Hormonal Plucking

Ornithologi

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Apr 24, 2020
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This is gonna be long, bear with me.

Chorizo is 1.5 year old GCC. I currently have two GCC, my female Margo is almost a year. Chorizo has begun exhibiting signs of bluffing; cage aggression, biting, protective of Margo. To be expected as it's spring and he's sexually mature, while she isn't.

I know my sh*t about birds. I'm studying them for masters, I'm a falconer, I'll be studying them for my PhD next fall. They're my obsession. I try and take extremely good care of my parrots.

Varied diet that includes pellets (not-colored), various seeds, fruit/veg, lots of healthy proteins (rice, quinoa, millet, flax), along with an omega supplement sprinkled on the food, and fresh water. They're weighed weekly with no extreme fluctuation in weight ever, Margo is 67g while Chorizo is 65g. They have toys rotated monthly and are bought new toys nearly every two weeks. They go outside, but also have a UV lamp when it's too cold to go outside. They're incredibly bonded, but also love spending time with my husband and I. It wasn't until mid-march Chorizo began biting, wasn't that serious IMO, he'll get over it.

But 3 days ago he began plucking contour feathers. No down, no filoplumes, just contour. He's not excessively itchy, so I don't think it's a fungal infection. Great appetite, still plays, still tiny satan but the plucking has me perplexed. He has never plucked before, ever, and this is not just a molt as no pin feathers are coming in where he's pulling them out.

Question is: is this hormonal plucking and should it subside when breeding season comes to an end? Does anyone else have experience with this?

No I can't take him to a vet, closest one is 9 hours away and we are ordered to shelter in place in my town. No I don't pet him on the back or offer nesting materials. Oh, and no there have been absolutely no changes in our lifestyle whatsoever.

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noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Have you removed all dark spaces---tents, huts, boxes, blankets, paper piles etc and stuck to petting on the head and neck only?

Even low shelves, drawers and access to dark spaces (like under furniture) are triggers.

10 hours of sleep on a nightly schedule (in a dark, quiet space) = essential as well for hormone regulation and immune function, and all of this ties into behavior and anxiety.

Also- do you have a humidity meter in your home? If not, get one...You want to shoot for around 55% roughly but this varies by species. If you go too high you get mold.

Furthermore, make sure you are not using any scented personal hygiene products or cleaning with non-avian approved cleaners (in the house--period). These can cause irritation.

I would get him to the vet- plucking can be the result of pain or internal illness as well. When did you last have blood work and a gram-stain run? I know vets appear to be closed, but my state is also on lock-down (w/ masks) through May 30th and vets are still open by appointment with altered protocol for patient drop-off etc.
 
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Ornithologi

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Apr 24, 2020
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Have you removed all dark spaces---tents, huts, boxes, blankets, paper piles etc and stuck to petting on the head and neck only?

Even low shelves, drawers and access to dark spaces (like under furniture) are triggers.

10 hours of sleep on a nightly schedule (in a dark, quiet space) = essential as well for hormone regulation and immune function, and all of this ties into behavior and anxiety.

Also- do you have a humidity meter in your home? If not, get one...You want to shoot for around 55% roughly but this varies by species. If you go too high you get mold.

Furthermore, make sure you are not using any scented personal hygiene products or cleaning with non-avian approved cleaners (in the house--period). These can cause irritation.

I would get him to the vet- plucking can be the result of pain or internal illness as well. When did you last have blood work and a gram-stain run?


Did I not just say I know my sh*t about birds? No he never gets touched below the head, ever. He can't get into anything at all, he stays on his play gym, us, and his cage all day. He gets plenty of sleep every night. No bird sleeps 10 straight hours a night, he does get complete darkness for 10 hours a night. If humidity was the issue the other bird would be experiencing the same issues. LOL @ the scented stuff. Again if that was the issue the other bird would be experiencing it. Please don't even comment if you can't answer what I'm asking.

ALSO I JUST SAID I CANT TAKE HIM TO THE VET. Read the post or don't answer
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
I was just asking because you didn't mention anything but the vet in your post. Yes, I know you feel that a vet will not be possible, but aside from those suggestions, you are looking at a vet visit. There is no magic wand or even medicine for an undiagnosed condition....

And birds do sleep for 10 hours in many cases if uninterrupted--some species sleep more than 12 hours (certain cockatoos up to 14). 10 hours of darkness is normal for his species and since it doesn't sound like you have tried it, aside from seeking medical help, I would try it.
AGAIN- "I know vets appear to be closed, but my state is also on lock-down (w/ masks) through May 30th and vets are still open by appointment with altered protocol for patient drop-off etc."

I also would re-vamp your response/tone to well-meaning suggestions. I understand you are stressed and probably panicked, but if you want help from a forum, you have to understand that we do not know you or your bird and you have to be understanding of that.
 
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noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
ALSO-- no, certain birds have sensitivities and allergies (just like people..) so don't assume that they would all show the same response to an environmental irritant. That is erroneous thinking.
 

Anansi

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Hello, and welcome to the Parrot Forums family! I wish it were under better circumstances, of course, but welcome all the same. I'm so sorry Chorizo is going through this.

Unfortunately, there are many potential causes for plucking. Including, as you suspect, a reaction to hormonal surges. And even people with access to certified avian vets sometimes still wind up with no solid idea of why it has happened. A vet visit is always a good first step, as there are sometimes specific medical causes. But we're living in strange times at the moment, and it seems that avenue is closed to you at the moment. (I'm currently Covid-19 positive myself and under home quarantine, so I'd be in a jam myself if a veterinary visit were needed.)

Here is a link to a VERY informative thread on plucking that may prove to be of help: http://www.parrotforums.com/behavioral/52217-plucking-search-answers.html

Plucking can have its roots in hormones, stress, boredom, fear, dietary insufficiencies/excesses, or medical issues causing itchiness, irritation or pain. One of my ekkies developed a plucking habit brought on by an unusual molt where maybe triple the number of pins pushed through at the same time. It infuriated her and she plucked them out in response. Ever since, she plucks at new pins coming in out of habit. Never the existing. Always the new ones that are irritating her. And it's proven a tough habit to break.

I'm hoping this proves to be a case of a bad reaction to hormones that will pass. I've seen that, before. But you wouldn't know if that's the case one way or the other until after this current hormonal bout has passed.
 

Anansi

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Maya (Female Solomon Island eclectus parrot), Jolly (Male Solomon Island eclectus parrot), Bixby (Male, red-sided eclectus. RIP), Suzie (Male cockatiel. RIP)
Just as a reminder, I'd ask that all responses are kept both civil and respectful. When questions are asked on a forum, it's always going to be hit or miss insofar as you getting the answer that pertains to your exact situation. The trick is to take everything in, and use what works for you while tossing the rest. End of the day, everyone is just trying to help.

Dealing with a new bout of plucking is EXTREMELY stressful. Believe me, I know. Between the responses you'll be receiving here and the plethora of posts on the thread that I linked in my previous post, hopefully something will work for Chorizo.

And as has been mentioned, two birds might harbor different types of sensitivities or allergies. Don't rule out any particular cause simply on the basis that the other bird isn't affected as well. Consider everything.
 

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