A Creepy, Vicious … Lovebird?

Vampire bats and Tasmanian devils represent creatures of the animal kingdom with misleading names. Misnomers, if you will. Vampire bats evoke visions of transforming denizens of the dark, but they’re just cute furry mammals that like blood. Tasmanian devils are not evil, but rather carnivorous marsupials, distant relatives of the kangaroo.

Though at times entertaining and humorous, these misnomers can cause frustration for those misled by the confusing name. Such was the case with Mrs. Shelley and her cute little lovebird Quazi.

It was All Hallows Eve, and I was sitting at my desk thinking what a nice day I was having. After all, I have had harrowing experiences on Halloween. Suddenly our veterinary technician Joanne rushed in, urging me to follow her.

“Doc, please help Frankie,” pleaded Mrs. Shelley. “He’s been bleeding for the past 30 minutes. I tried, but I couldn’t get it to stop.”

In one of the cages resting on the exam table there was a happy lovebird sitting on a perch, but as I peered into the other, I noticed the blood-splattered mess. At the bottom sat a weakened cockatiel, hunched and motionless. I reached in and carefully gathered my feathered friend.

Identifying the injury was difficult at first because of the blood being smeared on multiple body parts. Soon, however, the slowly oozing appendage revealed the mutilation. After a heaping amount of styptic powder (chemical cauterizer) and gentle pressure, I was able to stop the bleeding. Further evaluation of the injury revealed the stumpy remnant of a mangled toe.

I looked at Mrs. Shelley and she started to wail.

“I don’t know what to do. Quazi keeps biting off Frankie’s toes,” sobbed Mrs. Shelley. As if on cue, Quazi, with blood-stained beak, started to whistle and bob his head up and down. It kind of freaked me out.

Ignoring Quazi’s victory dance, I looked closer at Frankie’s injury and noticed that two other toes were missing on that bleeding claw. Though the other limb fared better, it too was missing a toe. One, two, three plus the bleeding stump totaled four toes that were missing from Frankie. What was going on?

Mrs. Shelley went on to explain that Quazi liked to hide under the couch. When Frankie walks by, Quazi runs out to bite Frankie’s feet. Most of the time Frankie would flutter away, avoiding bodily harm, but on occasion Quazi would be too fast and wham, off came a toe.

We discussed at length a plan to keep peace in the house. Each bird would be allowed out of its cage, but never at the same time. This would help to prevent the gruesome confrontation.

“Doc, I hope this works.

We got Quazi so that Frankie would have a friend to play with. Isn’t Quazi supposed to be a lovebird? Shouldn’t he be nice?”

I tried to explain that lovebird was just a name and did not necessarily describe the individual. In Quazi’s case, he was definitely not loving, just misunderstood and a little creepy.

Happy Halloween!

Dr. John Kaya is the director of the Windward Community College veterinary technician program and associate veterinarian for VCA University Animal Hospital.