Thursday, December 23, 2010

One Foot Up?

Hey, I'm the first to love a good fairy tale... they offer perspective, and usually teach a life lesson. And, they end with 'happily ever after'!

The bird world has its share of tales, but I will refer to them as 'old bird tales'. They do not teach a valid lesson, end up passing along incorrect information, and potentially harm birds and their companions. They certainly may not end 'happily ever after'! Information is everything, and perpetuating false information is something that gets me riled up.

One of these old bird tales that reared its ugly head this past week on a bird forum is the "one foot up" rule.
"The way to know if your bird is healthy is if they sleep with one foot up and their head tucked back. If so, they are perfectly healthy; no worries. If not, they are very sick!"What? Really? Rubbish!!!

And silly me - I thought we looked for signs such as diarrhea, lethargy, nare discharge.... what was I thinking!

So then, how easy would that be (if true)? Instead of worrying about whether our birds are eating, drinking, their demeanor, their droppings.... skip all that - just watch them sleep! One foot up and head back - no worries... both feet on the perch and head forward.. hurry to the vet! Rubbish (oops... I'm repeating myself again.... I must stop that!)
Anyone who has had birds for any length of time knows that they are each unique, and as humans, they assume a variety of sleep positions. On the side of the enclosure... upside down... foot up, feet down, leaning forward, some even have been known to nap on their back, laying down or in their food bowl!

It is really dangerous for people to go around claiming that this is an accurate predictor of health. It could lull a companion into a false sense of security and change the focus away from other symptoms. On the flip side, someone with a bird that sleeps on both feet or in some non-conforming position could freak out for absolutely no reason.
So to be clear - birds sleep in a variety of ways.... and it is very individual to the bird. One night this way... and perhaps the next night a different way. Now if the bird is sleeping all the time, then that is a different symptom. But to simply look solely to the manner in which a bird sleeps as an accurate predictor of health is to miss the whole picture. Birds are individuals.So, as companions, we should spend our time observing the whole bird, recognizing what is 'normal' for our bird, accounting for individual differences, and watching diligently for symptoms of ill health.... during the daylight!

And they all lived happily ever after!



Marianne said...

My little green cheek, Kiwi, sleeps under the papers on the bottom of her cage.

louara said...

You are so right Robin. I remember those "How to take care of your budgie" books from the seventies. I read mine like it was the gospel and so much of the information was wrong. I remember my mother checking our budgie to make sure he lifted one leg up before going to sleep. Oy!
Marianne, that is too funny! I guess Kiwi likes her privacy when she sleeps lol.

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