Summer problems

Sj21

Registered
Hi All,

I have a 9 year old grey. She has been labelled as a plucker by the 2 very experienced Avian vets I have taken her to over the years.

At age 3 she took one wing feathers out followed by the other. The problem is they can’t find a problem. Blood tests, X-ray’s you name it several times might I add. I have followed the many steps and advice given. She has everything she could want and lots of cuddles.

However over the last couple of years we have noticed that she lets her feathers grow in winter and then literally obliterates herself in summer; always the same pattern tail, wings then chest.

This to me doesn’t seem like a behaviour thing - more something the heat/dry weather is causing.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
Sj
 

Roz

Elected Forum Trainer
Regular Member
:welcome: Sj!

Very sorry to hear about your African Grey’s Feather Destructive Behaviour. What’s her name? That’s good you have taken her to the vet multiple times to hopefully rule out a medical problem. Interesting it started so young.

I’m just going to make a start on suggestions and other members will hopefully come in too:

If you think it’s dry/heat that may be a contributing factor, do you bathe/shower/mist her often? Maybe everyday… it helps with the condition of the feathers plus birds are unlikely to destroy their feathers when they are wet.

What is her diet like? Does she eat enough Essential Fatty Acids like Omega 3 - found in good quantities in walnuts, freshly ground flaxseed or flax oil?

Would love to see a picture of her and maybe her living quarters. Is she out of the cage a lot?

Behaviour wise, be sure you are not giving her attention for pulling out the feathers. If there is a particular time she plucks/destroys you could use those times to do some fun training with her as a distraction, plus she will earn reinforcement for doing these other behaviours instead.

Hormones - I might be way off here since she started so young, but wondering if it could also be something to do with hormones especially now she’s older? If she cuddles a lot could she be regarding you as a mate? Try to keep stroking/handling her to just the head and neck only. Again doing some fun training will give you both another way to interact together.

Anyway just a start. Feather Destructive Behaviour can be so difficult to resolve.
 

Sj21

Registered
Hi,

thanks for the reply. Yep we’ve tried everything the UV lamp, a hepa humidifier, putting a birdie bath in her cage. She will asked to be missed if she wants it. I usually do it every other day. Once with aloe as suggested previously.
Her diet is I hope good palm nuts and oil, Harrison pellets and birdie bread, lots of fresh fruit and veg she likes sweet potatoes mash a lot . Both Avian vets were stumped.
With this being the 3rd winter she’s let them grow I was just hoping I can go back to the vets with something to suggest. The last vet suggested putting her in an avery with other birds as a solution if I thought this would help I would have done it. But she would be heart broken. She’s out of her cage all evening most days. I work from home so I am always around. I’ve included a pic of Derri and her cage.
Thank you for the suggestions it is much appreciated.
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Wera

Regular Member
Hi, so sorry to hear that she plucks….before I had parrot who plucked little bit in his old house and it was hardly noticeable unless he lifted his wings, but we were worried that it might get escalated,we tried adding soft wood toys to his cage, easy forging toys and preening toys, basically he could spread his wings in the cage and move around comfortable but it was quite full with things, made him forging tray on outside of the cage (it was shallow plastic container filled with calming mix and chamomile flowers from Pollys natural boutique and I would hide some treats there, although I think it’s better to use glass oven dishes for forging tray as plastic one might get pushed down easy or tipped over) overtrained him on targeting ( we used to do a lot of targeting in short intervals, so when he was outside the cage we would do targeting every 30/45 minutes for 5-15minutes, sometimes he wasn’t that keen so we would end it quickly before he looses interest completely) and we had lots of balsa wood pieces around in hopes he will rather chew them than his feathers, ( although balsa wood is very soft so might be too soft for African grey) we made avian tea part of his regular diet as well we used product which is called Pluck no more, you can get it at northern parrots or parrot essentials but I consulted with vet before we used it… in the end Rio stopped plucking but not sure what helped because we tried so many things at the same time
 
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Sj21

Registered
Hi

Sounds like all the hard work paid off!! That’s great news and gives me hope.
My concern is that this is something medical and she is suffering without it being picked up - after she first plucked her wing out the vet found a bacterial skin infection but put that down to the plucking. I am just concerned now that is something (possibly a skin condition) that flares up in the summer months.
I will make a call to the vet once open in Jan and have a chat. Hopefully we can find the answer before she destroys her feathers again 🤞🏼🙏
 

DizzyBlue

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Has your bird been tested for SCUD?
A little known but becoming more prevalent condition. I have a bird that after many years of tests has finally been diagnosed with it.
It's a bacterial infection that pops up regularly in my bird she gets easily infected with normal bacterial found naturally on her skin that doesn't seen to bother other birds but a slight irritation on her skin brings in a flare up by which she ends up ripping what few feathers remain and causing more irritation. A nightmare of a condition but once diagnosed although hard work is manageable hers flares up during March/April time when she goes hormonal and is usually having a bit of a moult.
 
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DizzyBlue

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Something else just came to mind... The position of the cage in front of the window try moving it to one side so one side of the cage has a wall to it.
If your bird can see outside during the summer perhaps it's getting more time watching predator species but nowhere to hide. Things like cats dogs or even seeing a sparrow hawk zipping around outside can bring on stressful behaviour
 
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Roz

Elected Forum Trainer
Regular Member
Agree that more easily destructive toys would be good in and out of her cage. I find that most shop bought toys are made of hard wood which is difficult to destroy and many parrots lose interest in them. Soft balsa wood and untreated pine pieces are brilliant for getting a parrot to start chewing. These are easy to string onto leather laces with beads, pieces of leather, woven palm, etc. I also give all my birds a container full of foot toys which again are easy to destroy. Two of mine love birdie bangles... anything to keep them occupied.





Have you read any articles by Pamela Clarke?

This one is excellent:

And this one is from her blog:
 
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