Recently, PEAC was involved in one of the most serious cases of neglect of a large parrot we have ever seen. Blaze is a 20-year-old greenwing macaw who was being cared for by her owner’s 80-year-old mother at the time PEAC was notified of the case. A call was received from a social worker at a local hospital. The social worker notified PEAC that a patient, who owned a greenwing macaw, was not going to make it through the night. The macaw needed to be taken into a rescue, as the family was not able to continue caring for it. At first, PEAC was not overly alarmed, as about 30% of all the parrots that come into the foster program are from owners who have passed away; and their families, who do not want the birds, relinquish them to PEAC so that a new home may be found.
Two PEAC volunteers arrived at the home to find a parrot in very poor care. Her cage was only 36″ square, not even large enough for her tail to hang down, and definitely not enough room to move around to properly groom herself. She had sores on her wings from rubbing on the bars of the cage, and she was covered in feces, not only on her tail but on her wings, back, and chest. The cage had not been cleaned in a very long time, and had droppings 10” deep in the bottom tray which came up over the grate. Her tail was resting on this pile of droppings, as she could only relieve herself in one spot, since she could not move around due to the size of the cage. The room Blaze was kept in was full of fruit flies and other insects drawn by the deplorable conditions of not only the room, but the entire residence.
Blaze appeared to have not been handled very often, and when we opened her cage door she showed fear behavior and had to be wrapped in a towel for restraint so that she could be safely placed in a carrier for the ride back to our facility in Jamul.
We were not aware of how poor her condition was, and because she was covered in feces, she was placed on a stand in a shower room. Once Blaze saw the water come on, she became very animated and began to call and talk and act like a bird that finally felt the comfort of water on her dirty feathers, and she danced back and forth on the perch. (continued on the back)
As accidents do happen, even with skilled handlers, Blaze lost her balance and fell off the perch. For a parrot with strong bones and good health the fall would have been a minor mishap, and the bird would have promptly gotten back on the perch to continue its shower. This was not to be the case with Blaze.
Due to weak bones and poor muscle tone, she shattered both bones in her left wing, and was rushed to one of our avian vets for an emergency evaluation. X-rays where performed, and it was obvious that she would require orthopedic surgery to place a pin in one of the bones. It was hoped that this would stabilize the other bone, which had a couple of smaller fragments that had sheared off. The x-rays also showed evidence of an old fracture to the femur in one of her legs. It had obviously never been treated by a vet, and had healed on its own without being set, which caused that leg to have a permanent slight bow in it and carries the risk of arthritis developing as she gets older. Surgery was performed on her wing the following day, and she did amazingly well. The pin pulled the one bone together and allowed it to act as a splint for the other bone, which aligned well; and the fragmented pieces fell back into place. Blaze stayed in the hospital for a couple of days while PEAC worked hard to secure a company that could provide a 24″x48″x24″ acrylic box for her to call home for the next six weeks while the fractured wing healed.
PEAC is so grateful to San Diego Plastics, which in just two days fabricated the box and donated it to us. It would have cost around $2000-$3000 for the grade and thickness of Plexiglass we needed to use. We will be publishing their logo and contact information in our upcoming newsletter, and will be placing them on our website, which is once again under construction. The initial cost for veterinary services for the emergency evaluation, surgery, and three nights in the hospital cost PEAC around $2000. Blaze has had several recheck visits, which included blood work again to check for infection, a change of dressing on the surgical site, and a prescription for antibiotics, which cost around $300. She will have several more rechecks and dressing changes before the healing is complete.
Blood work on the first recheck showed a very elevated white blood cell count, which could be caused by the fracture but could also indicate infection. When things are all said and done, Blaze’s medical care will cost PEAC around $5000. This unexpected emergency comes just a few months before our year-end fundraising campaign. Life is always unpredictable, which we discuss in our adoption class when we address making arrangements for your parrot in the event of your death. PEAC already was operating on a shortfall of $10,000 for the 2016 yearly budget. We rely solely on donations from caring people like you, who give so generously during the year and always come through when we ask for our year-end campaign; that is when we collect 90% of the next year’s operating budget.
PEAC is celebrating its 20th year of educating people on topics that relate to parrot ownership, in addition to finding forever homes for parrots that make up our foster flock. Blaze, like many of our foster birds, will have a long rehabilitation process before she is ready to go to her forever home. She will be one of the first birds used in our latest outreach project, which involves active-duty service personnel. On Sept 15, four active-duty service members will begin coming twice a week to our facility in Jamul, to work with and interact with the parrots that are in various stages of being rehabilitated. These individuals are struggling with mental illnesses such as PTSD. Many of the birds that come into our foster program also suffer similar emotional issues, and these are addressed and worked on during the rehabilitation process. San Diego is a military town, and this is one way our organization can give back to the community which we call home
UPDATE: Blaze has been adopted and will be going to her new home in the coming weeks. Her new owner had a greenwing for many years who had special needs so he had a good understanding of the needs Blaze has as she continues her recovery