Beanie’s story is truly remarkable. Although his previous owner took Beanie to an avian veterinarian on multiple occasions, they declined all lab work, cultures, or other testing, thus making a diagnosis and effective treatment plan nearly impossible. After 12 months of unsuccessful treatment with a variety of antibiotics, their veterinarian recommended euthanasia. Beanie’s diet for 20 years prior to April 2014 consisted of seed, root beer, and junk food. In April 2014, his owner was advised to discontinue this diet and provide him with a pelleted diet augmented with fruits, vegetables, and fresh water. Initially, Beanie apparently ate the bird pellets well; however, in recent months he has refused the pellets and recently was eating primarily fruit with the occasional bit of chicken or fish.
Beanie was relinquished to PEAC on 5/4/15 and was immediately transported to an avian veterinarian for evaluation. His initial assessment yielded a grim prognosis after noting his thin, very weak condition with complete blockage of both nares and copious thick mucus in his mouth, the result of a chronic severe sinus infection. The veterinarian recommended basic labs to evaluate organ function and cultures to determine the infective agent of his suffering. At this point, the vet was not optimistic that he would even survive. His initial test results demonstrated poor liver function, precipitously low blood protein levels; cultures identified his infection was due to E.coli. Not normally a disease-causing bacteria, this further highlighted the severity of his long-standing malnutrition.
During the first two weeks of quarantine in Beanie’s PEAC foster home, it was clear that the mucus build-up made swallowing of dry foods such as pellets extremely difficult. However, he consumed fresh bird salad (nutrient-rich veggies, cooked brown rice, and cooked beans), and homemade bird muffins (made with ground organic pellets, kale, and pumpkin) with fervor. Beanie had been literally starving and was determined to make up for lost time! He was offered fresh foods at least 3 times per day and consumed a remarkable amount of food. After several weeks of antibiotics and frequent showers to help soften sticky mucus, he no longer appeared to have difficulty swallowing and began eating bird pellets, as well. Seven weeks after entering PEAC foster care, Beanie had a followup appointment with our avian veterinarian, who was astounded at the improvement in his overall appearance, a 40-gram weight gain, near resolution of the swelling to both nares, and increased strength. He was also amazed when Beanie solicited head scratches from him during the vet visit! At this point a deep nasal flush removed large amounts of secretions from deep in his sinuses. Beanie’s foster volunteer learned to safely perform nasal flushing at home and continued these twice daily for three months.
By late August, Beanie was stable and strong enough to begin learning about foraging and playing with toys. He has also gradually become much more animated, interactive, and communicative with his foster family. Although Beanie doesn’t talk in words, he has several whistles that he uses to communicate his needs for out-of-cage time, a snack, time for dinner, bed time, and so on.
Beanie received an excellent report from our avian veterinarian at his followup appointment in October. Due to the permanent structural damage to his sinuses, he will likely always have some drainage and requires nasal flushing twice a week indefinitely. His personality continues to blossom and he is now enjoying a permanent home with his former foster family.
Do animals understand when we are trying to help them? Although Beanie doesn’t enjoy the nasal flushing, he remains unafraid of being toweled and is one of the most sweet-natured parrots we’ve encountered. He steps right up after every medical procedure, solicits head scratches, and is very loving toward everyone he meets. We think he knows.