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Thread: Budgie rubbing cere on perch - rubbed area different color - should I be worried?

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    Brand New Egg LBrand's Avatar
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    Question Budgie rubbing cere on perch - rubbed area different color - should I be worried?

    Hi all - thanks so much for this forum and sharing your wisdom with newbie bird owners like me!

    We have a sweet budgie addition to our family (just about a month ago) and I've noticed in the last day or so, that she's rubbing her face on the perch. Not her beak - which she's always done after eating, to knock off seed or the like. Rather, she's rubbing the cere area of her face. She'd done it a few times that I noticed and I took a pic to post for feedback, and I haven't seen her do it in the hour or so since.

    The thing that has me a bit worried is that the color in the area she's rubbed is different. It looks a bit blue.

    Pics are posted here:
    http://i1332.photobucket.com/albums/...ps287d4b86.jpg
    http://i1332.photobucket.com/albums/...ps1d50d8d7.jpg
    http://i1332.photobucket.com/albums/...ps28ea25b6.jpg

    Should I be concerned? She seems normal otherwise.

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    Re: Budgie rubbing cere on perch - rubbed area different color - should I be worried?

    I am not great with budgies but I wonder if maybe your girl is really a boy and his cere is changing colors. I think it is boys that have blue ceres and if your budgie is young it could be changing cere colors now. But then I always thought if they were young the blacks bars on their heads would be right up close to their cere and yours appears like it is older since its bars are back so far? Honestly I am just guessing and one of our budgie people can tell you for sure.

    I do know budgies get scaly beak but yours seem to have a healthy looking cere and beak so I would not think that was it all. Is it molting? Maybe it is getting tiny pieces of feather sheaths in its nose holes and it is rubbing it to try to get them out.
    Fly Free Boomer, we will forever love you.

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    Re: Budgie rubbing cere on perch - rubbed area different color - should I be worried?

    Hi, Lindsay! Welcome to the community! You have a beautiful little budgie! Awesome feathering and colors. Did you get your bird at a pet shop, or from a breeder? It looks to me like this budgie is older. It definitely is not a baby budgie. And to me, the cere looks like it is tan/brown, so that would signal a female. I am concerned though, because normally, I have not experienced budgies rubbing their ceres. I have had some that rubbed their whole face, as though to clean the face, but not just the cere. To me, the cere looks like it might be "sore" feeling. I am wondering if there is a problem with the nares (nostrils). Lately, here on the forum, we have had some owners who have had problems with their birds's nares. it seems that the cold winter is causing some birds to have very dry skin, as well as molting more feathers than usual, and having some issues of dander and dust, etc. getting into the nostrils. I would say, on the side of caution, and for peace of mind, to take your budgie to an Avian Vet and have her checked out. Avian Vets deal specifically with birds. If you cannot find one in your area than I would contact a regular Vet.

    All birds hide their illnesses very cleverly, and I sure would not want you to lose your little budgie. Another thought I have is that maybe your bugie is beginning to become "hormonal". Depending upon how old she is, that could be happening as well. Generally, when a female budgie goes hormonal, the cere changes color from light tan or ivory color to brown color. And it looks to me like hr cere has turned brown. I see just a very, very small area of light blue.

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    Re: Budgie rubbing cere on perch - rubbed area different color - should I be worried?

    Thanks boomer girl and maxollie for your responses!

    Boomer - funny, but that's exactly what I feared when I saw the blue... I didn't think she was young enough, but my daughter said... NO. She can't be a boy. lol

    Maxollie - We got her at a pet store - my daughter picked her out. I agree, she does have very pretty coloring - I love her bright cobalt spots and how the blue changes from a more cobalt shade at the neck down to aqua with teal on her tail feathers and wings. When the light is just right, her belly is iridescent. So pretty.

    My sweet daughter picked her out from a cage full of boys and decided that since the longest feathers on her tail looked a bit banged up, that the boys were picking on her and she needed to be rescued from them! She was worried because the parakeet book that we got said to make sure the bird you pick had nice feathers and looked all smooth and perfect, and to be sure that it is very active - our Jewel was hopping around lots when we first looked at her, but then was all nappy and we noticed the tail. She just couldn't bear the thought of leaving her to the boys... Sometimes I think that reading too much makes me a bit crazy about things. But I wanted to do the best I could for my girl and our sweet bird friend.

    After getting to know Jewel, though, I've decided that it's probably more that she thought that the best place to sit was with her tail sticking out of the cage, because that's what she does here - there are plenty of perch spots that allow her whole tail to stay inside, but that silly bird likes to be right near the back of the cage. Guess it makes her feel safer? She is a scaredy bird.

    Anyhow, back to the cere question - I've kept a close eye on her and haven't seen her rub once since I posted. Silly bird. I did, however, make sure to run the hallway humidifier a bit more so maybe it was either a new feather that was making her nuts or the dry air. I'll keep watching her to make sure there's no odd behavior, but she seems her usual silly self.

    BUT - If I did end up needing to take her to a vet, how does one travel with a bird in frigid Ohio winters and not end up making it sicker than if you'd just stayed home? It seems like it would be good info to know just in case. Her cage is pretty huge, so I'm not sure how I'd keep it warm even in the little bit of time it'd take to get it out to the van and in to the vet. Do people usually have small travel cages for vet trips & such?

    Thanks so much for your posts, again. And thanks in advance for your thoughts on traveling in the cold... brr.

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    Re: Budgie rubbing cere on perch - rubbed area different color - should I be worried?

    Just wanted to update - I've done loads of research and have been watching Jewel closely.

    One of the things that I found (can't remember where - that's the downfall of reading so many things in so many places) was that rubbing the head or cere area can be a sign of a respiratory issue - the sinuses are causing pain and the budgie doesn't know any other way to try to make it better.

    Also - last night, as we were sitting with her, I noticed her tail just barely going up and down in time with her breath - I thought I remembered reading something about that and looked it up. A "tail bob" is a sign of respiratory issue as well - so that settles it for me. Even if she is still hopping about, eating and such, I've seen more than enough signs - problem is, it's Sunday. No vets open till 8am Monday, so until then, I've read that keeping an area warm for the bird is helpful - I put a heating pad along the side and top of the area she loves to perch, so that she'll be able to use less energy keeping warm, and therefore have more energy to get better (or at least, not get sicker) while we wait for Monday - and then for whenever we can get in.

    She's been her active and chirpy self all morning until we left for church and all afternoon since we got back home. I videotaped her just now - she's feeling nappy and sitting puffed up and bobbing her tail again - maybe my experience can help someone not have to sit through an anxious weekend with a sick bird. I wish I'd just taken her when she rubbed her head, but hindsight's 20/20, right? http://youtu.be/O44ENHhJgLc Prayers appreciated!

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    Re: Budgie rubbing cere on perch - rubbed area different color - should I be worried?

    Went to the vet today - well that was an adventure! Luckily, it went well, but the drive in the snow was a treat...

    I called first thing this am hoping they'd get me in at some point today or tomorrow, and they said - can you get here this morning? So breakfast and such was a bit rushed as my 10-year-old and I rushed around getting the bird taken care of so she'd have a bit of seed and water before chasing her about the cage to get her in the box. I only had to try a few times to catch her with my trusty rag... going to be doing that a lot over the next seven days as we give her the baytril the vet prescribed.

    We got there with time to spare, and she did have a bit of a respiratory thing going on, but not too bad - she was plenty feisty while the vet and the tech were trying to do the exam.

    That's our excitement for the day. Off to try catching her again - time for meds before bed!

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    Re: Budgie rubbing cere on perch - rubbed area different color - should I be worried?

    Boy, this has been a long road. I didn't have a chance to keep this thread updated, but I'll try to give the Cliff's Notes version of the last month.

    The first vet visit got us a prescription for baytril with a diagnosis of respiratory illness. We did the baytril 2x a day for 7 days and within two days of stopping the meds, she was back to tail bobbing. Called the vet and they said to give the baytril for 7 more days. Midway through (I think... it all blurs together), we had a day where she was back to rubbing her face, and also opening her beak and stretching her neck to breathe (scary!) Of course, as soon as I got someone on the phone at the vet, she stopped doing that, but in any case, we went back in.

    After examining her, and listening to her breathing, the vet says she doesn't hear any respiratory issue, but maybe the face rubbing could be related to mites or something of that nature. She treated her topically with something on her throat area and sent us home with a different antibiotic (doxycycline) to take for 7 more days. When I asked the vet about the area on her cere that is losing the brown coating, she says that my "girl" is really a boy who is just hitting puberty.

    This raised a bit of a red flag for me then, and especially later as I looked it up - there are many folks online who reference their girls losing the brown coating on their cere as they come out of breeding condition, which seems the more likely explanation to me...

    Anyway, skip forward to today. Jewel has been done with the Doxy for about a week (I think) and for the last couple days, she's been puffier than normal. The room she's in is plenty warm - we're all freeze babies, so we let the room get up to about 74 with three bodies and computers running during the day, so it's not that she's cold. She also had cold feet - we've discovered that she'll do ANYTHING for food... this hand/finger shy budgie totally forgets her fear if you have seeds or millet in said hand/fingers... So I was able to feel her foot temp, and it was pretty chilly.

    SO, I called the other avian vet in the area - this one is a half hour from home in the opposite direction. They were able to get me in at 5 tonight and I was maybe just a little pushy in that I told the doc I didn't want any guesses, please find evidence and tell me what's wrong with my poor budgie.

    So he took a swab of her throat, and examined her all over, used a swab and a bit of alcohol, I think, and got the rest of the brown off her cere, and proceeded to tell me we have a boy bird, and he thinks the brown was residue from the respiratory infection that was stuck on "his" cere. sigh. BUT, he did look at the throat swab and say there was no bacteria and he thought that the reason for Jewel's distress is possibly yeast overgrowth in the gut due to the antibiotics. In the meantime, she provided him a fresh sample of droppings to look at under the microscope.

    He found only one type of bacteria there, and not one you'd generally find in feces, so he said he'd like to prescribe a very targeted antibiotic to get rid of the bacteria he found in the sample and also a probiotic to get some healthy flora going for her/him. Also, he recommended that I put 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar in 1 liter of water and offer that as drinking water for a bit just in case there's yeast in the belly.

    So with all that said, I feel better about our Jewel, and am hopeful that we're finally on the way to a healthy birdie, but I still think they're both a bit clueless about sex - some blue on the cere does not a boy make, right? Just look at the white around the nares.



    Also, I have to share a bit about our success in taming our pet store budgie - she'll come out the cage and sit on a perch, and even flies around the room and lands on the desk near us. She gets pretty brave as she decides to do whatever she does, but it's so funny to see her expression change mid-flight when she realizes she's coming that close to one of us, but she does it anyway. Huge progress from the bird who wouldn't leave the cage without being made to come out. All we did was give her the option - leaving the door open and playground outside with some goodies in it while we went about our day of school and work in the office. We've found she'll do ANYTHING for seeds, including sit on your hand or shoulder or head. So bribery is an option.

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    Re: Budgie rubbing cere on perch - rubbed area different color - should I be worried?

    Thank you for the update, Lindsay! I'm so sorry you have had this challenge with Jewel, but I admire you for getting a second opinion. And it appears that the second Vet seems to be educated well and has provided a good evaluation.

    It seems to me like more than likely, Jewel probably had the bacteria problem when you got her. I am so pleased you took her for an evaluation. One challenge we can have when we get our birds at pet shops is that we do not know the history of the parents, or even the breeder and do not know what the aviary or breeding place even looks like. It is sad that these little birds are sold to us, only to find they have some medical challenges. You really were right on top of Jewel and realized that rubbing her cere on the perch was not normal. I missed your post about taking her to the Vet the first time and have just now read it. Thankfully, Jewel has been able to tolerate all of the meds she has been given, and it sounds like she is doing much better. It also sounds like the second Vet did a good evaluation. I don't know why she would keep getting bacteria. Perhaps she did not get rid of it entirely the first time around. I think the apple cider vinegar and water mixture are a great idea. Vinegar is always considered "medicinal" and is good for animals and humans.

    I also am happy to read that even after having to haul her out in the cold, visiting the vets, etc. she has settled in and is tame and enjoying out of cage and enjoying you and your family.

    Do keep us posted at your convenience. As to whether Jewel is a boy or a girl, I would imagine the only real answer would be to do a DNA test. Either on-line (you can get the kit and do it yourself . . it just involves pulling a couple of feathers from her), or have the Vet do it. I do not know the cost!

    I'm sending you a big hug, Lindsay! You are doing a great job with Jewel!! Keep up the good work!

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