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Scroll back to 1995. I acquired a baby cockatiel, when a friend of the family, who also bred tiels (and has since retired, to my relief) told my aunt that she had a tiel I could have. I went to go visit, and the breeder tosses a little grey baby hen at me, and I realized that the bird basically has no feet. Rodents had eaten all her toes, and she couldn't perch. But she was sweet and obviously wanted to be with people, and I knew her fate if I left her. So Merlot came into my life.

Over the next couple of years, Merlot had two clutches of babies, before I decided I couldn't handle the stress of finding homes for them. She then retired with her mate, Beaujolais, and several of their babies, into an indoor aviary I had built for them.

In 1999, I was offered a job that required that I leave for Florida and train for almost six months. A good friend of mine offered to take Merlot and her brood in, and he had an outside aviary custom-built for them. When I returned, he had fallen in love with the sound of tiels outside his window, and I saw that she loved being outside, so I let her stay there.

Beaujolais eventually passed away, and Merlot didn't want to take on a new partner, so she became the matriarch of the flock, but never lost her affection for people.

Fast forward to about three months ago. My friend found Merlot on the floor of the aviary. He took her to my avian vet, who informed him that Merlot was an old bird who had some significant arthitis in her legs, partly due to age and partly due to Merlot having to bear weight on sections of her legs that weren't meant to be used that way (because of her foot damage). My friend built in a bunch of ramps, so Merlot could navigate, and all seemed well.

Until last week, while I was pet-sitting. Twice, I found Merlot on the floor of the aviary, unable to get back up to her food dishes. My friend found her there again upon his return, and we decided that Merlot needed more one-on-one attention and needed to be out of the cold.

So last night, Merlot, my 16 year old tiel, came back home at last. I have a large flight cage set up with towels on the floor and very low perches, (because she falls off), and already, she has perked up and is eating more. I am having my vet come out this week to prescribe arthritis meds (probably aspirin, but I don't know the dosage).
 

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MH, you are a true angel. Welcome back home Merlot. Wishing you many pain free years and sending love across the miles.
 

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I'm an extreme parrot lover and share my life with five, so I loved your story. I love cockatiels, too; although I don't have any of my own. Congrats on bringing your baby home. I hope she lives a long, long, happy life. Please keep us updated.
 
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What a sweet story. I'm glad she is back in your life. I hope she won't be too lonely without the flock she was accustomed too. Will you be getting a few more now you are back home?
 
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:)
Yay! I'm glad she's back where she belongs. Already she's doing better. I'm smiling.
 
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Shes a beautiful bird, she will do better now shes home.
 
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Reading your story gave me a nice warm start to my day, thank you. Wishing you and Merlot good health and many more happy years together. :heartsm:
 
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I am so happy she is where she belongs. May she live a long and wonderful life! :)
 
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Mad hen u are an angel... So many would have give up on that sweet creature.. I know she will be blessed by being with u... Darn it not suppose to cry...kleenex anyone sob
 

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We had a good long head-scritching session today (hers, not mine). I think just being in a warmer environment is doing wonders for the arthritis. I still want to set up a warmer area - probably just a pet warmer under the towel. I'd love to give her a thermal perch, but I don't think she could stay on it. Vet appointment on Monday afternoon, and I am hoping there is something I can give Merlot to help with the pain she must be in. Once the arthritis symptoms are under control, I think she'll eat more and gain back some of that weight. She feels more like a budgie than a tiel right now! :(
 

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Welcome home Merlot! She will only get better under your love and care!
 
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How did the vet home visit go?
 
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Vet confirmed it was arthritis (apparently, a lot of older birds get gout, and you can't use traditional pain meds because of kidney issues when they have gout), and said Merlot also has some pressure sores from when she was perching on wood in the aviary. I had already moved her onto towels and towel-covered "decks", so the vet thinks the pressure sores will heal. Very limited movement in her "ankle" on one leg; however, the other leg is still pretty functional.

Merlot was already perching again and eating well after being brought in out of the cold and given some soft footing. She had actually gained a couple of grams from the last time she was weighed (in March) and was very perky. She is such a sweet bird, just loves to be held and have her head massaged. :) The whole time the vet and I were discussing treatment, the vet was holding Merlot cupped to her and absent-mindedly scratching Merlot's head, and Merlot was just chirruping with happiness.

We added aspirin into her water to help keep the discomfort down, so I am hoping to see even more improvement in a few days. I tasted the water, and I couldn't taste the aspirin, so hopefully, she'll drink enough to make a difference.
 

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I'm glad you got her back. I had a female cockatiel once and she was one of the best, most affectionate, entertaining pets (read "friends") I ever had. She was a sweetheart and no mistake. I'm sure Merlot is too. She sounds like a dear.
 
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