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General Health Care Remember to use common sense and consult with an avian veterinarian.

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Old 01-16-2019, 09:14 PM
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'too chewing feathers

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Babybird is chewing on a substantial size feather she seems to have plucked from herself. This the third time I've seen her do that lately.

My first thought was a diet issue.

I recently added cracked corn to the 50/50 "parrot food" and zupreem they get every day. I haven't fixed them any fruits or veggies lately.

Edit = I just turned around and saw her picking a feather up off the bottom of the cage, so maybe it's not as bad a thing as I thought.
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Old 01-17-2019, 04:52 AM
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Re: 'too chewing feathers

Does she have toys?


(I would not feed my birds dried corn anyway - it's just filler)
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Old 01-17-2019, 08:32 AM
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Re: 'too chewing feathers

My corella is moulting at the moment and she delights in picking up her moulted feathers and 'washing' them in her water dish. She does a great job of it too, running her bill along the feather shaft and squeezing out the water before dunking it again for another rinsing. Once they've been completely soaked and wrung out a few times, she chucks them out on the floor (ie out of the cage).

Sometimes, my Beaks will play with moulted feathers too, but nowhere near as purposefully as Rosetta does. Maybe it's just a cocky thing?
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:13 PM
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Re: 'too chewing feathers

Regardless of what is going on with her feathers, her diet is not good at all and needs to be changed immediately, because she's going to end-up with Fatty Liver Disease due to the fat content, as well as nutritional deficiencies due to not getting the proper foods she should be getting every single day...

***Any types of Dried Corn are horrible for captive/pet birds!!! Why did you think to add "dried, cracked corn" to her diet? Dried Corn, whether cracked or whole kernels, doesn't matter, contains absolutely no nutritional value at all, and is loaded with fat!!! Corn in any form is not even really a vegetable, it's actually a "Starch"....But any type of dried corn is worthless nutritionally, it provides them no protein, no vitamins/minerals/amino acids, etc., it only provides them fat and carbs that turn-into fat and that is stored in their liver...So please, stop ALL of the dried corn immediately, as this can definitely cause Feather-Destructive Behaviors down the road,
but more important is the Fatty Liver Disease, Diabetes, and Obesity it will cause!


***A great rule-of-thumb for any and all captive/pet parrots is that their regular, daily diet should contain NO Sunflower Seeds of any kind, NO Dried Corn of any kind, and NO Nuts of any kind, SPECIFICALLY NO PEANUTS! If you simply follow this rule and eliminate these items completely from your bird's daily diet, you're already ahead of the game...And depending on what seed-mix you're feeding her, it may also contain Sunflower Seeds, Dried Corn Kernels or Cracked Corn, and Peanuts....So you need to make sure that you're feeding your bird a healthy, low-fat seed-mix that is varied...No seed-mixes from Walmart or from a grocery store, they are all junk and they are the reason that most captive/pet birds die long before they should...

Sunflower Seeds and Nuts should only be given occasionally as "treats", and not every day; it's much better if you give your bird "treats" or snacks that they enjoy but that are also healthy, low fat, and provide her some nutritional value as well. Also, Peanuts are horrible for you bird, even as a treat, and should be avoided completely because they also often carry a form of Mold on them (grows inside their shells) that is very toxic to birds...Instead of Peanuts as a treat, give your bird a healthy nut that isn't a threat to her health and that provides her some nutrition, the best options being Almonds, Pine Nuts, Brazil Nuts, Filberts, Walnuts, and Hazelnuts....But NO Peanuts!!!

What exactly are you feeding your bird as her regular, daily diet? You said a "50/50 mix of Zupreem and Parrot Food"...What do you mean by "Parrot Food"? I'm assuming you're mixing a seed-mix with Zupreem pellets, but exactly what brand/type of seed-mix is it that you use? And what type of Zupreem pellets do you feed her? As far as Zupreem pellets go, the Natural-flavored and the Veggie-flavored are fine, but both the Fruit-flavored and the Nut-flavored are full of sugar, oil, and fat...and the sugar turns into fat and is stored in their liver...If you're giving her Fruit-flavored or Nut-flavored Zupreem pellets it's fine, at least she's eating some pellets, but if you're feeding her a junky seed-mix that contains Sunflower Seeds, Peanuts/other Nuts, and Dried Corn,
then you need to change that immediately, as it could very likely being causing her feather issues, and is most-definitely causing her Liver Issues.


****There are plenty of healthy, low-fat, varied seed-mixes available that are awesome to feed your bird, that they usually love, that will provide them with great nutrition and will keep their feathers, beak, nails, skin, etc. healthy and strong, and if you switch-over to one ASAP and stop the Dried/Cracked Corn ASAP, her Liver health will start improving immediately and her blood-sugar will normalize, her cholesterol will normalize, and her heart health will also improve. I highly recommend either Tropimix seed-mix, OR Higgins Vita-Seed California-Blend seed-mix...They are both available at any Petco and online at places like Chewy; neither of them contain any Nuts, any Sunflower Seeds, or any Dried/Cracked Corn; and they are both a mix of healthy, low-fat seeds, fresh grains and legumes, and dried Herbs, Veggies, and Fruit. I've never met a bird who didn't love them both (they are very similar), even the "seed-addicts", and you'll be improving her overall-health 100%...And neither is anymore expensive than anything else...and the Tropimix seed-mix also contains Tropican pellets in it as well, so if you buy a bag of Tropimix seed-mix and your bird likes the Tropican pellets that are in it, then you can actually stop feeding the Zupreem pellets all-together (I would ONLY suggest doing this if you are feeding your bird the Fruit or Nut flavored Zupreem pellets due to their sugar and fat content; if you're feeding your bird the Natural or Veggie flavored Zupreem pellets then you want to keep doing so)...

***Also, and this is huge by the way...Why have you stopped feeding your bird any fresh veggies? [B]Your bird should get a serving of fresh-Veggies and fresh-Dark, Leafy Greens every single day in addition to her daily staple-diet of pellets and a small-amount of a healthy, low-fat seed mix![/B And while fresh-Fruit should NOT be given to your bird every day, but rather only 2-3 days a week and in small portions, due to the high amount of sugar that all Fruit contains, it's imperative to your bird's health that she get a good-size portion of fresh Veggies and Dark, Leafy Greens every single day!!!

Whether your Cockatoo has started over-preening/barbering/plucking her feathers due to her high-in-fat and low-in-nutrition daily diet, or it's due to a different issue such as boredom, which is quite common in Cockatoos, or it's a combination of both, you absolutely HAVE TO change-up her daily diet, because both her physical and her psychological health will deteriorate rapidly if you keep feeding her what you are...It's good that she's getting some pellets, even if they are the Fruit-flavored Zupreem that are high in sugar/fat, they are still also high in protein and contain a good amount of vitamins and minerals that she needs...But the Dried Cracked Corn that you've added to her daily diet is awful for her, and depending on exactly what type of seed-mix you're feeding her daily and whether it contains Sunflower Seeds, more Dried Corn, and Peanuts or other Nuts, this could very likely be a big part of her problems...And I don't know why you have "stopped giving her any fresh Veggies recently", but you really do need to make sure that she gets a good-sized portion of Fresh Veggies and Dark, Leafy Greens every single day...And the fresh Veggies and Greens are the least-expensive part of her diet!!! It's easiest if you make large batches of "Chop" out of an array of fresh Veggies and Greens, then put a daily portion into small, plastic freezer-bags, put the in your freezer, and then you can just pull one out every night and put it in the fridge to thaw for the next day...I give my guys their pellets and the small-portion of healthy, low-fat seed-mix that they get every day first-thing in the morning, so that they have that to eat throughout the day. And then in the evening when I eat my own dinner, that's when I feed them their fresh Veggies and Greens, usually in a form of "Chop", and we eat our dinners together...And then they also get healthy snacks/treats at night before bed, whenever we're doing any training, and occasionally throughout the day in small portions...For their healthy treats/snacks they get unsalted Almonds and Pine Nuts (my Senegal gets Nuts in-the-shell, as would your Cockatoo), they also get small pieces of fresh Fruit, such as Strawberries, Raspberries, BlackBerries, BlueBerries, Banana, different types of Apples, etc., basically any type of fresh Fruit EXCEPT for Avocado or any Citrus Fruits like Oranges, as the high amounts of Vitamin C causes enhanced-absorption of Iron into their bodies, and birds cannot handle much Iron at all, they develop "Iron Storage Disease", which is fatal...So any Fruit as long as it's fresh and no Avacado or Citrus Fruit...

They also get healthy snacks such as Dried Fruit like Banana Chips, Dried Pineapple, Dried Mango, and occasionally some Dried Coconut. The also love the fruit-flavored "Puffs" that are actually snacks for human Babies...Most human-baby foods/snacks cannot be given to birds because they usually contain added-Iron, but the fruit-flavored "Puffs" do not contain any added Iron, and they are all-natural, organic, and made from whole-wheat and real fruit...They come in tubes and are located in the babyfood sections, and come in Blueberry, Apple, Banana, Sweet Potato, etc. They get a few of these now and again, they are great "training treats"...
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Old 01-17-2019, 05:57 PM
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Re: 'too chewing feathers

I don't know your bird's age, but sometimes that can be a hormonal thing (due to frustration etc). How is your humidity?


This is a good video---I would suggest any parrot owner watch it all. The woman is a professional parrot trainer. Whether or not this has to do with hormones, it can't hurt to watch lol.


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Old 01-17-2019, 07:12 PM
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Re: 'too chewing feathers

Thank you for coming here to ask about the feather chewing - as we all know, asking questions is the best way to Find Out! There are many of us here who have dealt with lots of issues and can certainly help you when you ask for it.

Please don't feel bad about what you're feeding your bird! We all began somewhere and most of us have made dreadful mistakes along the way, learning in fits and starts until we got here, where all the info is neatly recorded in various forums. As some other posters have mentioned, cracked corn isn't of much use to a bird. (NB. It works great for people and horses as a valuable source of energy, but it'll only make your bird fat without nourishing him much). Of course, you weren't to know that, but now you do!

Why don't you pop over to our dietary section and check out some ideas for feeding? Old knowledge was that 'birds are seed-eaters, so feed them seeds'. Newer knowledge is that a purely seed-based diet will only add fat to a caged bird. Remember: wild birds fly many miles in a day and *need* all that energy. Caged birds just store it as fat and that can lead to fatty liver disease or fatty tumours, which can become malignant.

That's why vets now recommend a pelletted diet because it's a more or less complete food that contains the right kind of nourishment for caged birds. We add fresh fruit and veggies so the bird can get necessary trace elements and fibre to keep his system healthy. I feed my birds on frozen veg when I don't have time to prepare fresh. I just zap 'em in the microwave, cool 'em down and the birds nom 'em up in no time flat. I use a thing called 'Winter Vegetable Mix' which is a bit more interesting than plain diced veg mix. Mostly, though, the birds get what the family eats, so it might be pumpkin, carrot, squash, peas, beans, capsicum, broccoli, cauliflower etc etc etc. Each bird gets about a cupful a day and I remove what they haven't eaten as soon as it's clear they're finished (don't want sour veg gathering bacteria).

I hope this has been a bit useful to you. Please don't hesitate to ask questions! You'll get a variety of answers to each one and the idea is that you make up your own mind, based on what you read and what you know about your bird. I wouldn't worry about the feather thing for now. Just keep an eye on Baby and ask again if the behaviour gets more frequent.
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Old 01-17-2019, 08:19 PM
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Re: 'too chewing feathers

Regardless of what is going on with her feathers, her diet is not good at all and needs to be changed immediately, because she's going to end-up with Fatty Liver Disease due to the fat content, as well as nutritional deficiencies due to not getting the proper foods she should be getting every single day...

The OP wasn't to know that, Ellen. She's clearly been feeding whatever was recommended to her by someone else who also didn't know any better.

***Any types of Dried Corn are horrible for captive/pet birds!!! Why did you think to add "dried, cracked corn" to her diet? Dried Corn, whether cracked or whole kernels, doesn't matter, contains absolutely no nutritional value at all, and is loaded with fat!!!

Shouting isn't going to help the inquiring newbie. I'm guessing she thought cracked corn was good because it *does* contain energy and is a useful adjunct to a high-performance diet. Also, wild cockatoos in Australia eat plenty of corn and other cereal seeds every day. How's she supposed to intuit that it isn't all that great for caged birds?

So please, stop ALL of the dried corn immediately, as this can definitely cause Feather-Destructive Behaviors down the road,
but more important is the Fatty Liver Disease, Diabetes, and Obesity it will cause!


Yes. 'Down the road'. Fortunately, the OP has now been informed but sadly by a sledge-hammer rather than a simple heads-up (which would have been all that was needed).

So you need to make sure that you're feeding your bird a healthy, low-fat seed-mix that is varied...No seed-mixes from Walmart or from a grocery store, they are all junk and they are the reason that most captive/pet birds die long before they should...

Some seed mixes from variety stores are OK. It's the sunflower/safflower coalition that needs fixing. Maybe we, as a group, could take that on as a project (ie. writing to the packagers of seed mixes asking that sunflower and safflower be removed from standard mixes)? I've been known to pay my kids to sit and pick out sunflower seed from the mixes I could get.

I'll say it again: not everyone has access to the fabulous and scientifically balanced seed mixes available in the US. Locally, I can get the supermarket boxes in both expensive and cheap, dusty varieties (neither of them very good and both loaded with sunflower/safflower) OR I can get chicken food, which is nutritionally better, but still has sunflower in it.

Sunflower Seeds and Nuts should only be given occasionally as "treats", and not every day; it's much better if you give your bird "treats" or snacks that they enjoy but that are also healthy, low fat, and provide her some nutritional value as well. Also, Peanuts are horrible for you bird, <snip> ....But NO Peanuts!!!

Yes! All good info, but no need to shout it. OP never said she fed peanuts.

What exactly are you feeding your bird as her regular, daily diet? <snip> but if you're feeding her a junky seed-mix that contains Sunflower Seeds, Peanuts/other Nuts, and Dried Corn,
then you need to change that immediately, as it could very likely being causing her feather issues, and is most-definitely causing her Liver Issues.


Ellen, the OP isn't answerable to you. I'm so sorry, but you can't jump on people like this and inquisit them (I made that word up). In the real world, people can feed white processed bread to their birds if they want to and we can't do much about that except advise otherwise. If someone bellied up to you and derided what you're doing and then demanded you do something else, wouldn't that get your back up? I think there's a more helpful way to approach newbies than telling them off, don't you?

****There are plenty of healthy, low-fat, varied seed-mixes available <snipped list of enviable food products apparently available to Ellen but sadly not available to me>

All excellent info and it belongs in the dietary section as a labelled post where anyone can find it. I'm as guilty of it as anyone, but it's not really helpful to write a small novella when the OP just wanted some helpful suggestions about feather-chewing. I learned that (the hard way) by being given 'TLDR' responses to posts on facebook.

***Also, and this is huge by the way...Why have you stopped feeding your bird any fresh veggies? <snip>

The OP isn't to know that and it may be her bird didn't eat the veggies she provided and so she stopped offering them. Until we know how and why the veggie situation developed, we shouldn't really assume the OP has made some dire error. Should we? Shouldn't she be given the benefit of the doubt?

Whether your Cockatoo has started over-preening/barbering/plucking her feathers due to her high-in-fat and low-in-nutrition daily diet, or it's due to a different issue such as boredom, which is quite common in Cockatoos, or it's a combination of both, you absolutely HAVE TO change-up her daily diet, because both her physical and her psychological health will deteriorate rapidly if you keep feeding her what you are...... <snip>

In fact, birds can live for a very long time on a vile diet. Our Dominic was fed exclusively on sunflower seeds for thirty years. Certainly, he wound up morbidly obese and had numerous lipomas that, ultimately, killed him. But he was alive for over thirty-five years and his final years were healthier and happier because he came to our place and we changed his diet and gave him exercise. Oh, and 'his liver was fine', said the vet.

Bottom line is, the OP doesn't HAVE TO do a single thing you say. However she may do, if the options are put kindly instead of as an ultimatum.

They also get... <snip>

That's wonderful! I envy your birds all the excellent foods they receive. But y'can't lay all this on a newbie and imply (with shouting) that they need to up their ante and do as you do. That's just not the way to win friends and influence people. Aside from taking the OP's original post and omnibussing every dietary sin an owner could commit onto her question about feather-chewing, it's just not kind to hurl overt criticism like that. It's more likely to drive newbies away. Then, their parrots will never get the better diet they need.

It is absolutely overweening and arrogant of me to take another member to task like this and I apologise for it. My reasoning is that I've seen far too many innocent, inquiring people driven away by this kind of response. If we want to better the situations of caged birds everywhere, we're far more likely to do that with tolerance and gentle suggestion rather than barrages like this. OK. Up I shut, now.
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