Help! are these black bars?

Yowza

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Hi everyone, long time lurker, first time poster.

Approx. 7 months ago we welcomed our feather friend, Harry a 3 month old Vosmaer Eclectus. What took us by concern recently is his plumage turning black. I've read other owners experiences where this is never a good sign and could indicate a nutritional deficiency.

His diet is mainly fruit and veg, in his cage we also have some seeds and pallets. Aside from the black plumage, he has shown no other symptoms we could indicate an unhealthy parrot or one that is in distress. He always sit ontop of his cage and we leave the top open whenever we are home. He's started to utter a few words and never likes to be left alone - infact whenever everyone leaves the lounge room, he'll jump off his perch and wander to my bedroom.

I realize he's still a baby and hasn't gone through his first molt. I'm just wondering if there's any room for concern here? As we're fairly new to this, he hasn't had his first check up yet. We haven't bathed him, just splashed some water, he doesn't seem very keen to get wet so we just let him be.

I've attached some before and after photos below. As you can see, the photos taken before were just went we got him. Bright green plumage that the male Eclectus is re known for.

Before:

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After:

IMG_3118.jpg
IMG_3109.jpg
IMG_3119.jpg
 

saxguy64

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Hello, and welcome to the forum! You have one adorable baby there. :)

I'm not really seeing stress bars so much as just worn feathers. Hard to say as he hasn't had his first molt yet, but there can be reasons for this. Over preening will definitely do that, as can other things, including effects of diet. You say he hasn't been to the vet yet? I would encourage you to do so, with an good avian professional, soon. A full exam including blood work is super important since it gives you a baseline to compare later on as things change. Ekkies are very sensitive to what's in their diet, so blood work to check levels and organ function really should be done.

Can you be more specific about his diet? Pellets generally (with a few exceptions) have added vitamins and such, which is not a good thing for Ekkies. So, unlike most parrots, they need less nutrient dense food. Grains and such, veggies, and small amounts of fruits. Seeds and pellets, little to none if possible. Sometimes, transitioning can be difficult, depending on him, so less healthy is better than not eating, until he readily accepts the healthy stuff.

Feel free to ask questions, we're here to help in whatever way we can, and again, welcome to you and your sweet little boy!
 

Ekkietiel

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He almost looks wet in some of those. I’d agree that it’s likely diet related. You say he’s got fruits/veggies in his cage along with seed and pellets. Are you sure he’s eating mostly the fresh foods and not the pellets?
 

noodles123

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Generally, pellets are not considered a good idea for eckies due to their digestive features (they can absorb too many vitamins from them because they are more efficient at extracting them than other birds). You have to make sure they are getting a really balanced mix of fresh produce, grains etc.
 
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Yowza

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Thanks for your replies everyone.

Admittedly, due to our busy lives as of recent we've only been able to offer him pellets as fresh fruit and vegetables go off if left in his cage for too long.

In one container we also have seeds, he doesn't eat seeds much and just flicks it. I'm not sure if it's the mix of seeds, earlier on there weren't any issues.

The pellets, he doesn't consume much if at all, based on my count, the half full pallets are still in his case from a couple of days ago.

We'll try and feed him more vegetables and fruit, see how we go from there. Is frozen vegetables ok for him?

He isn't showing any symptoms aside from the black feathers. I'm not sure if it's usually the case with all Ekkies but he seems to be toilet trained as well. He'll only poop one sitting on his perch. Sometimes sitting on our shoulder, he'll utter a few words or try our get our attention meaning it's time...which is really cute!

He also seems incredibly vain, wanting to stare into the mirror in our bedroom for hours.
 

noodles123

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Thanks for your replies everyone.

Admittedly, due to our busy lives as of recent we've only been able to offer him pellets as fresh fruit and vegetables go off if left in his cage for too long.

In one container we also have seeds, he doesn't eat seeds much and just flicks it. I'm not sure if it's the mix of seeds, earlier on there weren't any issues.

The pellets, he doesn't consume much if at all, based on my count, the half full pallets are still in his case from a couple of days ago.

We'll try and feed him more vegetables and fruit, see how we go from there. Is frozen vegetables ok for him?

He isn't showing any symptoms aside from the black feathers. I'm not sure if it's usually the case with all Ekkies but he seems to be toilet trained as well. He'll only poop one sitting on his perch. Sometimes sitting on our shoulder, he'll utter a few words or try our get our attention meaning it's time...which is really cute! You don't want him holding in his poop, so definitely make a point of praising him when he goes in his cage as well.

He also seems incredibly vain, wanting to stare into the mirror in our bedroom for hours.

That mirror thing is something that should be avoided if at all possible. They can confuse their reflection with another bird (despite their extreme intelligence). You definitely need to focus on providing a high quality diet----eckies are VERY nutritionally needy parrots. I have a cockatoo and I leave her fresh fruit/veg in the cage for longer than I should, but she has been okay (7-8 hours)...certain veg spoils faster than others (but some things can sit out safely for longer periods of time). Frozen is fine (if thawed) but may go "off" faster.
 
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Yowza

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That mirror thing is something that should be avoided if at all possible. They can confuse their reflection with another bird (despite their extreme intelligence). You definitely need to focus on providing a high quality diet----eckies are VERY nutritionally needy parrots. I have a cockatoo and I leave her fresh fruit/veg in the cage for longer than I should, but she has been okay (7-8 hours)...certain veg spoils faster than others (but some things can sit out safely for longer periods of time). Frozen is fine (if thawed) but may go "off" faster.

Thanks, great advice. I'll limit the mirror time - i don't want it to be constant, in future if we decide to get him a friend, he might not be able to build those social skills required and will be confused.

I've started to feed him only fruit/veg/nuts from yesterday, might be placebo but the feathers are slowly starting to improve in colour.

Poor thing has been in a baby cage as well. We're planning on getting a much bigger cage that is suitable. Just making room for that in the next week.
 
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Yowza

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He almost looks wet in some of those.

He's not wet in any of those photos. In person, his feathers do have a glossy/shiny appearance. Other than that, perhaps it is the lighting conditions or the camera - i know my iPhone XS Max takes photos and they can appear more glossy in certain conditions.
 

noodles123

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That mirror thing is something that should be avoided if at all possible. They can confuse their reflection with another bird (despite their extreme intelligence). You definitely need to focus on providing a high quality diet----eckies are VERY nutritionally needy parrots. I have a cockatoo and I leave her fresh fruit/veg in the cage for longer than I should, but she has been okay (7-8 hours)...certain veg spoils faster than others (but some things can sit out safely for longer periods of time). Frozen is fine (if thawed) but may go "off" faster.

Thanks, great advice. I'll limit the mirror time - i don't want it to be constant, in future if we decide to get him a friend, he might not be able to build those social skills required and will be confused.

I've started to feed him only fruit/veg/nuts from yesterday, might be placebo but the feathers are slowly starting to improve in colour.

Poor thing has been in a baby cage as well. We're planning on getting a much bigger cage that is suitable. Just making room for that in the next week.

never ever ever get a bird to be the friend of your bird. they are not guaranteed to get along and they could require totally separate out-of-cage time (which is a lot at 4 hours a pop). It's not about social skills necessarily...Similarly, the presence of another bird can also potentially trigger hormones (if they do get along) and often makes the human the 3rd wheel. You said you hardly have time to attend to this one's diet, let alone 2. They also change a lot at puberty, so I would definitely wait.
 
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Yowza

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I have a lot to learn.

Didn’t mean a friend, rather a partner. This will be way down the track though, no immediate plans. He is attached enough, so the attention required to him is about on par with a toddler. Having another would just be crazy.
We can’t leave him with the cage open in the lounge room and wander off to our bedroom, otherwise he’ll follow. Someone must remain in the lounge room to stop this. He’ll happy stay atop the cage on his perch if someone is in the lounge room to accompany him. I am guessing this is a sense of looniness kicking in?
 

saxguy64

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Looking back, I see he's only been partially bathed once after 7 months, and been I a "baby cage?" Bathing will go a long way in helping with his feathers, without a doubt. In the cage, how much space does he have? Is he spending a lot of time there rubbed up against the bars? That would definitely wear on the feathers and turn them black. Any of these changes won't change the color back. Once they're worn or discolored for whatever reason, they don't just turn back to green. It's a long term project, waiting for healthy new green feathers to replace the old ones as he molts. Great that you're working on a suitable cage now!

Now, bathing... These guys, like people, have definite preferences. Keep trying different things. Temperature, type of spray, time of day, all play in to it. If you find something he likes, try to duplicate it next time.

Example, YMMV- my two each have their own shower perch, and don't like the other's. They shower with me, but don't like direct spray. It has to be the misty bounce off of my shoulders, and reasonably warm. Do it right, they LOVE it. Something not quite right, they sit there and ignore me while they wait for me to be done showering. I alternate them, and occasionally get a day all to myself, so on average, they each shower every 2-4 days. My Ekkie would totally bathe every day, largely because he's so jealous of my amazon. The amazon prefers more like every 3ish days. Neither of them like the spray bottle, although the amazon will tolerate it if, 1. It's been several days, 2. It's kept at a distance and sprayed up and the mist "rains" down on her, and 3. The temperature is nice and warm. Anything else and she's angry. (And lets me know!)

Hope this helps, and looking forward to hearing more about your little guy!
 

noodles123

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I have a lot to learn.

Didn’t mean a friend, rather a partner. This will be way down the track though, no immediate plans. He is attached enough, so the attention required to him is about on par with a toddler. Having another would just be crazy.
We can’t leave him with the cage open in the lounge room and wander off to our bedroom, otherwise he’ll follow. Someone must remain in the lounge room to stop this. He’ll happy stay atop the cage on his perch if someone is in the lounge room to accompany him. I am guessing this is a sense of looniness kicking in?

A partner could still potentially complicate things, like I said for all of the reasons above. In the wild, someone doesn't pick for them.You could pick wrong BUT If you do pick right, you could end up with birds that may be prone to excluding you (or females laying eggs, hormonal issues etc etc). I am not saying it cannot work, but it is a gamble...so only do it if you want it- not for your bird.

You can work with him on station and target training to improve his staying in an area, but it's pretty normal for them to want to be with their people. If you leave, time him to see how long it takes for him to follow you (if there is a way to supervise him w/out him knowing you are watching, that would be best). Once you time him, leave again the next time and say something like ("stay here"), but return right under the previously recorded time period, and reward him with lots of attention and a treat. Say something like "you stayed on your house! Good job" Or whatever...use that phrase each time. Gradually increase the time you step away (but DO NOT trust him not to get into things-- if you have a laptop, you could set up an unlisted livestream on youtube, email your phone the link, and that way, you could watch him to make sure he wasn't doing anything dangerous. . Also, talk to him from the other room (as long as he isn't screaming) so that he knows where you are.

You do want to work on teaching some independence while they are young-- praise him for playing with toys etc. It is normal for them to want to be with you. Make sure you aren't giving attention to any unwanted behaviors too.
 
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Yowza

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Looking back, I see he's only been partially bathed once after 7 months, and been I a "baby cage?

I'm probably going to get shot for this, but it's a baby cage suitable for a cockatiel, not a larger parrot like an Eclectus. The measurements are 18" wide x 18" depth x 22" height :17: The pet store said it would be ok for 12 months, they'd we would have to get a bigger cage. Now that you mention it, he isn't able to open his wings, and the cage is too small as it is, so he would be rubbing his feathers against the bars, this would explain the discoloration.

We do have him outside sitting on top of the cage on his perch for more than 10 hours a day and he happily sits on his perch all day long. We'll be having him long-term so hopefully those feathers will shine green once again with a proper diet and sizable cage, toys also! just can't have any toys at the moment because the cage is just too small.
 

saxguy64

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Ahh, okay. In the meantime, definitely consider toys outside the cage too. A play stand type of perch with toys and things to do/chew/shred, and places to climb around will help with mental stimulation. Bored Ekkies can definitely be prone to over preening or plucking behaviors, as can other species. They need stuff to do, to have a purpose, you know? Also, as mentioned above, learning to play with toys helps them have some independence, which is super important, especially if you expect them to not have anxiety and possibly self destruct in your absence. My first Ekkie was a lifelong plucker before I adopted him, so I'm painfully aware of this.
 
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Yowza

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Forgot to mention, he has his neighbours (cockateils) which he likes to visit and play with their home. He has managed too many times now to trespass by unlocking their cage, stepping in and make himself feel at home, whilst scaring the poor two away!
I have no doubts based on these actions that his mind is being mentally stimulated.

In addition, he has the couch and various pieces of furniture that he likes to chew on.

Sadly, we'll be rehoming the two 'teils as we need to make room for him and the biggest cage possible to fit the area.
 
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"I have a lot to learn" is a constant state of being for parrot companionship in my experience! We are all with you there!

It looks like damage rather than stress. It's interesting that his head is perfect so he might be doing it himself as the bit he can't get to is fine.

When he flaps does the cage touch his wing feathers? This could be damaging them.

Something else to check is that it isn't grease from people's hands. From too much cuddling or stroking on the body.

It's not at all unusual for baby birds to look pretty tatty, but this usually improves when in their forever home and out of the rearing environment. I think you are right to be taking this pretty seriously. His condition has gone down from the photos and quite quickly. The good news is that you are probably doing something wrong, if you see what i mean, it's good news because you can work it out and change it. Which is much better than it being something unknown and unchangeable.

With eckies diet is EVERYTHING. I didn't see if you have already, but please spend a few hours researching eckie specific diets, parrot diets won't do. Stop the pellets if he doesn't eat them much and they're not advised for eckies then just the them away. Maybe the 1 or 2 he is eating are causing an issue?
 
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Yowza

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It's been a sad day for us, our two cocketeils were given away and rehomed :(
Sadly, we just didn't have the room in our small apartment so we had to let them go. Before the eclectus, our exposure to the parrot world has only been these little ones.

9 months ago, one passed away after becoming 'egg bound'. After getting another cockateil it has never felt quite the same, sad really. Ontop of all that, we got the Eclectus which created a bit of a space issue, and they never got the attention they deserved, hence rehoming them :5_sad::5_sad:

I guess, on the bright side we have now the space to purchase an ample cage.
 
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Yowza

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Some more pics, just after 1 week on a better diet I’m seeing a noticeable improvement in just a week, which is great.
We’re finally getting his bigger home tomorrow, exciting!
 

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