Is my cockatoo plucking?

Nestea

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Mar 17, 2021
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Originally when I greeted my umbrella cockatoo one morning a week ago, I noticed him missing a small patch of feathers on his chest (upper area of bare patch on picture). Weirdly, I haven't noticed any changes in his behavior. He's always seemingly been so happy since I raised him from 3 months old (he's 7 years old now). I didn't think much of it until the next day when a few more feathers were missing. I figured it might be a sign of birdy puberty or some hormonal changes. I rarely "cuddle" with him anymore; I stopped when he was about 3 years old. Our interactions are less hands on (more-so trick/toy based) as I've seen hundreds of cockatoos online pluck, and never wanted him to go through it. Since day 2 of the incident I've made sure to change up his diet, toys, increased the attention I gave him, etc. The bare patch hasn't increased in size since day 2. Yesterday when I inspected his chest, I saw two tiny pin feathers developing in the first area he seemed to have plucked. Today I inspected the area again and it seems 2 pin feathers have grown drastically in less than 24 hrs. I also noticed tiny feather speckles on the bare patch. Did he actually pluck his feathers if they're seemingly coming back in a week later? Or is this molting? Are the little white speckles on the bare patch looking like new feathers coming in or are they remnants of old? Thanks in advance for your opinion!

25989d1616015377-my-cockatoo-plucking-16160153138522682394356006483341.jpg
 

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Laurasea

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Welcome to the forum. Sudden onset of plucking, your best bet is a trip to the avain vet to check things out, there are numerous health reasons that can start them plucking.

Then the next step is to address beh, behavior sbd home life. It's great that yiu switched things up. As tgr advice I read is move tge cage to a new spot, add a bunch of toys abd easy to shred stuff, and increase time out of the cage to 6 hours or more.

Yes looks like lots of new pins getting ready to come in. But you never have bare skin with a normal molt. Most burds are very sneaky about plucking.
 

noodles123

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Jul 11, 2018
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Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Yes, your cockatoo appears to be plucking or over-preening his chest (probably due to anxiety, boredom, hormones or sleep issues (which also relate to hormones). They can also pluck due to internal pain etc, although my u2 used to over-preen that exact area religiously.


At 7, this is likely puberty/hormone-related. U2s mature sexually between 6-8 in many cases, but any change in behavior merits a trip to a serious avian vet (as stated above).


If you have an unclear and vaguely sexual relationship with your bird, that can cause this. No petting anywhere other than the head or neck, no access to "nesty" places (cabinets, drawers, boxes, tents, huts, blankets, under hair/clothing, couches, under furniture, tubes, low shelves etc).


Make SURE your bird gets 12 hours of sleep on a schedule like a toddler--- U2s need the most sleep of almost all parrot varieties.


Avoid spending time with your bird in dimly lit rooms...


Make sure he/she has a ton of activities and enrichment and if you see any overly-eager cuddle behaviors, put him/her down and politely disengage/walk away.


Warm/mushy foods should also be avoided during hormonal periods, but the rest of the advice above applies to adult cockatoos indefinitely (whether or not they SEEM hormonal).
 
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Scott

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Nestea

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Mar 17, 2021
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Thank you so much everyone! Seems like a lot of new pin feathers came in that area last night, so here's to hoping everything's okay. I'll continue to monitor his behavior. He's seemingly just as happy as ever. :)
 

WhiteFlight

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Aug 20, 2020
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Meisha: Umbrella Cockatoo | Female | 03/09/1989 Hatch Date
Did he actually pluck his feathers if they're seemingly coming back in a week later? Or is this molting?

The loss of feathers at the same time supported by parallel regrowth is peculiar. My umbrella has never completely removed a feather, however others have reported the activity. It would be helpful to see the discarded feathers.

In further assessing, it would be beneficial to see the skin surface areas in the two circled areas shown in the following image:
Nestea-Ref-v1b-72.png


Note:
  • Reference A indicates a slight irregularity in the new pinfeather.
  • Reference B indicates preening damage.

If it is possible to provide the requested image I would look for mutilated feathers indicated in the following illustration, specifically references D through H:
Nestea-Ref-v2c-72.png


A replacement feather will not activate without the removal of a mutilated feather that remains in the flesh regardless of size.
 

Jottlebot

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I wpuod definitely agree with a vet visit just to check everything is good.

It seems less likely to me that he would pluck an area randomly at the same time it is re-growing though and perhaps he is just going through a heavy (and ugly, sorry) moult. Or maybe the pins were bothering him and so he plucked the same area?

Do the dropped feathers look damaged or whole?

My 4.5 year old Alexandrine has a couple of horrible bald patches on his head and a week ago had one on his cheek, he is moulting and a forest of pin feathers sprung up very quickly. So they can lose all the feathers in an area, which I didn't know until this year.
 

noodles123

Well-known member
Jul 11, 2018
8,141
173
Parrots
Umbrella Cockatoo- 15? years old..I think?
Did he actually pluck his feathers if they're seemingly coming back in a week later? Or is this molting?

The loss of feathers at the same time supported by parallel regrowth is peculiar. My umbrella has never completely removed a feather, however others have reported the activity. It would be helpful to see the discarded feathers.

In further assessing, it would be beneficial to see the skin surface areas in the two circled areas shown in the following image:
Nestea-Ref-v1b-72.png


Note:
  • Reference A indicates a slight irregularity in the new pinfeather.
  • Reference B indicates preening damage.

If it is possible to provide the requested image I would look for mutilated feathers indicated in the following illustration, specifically references D through H:
Nestea-Ref-v2c-72.png


A replacement feather will not activate without the removal of a mutilated feather that remains in the flesh regardless of size.




My U2 used to have a very similar re-growth pattern (following feather damage). I saw her chew her feathers, never saw actual plucking, but did see numerous downy feathers around the cage base whenever stressed or experiencing a change in my work schedule or other stressful events.



For a while, she did take anti anxiety medication, but she has been off that for a few years.


That looks like feather mutilation to me, but you need to make sure the cause is not medical. Also, be very certain that you are not providing access to any hormonal triggers (via shadowy spaces, huts, touching places other than the head or neck, providing less than 12 hours of sleep, not lighting the room adequately during the day etc).


Your bird's chest does isn't awful, but something is up. That having been said, there is a naturally thinner looking layer of feathers in that area (or at least, feathers that can get pushed out of the way by a full crop etc).


So, do investigate the issue, but know that a tiny bit of skin showing (far less that what you have now) can be normal is a bird has just eaten and is flattening its feathers in a semi-stressful situation etc.
 
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