EDIT: Second tundra swan put down, severe case of botulism.

Discussion in 'Ornamental Fowl (Swans, etc.)' started by SilverPhoenix, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. SilverPhoenix

    SilverPhoenix Bantam Fanatic

    3,105
    12
    201
    Dec 15, 2009
    Penn Valley, CA
    EDIT: Go figure as soon as I post this, I got home and the tundra swan had passed away. Whatever was wrong with it was just too much, I suppose. Unfortunate, but I do feel honored that I got to care for such a majestic bird, and that it passed away in a peaceful place.

    First off, let me preface this with the fact that I am a licensed wildlife rehabber and therefore I have quite a few resources available (as in, I will likely take this bird to the vet, can get medications usually, and call other wildlife rehab groups for advice if needed). That said, I would love to get input from experienced swan people if possible! If anyone has suggestions of what to do to make this bird comfortable and treat its illness, I'm all ears. [​IMG] This is the first swan I've cared for and most of my wildlife group is new to swans as well.

    I have a wild juvenile tundra swan in my care currently, and I have had him or her since December 12th. It originally came in with a limp. The limp is now gone, but the bird still seems rather weak, isn't eating as well as I would like, and the stools are very watery and a bright shade of green. I'm thinking it could have chlamydia psittaci (one of my ducks originally had it and the symptoms seem similar), and if that is the case I thankfully know how to treat it. Though it would be nice to hear if anyone has any ideas of dosages for doxycycline or tetracycline so I can perhaps go and get some preemptively.

    Is there anything aside from flock raiser and scratch that I ought to offer the swan? It has green grass available to munch on if desired. Is there any way I can make the bird more comfortable in its current solitary state? I feel bad having it away from other swans, with them being social birds and all, but of course if what it has is contagious I'm not going to expose it to other birds.

    Anyway, swan care tips would be great. Or even just good wishes for the bird! I'll post pictures eventually, I need to get some good shots first. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2011
  2. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    I'm so sorry you lost it. Just like with most birds by the time it shows symptoms it's in a bad way. Consistent Green watery poo was probably from it's lack of eating. Vitamins and supportive care, check stool samples, etc....
     
  3. Dr. Todd

    Dr. Todd Chillin' With My Peeps

    295
    7
    108
    Nov 9, 2010
    Did you check for lead poisoning? Wild swans still pick up quite a bit of old lead shot out there. That would explain the bright green droppings and lethargy.

    In the future, try feeding the bird on the water. Chopped lettuce, submerged millet and corn, floating Mazuri waterfowl diets, etc. Doubtful a sick wild swan is going to readily eat chicken scratch dry and out of a dish.

    DT
     
  4. SilverPhoenix

    SilverPhoenix Bantam Fanatic

    3,105
    12
    201
    Dec 15, 2009
    Penn Valley, CA
    Yeah, I'm thinking lead poisoning is a definite possibility. Unfortunately the swan died just as I was about to get it to the vet for some diagnostic work. If it was lead poisoning, though, it's interesting that the bird was still able to stand, walk, and so on. The wild turkey I had in over the summer with lead poisoning could not stand up and did not have good control of its legs at all, but because it had ingested the lead instead of been shot, I was able to flush the lead out of its system and after that it rapidly started improving and was able to be released. It's just a little surprising that the turkey would have so much more severe symptoms and be fine ultimately, and that the swan would die while still being able to walk, flap its wings, and generally look fairly normal although the bird was certainly weak. The swan had the scratch and flock raiser available on the ground, as well as some in the water. I honestly think it was less the presentation of the food that was an issue, and more the fact that the bird did not feel well at all and was uninterested in eating. Now I think I should have force-fed it, but I was trying to avoid stressing it too much and its energy seemed pretty good up until it died. Masking the symptoms can sure be a killer with wildlife--I really thought the swan was going to hang in there a little longer so I could get it to the vet, get it on some meds, and so on, but alas that didn't happen. [​IMG]

    Usually I would have gotten the bird to a vet quickly, but unfortunately the vet who was working with our wildlife rehab group was recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrigs disease and retired suddenly as a result (very tragic--he is an incredibly sweet person and has done so much for our group), and so now we're trying to find another vet who is interested in helping us treat the wildlife and has at least some of the expertise to do so. This has been difficult, as most of the vets in the area are charging us for appointments (the previous vet would see the animals for free, we only had to pay for materials and tests) and they don't necessarily know enough about wildlife to diagnose the critters without expensive tests. Our budget is somewhat crunched as a result.

    Kind of just an unfortunate combination of things that lead up to the swan's death... As with any animal that dies while I'm caring for it, though, I have learned from the experience. Sad to lose such a majestic bird, though--I was pretty overconfident that the bird was going to pull through.
     
  5. Dr. Todd

    Dr. Todd Chillin' With My Peeps

    295
    7
    108
    Nov 9, 2010
    If the carcass isn't frozen yet, it would be interesting to see what a pathology report comes back with.

    DT
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2010
  6. elizabethbinary

    elizabethbinary Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 22, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    I would do a post-mortem. Mostly because I'm paranoid dead babies might be contagious. [​IMG] Sorry for your loss.
     
  7. SilverPhoenix

    SilverPhoenix Bantam Fanatic

    3,105
    12
    201
    Dec 15, 2009
    Penn Valley, CA
    We froze the carcass intentionally knowing that it wouldn't allow for farther testing, mostly because there was no fridge space for something as large as a swan. I wish I could know as well, but it just wasn't feasible currently. [​IMG] Waterfowl certainly do have internal parasites a lot of the time, and knowing that there was at least one thing wrong there were probably a number of other internal things attacking its system. It may be going off to UC Davis for taxidermy via a friend of one of my fellow rehabbers, who is also a biologist.

    I'll bet at least some of what it had was contagious, but that's why it was off in isolation, away from everyone else, and I was very careful about hygiene. I feel thankful that in all my years of rehabbing, I've never passed disease to any of my domestic birds through being very careful and following a number of procedures to prevent the spread of disease. And I've had avian pox, chlamydia psittaci, trichomoniasis gallinae, and lots of other fun things pass through my hands. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2010
  8. elizabethbinary

    elizabethbinary Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 22, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Yay I'm glad you're super careful. I am too - I am autoimmune so a lot of the nasties can effect me as well. I always get pretty cranky when people aren't preventitive between birds mostly because it doesn't only kill me flock, but can kill me. I've always got to be a little more careful with my stock because of it.

    Poor swan. I hope the taxadermy place does her justice. [​IMG]
     
  9. obsessedwithbirds

    obsessedwithbirds Out Of The Brooder

    19
    0
    22
    Nov 12, 2010
    East Lansing
    you can still often confirm lead poisoning after freezing the carcass. Simply unfreeze and look for lead pellets/sinkers in the crop of the bird. Doesn't sound like lead poisoning to me, though. That's just my 2 cents though:D
     
  10. Dr. Todd

    Dr. Todd Chillin' With My Peeps

    295
    7
    108
    Nov 9, 2010
    Obsession: You don't need to find lead pellets to have lead poisoning. The bird can grind up/absorb/pass lead and still have heavy/dangerous loads of it. It would be good to check the gizzard but just because there isn't lead in there doesn't mean much. Lead poisoning is still quite prevalent in swans, they have the long necks to really get into the mud where these old pellets can still be found. Even captive birds can pick up lead (or zinc) poisoning in their daily activities with stray wire clips, staples, screws, etc.
    Here's a recent article from my neck of the woods:
    http://www.vancouversun.com/technol...+poison+swans+along+border/4001810/story.html

    DT
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by