Monday, December 4, 2017



I've had my Scarlet Macaw, Tanner, for ten years.    He has been a joy, a hoot, an incredible addition to our family and the flock.   He does a great pirate "Aaarrrrrgggh!" when I ring one of his bells, and bows his head for long head scratches. The list is long with what makes him so special.  But...with an "up" side there may be a "down" side, and with Tanner, this is the case.   

When I adopted Tanner, he may have been exposed to a strain of Clostridium (  For years, I have dealt with some rather disgusting, stinky droppings from this big guy.  (I would share pictures here, but I'll spare you.)  Tanner gets regular checkups with Dr. Jerry LaBonde (Homestead Animal Hospital, Centennial CO) and this has been a front-burner issue the entire time I have had him.  We monitor his weight, his health, his behavior, and though his droppings are not normal, everything else about this bird is spot-on great.  

Early on, Tanner took antibiotics for his condition, and as I recall, they worked very well on a short-term basis, and once the prescription was finished, the Clostridium would return.   I stopped the drugs as it really didn't resolve the issue and began years of cleaning up his cage and the floor and the nearby wall ... because the droppings didn't stay in  his cage.   It was just the way it was and the way it was going to be.  Ok by me...I really love him.

A few weeks ago, Get Creative2 hosted Charise Mixa and Lisa Bolstad for a workshop in Parker, CO on sprouting for parrots.   One of the topics that came up was the holistic benefits of  apple cider vinegar and adding it to our birds' water bowls.    It dawned on me that I had actually tried the ACV with Tanner years ago to attempt to help his tummy issues.  I honestly can't say why I stopped using it, but I did.   However, I was inspired by the suggestion by Lisa to give ACV another try to see if it would help Tanner's stomach.

Home I went, stopping at the store for ACV on the way.   I started immediately - 1 tsp to his large bowl of water per day. * And...(drum roll,  please, along with a "Knock on wood..."): the next morning there were normal, big ol' macaw droppings straight down in the bottom of his cage.  Solid, well-shaped, all  3 parts present.   What a surprise! I thought it might be a fluke, but for these past two weeks, with the daily tsp of ACV in Tanner's water, his droppings continue to be  n-o-r-m-a-l.   

I don't know if he feels any better, because his demeanor, his overt behaviors have never indicated anything out of the ordinary with his health, but I feel better for him.  I will continue with this daily dosage, along with his regular wellness exams with Dr. LaBonde and hope that the apple cider vinegar continues to keep the health of his stomach in balance.

I started to do some more research online about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar so that I could personally write an entire blog about it, but I came upon an excellent, excellent piece written by Alicia McWatters, Ph.D., C.N.C.    I knew I couldn't do it better than she did, be more thorough.  So, I highly recommend that you follow this link: and read about the history of vinegar, why it is beneficial to our birds, to us, how it is made, how to use it, even misting sprouts with ACV!  It was a very worthwhile read for me...and I hope it will be for you, as well.

And last, I am not recommending that you rush out and buy some organic ACV and give it to your bird(s).   I am  recommending that, if your bird is experiencing some gastronomical issues, or you think he may benefit from a dose of ACV, please ask your avian vet first, let him/her give you a daily dosage amount, and then proceed.      Good luck!

* Update (12.5.17): I spoke with Dr. LaBonde today and he gave me a specific ratio of apple cider vinegar to water to give to our birds: 1 Tablespoon acv:1 Liter water or 1-1.5 teaspoon acv:1 Pint water.  Dr. LaBonde shared with me that a larger dose (as in the 1 tsp. per water dish) that I was giving to my macaw was too much, but only in that it would make the water less appealing for my bird and he might drink less than needed.  There was no harm in the was just that it affected the taste.  So I will mix up a pint of water and vinegar, put it in the fridge and use it specifically for Tanner, and not have to get out my measuring spoons every morning!   If you're going to try acv, this is the formula you need to use.   

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