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On Monday, 5/23, an SFACC volunteer contacted me about a sick baby king pigeon that had just come in. She didn't look good at all in her picture and we had just had two rescued youngsters die (Erika & Puff) and I was very worried about this little one. I reached out to SFACC vet Dr. Anderson for special emergency help until I could get in to pick her up the next day.
Either the immediate injected antibiotics helped a lot or she wasn't quite as sick as she looked because when I picked her up the next day, she was in pretty OK shape. One problem though was that she had been named Mudpie and that didn't seem right (even though she was dirty from hiding under greasy cars) and so I renamed her Melody. Melody came home with me for a couple of days of foster care during which she did great.
SUPER volunteer Cheryl took over her care when I needed to hand her off despite the fact that I forgot to mention she was still getting injected antibiotics and that Cheryl would need to give her two shots.
Once finished with her meds and showing no signs of illness, Melody was transferred to the foster care of the SF SPCA Humane Education department.
There she was kept segregated from the adult pigeons and given only supervised visits (since she's still a baby). Unfortunately, Melody fell ill but this time with PMV. The sudden onset of neurological symptoms surprised all of us and Melody was rushed to Dr. Herman at All Pets Hospital.
She's now back in foster care with me. PMV is a virus that attacks the nervous system. It is survivable (especially for adult birds) as long as the patient receives supportive care and protection from or treatment for opportunistic infections. PMV symptoms include torticollis (head and neck twisting), circling, star-gazing, seed-throwing and seizures. It can impair neurological function to the point that birds can't self-feed. (See
Melody is doing pretty well considering she is so young (just 6 weeks old). She is able to self-feed and does so even when her head is twisting. I wanted to try and foster her in the nice big cage with a view but it proved too stimulating for her PMV-stressed nervous system. I've moved her into a nice, cozy, dark and very boring cave of a crate and she's doing better. I am cautiously optimistic about her chances. If you'd like to help by donating towards Melody's vet bill, please click DONATE and follow the directions (there are several ways to donate).
Tuesday 6/14/11 UPDATE:
Melody's struggle with paramyxovirus (PMV) continues. She's self-feeding and even gaining weight so in that sense she is doing very well but she has a lot of torticollis (neck twisting) and it is hard to see her so contorted. She endures it stoically but it must be uncomfortable and scary for her. Unfortunately, I can't do anything to comfort her besides leave her alone. Being handled or even spoken to stimulates her nervous system which in turn exacerbates the PMV symptoms. Melody is fearful of me and, since the sight of me makes her poor neck twist like a corkscrew, I can see why. Her symptoms come and go. These pictures show her at in the midst of a spell.
PMV patients do best with minimal sensory stimulation but she's been living in her small crate for two weeks and today I decided to risk upgrading her to a larger environment. I papered the cage with plain brown wrapper to eliminate the busy visual background of bars and window views and added one calm picture to provide a landmark. Her water bowl must be shallow to lessen the risk of drowning and I minimize the furnishings so that she has less risk of injury if she gets 'twirly' or has a seizure.
So far, so good. The move was a little stressful but she seems comfy now. She had some lunch and is snuggled up with her mirror.
If you'd like to help MickaCoo to help birds like Melody, please click DONATE for more info on how to do so. Thank you.
Tuesday 6/28/11 UPDATE
Tuesday 6/28/11 UPDATE
Melody's still coping with a lot of torsion (neck twisting). She does best when left alone and so I interact with her as little as possible. When I do approach her cage to clean up and feed and water her, the excitement, no matter how low-key I try to be, provokes the twisting which is awful for her I'm sure and no fun for me either. The good news is that she is strong and vigorous. She is completely self-feeding and pooping like a champ.
Melody is a tough and brave young king, only about 9 weeks old- a very short life to have already gone through so much.
Melody is doing well. He (I now believe) has surprised me by completely redefining our relationship. Early in the month, he was very fearful of me and exhibited terrible stress and increased PMV symptoms whenever I was nearby. He was so unhappy that I tried relocating him to the Flusche Cooop foster aviary to share a crate within the aviary with Soho, another king recovering from PMV. They did OK and, if they were compatible, it would be an ideal solution for two lonely birds.
And they did do fairly well. Soho is an adult male and Melody is a juvenile, not yet sexually mature. Despite their age difference and close quarters, they managed pretty well together for a couple of days.
On a follow up visit, I was really torn. Soho seemed happy and was cooing to Melody to come join him in a nest. Melody seemed OK but not great. If they did bond, it would be ideal but there was some conflict and I couldn't let go of a nagging worry for Melody.
I reluctantly decided to bring Melody back home with me, knowing that he hadn't been very happy there (and I'm already caring for too many fosters). But Melody surprised me as the pigeons so often do. He was thrilled to get home back to his own cage. And, as shown in this picture, seemed exhausted from the experience.
Since coming back home with me, Melody LOVES me and thinks I'm great. I'm no longer conflicted about the decision to bring him home.
He's no longer afraid of me and instead thinks of me as a friend and even a potential mate. He struts for me and will gently nibble and preen my hand. I now think he is a he and that it was just too much pressure for him to be confined with Soho. The longer I work with pigeons, the more complex I perceive their emotional lives to be. I wouldn't have expected, even if Melody wanted out of the crate with Soho, that he would so completely reverse his feelings for me. Both Soho and Melody continue to slowly recover from the effects of PMV.