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Old 09-16-2018, 10:34 PM
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Feather picking/overpreening in a quaker

Hi all. By now many of you will be aware of my baby Quaker ScoMo. His name is a bit of a "working title", I bought him while there was a political coup d'etat going on here in Australia (again!) and I "temporarily" named him after the guy who is our new Prime Minister, Scott (Sco) Morrison (Mo), I guess you could say that's his gangster name

Anyway I meant to take ScoMo and his roomy Fang down to the vet about 2 weeks or so ago but my father-in-law was hospitalised after having had a stroke so unfortunately those plans were delayed. In the intervening 2 weeks it seems ScoMo has developed a bit of an overpreening problem with the feathers on his back at the top of his wings. First the left side which started about 5 days ago, and this morning he has started on the right. This has prompted a call to our bird vet this morning who will see him tomorrow evening.

I am well aware of feather plucking and even quaker body mutilation syndrome being a problem but I must say I am surprised it has started this soon as he is probably only about 4 or 5 months old at best! He came to me with severely overclipped wings and cannot fly - my wooden floor is covered with blankets and towels and pillows etc etc to try to break his fall but accidents sometimes do happen and he overshoots them.

He was one of 2 quakers for sale when I got him, and he was the quieter of the 2 which made me feel kind of sorry for him. He and his brother were being poked at and picked up off their playstand by everyone who came into the shop, his brother seemed to enjoy the attention whereas ScoMo was much more shy. I felt bad leaving one of them behind but I couldn't quite justify the price of both! He is not exactly a snuggly bird and doesnt like head skritches, not yet anyway. He doesnt seem to mind my holding him close though, he beak butts my face and will try to preen my face and hair. He stepped up like a little champion from day 1 and is also doing quite well with potty training. No biggie if he gets it wrong but plenty of positive reinforcement when he gets it right, ie when he poops ANYWHERE but on me! He eats a pellet diet with lots of supplementary fresh veg and since this whole feather picking thing started I've been cutting eucalypt/bottlebrush branches for him to chew and climb around on which he seems to enjoy. I suspect it's a reaction to my going to work and leaving him caged during the day, but thats only 3 days a week, otherwise there is almost always someone here and he is out for the majority of the time.

I am so worried about this feather picking thing I cannot tell you! He will be seeing who I believe is one of the best CAVs in the country tomorrow and I'm happy about that, but if anyone has any experience/tips/advice/words of general encouragement or moral support in the meantime we would both be very appreciative!
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Old 09-16-2018, 10:36 PM
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Re: Feather picking/overpreening in a quaker

And here's a picture!
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Old 09-17-2018, 01:47 AM
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Re: Feather picking/overpreening in a quaker

Picking/plucking is one of the more vexing traits of parrots. There may be multiple triggers, and at some point the bird normalizes such behavior. If the follicles are picked to destruction, baldness in the area occurs.

One of our beloved former moderators began a thread with exquisite description of the issues and resources to help mitigate or end plucking: Plucking: A Search For Answers

Good luck with the CAV visit, hope there are more answers than questions!!
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Old 09-17-2018, 02:08 AM
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Re: Feather picking/overpreening in a quaker

Thankyou for your response Scott. We have only had ScoMo for a few weeks and the environment where he came from was, to my mind at least, less than ideal. He's only a baby but has had a severe wing clip. The store we got him from had him and his brother on a playstand about 1.5 metres tall,maybe a bit higher. They were exposed to a lot of foot traffic in and out of the shop and were pretty much poked and prodded by everyone who went by. This may only be speculation on my part but, judging by the way he launches himself in my home trying to fly, I imagine if he was doing that in the shop on those bare concrete floors he may have hurt and/or stressed himself. Things are certainly a lot more calm on the home front here, but he does strike me as quite a sensitive little soul (maybe speculation again!) He is with me on my shoulder as I write this to you and he says "hi" and "thank you" too! And he isn't picking at the moment!

I have read Allee's work with rescue quakers and her information about plucking and mutilation, her writings are very informative and helpful and I do follow them - like I say I've never had a plucker and I thought it was only something that would impact an abused or neglected bird and mine certainly are not!

Anyway he has an appointment with a very good CAV tomorrow (they'd just had a cancellation when I called so happy about that!) so I will post an update when I have some more news.

Thank you again and let me just say I've learned more about parrots in the few weeks I've been with your forum than I have in years! You have some extra-ordinary people who contribute here and I am grateful to each and every one of you!

Very best regards,
La Manuka Scarlette
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Last edited by LaManuka; 09-17-2018 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 09-17-2018, 11:46 AM
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Re: Feather picking/overpreening in a quaker

Now I’ve seen everything! I noticed that when ScoMo ate his pellets he appeared to almost try to embed each one in those feathers he’s been picking at in his back. He seemed to be simultaneously eating the pellet, crunching away as he did so, and picking at/overpreening the feathers. So I switched the food in his bowl to some lightly steamed then cooled and chopped broccoli and corn to see what he’d do with that and hey presto no trying to eat it out of his back! Then not long before bedtime he was on my shoulder in the kitchen and I handfed him a couple of pellets and he went straight back to trying to embed them in his back feathers - bizarre behaviour! Cannot wait to tell the doc about that one!
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Old 09-17-2018, 12:15 PM
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Re: Feather picking/overpreening in a quaker

Hi, he looks young! Like mine did at eight weeks....maybe they forced weaned him? That could lead to behavior issues in one so young. I'm glad you have a good vet and can't wait to hear what they say.. misting seems to help my older rescue along with offering daily bath bowl, and time outside in the sun/shade. Good luck!!!!
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Old 09-17-2018, 12:16 PM
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Re: Feather picking/overpreening in a quaker

Also being clipped before they fledge causes some behavior issues. I read up that because mine was clipped before fledgling
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Old 09-17-2018, 01:19 PM
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Re: Feather picking/overpreening in a quaker

I thought that too, and that he may have been too young to have been sold. He was fine until I had to leave him and go to work, maybe it’s God’s way of saying I need to be a stay-at-home mum! But he will be seeing one of the very best CAVs in this country today so hopefully we can stop this developing into something really nasty!
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Old 09-17-2018, 01:44 PM
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Re: Feather picking/overpreening in a quaker

Can I suggest something. May sound crazy. Buy a bunch of popsicle sticks and let him play with them. Quakes have strong nest building urges, stronger in some individuals. He may put the sticks in his feathers, but who cares. He may also build a nest in his cage that you will have to dismantle every now and then.
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Old 09-17-2018, 01:59 PM
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Re: Feather picking/overpreening in a quaker

Thank you so much for your suggestion Mr Wrench I will try just about anything at this stage no matter how random! Isn’t he too young though to be doing nesting type stuff? I’m supposed to go to work today but I’m thinking of blowing them off for the day! Do you think he’d do the same thing if I cut down those eucalypt branches into paddle pop stick sizes? Any and all suggestions welcome THANK YOU

PS We call popsicles “paddle pops”
in Australia
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Last edited by LaManuka; 09-17-2018 at 02:04 PM.
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