The Plucking Parrot

SamKerr

Regular Member
The Feather Plucking Parrot

One of the most common reasons parrots are brought to the vet is for biting/chewing or stripping their feathers. A wide array of conditions can cause this behaviour to occur ranging from liver, kidney or respiratory disease, bacterial or viral infection, hormonal problems, poor nutrition or lack of stimulation/stress (this was previously over-diagnosed, and in fact many of the “stressed” pluckers actually have internal illness).

Investigation into feather plucking is very important, as if the cause is infectious it could have consequences not only for the birds own health, but for the health of the birds (and in some cases humans) around them.

In terms of investigating feather plucking, the following may be required, depending on the vets assessment of the case:

  • A complete, thorough history of the birds enclosure, environment, diet and daily routine (pictures/videos can be useful in this instance).
  • A thorough clinical examination by a vet
  • Blood samples for routine haematology and biochemistry (this gives an indication of organ function and will flag up infection/inflammation)
  • Specific blood tests for infectious diseases and/or toxins (Tests for bornavirus (PDD), circovirus (PBFD), polyoma virus, chlamydia, aspergillosis, zinc, lead etc)
  • Specific faecal tests for infectious diseases (such as Chlamydia)
  • Feather samples for analysis under the microscope
  • X-rays to assess organ size/shape/position and to look for any abnormalities
  • Endoscopy to visually assess internal organs and take samples (biopsies) as necessary
  • Samples of skin (biopsies) for analysis

Often, owners opt for everything to be done at once to minimise costs and stresses of multiple visits and anaesthetics. This also can reduce lab fees and can considerably cut down on "waiting times".

Whilst samples are being processed, we advise that the bird be put onto an appropriate diet with the correct supplements.

In addition, many parrots are kept inside without UV light: something which is essential for proper calcium metabolism as well as improving their quality of life by giving them a normal day/night rhythm and allowing them to properly see the UV reflective colours on their plumage, toys and feed which we cannot see.

Due to the number of possible causes and number of tests required, it can be costly, time consuming and frustrating (both for vet and owner!) to track down the cause. Unfortunately, some cases will not be resolved, and occasionally the plucking itself becomes habitual, so even once the underlying cause has gone the bird may still pluck.

Repeat sampling/procedures may also be required to monitor response to treatment. 

At the time of writing, we estimate (at the practice I work in) approximately £300-500 for investigating feather plucking, but given their long lifespan and strong bond to their owners, many clients are happy to spend this for investigating this potentially serious problem.

We recommend that all companion parrots undergo a routine health check once per year to pick up any early signs of illness.
 

Julie

The Mother Hobbit
Regular Member
A great post Sam


I have three pluckers (rescues)


Rosie came t me a plucker and a mutilator, in the first weekend of getting her she cost me in excess of £500, she had so many tests done and we found out she had airsaculitus and liver problems, she had the treatment, nebuliser used daily etc, back and fourth to the vets and us now clear, she stopped mutilating and for the most part has even stopped plucking, however she does pluck when she gets hormonal or stressed.


Charlee girl is another rescue that came to me as a plucker and mutilator, again all the tests have been done, again liver problems and other deficiencies were found, all down to bad diet, bad house keeping etc. The mutilating has stopped but she still plucks, she's on all the supplements needed as advised by my vet, she has annual vet visits,sometimes mire often if I'm worried etc. she's back next week for her annual health and bloods, but I have a feeling her results will now come back clear again yet she still plucks, which makes me wonder if she now plucks out of habit and because she can't fly.


Max is another rescue that came to me as a plucker, again he went to my vets when he came, we noticed his eyes just were not right, pupils were just not right and he could not see us if we were at a distance. He underwent all the tests, poor liver etc. from bad, fatty diet and he had a very bad eye infection, treatment of eye drops and supplements were given. His eye sight is now much better and he can now see pretty well (he went back and fourth to my vets due to his eyes etc.) and he can fly and land confidently. His pupils will never be "right" as he's had pupil trauma and he's stopped plucking, but where he plucked himself badly,mine feathers have never come back and he has a fair amount of red feathers due to follicle damage.


I would like to add that all three if the above birds had been clipped and couldn't fly, the clipping was done by their previous owners and all of them can now fly very well apart from Charlee girl, her clip was horrendous and her wing was damaged!!


Also all of the birds had all this treatment, funded by me even though I didn't have any intention on keeping them, I rescue/ re home birds personally, I don't charge etc. but I do take them to the vets to make sure they're in good health, the real poorly birds don't move to a forever family, they stay here with me as I wouldn't want somebody else to have the expense of their treatment as I always wonder if they would get it in another home as parrots are costly anyway without the added costs of illness etc.


Julie
 
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Bob

Bird Whisperer
Staff member
Admin
A very informative post Sam, thanks for taking the time  :thumbsup:
 
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Shirley

Regular Member
As you all know we had Scooby to the vets with plucking all bloods have come back normall apart from 1 which Stamford Bridge vet put down to travelling and dehydration and possibly start of kidney problem but the vet is keen to think it's the 1st one . He does however think Scooby could be a mutator and a plucker. Mites on birds he also says is very rare unless the bird or parrot is an avory bird as i was going to treat Scooby for dust mites you see that's when the vet told me i would be wasting my money he says the bloods or whatever he does test for mites . I also use aloe Vera to help sooth Scoobys skin although i have just tyred cider vinegar to see if this helps which i read in one of these posts fingers crossed this helps also . ☺
 
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Scarlett

Guest
Oooh fingers crossed Shirley.

Nothing stops Harley plucking :(

Make sure every few times you spray him you use just normal water so the aloe/vinegar doesn`t build up in his feathers too much

Let us know how you get on  :rose:
 
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Kendra

Regular Member
I know fully how upsetting it is when birds do this, but I have had to just accept it with Miss Harry, even 3 new orange feathers which lasted about 8 months have now gone.  At least there are no medical problems and that is something to be grateful for, just wish we knew why.

Miss Harry last month

Harry  May 15.jpg
 
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Leroysmum

Regular Member
Code:
I have an African Grey and a Macaw that have no feathers on their chests due to plucking. Leroy the Grey gets over excited and pulls at her feathers to relieve the feeling hence now no chest feathers. Our hybrid Macaw Chaz was quite poorly with an infection and after being treated with two injections daily for ages and antibiotics, he is now better but not grown the feathers back on his chest. None to pluck just none grown. We are now giving them a natural remedy that is added to their water bowl daily called "Pluck no more". They are on their third bottle and it says could take about four bottles of treatment to show any effect. So here is hoping.
 

dianaT

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
This is the above post copied out.


Ann is asking for help and advice please.

Code:
I have an African Grey and a Macaw that 
have no feathers on their chests due to plucking. 
Leroy the Grey gets over excited and pulls at her 
feathers to relieve the feeling hence now no chest feathers.
Our hybrid Macaw Chaz was quite poorly with an infection 
and after being treated with two injections daily 
for ages and antibiotics, he is now better but not grown the 
feathers back on his chest. None to pluck just none grown.

 We are now giving them a natural remedy that is added to their water 
bowl daily called "Pluck no more".
 They are on their third bottle and it says could take about
 four bottles of treatment to show any effect.
 So here is hoping.
 

DizzyBlue

Administrator
Staff member
Admin
Ann been on line and i missed her  :cry:


Diana please send her my very best regards when you speak to her next :)  
 

Choxs

Regular Member
If your Parrot has been a plucker in the past, will the feathers grow back eventually??
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
After loosing Jeff so suddenly through self injury and also having Holly whom is a pluckier and Charlie whom was a pluckier and I am keeping my fingers crossed that he will leave them alone now I just think that we all have a lot to learn on our birds and the causes of its particular behaviour. But I will always get bloods checked as this will rule out aone of the most common reasons for plucking to start and then try to build up confidence of the bird. some feathers may grow again but quite often they are not too strong but parts of the body that get too damaged will remain bald. During growth the new fathers can become irritant for the bird and getting a pluckier to leave them alone is most times impossible.
 
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NikkiEagle

Regular Member
Registered
A great post Sam


I have three pluckers (rescues)


Rosie came t me a plucker and a mutilator, in the first weekend of getting her she cost me in excess of £500, she had so many tests done and we found out she had airsaculitus and liver problems, she had the treatment, nebuliser used daily etc, back and fourth to the vets and us now clear, she stopped mutilating and for the most part has even stopped plucking, however she does pluck when she gets hormonal or stressed.


Charlee girl is another rescue that came to me as a plucker and mutilator, again all the tests have been done, again liver problems and other deficiencies were found, all down to bad diet, bad house keeping etc. The mutilating has stopped but she still plucks, she's on all the supplements needed as advised by my vet, she has annual vet visits,sometimes mire often if I'm worried etc. she's back next week for her annual health and bloods, but I have a feeling her results will now come back clear again yet she still plucks, which makes me wonder if she now plucks out of habit and because she can't fly.


Max is another rescue that came to me as a plucker, again he went to my vets when he came, we noticed his eyes just were not right, pupils were just not right and he could not see us if we were at a distance. He underwent all the tests, poor liver etc. from bad, fatty diet and he had a very bad eye infection, treatment of eye drops and supplements were given. His eye sight is now much better and he can now see pretty well (he went back and fourth to my vets due to his eyes etc.) and he can fly and land confidently. His pupils will never be "right" as he's had pupil trauma and he's stopped plucking, but where he plucked himself badly,mine feathers have never come back and he has a fair amount of red feathers due to follicle damage.


I would like to add that all three if the above birds had been clipped and couldn't fly, the clipping was done by their previous owners and all of them can now fly very well apart from Charlee girl, her clip was horrendous and her wing was damaged!!


Also all of the birds had all this treatment, funded by me even though I didn't have any intention on keeping them, I rescue/ re home birds personally, I don't charge etc. but I do take them to the vets to make sure they're in good health, the real poorly birds don't move to a forever family, they stay here with me as I wouldn't want somebody else to have the expense of their treatment as I always wonder if they would get it in another home as parrots are costly anyway without the added costs of illness etc.


Julie
Interesting read. I also have just adopted a bird with plucking issues. It's notable that all three of your birds had problems with their liver. Is this due to a previous poor diet? I've just been watching mine and hes itchy, very itchy and its driving him crazy. I think the itching might well be the reason he'll end up giving me a nip. There are no avian vets local to me so I'm going online to see if i can find 1 who might make a house call. I know it will cost but its preferable to putting him under the stress of a long journey. I really do think there's an underlying medical issue. Wish me luck!
 

Michael Reynolds

Regular Member
As far as traveling with a Too I always make sure they can see out the window. I have never had a bird get stressed as they are looking at all what is happening around them. Two of the Too's I have do have slight plucking issues but its not through diet both are improving but it can be a slow process and sometimes you can get a relapse. Squeaky a Citron Too was nearly naked apart from her head but managed to let a few others grow but she is still a little baldyi have her with a great family now through the rescue service I work with. Diet can often be the reason that causes later in life issues with the liver and this is one reason I like to have bloods checked to see there bodies are absorbing the correct nutrition. Many health related issues can be overcome by a change in the diet but its still hard once thing are corrected to stop a pluckier from continuing it habit.
 
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