Part One of this piece on the identification, life-cycle and lifestyle of the tick can be found here: Trying to play Sherlock Holmes, from the usual demeanour and habits of this young fantail, I gathered she had picked up this adult female tick, whilst foraging for knot grass in the muddy farm lane at the front of the house.
The idea of using Essential oil of Tea Tree is several-fold in that it has the properties of an anaesthetic, antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and antimicrobial. The anaesthetic properties, making the tick drowsy, stop it from feeding and therefore aid in helping its release. You can refer to Part One of this article for further explanations.
As the tick will be feeding on your bird as you are treating it, then whatever you use to treat it will pass into the bird. Using an essential oil like tea tree topically on the tick is not dangerous for the bird. In fact Tea Tree is one of the rare essentially oils which in emergency may be used in neat form upon the bird read more
You will in fact see the bird smack its beak as it tastes the tea tree in its mouth. This is quite normal and something you'd also expect to see if you treated the bird itself for an infection transdermally through the soles of the feet. A further reminder that whatever you put on the skin ends up in the body.
I used an organic cotton bud to apply the Tea Tree, placing a couple of drops of pure organic essential oil onto it and then applying it to the body of the tick. I then waited a couple of minutes to allow the tick to become anaesthetised.
I then took a pair of tweezers and held the tick as near to the point of entry into the pigeon as possible, being careful not to trap any of the pigeons feathers! I gently began to pull the tick slowly away from the wound in a direction, which would keep the tick at right angles to the bird. This way, I hoped to avoid twisting the tick and causing it to leave its mouth-parts embedded in the pigeon.
I also held the area around the wound quite firmly with my finger, so as to prevent the pigeon's skin being pulled, rather than the tick. I kept talking reassuringly to the pigeon all the time I was doing this, as it is quite an unpleasant operation, even though the area will be anaesthetised, by both the tick and the Tea Tree! Pigeons are very intelligent birds and they do have quite a good rapport with humans, mine actually walk down the garden and knock on the kitchen window if they have a problem (this is not just me being fanciful, friends with pigeons have told me the same). There is a bond of trust between me and my pigeons, so they need to know that what I am doing is supposed to help.
N.B. (If the tick seems to still be hanging on tightly, then apply the cotton bud with the Tea Tree again.)
After another couple of tugs it came away. Here you can see me holding it so as to show the 'head'. You can see it has left behind quite a wound on the pigeon, which now needed to be cleaned up.
I used a fresh cotton bud dipped in a small bowl of warm water with two drops of Tea Tree dispersed on the surface. If you are worried about infection of any sort then you can use the Tea Tree neat on the cotton bud but do not use more than a couple of drops. Keep the pigeon under observation and treat with Tea Tree again the next day. This wound however, looked clean and indeed the pigeon seemed none the worse for its ordeal.
A Word About Essential Oils
In general terms, when using essential oils I either use them dispersed on the surface of a bowl of water, to create an antiseptic and painkilling wash for wounds read more or diluted in one teaspoon of carrier oil and I never use more than 3 drops per day on a single bird. When using an extremely strong antimicrobial, such as oregano essential oil, I would only use one drop, diluted in one teaspoon of carrier oil and administer it transdermally, through the soles of the feet.
Now if you'd like to sit back and watch the film:
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For anyone wishing for links to any of the material I read when researching ticks, please just ask.
All the very best,
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© 2014 Sue Cross