Caiques are lovable acrobatic parrots native to South America. They are known as the clowns of the parrot world and can live up to 30 years. But Ebby isn’t in the playful mood. She hasn’t been eating well for a few days.
Dr Gloria assesses Ebby’s body condition by feeling her keel bone – a long thin bone that protrudes at right angle from the chest wall (breast bone). In a skinny bird like Ebby, the keel bone is prominent and the edge feels sharp.
Ebby weighs 96 grams when her ideal weight is 110 to 120 grams. Baby birds should be weighed daily to determine how much to feed them and to monitor whether they are gaining or losing weight.
Feathers can be considered the window to a bird’s health. Here we see black stress bars or stress lines on Ebby’s feathers which indicates malnutrition or malabsorption of nutrients during the time of feather development.
Birds have very efficient cardiovascular systems to help them fly and maintain body temperature. They have larger hearts than mammals (relative to body size and mass) and a much faster heart rate.
A crop is a small muscular pouch located in the neck which allows the bird to store extra food. Birds with crop infection may regurgitate and lose appetite like Ebby.
Crop infections can be caused by bacteria and sometimes yeast, especially Candida species. Other crop problems that can occur include crop burns (feeding a formula that is too hot) and crop lacerations.
Ebby goes home with a course of antibiotics and glucose solution to kickstart her appetite.