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Bird SO fixated with Barbering That I Can't Get His Attention- I feel so depressed

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Old 02-06-2020, 02:44 PM   #1
Brittydagal
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Bird SO fixated with Barbering That I Can't Get His Attention- I feel so depressed

Maybe this is more of a rant or a plea for help, an idea that I don't have or someone who can at least say that their bird is similarly fixated.

My bird has always slightly barbered his stomach. I didn't realize that was what it was until it turned into full blown intensity last year. My vet was horrible and I switched after she was horrible at helping us for 3 months. We switched and he got tested for Beak and Feather, got CBC, got fecal, got mouth smear, and he is fine. I know there's more I can do (specific organ function tests, xrays) but I don't know where to draw the line.

I got him in a cone and I waited for his feathers to regrow. It took about 10 months of him being in an Elizabethan collar. I could tell he was still itchy in it though.

I took him out of it maybe a month ago and bought a removable collar instead but the SECOND I take that collar off of him he goes at himself. I try to only take it off when I am trying to do something with him- usually training- but it is STILL hard to hold his attention. I will be trying to train and he will be going at himself and I will poke him continually to try to get him to focus back on me and we get into this I poke him, stops for a second to look at my finger and give me a "f off" noise, goes back to what he is doing, I poke him, etc etc. It is so hard and so frustrating because I feel so defeated that sometimes I just want to give up on even trying but then I watch him bite chunks of his beautiful feathers off that took him so long of being jailed in a collar to regrow and I put the removable collar back on to stop him.

I. Don't. Know. What. To. Do.

Every time he starts grooming I poke him, or blow on him, or scratch his head as a distraction. I don't know if I'm honestly just encouraging the behavior at this point in a messed up way.

Has anyone else had a bird that is THIS hyperfocused on this? His entire personality has changed, I miss my lovely little boy, it absolutely kills me. He doesn't play with his toys really at all anymore, even though I buy him new ones and change their spots, he doesn't coo at me anymore like he used to, his only goal in life is destroying himself the second he has the opportunity and when he doesn't he is still constantly doing the repetitive actions in his collar as if he is itchy as all can be.

I mildly wish he would pass, not because I don't love him but because I feel like this isn't a way to live and that he is literally so depressed even though I try so hard. My boyfriend has said that I can't know that he is actually depressed, which I understand is true, it just feels that way.

I don't know what to do anymore, I feel like I am killing him slowly. I'm sorry this is so emotional, I am tearing up even typing this, I just want him to be happy.

Does anyone have any advice or suggestions? I don't think it's fair for me to collar him for the rest of his life - he is only 5 - and it looks like mental torture to me when he is clearly still trying to do it with the collar on.

Do I need to stop with the collaring? And in that case- do I relinquish control and learn to deal with it or is there a way to help train the situation better?

When it is off, do I need to stop giving him attention of any kind when he's doing it and just let him go at it? Restart attention only when he is not actively going at it? I haven't been doing this- usually when I see him doing it I hurry to try to move the attention in some form if I can "snap" him out of it. I do realize that is attention that he is receiving from the behavior.

Do you all just eventually give up and let them do what they want to? I feel caught between stopping him from hurting himself with the collar in hopes that he will learn to be happy again and realizing I may be sapping his life with the very thing I'm doing that with, the collar.

I don't know, I feel so defeated. Does anyone have any advice? Has anyone else's bird been THIS focused on the mutilation?

For specifics, he barbers his feathers until he has a completely bare skin stomach. He also barbers the back. I have not seen him pluck but he may be since last time he did have a completely bare stomach. But when I watch him now, I see him barbering- He is chewing the ends off his feathers, specifically the down from what I see.

Things I've tried. Moving cage here and there. Giving a lot more foraging (he eats way more seeds now then I would like simply because I am trying to get him to DO something). Trying to train daily. Having "out" time every day and specifically playing with him for about an hour. Misting. Aloe in water. Aloe in mist. No pick spray. Adding red palm oil to his food. Adding chill-out powder to his food. Playing music when I leave. Playing birds when I leave. Getting more toys that are shred able.

I've toyed with the idea of a friend but I was suggested that may not be a good idea. I am currently toying with the idea of a light lamp and trying to add more fruits and vegetables. Maybe start a feather quality supplement too.

I'm interested in CBD oil but I don't see any dosing instructions and it seems dangerous. I'm not sure how I feel about Prozac/Haldol as I'm not sure it is worth the damage those items probably cause to his system. We really don't know how those work. I don't know.

I apologize for this being such a darn rant but I appreciate you reading if you got this far. Just trying to include details you will probably ask.
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:06 PM   #2
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I can not be of any help but I guess you have read through all the internet stuff? There is one article about feather plucking that has several things that might work I will link it below but I am sure you have seen many of them already. They even talk about your vet making a notch in their beak so they can not pluck the feathers as easy but still allows them to eat.. idk

https://www.beautyofbirds.com/featherplucking.html
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:08 PM   #3
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I understand. You have tried all the right things, it's not your fault. The fact is a lot of parrotlet choose to barber or pluck and sometimes we can't figure out why.

It is a very hard thing to accept. If the collar has not stopped the behavior I would stop using it, unless he gets so bad he picks his skin then you should prevent that but with plucking barbering the feathers come in n and them they leave just as fast.
I think distraction and playing with him daily is a good thing. A lamp certainly can't hurt, veggies are always good and feather suppliments or Avicalm might help. Beware of featherific, the growth encouragement could make him feel itchy so it might not help.

Acceptance is the hardest thing, but it's key. Another bird is not going to help the situation, resist the temptation to think that.

I'm so sorry, hugs from Violet and Lilly (my own little nudest)
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:50 PM   #4
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Ok thanks.

He’s on a avicalm like powder I got off amazon w no changes. I haven’t tried the featherific but that was a thought. I’ll try to see about the light.

I also wanted to add, he doesn’t maintain his beak anymore either (I have to bring him to the vet every few months) and I haven’t seen him use his oil gland in forever. He doesn’t rub his head back there anymore and spread it around his feathers. I don’t know if that’s helpful to know, I haven’t mentioned that to the vet bc I didn’t think of it.
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:55 PM   #5
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I have to say I am kind of a believer that genetics and poor breeding practices can be a cause of this problem. The saddest thing is that if it's Genetic there is nothing we can do about it. What color mutation is he? Inbreeding to produce rare mutations fast can be very problematic.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:21 PM   #6
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He's standard green, so no crazy mutation.

I think it's my fault, I just wish I could fix it. I was drive-traveling a lot with him, maybe once a month, rather than getting him babysat bc I felt it was easier to take him with. When I would do that, I would go to a friend's house mostly and he would stay in my bedroom by himself for the few days I was there bc the cats wouldn't leave him alone otherwise. It was always fine and then one day I was there for a three day weekend instead and since then, it wasn't fine anymore.

I should have been giving him more attention and not left him like that but I thought it was okay because it was always okay prior. And now I just feel like a horrible parent because I can't "heal" him. If anything, I feel like I'm making his life worse.

I should have got him to the vet sooner, I should have LEFT the bad vet sooner when they weren't helping, I just feel like I failed him.

Thank you for sharing the photo of your little one. Still so cute <3

This is him at his worst &#x1f61e;, right when he got collared originally which was probably 6 months or so after that visit that seemed to tip the scale. It wasn’t anywhere near this bad then but within 6 months we were here.
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Old 02-06-2020, 06:02 PM   #7
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There are very few clean greens in the US, so a visually green bird does not mean what many think - and may likely still have a DNA color mutation in their background from a parent.

You certainly have had a lot of tests done to rule out potential medical causes. Have they biopsied the skin in the affected to see if there is something causing it? Have you considered a possible food allergy? (Not saying that he has one, just something to consider)

I definitely do NOT think in any way that you are a horrible bird parent. Please do NOT blame yourself. Sometimes they just develop the habit of barbering or plucking, and then it is difficult to stop.
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Old 02-06-2020, 08:57 PM   #8
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I promise you that everyone of us with a plucker blames ourselves too. There is no way to know. If you had left him with a bird sitter and he plucked you would be saying "I should have brought him with me".

He plucking is quite severe, I'm so sorry. If I had the answer I would not have a scruffy bird either. I can tell you I am not a bad parront, neither are any of the other members here with pluckers, and you are not a bad parront either. Look at everything you have done to try and help, that is above and beyond what 99% of bird owners would do.
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Old 02-06-2020, 09:22 PM   #9
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I agree with what has been said on here already, I also have a barberer/plucker. Huey does not puck bare though, he just pulls out the green feathers.

I would try everything anyone mentioned. Huey does not have any health issues.

I also used avicalm and put it on his seed mixture so he would eat it all.

One thing that lately I have found is when he was boarded at the bird store, they misted him daily and then gave him a good soaking a few times. Since he has been home about 10 months I have put a crystal (yes crystal lol) bowl next to his water dish. I find that he does bathe more often and the feathers grow back in and for a blink of an eye he looks like a "normal" bird then I blink and he is plucked again. I also started giving him more seeds than I was, thinking the extra fat might be better for his itchiness. I would clap my hands or make a loud noise when I saw him beginning to chew, he would stop for a bit.

I just ignore it now but again he does not have any medical issues. You are not alone.
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:03 AM   #10
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I see- I don’t know his mutation though but I did adopt him after him being a failed breeder bird- he hated the female so was adoptable at 3 months ish old- so he may be a better mutation since they were breeding him, I may have known once but I definitely don’t now.
I haven’t had a skin test, what does that show? I also haven’t done a chemistry composition, not exactly sure what that is.
The only thing that I felt was helpful was the first vet had him on a “let’s treat everything bc I don’t do tests” plan and he did seem slightly less itchy. It was an antibacterial, an inflammation, and a mite treatment so I’ve always assumed it may have been due to the anti inflammation- it was ivermectin, tri meth sulfa, and metacam. But I don’t know that he’s suppsed to be on any of that long term.
I don’t know, what tests do you guys think I should do next &#x1f61e;? I’m also concerned that since it’s been over a year now since he started nothing is going to work.
Sorry about replying so delayed- I don’t know how to get notifications so I just have to check back to see if anyone replied periodically.
Could he be allergic to something even though he’s eaten it for years?

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