When Environmental Accidents Stress A Pet Bird To The Breaking Point
Blue and yellow macaw ara parrot with a huge beak with plucked feathers on the chest on jungle background

When Environmental Accidents Stress A Pet Bird To The Breaking Point

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

A couple of weeks ago we talked about “You Are Sick With No Caique Caregiver – Now What?

In this follow-up thread we learn that “yes, it can always be worse.”

Hello Catherine,

I had written to you several weeks ago pertaining to the safety of microwaveable popcorn.

Two weeks ago, this coming Monday, I had kidney surgery and returned to my apartment door being busted into (door locks forcibly opened). 

File under “it can always get worse”

There was a flood in my kitchen and living room carpet caused by the tenant above’s boiler bursting.

Seymour’s cage is right inside the door and I feel that she was traumatized by the entire ordeal. 

She seemed to be different…hyperactive, restless and not coming on my finger right away as if she was petrified of me.

She was very quiet over the next few days and could not sleep…very restless in her cage. 

I cuddled with her as much as possible to assure her that everything was OK and I felt that she was responding, but on Saturday morning at 12:30 AM, we were both sleeping and she let out this very shrill LOUD screech.

I immediately checked on her and she was lying on her stomach on the right rear side of her cage (her usual sleeping position), but when I called to her for about a full minute…she did not respond and just laid there, motionless. 

I became hysterical, thinking she had died and gone upstairs to my neighbor to ask him to come down and by the time we returned to my bedroom, she had her cute little face up against her cage door.

She was up on her feet and I just picked her up and cuddled her.

I took her to my avian vet the next day and he said that she looked great. 

She had been playing…climbing all over her jungle gym and playing with her foot toys, but I still wanted this looked into.

She does get frightened when we go to the vet so he just did a visual checkup…checked her chest, wings, etc, but we could not get her on the scale.

Bottom line…he feels that according to my description of how things happened…she had a stress seizure. 

It could be a one-off and then I asked him for the worst-case scenario and he said “a tumor”.

But, he right away said that he is not saying that at all.

Ever since this stressful incident occurred and the commotion that ensued with the cleanup, Seymour has been moved to my bedroom. 

The super had Stanley Steemer come out to treat the carpet and do a water extraction…tons of water.

I was very concerned about the chemicals they used and was assured they were pet-safe, but that might apply more to dogs and cats because they don’t have as sensitive respiratory systems as birds do. 

I am having a district manager for Stanley Steemer to come out on Tuesday and do a check on the safety of the chemicals used. In the meantime, I just want my Seymour back to being her old happy self.

Do you think time will help?

Also, making completely sure that the room’s air and carpeting are OK for her to walk on. 

The change in the environment may also be freaking her out.

What do you think about all that I have told you?

Do you think that she can have a full recovery and will it ever be completely safe to return her to my kitchen, living room area?

I appreciate and respect your opinion.



P.S. Do you take Popcorn to the vet for an annual wellness checkup?



Hi Susan Mitch here

What an absolute nightmare for both you and Seymour –

I am certain there are actions you can take against your landlord for his negligence but generally speaking – you are correct, “pet-friendly” is not necessarily “bird-friendly”.

There’s nothing you can really tell about what’s going on with the bird without a full blood workup which is not going to be “cheap” ($100 – $200 plus) something you might have a conversation about with Stanley Steemer.

Your vet is probably right about the seizure I would watch the bird closely.

It is opaque to me how your vet can talk about a possible tumor without an x-ray or something that he felt during the physical exam.

Eventually she will get over it – with respect to Popcorn going to the vet annually – we’re pretty sure she does, in fact, have a tumor because we ended up going to the vet literally 12 weeks in a row – January February and March to get fluids to drain from her abdomen due to a condition called Ascites.

She now has some small protrusion coming from her abdomen but neither the veterinarian nor I can confirm its origin.

Sharing your pain is clear we both feel that having our birds alive for one more day is a gift

Hi Mitch,

Thank you so much for your reply to my message.

 Yes, this was indeed a nightmare.

Seymour was just so traumatized by the entire ordeal and is still having difficulty sleeping. 

When it is time for Seymour to go to sleep, she is extremely restless.

This was not the case prior to this all happening which is why I am so concerned.  

I have a great avian vet who told me to monitor her closely as he did not want her to become more frightened when he saw her a week ago this past Monday. 

My vet said that if she had another seizure we would then run some blood tests, etc.

I am sorry that I wasn’t clear in my message.

My vet did not say that Seymour had a tumor. 

I asked him what the worst-case scenario was for causing a seizure and he then said “a tumor”, but he made it perfectly clear that he was not saying that is by any means what may have caused Seymour’s seizure. 

Sorry that I had given you the wrong impression.

In the meantime, I have been spending as much quality time with Seymour as I can each day when I get home from work. 

She comes out of her cage and goes right to her jungle gym.

She has been enjoying ripping the bark off of the tree-like fixtures as she loves to chew.

I have her cage covered with towels at night when it is time for her to go to sleep and the sides of her cage are covered with the towels when I leave for work and she is placed back in her cage. 

She has torn sections of the towels that she had never done before.

Could this be her frustration coming out as aggression with tearing into the towels?

The District Manager for Stanley Steemer will be coming to my home to assess the safety of the carpet that was treated.  

At least that is what I was told.

I need to know that it is completely safe before I bring her back out into my kitchen/living room area.  

I know that she misses her usual play area…the kitchen counter and faucet area as she is always trying to walk towards the bedroom door leading out to the living room. 

The reason I asked about Popcorn having annual visits to the vet is that I was wondering if I should take Seymour in for a checkup every year. 

I am so sorry to hear that Popcorn has a tumor and needs to have her abdomen drained due to Ascites.

Going to the vet 12 weeks in a row must have been very expensive. 

Prior to my cockatiel Petey passing away from a heart attack, I had to take him to the vet 5 weeks in a row when he began to show signs that something wasn’t right and know how costly that can get.

I hope that Popcorn and Seymour will be with us for a long time to come. 

Let’s try to keep positive thoughts and hope for the best.

It has been a pleasure writing to you.  I have been enjoying your weekly newsletter 😊

Kind Regards,


Hi Susan

I guess I’m surprised that there is no mention of an x-ray – the first time we brought Popcorn in for this issue an x-ray correctly indicated that her gizzard had literally shifted position due to the mass.

I can see where Stanley Steemer – could be a problem – if he gives you any sort of blowback on the “safety” of chemicals – simply request all of the MSDS sheets of all the chemicals (material safety data sheet) and reach out to Erik at Mango pet – tell them you are a customer of ours and could you forward the MSDS sheets. 

Erik has a degree in chemical engineering and makes chemicals for birds – he would be my go-to source for information here.

We advocate an annual checkup for birds as it’s easier to stave off problems before they occur – I lost track of the total expense of Popcorn’s veterinary visits because of didn’t think it would go on for so long but it was somewhere between $2000 and $3000.

The towel thing sounds like brooding activity – is she doing anything with the towel scraps?


Hi Mitch,

My vet, Dr. Jeffrey Krasnoff, did more if a visual checkup as well as feeling her chest and spreading her wings because she was just too frightened and he didn’t want to traumatize her any further. 

He said that “Seymour looks great” which made me feel good.

She has been very playful and vocal, but when it came time to put her in her cage for bedtime, that’s when she got extremely restless.

That had never been an issue before and she has always been a very sound sleeper.

The night that I thought she died, she hadn’t slept for a few nights and seemed on high alert. 

Her sleeping position is on her belly on the rear right side of her cage.

Those first few nights she was on the GOP right side perch, completely wide-eyed whenever I checked up on her.  

Petey (my cockatiel) died while letting out a very LOUD screech and Seymour did the exact same thing. 

I thought that maybe she had a bad nightmare (like a night fright) and was just soooo exhausted that she didn’t respond to my calling her and my vet said that Caiques don’t have night frights and they are light sleepers and will respond immediately when called. 

He felt that it was more likely that she had a stress seizure and it may have been a ‘one off’ isolated incident.  He just said to monitor her.

As I said, her daily behavior is normal…it’s just getting her go sleep peacefully has been difficult. 


If I take her out of her cage and cuddle with her…she will close her eyes and sleep a little, but I don’t hear that purring snore she has when she is having a sound sleep.

The Stanley Steemer District Manager was just here.  He seemed to be a very nice, down-to-earth kind of guy. 

He grew up a few blocks from where I now live.

He mentioned the MSDS sheet (thank you for mentioning that very important sheet) and asked me to call to request it. 

He said that I need to keep in mind that the chemicals are watered down by a ratio of 50:1. 



He said that it is safe for babies to roll around on the carpet and that after a cleaning the carpet is cleaner than it was before because there is a removal of any bacteria that had been on the carpet. 

He is going to have the carpet cleaned again and deodorized again…so two separate treatments…and then 24 hours later, I can bring Seymour back into my living room area.

He said that in the 26 years that he has been with Stanley Steemer, this stuff is allergy-free…just like the detergent DREFT used for babies.

 He said that he has never heard of a cat, dog or bird (parrots included) that ever died after these treatments. He could tell that I was very concerned and said that once I view the MSDS Sheet, he was absolutely sure that I will feel more confident.

Thank you so much for Eric’s information, I will be sure to e-mail to ask if it would be OK to forward the MSDS sheets for his review. 

I can’t thank you enough, Mitch, for allowing me to reach out to both you and Catherine.

You are both so very kind as to help me.

Once I get the MSDS sheets, I will forward them to Eric and will be sure to let you know what he says.

 In the meantime, I am going to keep Seymour out of the living room area until this is completely resolved.


I will forward you some pics of Dino, my first pied cockatiel (had him for 14 years) and then I got Petey (had him for 4 years) and then I got My White Bellied Caique, Seymour 😊

A Million Thanks,



P.S.  No, Seymour isn’t doing anything with the towel scraps…just shredding them into fine pieces of thread.


So I’ve been doing some research, Susan –  

I think Seymour had a respiratory episode – not a seizure looking at the chemicals that leaked out of your neighbor’s boiler:

“Common feedwater contaminants that can from boiler deposits include calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, aluminum, silica, and (to a lesser extent) silt and oil.

Most deposits can be classified as one of two types – scale that crystallized directly onto tube surfaces and sludge deposits that precipitated elsewhere and were transported to the metal surface by the flowing water.

Scale is formed by salts that have limited solubility but are not totally insoluble in the boiler water.

These salts reach the deposit site in a soluble form and precipitate when concentrated by evaporation.

The precipitates formed usually have a fairly homogeneous composition and crystal structure.

Seymour is surely traumatized.

I see she’s in good veterinary hands.

I think it would be appropriate to ask your landlord to reimburse you for veterinary fees. IMHO. 

My advice about the second carpet cleaning would be to remove Seymour from the home for 48 to 72 hours making sure fans are helping dry the chemical.

If Seymour forages on the ground in that area I would cover it with an area rug – they may tell you Dreft is fine for babies, dogs, and cats but I would not allow this chemical near any bird based upon this list of ingredients I found topped by a warning of potential asthma and respiratory complications – you can find the complete list here.


Hi MItch,

Thank you so much for passing this info along to me.


I really appreciate it.

I am an Adaptive PE Teacher and work in a private HS so I get a prep period (a free 45-min period to do preparatory work) each day and can get the chance to get on my iPad. 

Some days, I have two preps.

Yesterday was the first time I am feeling better without the hacking cough I had for the past two weeks since they treated the carpet. 

Despite what the District Manager said I do not trust the chemicals that they are using and at this point in time, I don’t want to hand Seymour over to a complete stranger for a few days. 

I do not have any family, relatives or real friends where I live.

It will set her back and frighten her all over again to leave her with a complete stranger.

I will open the windows in the living room area and air out my apartment the best I can over the next few days. 

The weather after Friday (rainy all day) is supposed to be warmer and sunny.

The more these chemicals build up in my carpet, the worse it will get for Seymour to have the carpet retreated.

I also have a sensitivity to fragrances which affect me.

Also, I don’t want to be coughing anymore. 

I am thinking of purchasing a small area rug to throw on top of the treated area.

I am also contemplating just having that section of carpet replaced, but the landlord already told me that this will be on my dime.

Seymour has been kept out of the room where the carpet was treated although I do realize that the air spreads throughout the apartment.

I have done the best I can to shield her from it short of removing her from the premises completely.

While I was picking up some things in my kitchen that were soaking wet, some of the boiler water was collected in a plastic bag and it was clear. 

I am mentioning this because the water was not dirty and black.

I have to find out if it was the water tank OR the boiler that leaked.

I thought that the tenant above said that it was the boiler, but he seemed very confused when he relayed to me what had happened. 

It is difficult to understand what he says sometimes because he often has difficulty expressing himself.



Right now, whenever I hold and cuddle Seymour, her breathing is completely silent. 

I don’t detect anything abnormal with her breathing, thank God. I just want it to continue that way.

Seymour slept a little better last night, but she was not sleeping in her usual spot…at the right rear side of her cage on her belly. 

She was standing up all night on the front left side of her cage, cramped by her water cup.

I know this because that’s where she was when I turned the lights out.  

She was directly below the cup…squished in.

I don’t know why she is behaving this bizarre way in her cage. 

In the 3 years that I have had her, I never found her at the very front of her cage in the morning. 

I just pray that she will come around and be herself again very soon.

I hope that she can put this whole traumatic experience behind her although I know that birds have great memories.

I will keep you posted, Mitch.

Thanks for everything,



P.S.  I do not plan on bringing her back into the living room for a few more weeks until I can get that musty smell completely gone.

You’re very welcome, Mitch.  I trust Dr. Krasnoff. Many people I know use him for their pets.

I took Seymour for a 20-min walk when I got home after work this afternoon. 

She is usually very friendly when children or people approach her acrylic travel carrier. 

She would even allow them to touch her beak or feet.

Today, if anyone came near her commenting how cute she was, she just climbed to the other side of her carrier. 

This is so unlike her.

It made me feel sad that she seemed to be afraid.

She did keep looking up at me though as I was walking and talking to her. I guess it’s going to take a lot of time for her to get over her feelings of apprehension if anyone strange comes near her.

I will keep you posted. 

Thanks for the time you spent researching and gathering the info you sent to me earlier today.  I hope that Seymour has a better night’s sleep tonight.

Have a great night!


Keep up the socializing – she’ll come around



I will Mitch, thanks. 

I talk to Seymour all the time and am very tactile with her.  I just hope that she returns back to being her happy self very soon.

I will keep in touch to let you know how she’s doing. 

We love our pets so much and when something isn’t right with them, things aren’t right with us ☹️

We worry so much about them because they rely on us to take care of them and protect them. 

I have kept the same routine…her meals are always on schedule so she will feel safe and comfortable.

Be well.

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