How an Eclectus with an amputated foot brought a hopeful end to the year
“An 18-week old female Eclectus was brought in today…” the veterinarian from SEAVS in Fairfax, VA said, as we spoke on the phone. “The bird’s right foot needs to be amputated and the owners did not want to pay for the surgery.”
The vet needed to find an experienced person who could care for the as-yet-unnamed female Eclectus. Someone needed to help post-surgery to medicate her and bring her back multiple times for follow-ups. Additionally, she needed to be weaned. An Eclectus should wean in no longer than 6 months. At four and a half months, this little one needed to transition to solid food.
The vet needed to find someone quickly, as her dead foot needed to be removed. Could Phoenix Landing take her on? Of course.
But who could take on the care of this very young, special needs parrot? Debbie, our MD adoption coordinator, stepped up to help.
First, the bird needed to survive the surgery. “We will try to leave as much of her leg as possible,” the vet assured me.
How did this happen to such a young bird? Caretaker neglect. A towel was wrapped around her leg and it was not removed for at least two weeks. Though many birds play with towels, or shred them when nesty, towels are not good toys. We have known birds who have ingested tiny bits of indigestible fabric, to the point where their digestive system was impacted and they died. Please be careful if you give your parrot a towel to play with, and always supervise.
About an hour later, the vet called and said the surgery was successful. They would care for her overnight, but the most important thing now was that she eat.
“She can’t leave until we know she is eating. We had to tube feed her.” We would talk the next day to see how she was doing.
The vet advised how to set up a cage for her. Her cage should be short, with lots of padding on the bottom. She would do well with flat perches. “She will probably adjust well to the missing foot, as she is so young,” the vet said. An Eclectus can live to be 40 years old.
It amazes me how resilient parrots are. This one was exceptional. Imagine the pain and fear this poor bird suffered in its short life. How could she ever trust humans? Native to Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Autstralia, in the wild she would have already fledged (at 11 weeks). She would be foraging for fruits in the tops of rain forest trees. When she reaches sexual maturity between 2 and 3 years, her behavior will change drastically. She would be the queen of a harem of friendly males, a relationship described by academics as cooperative polyandry. She would sit in a hole in a tree for up to 11 months of the year, while males brought her food and helped her create and care for her clutches of 2 eggs. But instead of this life, she is in captivity, now missing a foot, and her future is uncertain. But we will do the best we can by her. As often quoted from The Little Prince, “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
The next day brought good news: the little one was walking, and was not messing with her bandages. She did not need a collar. Additionally, she was eating a little. She would be ready to go that evening.
But what should we call her? Debbie said, “Peg!” Debbie then made the 2 hour round trip journey to pick her up, and Peg is on the road to recovery. She will need to stay on medications and have several bandage changes before we can look for her adopting home. Stay tuned for an update!