Stargazing / Twirling or Torticollus
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Although Stargazing (Twirling) appears most frequently in finches, my own lovebird also was born with this disease.
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 cageCan't find food or water - resulting in starvationThe 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 or 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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