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Pied Java "suicide"

Submitted by Harry H on Sun, 01/21/2018 - 22:01
My wife and I have kept Pied Java finches, Zebra finches, and others for a number of years. Recently one of our adult male Pied Java finches stopped eating and drinking, and detereriorated within a 24 hour period. As I've done successfully with other birds over the years, I gently tried to force feed it with a small eye-dropper. It seemed to accept the drops into its open beak, and suddenly things started to look up. For about 10 mins thereafter I sat there looking at the bird, and then unexpectedly it fell to the floor. I immediately picked it up in the palm of my hand, and it did the weirdest thing I'd ever seen. While laying in my palm, it twisted its head around a full 360o and stretched its feet out as if to purposely choke itself to death. And it succeeded. My family and friends just laughed at me as if I'd been dreaming, but no, I saw this "suicide" with my own eyes. Has anyone else out there ever witnessed such a thing, and if so, is there a name for this particular strange act?

Neck twisting can be a result of malnutrition, viral or bacterial infections, or neurological injury (including stroke). Since you have been keeping birds for many years, we assume that your husbandry skills are not the cause. If no other bird comes down with neurological signs (off-balance, paralysis), then it may simply have been a stroke or some nerve damage that has caused this bird's demise ... Of course, if you see any other birds come down with similar or same symptoms, we would suggest quarantining them (and any birds they have been close to), and having a vet evaluate the situation. Sibylle

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