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Old 02-06-2013, 04:29 PM
weco weco is offline
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Re: hahns macaw feather less plucking addict

You really should have addressed the plucking when it first started, but since he’s been doing it this long, you’re going to have fun determining the problem. If he has a clean bill of health & your veterinarian can find no medical problems, the next place to start looking is where he lives…

You don’t mention how many of his 9 years has been with you, or if you have remodeled or moved or made any major changes to the house, prior to his starting to pluck. All too often, birds pluck their feathers because of the world we have imposed on them.

We companion humans are allergic to pollens, metals, foods, chemicals, and any number of other things we come in contact with everyday. Synthetic vitamins, concentrates and extracts also create allergic reactions in humans. The same holds true for many companion birds. Avian behaviorist Pamela Clark, in an article entitled: Causes and Approaches to Resolution, has noted that:

“Brian Speer, DVM, agrees that lotions and other substances on an owner’s hands can be the cause of feather picking. (He has suggested that owners dip their hands in cornstarch before petting any ‘powder’ birds they might have, such as cockatoos, greys, and cockatiels.)”

Clark further notes that one of Dr. Speer’s ongoing concerns is:

“That such substances will actually cause fungal growth on the feathers – not just on the skin – and that this can cause a real inducement to feather picking.”

The following list comprises some of the suspected causes offeather plucking:

• Air too dry
• Allergic reactions
• Another bird’s cage placed to near
• Anxiety
• Boredom
• Cage placed too low
• Cage relocation
• Cage too near a window
• Cage too small
• Changes in diet
• Changes in household, divorce, new work hours,new baby, college, marriage
• Dietary and nutritional imbalances
• Disease
• Feeling threatened by a object near their cage
• Feeling threatened by another family pet
• Hand-feeding by inexperienced feeder
• Having too many homes in a short period of time
• Heavy metals
• Illness
• Improper wing clip
• Infectious – bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic
• Isolation of cage
• Lack of play time/opportunity
• Lighting too bright
• Loss of a cage mate

Australian aviculturist Chris Hunt’s article THE ECLECTUS PARROT: Eclectus roratus, Part 2, offers the following as to why eekies are prone to plucking:

“Nutritional imbalance can be one of the main causes of feather plucking. Stress is also another contributing factor and can be brought on by many different situations including the cage or aviary being too small or too cold, a bossy partner, strangers in or around your aviary complex, the breeding season, change of diet, or even boredom can also lead to feather plucking.”

This is a relatively new school of thought concerning the cause of plucking & self-mutilation, but there are clinicians & behaviorists who believe that our parrots may be creating, for himself, a self-induced drug high. The pain created by plucking & self-mutilation causes the release of endorphins. Endorphins are natural pain relievers produced by the body. They are chemicals that calm you, relieve pain and make you feel good. Endorphins have been likened to the opiates of opium, codeine, morphine, and heroin.

Dr. David Spiegel, of, offers:

“… twisted as it may seem, by plucking their feathers, they have a reliable way that they can control and deliver feelings of pleasure to themselves. They have essentially learned how to access their body’s drug supply system, though they invariably pay a high price in the damage that they inflict upon themselves.”

Good luck.....
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