Ciaque plucking

Pumpkinandpepper

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Nov 19, 2018
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I have a question that I am hoping to have some input on.

I have 2 caiques genders unknown at this time. My one ciaque Pumpkin has been with me and my wife for about 3 years and is roughly about 4 years old. Pumpkin after about 2 years became overly attached with me and I work as a nurse and during the day when I wasn’t home was shredding the flight feathers as well as pulling out her down. We had pumpkin tested for any yeast, mites, or any other type of illnesses, which all can back negative and was told basically it was a stress behavior. After some time with limited improvement we brought pumpkin to a well known breeder near us where pumpkin fell in love with another baby ciaque. After seeing pumpkin not wanting to be separated from the baby we decided to adopt the baby, the breeder explained that this may help with the behavior. Though we had some issues early on with snotting which we thought at first this maybe something that the breeder may have missed and had a veterinarian check them out; which again all came out negative and ended up self resolving. The plucking/feather mutilation in pumpkin also resolved for the past 6 months. Her plumage looked better than ever! We are now faced with the two having started to pull out feathers. (Not sure if it’s just pumpkin pulling the feathers out of both of them or if they’re doing it to each other)The baby is not even a year at this point and we do not believe this is the same behavior that was observed with Pumpkin. (Pumpkin used to literally chew away her feathers down to the skin and this is lore of a clean pluck looking thing although we have not seen either of them actively pluck) Pumpkin has not return to pulling down out or shredding the flight feathers. We also have never observed them actively plucking. The only thing that we have seen is some small fights that seem more of playing behavior then aggression- and never any plucking.

I wanted to see if anyone had any breeding pairs seen this with hormonal behavior (or could this be a molt/false molt?) and that this is just due to hormones. I know they aren’t fighting or not getting along- they scream insatiably if the are separated which I though would indicate a bonded pair. I rather not separate them but I also don’t want bald ciaques.
 

ChristaNL

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You are very certain they are not molting?

(they kind of do this every 6 months afik: sometimes a small one, sometimes the large molt)

Do the pulled feathers have blood on the tips?
(where they were attached to the bird I mean)

Of course it is possible that one bird plucks the other- in that case you will have no choice but to house them seperately (or accept a baldy parrot) where they can see, touch, but not pluck each other.
 

EllenD

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Aug 20, 2016
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This could be a number of issues, and you may have other future issues that you're going to have to deal with too that could make things worse, or cause you additional problems...The first thing you might want to think about doing is to have each of them DNA-tested so that you know their genders, because if they are already that closely bonded with each other, if they are of the opposite sex, then you're probably going to end-up with babies, which I don't know if that was your goal or not, or whether you're experienced with breeding/hand-raising baby birds, but that's a whole other issue in and of itself...

As far as the plucking goes, is it both birds visibly losing feathers, or just one? Sometimes one bird actually "plucking" the other is actually a form of aggression, or it's a hormonal behavior, which goes right back to knowing their genders and having continual babies...I noticed you called them a "breeding pair", which is why I'm not sure if that was your goal or not, or if these are your pets (it's hard to have them be both, not impossible but not likely)...

Usually if it's just molting, even a huge molt, the bird won't have actual "bald spots", certainly not without even any down present. So if you're finding bald spots with no down on one or both birds, then it's likely plucking...And typically if both birds are losing feathers/being plucked, it's not both birds that are each plucking themselves or each other that aggressively, but rather only one of the birds aggressively plucking both themselves and the other bird...and in that case, as Christa already mentioned, you have no choice but to house them separately, because obviously it's not good for the bird being plucked, and it can actually escalate into more aggressive mutilation...

If your "male" or first bird was plucking himself to the point that he had bald spots with no down, and now they are both showing the same type of bald spots, I'd hazard to guess that it's the "male" or your first bird doing this to both himself and the new bird. Just going with the odds on that guess, could be wrong, but it's likely. And obviously since he is 4 years old he's already gone through puberty and is likely hormonal, while the baby may or may not have gone through puberty yet...but the plucking could have very likely been originally a hormonal behavior in your first bird (triggered by his close bond to you), and now he's doing the same thing but the bond transferred over to the baby, especially if they are of the opposite sex. It's not uncommon for two birds of the opposite sex to be put together and meant to hopefully become a "breeding pair" by a breeder, then to bond closely with one another, but have to be eventually separated and not allowed to breed or be a "pair" because one of them, usually the male, becomes way too aggressive with their hormonal behavior...

Honestly I would watch them closely to make sure that the plucking/balding doesn't keep progressing, and that you don't start to see any other "aggressive" behavior, as it does often escalate into more violent, possessive behavior by the dominant one of the pair, and if this continues they are probably going to have to be housed in separate cages and only allowed out together under supervision. I'd also get them both DNA-tested, either by your CAV or by using one of the many online labs that does feather-testing, not only so you know about their chances of producing babies, but also so you are prepared for a female laying infertile eggs as well...
 
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Pumpkinandpepper

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Thanks you for your input. They aren’t a “breeding pair” my intentions wasn’t to have them mate but to get Pumpkin a friend. If they breed that isn’t a big issue for us, I understand that caiques are bad parents and they are not willing to tend to their eggs as they should. We have had this discussion when we got Pumpkin a friend and are prepared to do what is needed to ensure the safety of their young.

I was asking people who had breeding pairs if they have seen this with there pairs to try and further understand what my birds are experiencing.

Thank you sooo much everyone!!!
 

Laurasea

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Aug 2, 2018
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Also even though two birds might really like each other, they may not enjoy sharing a cage, might feel cramped or annoyed at sharing. They might do better in side by side cages, and then time out if the cage together. My GCC and my Quaker Neptune are very lovey dovey but you stick em in a cage together and they get in each other's nerves and annoying each other....
 

EllenD

New member
Aug 20, 2016
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State College, PA
Parrots
Senegal Parrot named "Kane"; Yellow-Sided Green Cheek Conure named "Bowie"; Blue Quaker Parrot named "Lita Ford"; Cockatiel named "Duff"; 8 American/English Budgie Hybrids; Ringneck Dove named "Dylan"
Thanks you for your input. They aren’t a “breeding pair” my intentions wasn’t to have them mate but to get Pumpkin a friend. If they breed that isn’t a big issue for us, I understand that caiques are bad parents and they are not willing to tend to their eggs as they should. We have had this discussion when we got Pumpkin a friend and are prepared to do what is needed to ensure the safety of their young.

I was asking people who had breeding pairs if they have seen this with there pairs to try and further understand what my birds are experiencing.

Thank you sooo much everyone!!!


Yes, I understand, and I gave you my answer regarding their plucking...I am a bird breeder of 20 years, so I have seen this behavior many, many, many times, and as I mentioned it can progress into actual mutilation and actually violent aggression. And they are a "breeding-pair" if you allow them to be housed together and breed...I don't mean to be rude or anything, but I don't think you understood what I wrote. I've owned dozens of breeding-pairs, which simply means two birds of the opposite sex who are bonded and actively breeding, and I've also had to separate many breeding-pairs because it became unhealthy for one or both birds...
 

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