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Old 04-20-2010, 10:26 AM
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Need advice for feather plucking

Hi everyone. I'm new here and came seeking advice about my 2-year-old Jenday conure, Louie. He began plucking his feathers out about a year ago, starting with the feathers on his legs and gradually working up over the last 12 months to pulling out his back and breast feathers, and occasionally larger feathers on his tail and tops of his wings.

I have tried everything I've read to stop this behavior.

We first took him to our local exotics vet, who I adore. She was so gentle and sweet with him, which was refreshing after a bad experience with another vet who basically manhandled the poor bird. She ran a full exam, parasite check, and blood tests and found no physiological problems, so we started trying psychological fixes for the issue.

I've tried giving him more attention, moving his cage to a busier part of the house where people can walk by and talk to him or take him out and give him a treat.

He eats Zupreem pelleted food, and occasionally fresh fruits and veggies, although for some reason he's really picky about fresh foods.

He has a variety of toys in his cage at all times and plays with them frequently, and I change them every once in awhile to give him variety. He gets one-on-one attention from almost every member of my family on a daily basis.

We've started teaching him to forage, although right now this simply means teaching him to eat from multiple bowls around the cage, since I've read it's best to start out that way and increase the work they have to do to find food (foraging toys, etc.).

He also loves to sit on the sink in the bathroom while I shower (he does this multiple times per week) and be in the humidity, so I don't think it's a humidity-related problem.

The only problems I've had otherwise are that he was a bad biter when he was really young, but he was easily trained not to bite and now only nips when he's startled. In general, he is a pretty nervous bird and shies away from new people, toys, and situations, but it doesn't seem to take him long to warm up to them.

It's not AS bad as it was a year ago...there was one point he was actually mutilating under his wings until he bled, but we took him to the vet for that, had him on antibiotics, and he never did it again after we moved him from my bedroom to the living room. He seems happy in the living room and loves all the attention.

I'm just not sure where to go from here to try to stop the problem. I caught him with bald spots on the tops of his wings that are new today, and it breaks my heart to see him constantly plucking himself bald. Sometimes if I firmly say, "Don't pull your feathers," he'll stop, but I can't watch him constantly when he's in the cage.

Any ideas?
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Old 04-20-2010, 11:36 AM
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Re: Need advice for feather plucking

Welcome to the forum. Feather picking is such a complex issue. You have done most of the things that you should have done and the diet/environment sound fine. It must be a behavior issue for sure. At my bird club meeting this past weekend the experts were talking about feather plucking. It does get to a point where the bird has learned to deal with anxiety this way. The only suggestion I have is for a consult with an avain behaviorist which I imagine is expensive. Bye the way there was a little conure at my meeting that was a feather plucker for so long the feathers are not going to grow back. Sad.
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Old 04-21-2010, 12:59 AM
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Re: Need advice for feather plucking

This is stupid, but I have seen plastic collors on birds who pluck like the ones you use for dogs, only smaller.
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Old 04-21-2010, 07:47 AM
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Re: Need advice for feather plucking

Yes collars are used for birds that bite and tear at their skin. They make them really small now especially for birds.
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Old 04-21-2010, 08:06 AM
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Re: Need advice for feather plucking

I attended a seminar on Feathers that Phoenix Landing hosted about two weeks ago. Here are a few things I remember:

- Birds that were not allowed to fledge are more likely to pluck
- If the bird is plucking at night, it is more likely to be caused by physical problems
- Make sure that no foreign substances are getting on the bird's feathers... like soap from the sink or crumbs from your fingers
- Keep a log to see if it is cyclical. If so, it could be hormonal. Limit "cuddle" time to 5 minutes at a time and don't allow the bird any dark, small places. May need to keep the cage covered for longer.
- Don't tell the bird to stop plucking - it may begin to think that plucking is a good way to get your attention. Instead, create a distraction. For example, drop something on the floor. Then once it stops plucking to see what happened, give the bird a toy.
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Old 10-15-2012, 03:32 AM
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Re: Need advice for feather plucking

try getting a uv light for the conure maximum use 2hours a day they can be expensive , sometimes a bird merely plucks due too lack of vitamin d in there feathers when birds preen vitamin d is what they are getting off the feathers. my green cheek conure plucks i bought this uv lamp he loves it one hour in the morning and 1in the evening fresh fruit daily i have been using this for 2weeks now and not once has cheeks plucked and new feathers sprouting up everywhere. also take your conure outside when it is sunny for at least half an hour a day sun is source of vitamin d. my conure has been vets had all sorts of tests done and no answers the uv lamp seems to be doing the trick hope this helps sandii27
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Old 10-15-2012, 05:04 AM
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Re: Need advice for feather plucking

I agree with getting him a UV bulb if u do not have one. Also plucking can be a an alergic reaction to food offered even the pellets if colored could be something look into.

Also it could be habit now, i saw this toy on mysafebirds it was a bunch of feathers with i think beads on it I cannot recall. It was to curb plucking. It was out of stock so i used a mop head for my eclectus to preen.

I also spray a solution on my eclectus of argentyn 23 1 oz to 4 oz of distilled water on her affected areas. You can get it at places like Wholefoods market. Its expensive about 50 dollars for a good size bottle. But it has worked for me. My eclectus when i got her had a bare neck and chest this helped her alot. Although u might want to talk with your vet beforehand.
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Old 07-25-2013, 03:05 PM
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Re: Need advice for feather plucking

This might help, but let your bird become flighted! Flying around provides the bird with great exercise to remove all that built up energy.

I know a lot of people are against flighted birds, but ours is flighted and he is only aloud to fly when we are in a large room with us supervising. I had to teach our bird to fly as he was never aloud too. Basically it was the same thing a mother parrot would do. I dropped him until he flew. Of course I didn't drop him far and not onto a hard surface. I had to help him develop the muscle to fly, and making him flap his wings is how I did it.

I am sure there is better ways, but it's just what I did. I have cats and dogs, so I figured a flighted bird had a better chance of getting away from something if it happens. My dogs and Cats are good around the bird so I am not worried, but you never know!

I never thought about a UV lamp! Thanks for the suggestion (even though it was not for me. :-)!! My bird is a basement dweller with us (Our apartment), we take him outside but a UV light sounds like a great idea as well!! Would this be good you think?
Amazon.com: FeatherBrite 15 Watt Full-Spectrum Bulb: Pet Supplies Amazon.com: FeatherBrite 15 Watt Full-Spectrum Bulb: Pet Supplies

Last edited by baron1282; 07-25-2013 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 07-25-2013, 04:18 PM
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Re: Need advice for feather plucking

Just so that you know Baron, your replying to a old post. But great info!

By allowing a bird to fly is a personal choice but it doesn't stop the plucking issues! All my adults are allowed to fly and I have a few plucker.
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:35 PM
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Re: Need advice for feather plucking

Hmmm, weird! Didn't know it was old it was on the front of my page when I first read it. :-p Didn't look at the dates.
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