Parrot Parrot

Boo Grown Up: A Special-Needs Bird Survives the Odds

special needs lovebird

Boo Boo Grown Up: A Real Survivor!

While treating Boo-Boo I became very particular about his diet. I wanted him to have the most simple yet nutritious diet possible, so I avoided empty calories and stuck to a basic unflavored, unscented pellet (Roudybush minis), a simple small hookbill seed mix, and vegetables. It was this simple diet that threw light on the cause of Boo’s seizures. I rarely gave him millet. I worried about any type of food that might carry trace amounts of mold or the like, and while I had never had an issue with my lots of millet, I didn’t want to risk it. One day I gave him a little branch as a treat. About an hour later, Boo had his first seizure in weeks. I still didn’t put two and two together. I felt disheartened: all the special treatment of this sweet little bird was to no avail. But then the seizures stopped again. He improved, finished growing, and seemed like a relatively “normal” lovebird.

Boo the special needs lovebird

Boo continued to like resting flat in my hand

As a treat, I gave him a sprig of millet many months later. Again, within an hour or so, Boo had a seizure. It suddenly struck me: this bird is allergic to millet! It seemed ridiculous at first, but it made perfect sense. I decided to eliminate it from the diet. Boo never had a seizure again…almost. I switched seed mixes one month because my usual mix was unavailable. Boo had a seizure the day after I gave this new mix. I checked the ingredients and realized that unlike my usual seed mix, this one had bits of millet in it. It seemed to confirm my suspicions. From then on Boo was limited to a very restricted diet. It has been well over a year since Boo had a seizure.

Here’s a video of Boo Boo playing ball – he really was quite a character!

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My aviary assistant at the time, a young lady who took wonderful care of my birds, fell in love with Boo-Boo. She knew I hoped to find him a good home where he could get daily attention. The number of birds I have precluded me from spending as much time with him as he deserved. Because of his special needs, I wanted to make sure the person who adopted Boo understood the seriousness of his condition. Kristy understood this and said she wanted to adopt him. We waited a few more months to make sure the seizures did not recur. Kristy has since moved away to Georgia with Boo and I get reports from her on his antics.

He’s an extremely sweet and loving bird. He doesn’t have the energy of most lovebirds and likes to crouch down in a hand to sleep. He sometimes wears himself out playing and flitting about so it is important that he not be overstimulated. He loves to cuddle in his Happy Hut. He has a very “odd” personality,┬ámore dog-like than bird-like. He even played a game where he would chase a little ball (I have a link to a movie of this below).

Boo sleeps in his hut

I normally don't like Happy Huts because some parrots eat the fur, but Boo needed the soft area to sleep flat, and he never chewed on it

Some people might think it is impossible for a bird to be allergic to millet. The only thing I can say is this really seemed to be the problem. Humans are allergic to many foods, so why not birds? Elimination of it from his diet resolved the problem. I know the millet itself was not bad since it was served to well over 70 other birds with no ill effects.

I am relieved that little Boo made it to adulthood and found himself a loving mom who understands his special needs.

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