

And after all that, I now have a little buddy- happy, calm, and a (sometimes annoying) attention hog!


Sunny said...

Hiya :)

Linus sounds adorable - and isn't it amazing what herbs can do!

I was just wondering what the herbs was that you used?

Meg said...

Thanks! I use Nature's Answer alcohol free extracts mostly- In this case I used Schizandra berry, marshmallow root, Pau'd'arco, and a liver support formula that was a combination of different things. He got them for about 6 weeks, and I went off them gradually. I normally do support care, if needed, for a period of time once or twice a year, since I think that is healthier than giving something all the time, as they all have side effects used long term.

Sunny said...

Oh thank you so much for the link, I'm going to have to add that to my favorites and see if anyone sells those things over in the UK, although - thank god - none of my parrots have liver issues it's always better to be prepared and knowledgeable right?

Oh, this is a link I use a lot for help - although you probably know all this -

Meg said...

I hope you can find them over there, their herbal extracts are great, easy to dose for parrots, and just about any herb or combinations you need, they sell.

Thanks for the link! I love the Land of Vos website, and that is a very useful link!