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Dr. Pat
Dr. Pat, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 2863
Experience:  25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
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My 15 year old pionus has started, in the last 2 weeks, twitching

Customer Question

My 15 year old pionus has started, in the last 2 weeks, twitching his right wing, sometimes pulling it back away from his body. He get excited sometimes and quivers both wings and rushes around the furniture as though he's about to take off, but this is different.
He eats and speaks normally, his droppings are normal and he is doing all the usual things he does this time of year like eating the earth from the plant pots (our old vet said this was ok) and shredding more paper.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Shantal-Mod replied 2 years ago.
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Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
He may have something serious--such as neurological problems; or something as simple as and injured wing feather. Check his wings carefully, on the lower surface and at the base of the feathers, for anything painful, or blood feathers or injuries. Sometimes even an uncomfortable wing trim can cause what you describe.
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
I am very concerned about the dirt eating. It IS NOT ok. Potting soil can have fertilizer, herbicide, pesticide, heavy metals, plastic, rubbish, manure, bacterial, fungal, viral or parasitic organisms; and it can cause a severe necrotizing gastroenteritis or GI blockage. It DOES NOT correct any mineral deficiencies and DOES NOT aid digestion. It will kill your bird.
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
If he is twitching, it could be from calcium deficiency. He will need injections and a correct diet. It could easily be from neurological damage from heavy metals in the soil and/or other contaminants. At minimum he should be on a high fiber (leafy greens) and pellet diet and lactulose to remove dirt from the GI. He may also need treatment for any toxins and infections.
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
Can you tell me more about the bird?​How long has this been going on?How long have you had him?Where is he from?Any accidents or trauma?Interactions with other birds/pets/children/guests?What is the usual diet? has it changed recently?Has the bird gotten into anything? Chewed electrical wires?
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
If you feel comfortable with it, examine the bird thoroughly, using gentle restraint via washcloth or hand towel: do not restrict the chest or hold around the body. Check the eyes, nostrils, mouth and beak if possible, having a good look in there for mucus, redness, masses or anything else unusual. Palpate the tummy for pain, fluid, lumps or anything else (eggs, if female or unknown). Check all the joints for swelling, pain, and mobility. The feathers should be parted to view the skin, muscles and skeleton below; this can be done using a q-tip with isopropyl alcohol or KY gel. Look for bruising, lacerations, injured feathers.
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
I know it is expensive, but you may not have many home options, because the first thing you need a vet for is to find out what is going on. Treatment is only as good as the diagnosis. If you call around, you may find a vet to work within your means. I really must stress that you need a bird-experienced person, and not just a vet who advertises that they care for birds. You need to take your bird to see an avian-experienced veterinarian ASAP for complete examination, diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Check
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 2 years ago.
If this were my patient, and money no object, I would start with complete fecal analysis and direct smear, stained with Sedi-stain and unstained for multiple parasites, fungi, spirals; direct smear stained with Sedi-stain and unstained of the oral cavity; bacterial culture and sensitivity of the feces and choana. Depending on the case I might do a fungal culture. Routine blood work is necessary to rule out other issues. There are MANY DNA/RNA tests for bird diseases. Ultrasound is often more informative than radiographs and does not require anesthesia (ask your vet about this option). Generally I start them out on medications as indicated by the tests.