"Torticollis", "Twirling" or "Stargazing"
Index of Bird Diseases ... Symptoms and Potential Causes ... Bird Species and Diseases They are Most Susceptible to
Stargazing (Twirling) appears most frequently in finches, it has also been reported in other birds, such as this lovebird: Gazer / Lovebird (born with this disease), and birds that were afflicted with "Bird Flu" ...
This star-gazing lovebird hatched a "stargazer."
This condition was at its worst after hatching and as a juvenile. Over the next couple of years, the condition corrected itself. The photo above shows him markedly improved at about 1 year's old. By the time the lovebird was 2 years old, it was hardly noticeable.
The twisting of his head may have been caused by the positioning in the egg. Owner: Sibylle
"Stargazers" constantly throw their head back, sleep with their heads between their legs; go around in a circle; look at the ceiling, turn their heads around in a circle and look up.
Stargazing can strike at random and without warning or past history of problems.
Finches are particularly susceptible - although other species have been diagnosed with it.
- In some birds, the condition may correct itself over time or may be corrected given certain condition ...:
- ... if it was caused by poor positioning inside the egg / poor egg condition (may only be a consideration if a bird was born with this condition)
- ... condition may be reversed is if the root cause is malnutrition and it is corrected
- ...resolution might be achieved through successfully treatment protocol (antibiotic treatments, etc.).
If this condition is left uncorrected, the following progression) can be expected:
- Inability to fly.Loss of balance/equilibrium. Falls off the perch.
- Difficulty moving around in cage
- Can't find food or water - resulting in starvation
- The end result of stargazing (if untreated or not self-corrected) is almost always death.
What Cause Stargazing / Twirling?
A definite cause has not been identified as of yet; however, the following are suspected:
- Egg positioning (?)
- Viral / bacterial - such as the bird flu. For example, turkeys have shown symptoms of going off their water and their feed, becoming lethargic and/or showing signs of this condition. Farmers report a drop in egg production.
- Yeast infection
- Chemical imbalance
- Vitamin and/or mineral (nutritional) deficiency; Vitamin D deficiency (lack of natural sunlight exposure). Too much calcium can result in a ‘drunken bird' look
- Genetic predisposition
- Inner-ear problem
Treatment for Stargazing
The following treatments have been reported as being fairly effective:
- Trimethoprim Sulfa
- Vitamin B 12 to strengthen the nervous system
- Enhanced nutrition to correct any nutritional deficiencies
Prevention of Stargazing
The following steps will be an important step in not only preventing this disease, but others too.
- Prevent birds which carry the genetic predisposition for this disease from breeding so that they cannot pass this condition on to their offspring
- Provide the best nutrition possible.
- Provide uncontaminated water and clean air
- Keep your bird's environment clean
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