Patient: Bonkers, a twelve-year-old cockatiel
Ailment: Chronic egg-laying
History: Bonkers, one of ten cockatiels owned by Upper
East Side attorney Mary Anne Richmond, was nine when she began inexplicably
and uncontrollably laying eggs. (Birds in captivity often don't
lay eggs, for lack of good nesting space.) Bonkers was an "in-your-face
kind of bird," says Richmond, yet she'd become exhausted by her
productivity, and when she wasn't laying eggs, she was struggling
to pass them. "She'd be lying in the corner of the cage," says Richmond.
"She couldn't breathe, her eyes were closed, and she'd be really
Diagnosis: After two months of hormone treatment, Bonkers
wasn't feeling better. An ultrasound revealed a partially formed
egg mass lodged inside the bird's ovaduct. "If they have an egg
stuck inside and they lay another one two days later, that's going
to get stuck, too," says veterinarian Laurie Hess, of the Animal
Medical Center on the Upper East Side.
Treatment: Though cockatiel surgery is tricky, Hess recommended
that Bonkers be spayed. "You can't take out the ovary, because it's
adhered to the body wall and would cause too much blood loss," Hess
says. "So you have to take out just the ovaduct and leave the ovary
intact." Bonkers made it through the operation, but she still seemed
to be in pain. "We did another ultrasound and saw fluid-filled lesions,"
Hess says. "We were worried there might be a cancerous mass on the
ovary." Yet another surgery (poor Bonkers) revealed the cause of
the bird's discomfort: a remaining piece of ovaduct that had become
Post-op: Three years and more than $2,000 later, Bonkers
is in good health, aside from thwarted maternal yearnings. Now,
when one of Richmond's other birds lays an egg, "Bonkers tries to
roll it away and put it underneath her," she says. "I thought maybe
I'd give her an egg and let her sit on it and be happy."