I care for and deeply love three parrots and a cockatoo. I am what might be called an over-the-top bird person. Have been so for almost fifty years.
So I am well aware that birds can be very fragile if they are ill or injured. I am also aware that birds will hide their illness until right before they drop dead so as not to be seen as the weak member of the flock.
Yesterday as I was doing the morning feeding I noticed that my bare-eyed cockatoo, CB, had a dirty, poopy bottom. Birds tend to keep themselves clean so this was very noticeable, especially given that CB is all white. But I was running to an appointment so I figured I’d check back when I got home.
Got home and started the midweek cleaning of cages. Needless to say, thanks to old age brain, I’d already totally forgotten about CB’s bottom… right up until I was cleaning her cage and caught a glimpse of something very wrong. Her bottom was full of stuck poop and the clean paper I’d put down was still clean despite seeing her make the motion that means something should come out of her bottom.
I need to stop here and give a shout out to MaryBethe Wright. She is not only the nearest bird person for me to call when I go into a bird panic, but she responds immediately thus saving me from a stroke. Because, you see, I’m Italian. Being Italian means that if the phone rings after 10 or someone over 60 coughs, we immediately start hanging black crepe and planning the after funeral menu. God, I’m so Italian! I already was figuring out how to get her empty cage out of the house so I wouldn’t have to see it standing there empty as a reminder of what I’d lost. I was sure she was going to die from poop poisoning before we could do anything.
So MaryBethe came over and patiently cleared out the poop from CB’s cloaca area while I held her and told her she was going to be ok. That’s when you know you have a true friend. She’s willing to stand there and wipe shit off your bird’s butt.
Everything seems fine for CB now. Poop pack gone. Cloaca clear and clean. Only real residual problem is that I now can’t pass her cage without grabbing a flashlight to shine up her butt to make sure it remains clear. Every time I approach her cage now, she gives me a strange look and backs as far away from me as possible. I guess she’s having trouble understanding my ongoing interest in her butt.
And now to call the vet to have him tell me that sometimes shit just happens and doesn’t have to mean anything. At least, that’s what my reason tells me. The Italian in me is keeping the black crepe nearby just in case.