Aging, it’s a part of life. Changes from childhood to adolescents to adulthood. Growth and degeneration. But what happens when a bird ages? Do they develop white feathers in place of their colored ones? Do they exhibit signs of arthritis? Does their eyesight lessen and require glasses?
At 18 years of age Kibu the cockatiel has become quite old. The little guy, youngest and petite of our group, was very ill last week. I managed to get him in on Thursday for an exam that almost killed him. Humm, maybe that would have saved some money…. His symptoms were difficulty breathing, lethargy, and problems defecating. What was discovered was an underweight bird with possibly an enlarged heart and liver, air sacks not properly inflated, cataracts, possible arterial sclerosis and horrible arthritis. Solution: lasix and an antibiotic through the weekend. Amazingly enough he is improving. Reports came back from the lab that his heart didn’t look terribly large and uncertain about the liver. His air sacks were certainly having problems, possibly due to pneumonia scaring from 3 yrs ago. On Monday I started him on liquid Tramadol to ease arthritis and he is seeming more chipper. The lasix was completed Sunday night. Waiting to see if he becomes less stable off the medication. At night I’m still keeping him in his pet carrier to make sure he doesn’t injure himself. Plus it makes it easier to medicate him in the morning. Now I need to retrofit his cage to accommodate his geriatric needs. Platforms covered in removable cloth to replace perches. Glad I have a large stash of plexiglass cut in narrow strips perfect for a bird!
To answer the aging questions from above: No, birds don’t go grey or change appearance as they become geriatric. Yes, they can loose eye sight and cataracts do happen. Arthritis and joint degeneration can certainly occur in leg, feet and wing joints. In the wild, a predator would remove them from the mix, no questions asked. Easy dinner. In a home, well, guess I’ll have the honor of choosing when his life ends. I hate that part!