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Parrot temporarily "frozen"??

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Re: Parrot temporarily "frozen"??

Postby StroppyChops » Sun Aug 14, 2016 6:10 am

I know I'm resurrecting an old thread here, but my Mustached Parrot seems to have just suffered a similar seizure and I'm wondering how the birds of other posters have coped since.

My 8yo MP had been enjoying out-of-cage time with me today, was frisky and didn't want to return to the cage but eventually did, and then things got bizarre.

He suddenly shot his head down in what appeared to be a fear response - I thought he was reacting to something on the fresh newspaper in the tray - slammed his beak into the floor grill, and appear to step down onto the grill, where he sat frozen for around 3 minutes. His eyes were (barely) active but the rest of him was locked up, not even responding when I rubbed his beak - which MPs typically don't like.

He gradually 'came back' to himself and gently rubbed my finger back with his beak, but then urgently wanted out of the cage. He refused to return to the cage or step up, until I removed a toilet roll I'd hung for them to chew, and then reluctantly went 'home'. He appears to be quite dazed.

I'm concerned as I've given him a string of beads to chew, but I'm not 100% confident of the coating of the beads. As I write this I realise I've also placed inside the cage an old favourite toy of kitchen scourers and large wooden beads that came with them from the previous family - clearly I'll remove this as well as the bead strings.

We don't have an avian vet in Cambodia (that I'm aware of) which is one of the reasons I've been reluctant to have birds here until this pair needed rehoming.

Any thoughts, advice?
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Re: Parrot temporarily "frozen"??

Postby Wolf » Sun Aug 14, 2016 8:00 am

I am not a vet, but I am not sure that this was a seizure, from what information you have given it could very easily been a fear response to the things that you put in his cage. This normally happens to birds when you place something new in their cage, especially when they are not in the cage. They then are placed back in the cage and see something new there and if they are not familiar with it they usually move as far away from it as they can and freeze. Usually this freezing lasts until you either remove the offending object or the bird. If you remove the bird it will refuse to return to the cage until the item that it is afraid of has been removed. This is a normal response.

While the above is normal in birds, it does not rule out the possibility of a seizure, so I would keep a watch and see if it happens again with nothing added or taken from his cage. This will more accurately indicate whether it is a seizure or not.
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Re: Parrot temporarily "frozen"??

Postby Pajarita » Sun Aug 14, 2016 10:01 am

I have to disagree with you, Wolf, on this one. Without been there it's impossible to actually say without the shadow of a doubt what happened to the bird BUT going by the description of the events, it does sound like a seizure. I am no expert on these things but I have had epileptic dogs (both my own and foster) so I learned a bit about seizures. One thing I learned is that, although we all think of convulsions been the actual seizure, in reality, they are only a part of them and that there is something called non-convulsive seizures.

Seizures have three parts: aural, ictal and post-ictal phases. The aura is the first 'wrong' thing we notice because the animal seems to be kind of dazed, making weird body movements and kind of like 'into itself' and not really reacting to stimulus although we can tell 'he' is still 'there' because the eyes move and even follow our movements (this was what the OP identified as a fear response). Then comes ictus and this is when the convulsions happen BUT there is a non-convulsive kind that simply renders the animal immobile (the 'frozen' three minutes that he just stood there at the bottom of the cage not moving at all and not acknowledging exterior stimuli like the rubbing of the beak which he usually hates). Then comes the post ictal phase when the animal recovers voluntary movement but doesn't act normal although it can go from restlessness to lethargy but always look kind of tired and out of sorts -this phase can last from minutes to hours.

Again, without been there, nobody can really tell, not even an avian vet, but going by the description, it very well could have been a non-convulsive seizure.
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Re: Parrot temporarily "frozen"??

Postby Wolf » Mon Aug 15, 2016 6:38 am

I was not there to see and for that reason, I had no intention of trying to rule out the possibility of this having been a seizure. My only intent was to point out that this could also have been an ordinary fear response due to the new items that were placed in the cage. However it is also possible that it was a bit of both of these things as a seizure could have been brought on by the intense fear response of the bird due to the new items. It is also why I suggested that the owner keep a watch on the bird.

I am in perfect agreement that this could have been a seizure, but do not agree that it is the only explaination for this occurrence.
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Re: Parrot temporarily "frozen"??

Postby Pajarita » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:25 am

If it had been another species -say, an ekkie, for example- I would have considered the 'fear' response for the complete immobility but the non-response to his owner caressing his beak is not compatible with fear (in my personal experience when birds freak out in fear, if you try to touch them, they bite even when they usually never do). I also don't see a mustache or any other aviary species freezing out of fear - they are flighty and their response would have been throwing itself against the bars on the opposite side -kind of what a cockatiel does during a night fright.
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Re: Parrot temporarily "frozen"??

Postby pindrus » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:28 pm

These posts are about 4 years old, but I found them searching for information on seizures and partial paralysis which are afflicting my little rescue orange-winged Amazon.

She is on heart medication for a murmur (Isoxuprine). I guestimate her age at 32 years; she was locked in a cage for 20 years and had difficulty walking when she first came to me. She is much improved after almost two years, but under stress (even sometimes flapping her wings with great energy), she has seized quite often and this is sometimes accompanied by one foot tightening and freezing in a paralytic way. I massage and stretch her foot and it does pass. I was very interested to read that calcium levels may play a part. I have a great vet, and will speak to him about that ionized calcium test. Being a hen, I would be more suspicious of her having inadequate calcium then too much, but I shall try to find out. If anyone has other ideas to offer, I would be glad to hear.
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Re: Parrot temporarily "frozen"??

Postby liz » Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:56 am

I got a call from a rescue about Amos who was having seizures. He was a cockatiels that had been passed around. The rescue asked me to take him. They could not care for his special needs.
I have a flock of rescues with many having problems. I found that adding them to the flock gives them confidence through security. Amos did not even have one seizure with me.

The seizure may have scared him so much that he froze while trying to figure out what happened.
Parrots are not "bird brains". They have the intelligence of a children between 2 and 6. He may just have been thinking hard and could not be distracted by you.
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Re: Parrot temporarily "frozen"??

Postby Pajarita » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:19 am

pindrus wrote:These posts are about 4 years old, but I found them searching for information on seizures and partial paralysis which are afflicting my little rescue orange-winged Amazon.

She is on heart medication for a murmur (Isoxuprine). I guestimate her age at 32 years; she was locked in a cage for 20 years and had difficulty walking when she first came to me. She is much improved after almost two years, but under stress (even sometimes flapping her wings with great energy), she has seized quite often and this is sometimes accompanied by one foot tightening and freezing in a paralytic way. I massage and stretch her foot and it does pass. I was very interested to read that calcium levels may play a part. I have a great vet, and will speak to him about that ionized calcium test. Being a hen, I would be more suspicious of her having inadequate calcium then too much, but I shall try to find out. If anyone has other ideas to offer, I would be glad to hear.


Was an echocardiagram done to determine whether she had, indeed, a heart murmur and whether it was innocent or not? Because, according to my avian medicine books (I am NOT a vet, I just read a lot), it's almost impossible to tell whether a bird has a heart murmur when auscultating an awake bird (they need to be put under) because birds hearts can sound as if they do just because they are anemic or when they are in terrible physical shape (which yours seems to have been) and/or under stress (as she would have had during the vet's examination). I remember another bird (I think it was a conure) that had the same 'freezing' symptom and a heart murmur and the echocardiography had, indeed, shown that she had a congenital, abnormal heart but she was only a few months old and not expected to have a normal lifespan (yours is actually pretty old for a captive bird but I suspect she might be a wild-caught).
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