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Posted on 05-11-2016

Saving Beanie: a Tale of Bird Bread and Kale Salad

by Barb Crouse 
Volunteer for the Parrot Education and Adoption Center

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, provide him with a pelleted diet augmented with fruits and vegetables, and fresh water.  Initially, Beanie apparently ate the bird pellets well; however, in recent months he refused the pellets and recently was eating primarily fruit with the occasional bit of chicken or fish.

Beanie the Amazon Parrot when he first came to PEAC.orgBeanie was relinquished to PEAC on 5/4/15 and was immediately transported to an All Pets Animal Hospital 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, he 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. 

Beanie the Amazon when he first came to PEAC.org in May of 2015During the first two weeks of quarantine in his 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 follow up 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 2015, 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 follow up appointment in October 2015.  His personality continues to blossom and he is now enjoying a permanent home with his former foster family.

Repeat culture of continued sinus discharge in January 2015 revealed Aspergillus as an underlying infection.  Beanie was placed on oral antifungal medication and topical sinus application of antifungal medication at that time.  Following this he gained an additional 25-30 grams, increased strength and activity level. 

Beanie in May of 2016, now very healthy

In January and February 2016 he experienced an exceptionally heavy molt, likely growing new feathers for the first time in years.  It simply took 7-8 months of excellent nutrition and medical care to help his body recover nutritionally enough to allow for growth of new feathers.  In follow up late April 2016, for the first time since May 2015, he had no discharge seen in his sinus cavity on deep visual examination.  Oral antifungal medication will be continued through May 2016; hopefully his fungal infection will not reoccur now that he has a stronger immune system as a result of his now excellent diet.  He enjoys a wide variety of nutrient rich vegetables, healthy table foods and Hagen Tropican pellets.

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 towards everyone he meets.  We think he knows.

Note from All Pets Animal Hospital:
We have been working with PEAC for many years - helping them to help parrots in need.  This group takes in parrots who are no longer wanted or whose owner are no longer able to care for them.  Beanie is an outstanding example of the work that they do and how they do everything they can to help these intelligent, sensitive animals.  While rescuing and fostering parrots, they also provide the community with important education about parrot husbandry and their physical & emotional care.
Like most rescue groups, PEAC's work depends on volunteers and donations. For more information on the Parrot Education and Adoption Center, or to see how you can help please visit:


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