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Thread: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

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    Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    This morning I was sitting at the kitchen table and my baby cockatiel, Cookie, was sitting in her cage by my side. All of a sudden she started flapping her wings and fell to the bottom of her cage and her wings kept flapping for about 15 seconds or so, uncontrollably. She stopped and was acting normal again, like nothing happened. Is this normal for a baby bird to be flapping its wings uncontrollable like that? It made me so nervous I had to ask

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    How old is your baby cockatiel? I can fully understand how frightened you were when that happened. Generally, cockatiels will flap their wings because they are happy and content, but they should not fall from the perch, end up on the cage bottom, and keep flapping uncontrollably. I would suggest you find an Avian Vet or even a regular Vet in your area, and take her in for an evaluation and checkup. What kind of diet does she eat? Does she eat seeds, pellets, or both? And do you feed her any other foods or green veggies? Does she drink plenty of water? Cockatiels can hide their illnesses very cleverly, and in my view, for piece of mind for you and the baby tiel, I would make the appointment to see a Vet.

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    Ellen, thank you for replying. Cookie is about 8 weeks old. I had her on a diet of 80% pellets and 20% seed. I know she used to eat the seeds first but I don't really remember seeing her chomping on a pellet maybe once. Her droppings were on the dark side, very dark so I've been thinking maybe she's not getting enough nourishment so I changed her diet from pellets to a mixed seed mixture that has less pellets and more seeds and she seems to like this very much, she was chowing down on them for a long time. She drinks water several times a day. I have only had Cookie for 2 1/2 weeks and I tried giving her a taste of oatmeal and some rice but she won't touch it. I'm trying to get her to eat table food but so far, she won't eat it.

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    Baby cockatiels have a lot of energy and enjoy flying. So it's possible that she just wanted some exercise, unless she was showing signs of being impaired like falling over or twisting into an odd position.

    It was very wise of you to back off on the diet change and give her food that she recognizes. If she was a handfed baby, try holding food in your hand for her to eat. She might accept new foods more easily this way, since this is sort of like a parent bird showing the babies what they can eat. There are more tips on encouraging a bird to eat new foods at http://www.littlefeatheredbuddies.co...onversion.html This is the best age to teach a bird to eat new foods, they're less accepting when they're older.

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    My tiel does what some call "flappies" - which is when they stand in one spot and flap and flap and flap but don't go anywhere. It's exercise. But, sometimes some of them can get a little ... over zealous on their flapping. A few times my tiel has flapped so hard he "took off" a bit and surprised himself and fell (happened when he was clipped, since he couldn't fly). It's not normal for them to keep flapping around once they fall though. It's possible something spooked her, which becomes my tiel flapping/flailing around uncontrollably until he calms down, then he goes back to normal (normally happens at night called a "night fright" but sometimes can happen during the day if something scary happens). Other possibilities are medical issues, which some can be serious. So, keep an eye out for any symptoms of illness. If she is a new addition, a well bird checkup is never a bad idea so your vet can get a baseline for her. It's hard for us to guess at what caused it, without seeing her body language.

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    Sometimes my birds will keep flapping after losing their grip on whatever they were holding on to just for fun, without actually trying to fly. But it's also possible for birds to have seizures and flap during the seizure, which usually looks very abnormal. The more normal she looked during the flapping, the more likely it was that it isn't a medical problem. But if you see symptoms of seizures, get to a vet quick. Here are some links about seizures:
    http://www.avianweb.com/seizures.html
    http://www.mickaboo.org/newsletter/jan12/art6.2.html
    http://www.birdchannel.com/Diagnosti...ndition_Id=156

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    Hi, Andrea, I think you made a good decision to change her from an all pellet diet. Personally, I am not a fan of pellets that are man made and have corn and/or soy beans in them. Many pellets out there these days have a great percentage of both corn and soy, and then a few additives added into the mix. Recently, one of our members here shared about a pellet she had heard about that is called TOPS. This particular pellet does not have any soy or corn in it. And, IF I were to feed pellets, I might try something like this because it is organic, and made of natural foods, not man made foods. Personally, I feed my budgie and tiel only seeds, because I have read some very heartbreaking stories about people who have their tiels on pellets. From what I've read, pellets require that a bird get LOTS of water because they can dehydrate a bird. and further, giving just straight pellets with no seed, in my view is not a good diet either. If you continue on with the pellets, I would consider only putting a few pellets in the seed mix. Deanna, the lady who spoke about TOPS pellets shared that she used to give her lovebird the pellets but only in a little jar lid, and let him eat a few. I think that was a good idea. Also, I have just discovered an awesome seed mix called Volkman Avian Science for tiels. Deanna (who I just spoke of) recommended this seed to me. My birds have been eating it for about 10 days, and they absolutely love it. It is a wonderful mix, and Sunny and Muffin are always in their food cup chowing it down. I can already notice that they have a very bright coloring in their feathers now. I bought mine off Amazon. You might wish to check out this seed mix and its ingredients. There are no additives or fillers in this seed, nor any pellets.

    I did think about seizures when you wrote your post, but was waiting to get more information that I requested from you. I still lean on the side of taking your baby to the Vet, because in my view, when a bird flaps like yours did, and ended up falling to the cage floor, that is a red flag.

    Your baby was very young to bring home. Generally, breeders and even pet shops don't release any of their young birds until they are about 12 weeks old. Here is a website you can access and get lots of information about good foods and "no no" foods to feed tiels. The name is: Cockatiel Cottage. My budgie and cockatiel love grapenuts dry cereal and also cherrios. A few of those might give your tiel a little taste of new foods. I have found that tiels are not into fruit very much at all, but they do love fresh veggies. I feed fresh cilantro, red leaf lettuce, chopped up broccoli, and even chopped up carrots. You also can feed cooked sweet potato, feeding it warm and not hot of course. I also have found that tiels are not too crazy about "soft foods", so dry foods work better. Another idea is to get a jar of "dehydrated vegetables", and try putting a few in the food cup, or on a plate on the cage floor with the fresh veggies. And being so young, your baby may like millet. You can buy millet sprigs, that can be hung in the cage, or broken in pieces for feeding. It will probably take awhile for your little baby to learn to eat the different foods I have mentioned, but just keep trying different ones, and don't give up. I have found that the mix of veggies, and the seed is a great combination for my birds, and I also feed whole wheat bread pieces. Plenty of water is important as well. Another one of our members who highly recommends bean sprouting is Clive. (Clawnz) Hopefully he will give you some of his thoughts about sprouting as well as general advice on cockatiel care.

    In my view, it is always a good idea to have a baby tiel checked out by an Avian Vet if possible, and if there isn't one in your area, then a regular Vet will be proper. Once they do an evaluation to be sure your baby is healthy, then you have established a patient/Vet relationship in case of emergencies. If I were you, and I had a little tiel that had this behavior, I would want a Vet check!
    Last edited by maxollie; 01-19-2014 at 11:43 AM.

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    TOPS pellets are a good brand, but unlike most major pellet brands they are NOT designed to be nutritionally complete. So don't expect them to provide trace nutrients that may otherwise be missing from your bird's diet. No pellet can truly be nutritionally complete of course, but most brands make the attempt. TOPS has a different goal and their pellets reflect that.

    Diet-based changes in feather color occur when the bird molts and gets new feathers in. Existing feathers are inert, they are not made of living cells so they don't absorb nutrients or excrete waste like living cells do. So an improved diet can't change the quality of existing feathers. It CAN improve the quality of new feathers that were made from the better materials provided by the improved diet.

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    I cannot see how any pellet that is man made, and having mostly corn and soybeans can be part of any bird diet that is complete, even if you put the pellets with the seeds. Here in the Midwest, corn and soybeans are planted on land that has been fertilized with chemicals, and then, after the seeds are planted, the seeds AND the land have pesticides put on them. And to top that off, many of the crops that grow here are also sprayed from the air with pesticides during the summer. I absolutely do not feel that corn or soybeans should be fed to domesticated birds, no matter what the species. Chemicals can kill people and animals. In the 21st century, there are more and more cases of cancer being diagnosed. Perhaps it is the food we eat that may be contributing to this terrible disease. As far as the ingredients in TOPS pellets, I cannot see one thing in that list that would not be nutritional for a bird. I certainly do not see any "corn or soybeans" or man made foods in the pellet Too many innocent and loving little birds are dying because of eating pellets. Avian Vets are pushing pellets now, just as doctors are pushing Vitamin D3 for their patients. Vitamin D3 is processed from the lanolin of sheep. Do I think that lanolin from sheep is ideal for me? No I do not.

    And as to the feather color changes from a diet that has been changed in birds, I certainly can see that the feathering in my birds is "brighter" than it was before they began eating Avian Science. I've read different posts over the years on forums where people testify to the fact a seed or pellet has improved the feathering of their birds, and many of them had the same opinion I did as to "when" they saw a difference in the feathering. It was not after they molted either.

    I know from visiting many of the forums, pellets are absolutely promoted for all birds now, especially by Avian Vets. One or two of the forums specifically suggest that pellets are the best food to feed birds. In the end, it is entirely up to the caregiver whether in fact to feed pellets or not to feed pellets. However, I stand firm on my opinion that TOPS pellets are nutritionally complete "when" fed with good seed, and other veggies and foods that every bird needs in its diet. And my birds not only LOVE Avian Science, I definitely can see a difference in their feather coloring.
    Last edited by maxollie; 01-19-2014 at 05:00 PM.

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    TOPS pellets are a good brand, but unlike most major pellet brands they are NOT designed to be nutritionally complete. So don't expect them to provide trace nutrients that may otherwise be missing from your bird's diet. No pellet can truly be nutritionally complete of course, but most brands make the attempt. TOPS has a different goal and their pellets reflect that.


    Could this be simply that they do not lie and are not trying to claim what is now become known about man made foods IE Pellets.
    Anybody can read the stupid claim on the back of Roudybush packets about their pellets being 100% all you need to feed.

    Diet-based changes in feather color occur when the bird molts and gets new feathers in. Existing feathers are inert, they are not made of living cells so they don't absorb nutrients or excrete waste like living cells do. So an improved diet can't change the quality of existing feathers. It CAN improve the quality of new feathers that were made from the better materials provided by the improved diet.

    I agree with this basic theory and understand what you are saying, but feel it is not a water tight case. As I have often noticed an improvement in colour and condition in a birds feathers, well before any feathers have been replaced. And even my vet has commented on just how much better a bird is looking after just being with me a few months.
    But I am talking about birds I have taken in. And none of these birds get any pellets at all as I refuse to feed man made products to any of them. Well except the Lorikeets. But even they will get other foods not just wet and dry Lori mix.
    Those changes are welfare based, as well as diet improvements.
    A happy healthy bird will look the part.
    R.I.P my little ones.

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    The "nutritionally complete" pellets add vitamins and minerals to their basic ingredients to get the balance of nutrients that's recommended for parrots. But the recommended balance is a shot in the dark to some extent. For one thing it's based more on poultry studies than on parrot studies. For another thing, different parrot species may not have the exact same nutritional needs. And individuals within a particular species will have different needs depending on their age, sex, activity level, breeding status etc. There's no way to precisely identify the perfect diet for one individual bird, let alone an entire family of birds with 300+ species in it. Pellets can help you get somewhere in the general vicinity of a well-balanced diet but it's not precise. It's very possible to achieve a well-balanced diet by offering only natural foods, but this takes more work because you have to be aware of the micronutrients that are relatively hard to find in natural foods and make sure you're offering a source. The Feeding Feathers yahoo group can help with this. http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/FeedingFeathers/info

    There are a variety of factors that can affect a bird's appearance. Like more frequent bathing, or maybe the bird is grooming itself better because it's in a happier, healthier environment. I know a hummingbird bander who considers parasites on a bird to be a possible indicator of poor health - she says healthy birds preen themselves better than unhealthy birds, apparently because unhealthy birds don't have as much energy for this activity. So a healthy bird does a better job of getting rid of parasites in the feathers. Like you said, a happy healthy bird will look the part. At this time of year the days are starting to get longer in the northern hemisphere, so better lighting in the room might even affect our perception.

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    BTW I think pellets are a good insurance policy to help make up for any holes that might exist in the diet, but I don't like the idea of making a bird eat an arbitrary fixed percentage of pellets. A forced high percentage of pellets might be bad for Outback birds in particular like budgies and cockatiels. They evolved to live in an arid habitat with rather sparse food supplies. I live in southern Arizona where we have a dramatic example of what can happen when desert dwellers switch to a rich diet that they aren't physically adapted to. The Tohono O'odham Indian tribe has the world's highest rate of adult-onset diabetes - 50%. Diabetes was unknown among them before the white man showed up and introduced them to the delicious but very rich Western diet. Tribal elders are trying to encourage the people to go back to their traditional diet as a solution to this health disaster. A diet of 80% pellets could be equally disastrous for Outback birds.

    My own preference is to teach birds to eat a variety of healthy foods including pellets, then let them choose the percentages they want cafeteria-style. All my cockatiels eat some of everything and the vet says they're in great shape and I should keep on doing what I'm doing. I've heard from several different sources that some vets think cockatiels do best on a diet of 30-50% pellets, and the 30% rate sounds pretty close to what my flock voluntarily chooses to eat.

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    Each of us has our own preferences, and can choose to take care of our birds accordingly. If you choose to listen to your Vet and feed pellets that is your own decision to make.

    I stand by my opinion that man made pellets with corn and soy are not good foods for domesticated birds, and I choose not to feed them to my birds. I share my thoughts with any person who might read my posts, because I know from experience how heart breaking it is to lose a little bird, no matter whether it be an illness from eating pellets, or some other illness that caused the bird to die. Cockatiels and other parrots who live in the wild, in my opinion, have a healthy diet from living in the wild, and eating berries, grasses, and other foods they forge for. And I doubt they ever have found a man made pellet for their daily nutrition.

    Please accept my apologies, Andrea, because your thread evolved into a discussion about pellets, when in fact you were asking about your little tiel wing flapping and falling to the bottom of the cage. Only you, as the caregiver of Cookie can and must decide what foods and seeds you choose to feed her. I hope you can take Cookie for an evaluation in regard to the scare you had with her.

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    I had her on a diet of 80% pellets and 20% seed. I know she used to eat the seeds first but I don't really remember seeing her chomping on a pellet maybe once. Her droppings were on the dark side, very dark so I've been thinking maybe she's not getting enough nourishment so I changed her diet from pellets to a mixed seed mixture that has less pellets and more seeds and she seems to like this very much, she was chowing down on them for a long time.
    Diet was mentioned early in the discussion and the attempt at a diet conversion was creating a potential health risk so I think it's on topic to talk about pellets. The recommendation to make the diet 80% pellets basically comes from the pellet companies and has been picked up by a lot of vets, who don't get much education on diet and end up relying on what the pellet companies tell them. It's in the pellet companies' best interest to sell a quality product that makes your bird healthier, because they won't stay in business very long if they sell a product that kills birds at an early age. But it's also in their best interest to sell as many pellets as possible so they skew to the high side when they make their recommendations. Many vets have reported seeing an improvement in their patients' health as a result of eating pellets, but this doesn't mean that it's desirable for every bird to eat 80% pellets or that you can't get equally good results feeding a lesser amount of pellets or avoiding pellets completely and feeding a carefully selected balance of natural foods.

    The truth is that NO ONE knows what the perfect diet is, so we all have to evaluate the situation as best we can and make the decision that seems safest to us. Not everyone is going to come up with the same answer so there will always be a variety of opinions on the subject. There are some answers that have been proven wrong, like an all-seed diet or an all-pellet diet. But everything else is a grey area. We can't replicate our birds' natural diet, and anyway a wild bird has much greater energy needs than a pet so it wouldn't be appropriate to try for an exact duplication. But it's best to learn as much as we can about the wild diet anyway, because it gives us important clues about what type of diet is likely to be most suitable for our birds. No matter what we decide to feed, our birds will eat a lot of stuff that they won't find in the wild and they won't get a lot of foods that they WOULD find in the wild, and that's OK. The basic goal is to provide an appropriate nutrient balance, not to give them the exact same type of foods.

    P.S. Here's a study on the feeding habits of wild cockatiels in a grain-growing district: http://www.littlefeatheredbuddies.co...elecology.html Keep in mind that wild birds eat seed in all stages of development, from unripe 'milk stage' seed to hard dry mature seed. This gives them a different nutrient balance than what we can offer them in the seed department, since most of us have little or no access to unripe seed. The birds in the study had a very strong preference for unripe seed.
    Last edited by tielfan; 01-19-2014 at 10:03 PM.

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    Re: Cockatiel Wings Flapping

    I would propose that this subject be put on a separate thread, and we discuss it there. I simply mentioned TOPS pellets, and it evolved on a thread of a member that simply asked for help about her cockatiel's wings flapping.

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