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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Pathological and psychologic conditions may cause feather picking. But, first, avian veterinary measures must be taken first to rule out any medical conditions.

The two primary causes of feather picking are: frustrated mating instincts and lack of proper training.

Domestically bred birds, particularly cockatoos, will commonly experience sexual frustration. Bird instinctually have the need for a mate 24 hours a day. Often times, particularly in hand reared birds, a parrot may decide a human is their mate. One can imagine how stressful, knowing a parrot needs their mate 24 hours a day, must feel when that perceived mate leaves them for a long day of work and graces them with interaction only a couple of times a day and then leaving the bird to sleep all alone. They may even become jealous of other family members that are perceived as a threat to their "mate" Even the "mates" emotional state can affect their companion bird.

Training is the first step to solving psychological feather picking. It also must be noted that dietary deficiencies are a critical issues to consider. Birds that feather pick are sometimes attracted to the taste of blood. Craving for the minerals, protein and fat can be the cause of a parrot picking at mature feathers that have all three of these. Once feather picking has had its onset, training may decrease the severity of this issue, but has been noted not to always stop the habit.

Damage to the feathers in the area of the breast, abdomen and legs can be significant of reproductive frustration. Seasonal feather picking associated with breeding activity is quite often temporary and often, no specific treatment or therapy is necessary or warranted until the care giver notes that the issue is quite persistent or involves other areas than the lower abdomen.

In cases dealing with seperation anxiety, success may be acheived by means of leaving tape recordings of family activities or a radio, or TV. For some birds, additions of new toys and foraging opportunities as well as moving their housing can be enough of a change to distract and occupy them. For other birds this may be more stressful and induce the feather picking. A bird that is properly socialized and adapted to daily routine changes early in life, during hand rearing/parent raising/co-parenting is less likely to develop emotional issues later in life.

Often when pscyhological feather picking is not stopped with behavior modification, drugs may be utilized. Mood-altering drugs, however, are rarely effective. There are options of hormonal therapies, but all of these have undesirable side effects.


Source: Avian Medicine Principles and Application. Ritchie, Harrison and Harrison
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Strong imprinting on humans due to hand rearing can lead to an array of behavioral issues, particularly as seen in certain feather picking since this is the topic at hand. The imprinted parrot becomes stressed and experiences much separation anxiety when their "mate" leaves them.

For this reason, many aviculturists do not support hand rearing. A parent raised or co-parented bird can be trained and learn to trust humans just as much, offering equal pet qualities but avoiding behavioral issues that relate to imprinting.
 

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Andrea,

Parrotlets will often pluck to line their nests - often the female will pluck the males head.

This is not our situation but I suspect that their relationship and hormones have something to do with my birds plucking.

Regards,

Art S.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hmm...just have never seen this in my breeders or others that I know. I do have a hen that plucks her males head, and he sticks by her side despite that. He has some yellow feathering due to follicale damage now and I think that makes her want to do it more.

thanks!
 

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Well, to be honest: our Bibi plucks every now and then... As soon as all the feathers are grown back, she'll start on them again :eek:
I'm not proud about it, I'm not happy about it, but she does it...
I suspect it is a hormonal urge or whatever you call it. She does it more when we preen her regular, but on the other hand: she has problems to keep her head preened and if I spot too many 'porcupine pines' I wíll preen her.

She gets lots of attention, is out of her cage all the time when we're home, gets a combination of pellets, seed and whatever greens she will eat (broccoli and fennel and carrots is about all she likes :rolleyes:), gets sprayed regularly (even if she hátes it!), gets about 11-12 hours sleep => tell me what more to do to prevent it!:confused:
 

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Marjet,

We've tried everything just about everything and now have accepted that sparky like to have his down showing...:rolleyes:

I've come to the conclusion that my Sparky plucks due to his frustrating relationship with his sister - he wants her attention ALL the time whereas, she couldn't care less. This drives him crazy.

Regards,

Art S.
 

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You know Arts, you capable of taking it in quite calmly and I'm really trying to do that as well, but every now and then it makes me a bit sad and I wonder if there is something bothering her.
Especially when she was almost 'beautiful' again -she is always beautiful to me, but you know what I mean- and then starts all over again.
But we love her anyway...!
 

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I can sympathize with you Marjet. My little guy Charlie plucked all his top feathers and left his down earlier in the spring. I've made a few changes and he is growing lots of new feathers now. Hopefully I don't have the same experience and he lets his stay. Maybe it has something to do with mating and molting season that my guy is doing it...I'll just have to wait it out and see.

Sometimes I get sad when I look at him too and wonder if he's in some way unhappy. I also question if it's due to my quaker who was bought after him. I bought a lovebird after him as well and he was okay then though. He always got the same amount of attention. Anyway he seems to be getting better so who knows.

Here's wishing all our pluckers well!

Curtis
 

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Curtis,

Sparky does the same, he takes beautiful care of his down but pulls out his top feathers.

I hope the changes you made work, if you don't mind please share.

Sparky sometimes lets his feathers grow most of the way back then, right when my wife starts telling me he's over his plucking, he pulls them out again! :mad:

Also, if he's done with his feathers and still in a plucking mood, he'll pull out some of his sister's feathers :mad: :mad: :rolleyes: !

Regards,

Art S.
 

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Yes, this is a sad situation. You don't see plucked birds in the wild. It is in some way related to being kept in captivity. I have had my poor Parrotlet for over 2 1/2 years. I love him, and I have tried to take good care of him, but I feel like I am failing. At this point I am really worried about him. He has been plucking for a long time. He actually started plucking when I picked him up from his former owner. I believe I made a big mistake in getting hime because he was not tame, and in fact was taken from his mate and sold. Eve3n though he was supposed ly eating Roudybush pellets when I got him, he would never eat them for me. He won't eat any pellets. He will not eat vegies or fruits. He is afraid of everything. He has the craziest personality I have ever seen. He has never become really tame. There are times when he will come to have his head scratched. There are times when he will come out of the cage, but only on a shoulder, where he behaves badly. In the past he did not have enough light, mainly because I did not realize that they had to have the UV light that you can't get through a window. Also, my oldest sone had been teasing him because he got tired of trying to make friends with a bird that was so crazy. Tiger will bite like crazy! I have stopped any teasing that was going on, and I now have full-spectrum lighting for him. He is not doing very well. There is an area on his wing that starts bleeding every now and then and scares me to death. It never quite heals before he injures in again by flapping around. He cannot fly at all anymore, and I think that terrifies him more than anything. I am trying to make an effort to save him by forcing him to a better diet, giving hime lighting, trying to not cause him any stress, trying to get him to bathe, etc. I just want him to happy and healthy. Any suggestions at all? Lisa
 

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Yes, this is a sad situation. You don't see plucked birds in the wild. It is in some way related to being kept in captivity. I have had my poor Parrotlet for over 2 1/2 years. I love him, and I have tried to take good care of him, but I feel like I am failing. At this point I am really worried about him. He has been plucking for a long time. He actually started plucking when I picked him up from his former owner. I believe I made a big mistake in getting hime because he was not tame, and in fact was taken from his mate and sold. Eve3n though he was supposed ly eating Roudybush pellets when I got him, he would never eat them for me. He won't eat any pellets. He will not eat vegies or fruits. He is afraid of everything. He has the craziest personality I have ever seen. He has never become really tame. There are times when he will come to have his head scratched. There are times when he will come out of the cage, but only on a shoulder, where he behaves badly. In the past he did not have enough light, mainly because I did not realize that they had to have the UV light that you can't get through a window. Also, my oldest sone had been teasing him because he got tired of trying to make friends with a bird that was so crazy. Tiger will bite like crazy! I have stopped any teasing that was going on, and I now have full-spectrum lighting for him. He is not doing very well. There is an area on his wing that starts bleeding every now and then and scares me to death. It never quite heals before he injures in again by flapping around. He cannot fly at all anymore, and I think that terrifies him more than anything. I am trying to make an effort to save him by forcing him to a better diet, giving hime lighting, trying to not cause him any stress, trying to get him to bathe, etc. I just want him to happy and healthy. Any suggestions at all? Lisa

This is so sad, but we can try hard to make it better with so much help available here...
first of all I would get a vet to check out the thing on the wing.... and just a wellness check in general to make sure there are no other issues going on. Make sure it is a bird specialized vet and not just a small animal one..

Is he getting 12 hours of dark quiet sleep every night?
Maybe keep him in a less traveled part of the house during the day...

For the food my guy was picky as heck.. try blending up all the veggis and mixing it with some seed and pellets and he will start eating it after a while...
Mavric will bite me like crazy too only if I close my hand around him or try to pet him.. I have accepted this and he loves kisses and steps up on command... so maybe learn what he doesn't like until he trusts more...

He just sounds like a scared guy...
 

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Thanks for writing. I live in an isolated area where there are no avian vets. There is a vet who sees birds. I don't know if he's any good, but I'm going to try to make an appointment today.

I think he is getting more sleep than he used to, but probably still not enough. There is no better place in the house that I can put him. It isn't bad where he is, though. There isn't really any through traffic past his cage.

Lisa
 

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I know what you mean, Mavric is now in an isoloated area with no good avian vets around.. a little scary.. but if it is just due to him freaking out and flying around then we know what the cause of the damage is.
Would you be able to take a picture of his cage? Maybe someone might have some advice on your set up...
Do you cover his cage with a sheet or something at night? What kind of hours is the house quiet?
 
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