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Old 05-13-2018, 03:46 PM
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Greenwing Mac leg picking help

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Need advice here on a NEW rescue shelter greenwing macaw I met today.
The only information is he or she is at least 6 years old, housed with a hybrid macaw for 6 yrs, sex unknown, no known issues with health but it's been picking at the legs feathers. Please view the 3 picks to see the bald area where it was picking.
Is this normal given stress in a shelter or is this normal when housed with another macaw or a sign of illness. I also noticed sometimes it has sleepy eyes, or like partly closed but alert like it fooling. This greenwing is bold and confident, no signs of being hyper or scared.
I only met him or her once and am considering adoption but I wanted to get some feed back about the leg picking.
Thank you.

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Last edited by Timneh; 05-16-2018 at 05:11 AM.
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Old 05-13-2018, 09:41 PM
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Re: Greenwing Mac leg picking help

Anyone have any thoughts about the picking?
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Old 05-13-2018, 11:17 PM
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Re: Greenwing Mac leg picking help

Plucking can be caused by a million different things. He might stop out of the shelter environment and he might not. If you do adopt him I would get a full blood work up on him if the shelter hasnít done a really recent one themselves to rule out a core health issue. Also, disease testing too if they donít have records of having it done themselves.

He might be stressed by the shelter environment causing the plucking. Not all birds can handle that environment without freaking out. His cagemate might be a bully and is stressing him out. He might not like his cagemate and that is stressing him out. He might be bored because he doesnít like his toys or doesnít have enough of them. His diet might not be great, his skin might have an issue, he might have some other health issue, it might be a learned behavioral habit that wonít go away, he might have damaged follicles and will always have some bald spots now....there are a lot of different options to chose from when it comes to plucking haha.

My adopted macaw is a leg plucker too. It looks like he has stopped since he came home with me. But only a few feathers have come back. From the pictures I can find at the first shelter he was in he was a plucker back then too, so he easily could have damage follicles on his leg and will never get them all back now.

If you do adopt him I always recommend a full blood work up with or without plucking issues when it comes to rescues. That way you know where your baseline is and to catch issues early since you can never know all the damage previous owners have done just looking at them. For example, my mother adopted a beautiful, active, fully feathered cockatoo that was only around 3 years old. When her first round of blood work came back it showed early signs of liver issues. A 3 year old bird that should live into her 50s was already on her way to liver failure. So bloodwork is a must!
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:58 AM
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Re: Greenwing Mac leg picking help

Great comment post and info thank you.
I agree about the testing, and am thinking of requesting if the shelter would allow me to bring him for testing before I 100% decide to take him but after the adoption is approved and I will pay the exam fees.
I don't want to have a parrot with incurable diseases that make his keep very difficult.
Here is an interesting video
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Old 05-14-2018, 02:27 PM
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Re: Greenwing Mac leg picking help

How long has he/she been at the shelter? I'm asking because of his cagemate, did the shelter just put them together, which would mean that he/she has been there for over 6 years, or did they come this way from their former home?

My concern would be separating the two if they've been together in the same cage for over 6 years, especially if that's the way they both arrived from their home to the shelter, which is what I'm assuming since they probably haven't both been there for over 6 years...even if they have been, if these 2 get along well then separating them may also cause a huge issue for you once you get him/her home.

I doubt that the cagemate is the cause of the leg plucking, as if they've been housed together for over 6 years and this was a problem, well, there would be lots and lots of problems besides simply leg plucking. As far as the cause of the leg plucking, as already mentioned, there is absolutely no way to know what the cause is, but taking him/her to a Certified Avian Vet for a full blood work-up and fecal cultures is step #1, as it could very well be a Bacterial or Fungal gastrointestinal infection causing the plucking, or some other health issue that needs to be ruled-out. I'd also be getting a test for PBFD done if the shelter hasn't already, as that's not a heartbreak you want to go through.

I'd be asking questions such as how long the bird has been at the shelter, where he came from, how many prior homes if they know, and whether or not he came with his cagemate...I'd also ask how long the leg plucking has been going on, as if it's a fairly recent development then it's more likely a health issue, such as an infection, that's causing it. Get as much information as you possibly can, and then insist on either the shelter taking the bird to their Certified Avian Vet for a full blood work-up, Fecal Cultures, and PBFD testing, or allowing you to find an Avian Vet to take him to for the same tests. This will tell you a lot.

As already mentioned, Avian shelters/rescues don't usually feed the best diets due to money and labor limits, so if he's not on a nutritious, varied diet consisting of a fortified, healthy, natural pellet diet with a seed mix as a supplement, along with daily fresh veggies and fruits, and they've only been feeding him a cheap seed mix, this could very well be the cause of the plucking, malnutrition...Though his feathers in-general look pretty good, and he's definitely a good looking bird...
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Old 05-14-2018, 05:32 PM
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Re: Greenwing Mac leg picking help

Iím guessing you would be surprised how many Ďpairedí birds come into rescues that have been together for years but donít like each other all that much. Or you get the situation where one is in love with the other but the other one is indifferent to their affections. Iíve seen it in macaws, greys, Senegalís, conures, Quakerís and others. Separation sometimes is the right answer to solving issues. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes separate cages but same home is the answer. If the rescue is letting you only take one I would guess this is a situation where serparation is fine. Unless the rescue doesnít know what they are doing which is completely possible haha

I didnít actually say rescues feed horrible diets but previous homes could have done so and if he is recent that is a possible reason. Iíve only worked with parrot rescues that feed better than most pet homes. Fresh foods daily, sprouts, birdie bread, nuts, varied mix of pellets and other birdie Ďtreat mixesí. Just wanted to clarify that one!
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Old 05-15-2018, 03:19 PM
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Re: Greenwing Mac leg picking help

From your pics it looks like the GW is banded? If so see if you can read it. Might be able to find out a little more(at least hatch date)from it.

Good Luck and please keep us posted.
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Old 05-15-2018, 08:41 PM
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Re: Greenwing Mac leg picking help

Sorry.
I went back and looked at the pics again. Maybe that was a screw on the cage I mistook for a ring.

This last set of bifocals haven't been the best.
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Old 05-16-2018, 05:15 AM
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Re: Greenwing Mac leg picking help

I decided to pass on this macaw for several reasons.
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:25 AM
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Re: Greenwing Mac leg picking help

Quote: Originally Posted by riddick07 View Post
Iím guessing you would be surprised how many Ďpairedí birds come into rescues that have been together for years but donít like each other all that much. Or you get the situation where one is in love with the other but the other one is indifferent to their affections. Iíve seen it in macaws, greys, Senegalís, conures, Quakerís and others. Separation sometimes is the right answer to solving issues. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes separate cages but same home is the answer. If the rescue is letting you only take one I would guess this is a situation where serparation is fine. Unless the rescue doesnít know what they are doing which is completely possible haha

I didnít actually say rescues feed horrible diets but previous homes could have done so and if he is recent that is a possible reason. Iíve only worked with parrot rescues that feed better than most pet homes. Fresh foods daily, sprouts, birdie bread, nuts, varied mix of pellets and other birdie Ďtreat mixesí. Just wanted to clarify that one!

Oh no, I've seen it both ways, but I wanted to stress that the OP find out all of this information FIRST, before separating them, as I've seen that go horribly, horribly wrong, either for one of the birds or both...
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