Phobic Galah

from: Sharon M Bloch

Since I am not trained in holistic medicine, I am coming to this list for some help. We rescued a galah from a bad place. Tara’s diet was atrocious, but now is eating very well. Tara is placed with a friend whom Tara chose out of four of us…….Sherry is a very loving birdy mom, so I have no qualms about the level of care that Tara is being given…..
Tara came with a deformed beak and gash in her chest that had an ugly red scar covering it. The beak has grown out and now looks like a normal galah beak, the scar has healed and is no longer garishly out there, being covered with feathers. The crazy thing is, all his blood work and cultures came back great…….we were amazed as we knew what bad shape this bird was in…….we were sure he had some medical problems…….The real problem is this bird may be phobic or extremely fearful.He will scream and hang out on the cage bars ( that is what it would dowhere it was as it was outside in a large wire cage and was intended for abreeder). This screaming is to me (and I was on the phone last night at 11pm listening to him) a fearful scream. It could also be a learned response to changes in his environment.

At any rate, the solution we are looking for is finding something to help calm him down. When he came to Sherry after having been thru the quarantine period with a vet tech we trust, he also came with a remedy. It is my understanding that he has been on it since he was rescued which puts him at about 5-6 weeks on this.

I called today and found out what was in it… Here are the ingredients:
rescue remedy ( bach flower)to which was added one tablet of gelsemium……

We are taking him off the remedy in hopes that there is something else out there that you can recommend that might work better….(plus, I think he has been on it too long and perhaps the effect is no longer working???)It is heartwrenching to hear this bird scream. Sherry was talking to him softly last night while he was doing this ( even in the dark he screams). His screams softened as she was scritching him and he was doing more of a cry by the time he calmed down.

I am doing some reading into phobic behaviors and other fear responses, but really feel at this time that he needs something to help him . It is almost like he gets started and just can’t stop on his own. I have a child who was diagnosed as ADD who would get all wound up and get so out of control that he was not able to be reasoned with………sort of like this……..

Anyway……anyone have any thoughts on this?

Sharon Bloch

From gloria:
I don’t know how normal Galah’s act, but I do know that PeTA put out abrochure a few years ago describing Goffin’s bobbing behavior as an abnormal problem generated by captivity. They were wrong. They don’t know what is and isn’t normal. I heard another story about a woman who stopped misting her cockatiel because it spread its wings and fluffed its feathers so she thought it hated the misting when it actually loved it. I also once had a moluccan that would moan and scream so badly that I thought there was something wrong. I learned from talking to moluccan breeders that this was normal behavior for moluccans.

Once I learned this, I viewed this behavior in a new light. Now when the bird screamed, I realized it was for joy…..it was just the neighbors who were disturbed <G> gloria

From: (Valerie Washburn)
When you decide to go holistic the very first place you need to start is diet. Many times just changing diet alone will calm a bird down. That means eliminating all processed food.

Who did the gelsemlum? That ‘s a homeopathic remedie and should never be given long term. That could be causing problems as well. Finding the right homeopathic remedy takes years of experience . I’ve been playing with homeopathic remedies for 9 years and I am almost always wrong. I use a holistic vet with 30 years experience and he is almost always right but even he has a hard time finding the right remedy some times.

My vet spends at least an hour with new clients doing a work up to find the right homeopathic remedy. What I see you doing is treating as a conventional vet would with medication. The only difference is your using alternative treatments. This is not going to work. The only thing that I saw that I would continue with is the Bach Flower Remedy.

Does your friend have any other pets or young children in the house? There are so many possibilities as far as what is upsetting this bird. Have her keep a log. Write down everything that is happening when the bird has a panic attack. Also keep track of the time. Try to write as much detail as possible. Clothes she is wearing, etc. This will help pin down triggers for attacks but it will not cure them.


From: Darlene Helton

Hi Shar,
There are homeopathic remedies for fear. Do you think it is more of a mental fear or a loss of something or someone? According to our vet these remedies work deeper.

If you can describe more about the birds personality, I can see what a book I have suggests, or I can send you some info, snail mail…. Are you going to keep working with the original vet? Our vet said bach flower remedies are only temporary and can be used often, with no bad side affects. Maybe you need to try another one, or do one at a time?

I think it is wonderful that your trying to help this bird out.

Some screaming is normal. When our YCM screams for no apparent reason.he usually wants to sit on my should or be moved to another perch. I don`t know if that will help you any. Is it possible he doesn`t like the cage? Is he wanting attention?

If you think it is fear and restlessness, Aconite is a homeopathic remedy for that. (it is carried in most health food stores) One dose of 30 c in water, and wait to see how the bird responds.

If you want to stay with bach flowers… if screaming appears to be neurosis, Rock water, Chestnut Bud and Gentian will help. The book says one drop of each in daily drinking water.


From Carole Bryant”
I’m Australian (home of the beautiful Galah) and have a second hand Galah myself, Morgan, who has severe behavioural problems that I am working with. Wild Galahs are not particularly noisy birds, so that screaming is not normal.

My Galah, Morgan, is TERRIFIED of mice and will scream hysterically if he sees a mouse (when he was kept in my outdoor aviary there were sometimes mice around). Now he is kept indoors he hardly ever screams, except to let off a bit of steam each morning, or if something frightens him.

What caused Tara’s injuries (perhaps whatever it was happened in the dark and he’s now afraid of the dark)? Perhaps he would be happier in a smaller, enclosed space, near people (for protection)?

If the flower remedy hasn’t worked by now, it isn’t the correct remedy.

Other things that could help calm him are: magnesium, calcium (dolomite is magnesium and calcium in the correct ratio), vitamin B complex. The herbs withania (calming and improves resistance to stress), vervain and skullcap are all relaxing herbs (could be given in his water or over his food).

Homoeopathic aconite is appropriate for fear that is current, but will not address fear based on past events (although it may help a little). To find the most appropriate homoeopathic remedy, it is important to have a detailed case history that takes into account every aspect of this bird and his behaviours.

Training him to improve his confidence and trust in his new owner would help. The 2 things that have helped Morgan the most are TTouch and clicker training (the people on the BirdClick list are as helpful and friendly as the people on this list and I can’t recommend it highly enough).

Hope this helps.

Carole Bryant (Naturopath)

From: Sharon M Bloch <smloper@worldnet.att.net> Answering Darlene Do you think it is more of a mental fear ….or a loss of something or someone?It is hard to tell right now. I know this bird originally came from a drug dealer in town who had a large collection of parrots. I have to assume, if I was told the truth, this person took good care of his birds. Tara was then bought by the person we ransomed him from. Bird was outside in a dog link cage hanging on the side all day long. Hated this person…….would throw himself and thrash around the cage when this person came hear him. WE were told this bird was unhandleable……..( last night Sherry called me and he was in her arms just like he was the first half hour in his new home)It could be just plain terror…….

>If you can describe more about the birds personality,

He has only been out of his hell for about 5 weeks, so this is my observations based on our quarantiners notes plus Barb & Sherry’s takes on things..He will be fine hanging on the side of the cage and then will suddenly start screaming and be frantic. I have also noticed that when it is subsiding, he does this little (what I consider it to be) nervous thing with his left foot…..waves it in the air and then picks at it. The pads of his feet are
deformed….the vet figured out that it is from his hanging on the side of his cage all day long.

One of his favorite things to do when he is out of his cage is to sit under something. It must make him feel safe. He did it at Barb’s while waiting to come to Sherry’s and he does it at Sherry’s.

He is a very loving bird when he is in her arms…..last night she said she felt no shaking or fear in him. And no screaming. She held him for quite awhile and scritched to her hearts’ content ( and obviously Tara’s) I am inclined to think that he is malnourished when it comes to the human touch and wants to be held. But only Sherry can do that as he doesn’t allow that from anyone else who has been with him ( except the son of the person we got him from, come to think………he was able to hold him……… after being chased and caught.)

>I can see what a book I have suggests, or I can send you some info, snail mail…. Are you going to keep working with the original vet? At this point yes, as she is very open to alternative avenues…..

>Our vet said bach flower remedies are only temporary and can be used often, with no bad side affects. We have stopped that one and are waiting for everything to cleanse out of his system…..

>I think it is wonderful that your trying to help this bird out. Thanks…….but this is what rescue is all about……..I know that Sherry loves this little guy, but the constant screaming is making her M2 very upset, as well as Sherry at this point………So we are trying to come up with a workable solution for all in her household. One of the worst things as I am sure all of you know, is that birds get passed around way too much. We want Tara to live out his life with Sherry if at all possible……….Zoli has been with Sherry for 11 years! out of her 14 years, so she has a good track record…..

Thanks guys..

From: “Carole Bryant” Sharon wrote:

I have also noticed that when it is subsiding, he >doest his little (what I consider it to be) nervous thing with his left >foot…..waves it in the air and then picks at it.

My Galah, Morgan, also did this when he’s nervous/anxious. As his behavior has improved, and he is happier and more confident, he does it less and less (in fact he rarely does it now). I am inclined to think that he is malnourished when it comes to the human >touch and wants to be held. I also get the feeling that Morgan desperately wants human touch and contact (but is still way too uncomfortable about being touched, except on his head or occasionally his feet).

In the wild, Galahs live in large flocks, so this need for contact is understandable.

Doing TTouch on Tara would help him to become calmer and more confident (especially as he already likes to be held/touched – with Morgan I’m limited to working on his head or foot!).

Clicker training Morgan has improved his confidence (because it is HIS CHOICE whether he participates or not – nothing is forced on him). There are a number of severely disturbed birds whose owners are on the BirdClick list – the changes that have taken place in these birds by training in such a positive way are truly amazing.

The fact that Tara likes his new owner is a big head start, so the sky’s the limit!

Carole Bryant, Naturopath