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Old 09-24-2019, 08:08 PM
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What is she doing

Nearly every day my little noise maker plucks or breaks off a piece of feather then grinds it to dust between her beak and the cage bars. I have a thought as to why she does this but I'd like to hear other peoples thoughts too.

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Scott  (09-24-2019)
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Old 09-24-2019, 10:04 PM
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Re: What is she doing

Some kind of ritualized behavior?
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Old 09-24-2019, 11:39 PM
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Re: What is she doing

Ritualised or repetitive behaviours like this are usually the product of stress of some kind. Since birdie can't tell you what's upsetting her, you can either figure it out by close observation or try changing her life around a bit. Maybe try feeding, cleaning, playing at different times. Don't keep to a schedule, but be a bit more random so birdie doesn't get stuck in a rut. Changing the positions of toys and perches inside the cage might help, as might the addition of new and different ones.

The most important thing for cockies is the provision of chewing material. Since she's an Aussie, it would be great if you could get hold of eucalyptus, callistemon, melaleuca, banksia or grevillea timbers (all plentiful in the US, I'm told). Cockies *love* chomping gumnuts (the fruits of the eucalyptus tree) and if you can get big ones (red ironbark, bushy yate), you can use those to hide food morsels in for foraging.

In the absence of natural timber, see if you can get hold of a raw-wood pallet which has been untreated and unpainted. I use a hole saw to cut 'biscuits' out of the timber, drilling a hole in their middles and stringing them on a leather thong. The remaining piece of holey timber can be put in or on the cage for cocky to chomp on.

Vegetable tanned leather is fun for birds to chew and I have a feeling *this* bird would enjoy the texture as she crushed it in her bill. Craft shops, Tandy leather outlets and ebay are good places to look. My cousin makes prosthetic limbs and supplies me nicely with heavy leather offcuts.

Other options include all kinds of cardboard, egg cartons, fabric bolts and whole root vegetables (check our safe foods section) as well as finer materials like millet sprays and grass seed heads. Don't dismiss the idea of making your bird work for her food by hiding it in foraging toys, either purchased or home made.

Finally, you might consider target and/or trick training your bird. Cockies are mightily intelligent and they really relish being given mind-stretching tasks to do. My Rosetta learned targetting in minutes and it gave me an instant way of getting her where I needed her to be. My Alexes really took to doing little tricks for me and would actually search out the trick toys, virtually asking me to play with them!

The thing is, ritual behaviours are not the healthiest thing to observe in a bird because they usually point to loneliness or lack of sufficient intellectual stimulation. I'm not suggesting for a moment that this is the case with your bird, just that the behaviour needs attention *before* it deepens into something worse.

Do keep us updated with your progress! I hope you see some good results very soon!
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Scott  (09-25-2019)
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Old 09-25-2019, 03:18 AM
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Re: What is she doing

My cockatoo enjoys repeating the same sorts of motions with something in her mouth----she makes tools out of her wooden toys and then attempts to swivel open her food cups. She also has these plastic things on a chain that she moves back and forth all the time (but only with a bit of wood in her mouth). When mine is upset (due to big routine changes or decreased interaction, she will chew her chest feathers the way a child sucks his thumb). Although she has improved some, I can always tell when she is upset, as I will start to find little feathers around when I go to wake her up in the morning.

I am sure it is a combination of boredom, cockatoo-ness, stress, habit and possible OCD.
You might consider an anti-anxiety or OCD medication to see if that could help (in conjunction with a solid sleep schedule and lots of interaction time).
Once plucking becomes a habit, it is very hard to break (even when the initial stresser is gone). It is almost like someone getting addicted to a substance--the trigger that caused them to start can go away, but the urge to continue to behavior remains.

My "Too" also really likes plastic C-links and certain wooden toys. How does yours do with toys?
Have you had a vitamin panel run to make sure there is no nutritional deficiency?

Last edited by noodles123; 09-25-2019 at 03:21 AM.
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