We all know that birds are masters at hiding illness until its too late to help them. It came to my attention earlier this winter that I had a little hen that was hiding much more. The only reason I found her out was because I switched aviaries, moving the group of older birds to a bigger aviary so they would have more room. I call it the geriatrics aviary.
However, when I moved them, I noticed this hen just sitting up towards the top not moving. After a day I grew concerned. I went in to check on her and found I could catch her quite easily and she did not move until touched. Further investigation found her thinner than usual and completely blind.
How long had she been blind? At this point it did not matter. I needed to do something for her. I decided the best thing was to move her and her partner back into the smaller aviary where they had been. I moved them and watched. She flew to the side, tapped her way around to the perch and settled in. I watched for her to go down to food and water. She would work her way down the side of the aviary to the floor and had no problem getting to the food or water. She had her mate and she was happy
I had a few other pair of birds in there mostly old like her and her mate, beyond production years. Birds that had produced well for me and deserved their “out to pasture” years. A few weeks later I found her on the floor of the aviary underneath the ramp. She was nestled down in the hay but puffed up and I thought this was probably the beginning of the end for her. I have a heat lamp down there so at least I knew she was warm. I watched her
After a day of that I decided to see if she was mobile. She moved but not far, because she was setting an egg. There had been an egg in the aviary somehow she had found it and gathered it up. I had a hen in there that was laying an egg here and there (not something I have had happen often) if the hen laid an egg the little Lutino somehow would find it and gather it up and set on it. After a couple rounds I figured something needed to be done. Can’t have the old hen on the cold floor even if there is a covering of hay on it.
I was a little concerned about moving her after the last experience. I took some care in customizing a cage and nestbox for her. Nest box with a low opening right onto a perch. I bedded it real deep with aspen and moved the two eggs she had and then added two fertile eggs from an irresponsible hen that would not stay on her eggs. I put her in the box and blocked the hole with a screen, moved her mate into the cage. I took the screen off about a half hour later. By this time the little blind hen was happily rolling her eggs around and stayed in.
I watched and waited at least twice a day I would take water into the box for her to drink and leave her food in there too. Her mate was feeding her as well. I would talk to her and let her know I was there. She got brave enough to leave the box and tap her way around the cage finding the food, water and upper perch too.
About a week later she hatched one then two from those two fertile eggs. and she has been caring for them ever since. She is my little miracle bird. She is completely blind completely happy and the best mamma ever. She does not know she can’t and that is the key. Will she raise another baby or two? If she is fit and in condition, I will let her foster again. Why? It makes her happy and good fosters are valuable.
That is the story of the little blind Lutino Hen….