Plucking: A Search For Answers

safe

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Jul 15, 2016
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HELLO every one, excuse any mistakes , english is not my primary language, i havea parrot, rossiclois, he has loss of feathers on his wings near the neck, and at times bleading, it looks horrible and is at the point where he can no longer fly, i have a room set up for my birds, i have cages with open doors so the can move arround freely in the roome, fresh water every day , i give them 3 or 4 types of seeds apple , letuce and some times rice , they love cooked rice, my problem is that i have more or less 16 birds, all of them happy and perfect except for my two grey rosiclois which i actualy thing are related grande father and grande son. the younger one has no mate "single" just plays arround alone all day and has slight loss of feathers, the older one has mass loss of feather on his neck and blood. the older one has a cage just for him and his girlfriend with open door , he never leaves the cage, i think the female is kind of his girlfriend / boss very bossy and unfriendly to all other birds, and some times mean to him. he has this condition for maby 9 months now.
i dont know what to do . here are some pictures of him and his girlfriend Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet
Lukd9
 

Terry57

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Hi Safe and welcome to the forum.
I am so glad you found us and are asking for help for your babies.

I think it is great that your birds are allowed to come and go from their cages as they like, but I would still suggest having several perches of different materials and diameters
in their cages, as well as some toys for them to chew on. It is also important to keep the cages as clean as possible.
I would add in more veggies to their diet, lettuce is not really that nutritional.
Here is a link with a list of safe and healthy things for your birds to eat:
http://www.parrotforums.com/parrot-food-recipes-diet/24213-bird-safe-fresh-foods-toxic-food-lists-sprouts.html
It may help to add a good pellet as well. If they are not eating enough fresh veggies and fruits, here is a great link for you to help convert them to a better diet:
http://www.parrotforums.com/parrot-food-recipes-diet/23367-converting-parrots-healthier-diet-tips.html

Do you have an avian vet you could take the older one who is so plucked to? There may be underlying health issues. If the female in his cage with him is picking on him, I would let him have the cage to himself for now at least.
 

GraciesMom

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Apr 9, 2016
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Hi Safe & welcome!

Some great advice above. I'm sure you'll find lots on information on the forum to help you out. Toy's/perches etc. can be hard to find/get in some areas & can get really expensive to replace especially when ya have a few :) I love this section of the forum Do It Youself there are some great ideas & just a fraction of the cost to make.

Please keep us updated on his progress :)
 

GaleriaGila

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May 14, 2016
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The Rickeybird, 37-year-old Patagonian Conure
The Rickeybird has never plucked, but I was drawn to read this thread for some reason, and now I know why, having finished it.
This thread shows everything WONDERFUL about this place. Newbies and senior members come together without judgment or intolerance; people share their most private agonies about their beloved parrots; scholarly research and genuine personal caring are combined to HELP people HELP BIRDS. I was very moved by the posts here. Very, very moved. I love this place.
 

tess87

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Jul 28, 2017
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Viggo - Senegal 16 yrs old
Kato - Senegal 10 yrs old
I´m currently having a difficult time with one of my Sennies, his chest is bare...after a year of growing it all back! I suspect stress, my older bird can be very nasty to him. They have a room all their own and are pretty much free in the daytime, but my older goes in the cage and is locked up at night, he isn´t trusted to share the cage.
 

AkridChaos

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Aug 31, 2017
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Rescue Budgie: Snowball (blue/grey)
Normal Budgie: Oliver (yellow/green)
Black Capped Conure: Warbeak
Parrotlet: Lily, Rest In Peace
Canary-Winged Parakeet: Stryker
Read through this entire post. Will be watching the video about the sock for absolute last resort for Lily. I like the theory about the watermelon. Will start buying those more often (personally I can’t stand them but if it helps Lily, it’s worth a shot). Maybe I’ll post pictures of her in this thread later since there were people in the past asking what a plucked bird looks like. She’s not completely bald like she once was but it’s still painful to look at her plucked areas. It seems any time she's almost fully feathered, she goes nuts on her chest/back and rips out chunks of feather. She hasn’t plucked her tail or any of the other areas she once had since her flight feathers grew back. I can say with confidence she is one bird I won’t be clipping this next coming vet visit. I fear she’d go crazy plucking herself clean and be bald like when I first got her. I’ll add to this post I read somewhere a UV lamp can help, if they are Vitamin D deficient, in my case my birds definitely are since it’s still winter and too cold to take them outside yet. :( I had to cover the windows in their room too because Lily and Snowball kept pooping/chewing on them, and cleaning up the poop was very difficult, and well, there’s no fixing the chewed up chunks now. She is definitely a work in progress, and I’m still actively trying to get her (and Snowball) onto a pellet diet (it has been a very trying process). Hopefully things work out for the best with her. I mean, she has made progress so far, fingers crossed she doesn’t extend plucking past chest/back like in the past. It was so grotesque there was no way I could post a picture of her in the forums when I first got her. She’s still a bit of a fright to look at compared to a healthy non plucking bird, but she is indeed a good example picture for others to see what a plucked little birdie looks like. Hopefully as she makes progress (if she continues to do so), I can post update photos of her with healthy feathers.
 

Anansi

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I'm hoping with you that Lily continues to make progress. Plucking can be such a stubborn and mysterious affliction, and so painful to watch. I have so much respect for those of you who strive each and every day to find an answer that works for your birds.

I think it would be great if you posted pics. Not just for the learning experience, but also so we can meet Lady Lily.
 

AkridChaos

New member
Aug 31, 2017
129
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USA
Parrots
Rescue Budgie: Snowball (blue/grey)
Normal Budgie: Oliver (yellow/green)
Black Capped Conure: Warbeak
Parrotlet: Lily, Rest In Peace
Canary-Winged Parakeet: Stryker
I took a few pictures of her to show the plucked areas as best I could. It’s most prominent on her front right under her neck, also looks like there’s a bit under her wings. I couldn’t quite get her back, she was too curious and wouldn’t show me it due to her attachment to the phone. Her back isn’t as bad as her front though. At least I can say it’s thankfully only down she’s pulling out now, but even still I don’t like that. Nobody wants a bird to pluck to any degree honestly. But at least she’s not so insane as to pluck herself bald or rip out her tail feathers any more.
 
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Amadeo

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Mar 29, 2018
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Sherbert (Male Cockateil, Grey with Emerald/Olive),
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Very interesting thread. I'll keep my eyes on this so I can read up on what others have expirenced.
I've never dealt with a bird that has plucked, none of my family have either and they've had birds in the past but is doesn't hurt to have information.

I did recently read a magazine section on feather plucking. (The magazine is simply named "Parrots", I live in the UK so I don't know if it can be bought elsewhere).
It mentioned lighting and how UVA/UVB could help improve feather condition and help stop plucking.
I don't know if it's online anywhere, I know there is a digital downloadable version of the magazine though.
 

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)
I've heard the theories about light and such being a factor as well. At this point, there is just so much that we don't know. So it's good to find all the info we can. Sometimes you have to just throw different potential solutions at the problem and see what sticks.
 

HSRivney

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Jun 30, 2018
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Las Vegas, Nevada
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Jenday Conure
I'm beside myself over our jenday's plumage. She was perfect and beautiful until one day, about two years ago, she crawled under a towel used to cover her cage at night and pulled out half her abdominal feathers. She has continued to pull until now her entire front, legs, and shoulders are bare. I have taken her to the vet (nothing) she is in the busiest room in our house and I am home most all day. She is flighted, allowed out, been taught to ask for treats, can speak a few words. She doesn't suffer from lack of attention. I switched her to Harrison's and the problem got worse.

I am almost sure this came about a year after my son started high school, meaning he was no longer in the house in the early mornings (from 9 am to 7 am start time). She is hopelessly bonded with him, loves him to pieces. She screams insanely when she hears him coming downstairs until he goes to see her.

She gets Nutriberries, vitamins, cuttlebones and mineral blocks, fresh fruit, nuts, toys, she's by a window to see outside, she goes out to a playperch (supervised) a few times a week. I have taken to trying forage toys. She was a beautiful bird (DNA female) and is now about 10 years old. I've tried bibs (she rips them off), tube socks (she chews them off), spraying her sprouting feathers with Bactine (she eats them off anyway). She gets 14 hours of light, 10 hours darkness. The house is 78 almost always.

Would she benefit from another bird of any kind in the house? I raised a male sparrow from a hatchling last year and at first she chased him off but after a few months she didn't mind if he sat in her cage. He's since returned to the wild. Also, her favorite dog passed away in December, and that's when I switched her food and the plucking got worse. I thought about dipping her in black coffee but if Bactine and Bitter Apple didn't work, I'm not sure what would taste bad enough to overcome the neurosis!

Do I find her a bird friend, put her in my son's bedroom, or resign myself to her plucking? Help. She used to a be a happy lil' playful snuggler. I miss that.
 

Scott

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RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
Given how little we know about the genesis of plucking, it is safe to assume any one or combination of your Jenday's recent changes may be a factor.

I realize you are in the vet care industry, but having a checkup and basic labs from a certified avian vet may be ground zero. Assuming all is well, you can focus on the variables subject to change, such as moving her to your son's bedroom, and giving more frequent baths/showers. Not sure if Bactine spray is toxic for birds, a read of the ingredients may be helpful.

Sometimes we may never find a distinct cause, therefore it may be personality, neurosis as you suggest. I have 5 Goffins, they eat the same diet, receive about the same level of attention (lots!) and have been continuously in my home between 20 and 32 years. The proven male occasionally plucks just his chest, another is a compulsive barberer. The other three are in perfect feather. Go figure!
 

ChristaNL

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May 23, 2018
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Sunny a female B&G macaw;
Japie (m) & Appie (f), both are congo african grey;
All are rescues- had to leave their previous homes for 'reasons', are still in contact with them :)
Weird birds ...

Sunny just completely demolished long tailfeather nummer two (the one that was just growing in and halfway there...)
She is in pain (she got spooked and fell from the mobile stand 3 days ago, bad fall since she has no wingfeathers left to speak of and cant even flap propperly) and in a terrible mood because of it.
So no surprise the feathers will suffer.

(Just found out I am out of birdie-painkiller *shame on me*, will see if I can get some over the counter stuf when the shops open later today or contact her vet tomorrow. Back to cammomile tea for now...)

If she keeps this up she is going back to tailless springchicken (like 4 months ago), cute but unpractical -> she had serious balance-issues then as well (blamed it on the very small cage she was in before she got here, but they have that ginormously long tail for a very good reason!).

https://imgur.com/a/pua6ALA
(sorry I keep posting the same one over and over - dont have that many pictures of her, foto 1 is a completely tailless macaw )


:)
Watermellon just got put on the menue - see if it helps. ;)
(unfortunately its a seasonal fruit here - so fill them up while we have the chance? )


She is climbing around on her cage grumbling to herself atm so its not all bad.
(and eyeing *my* tea .. greedy bird! Drink your own! )

:45:
Oh- I also use lukewarm strong cammomiletea in her spraybottle (she loves to get soaked), it really helps with irritated skin and is perfectly safe! (Make my own - from dried flowers not teabags.)



Started using that om my previous grey who had unbearable itches -> will make a sticky/ story about her later, turned out her sudden plucking was scientificly important.
(Have to check with the vet first and if they are ready to publicize yet/ one of them was supposed to send me a copy, but sometimes they forget/ one of the disadvantages of going to the university clinic...)
 

Laurasea

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Aug 2, 2018
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Ok I'm posting a link to a you tube video I watched about feather picking. It focused on Cockatoos but I still found it informative. Some highlights, parrot raised babies are very unlikely to pluck, vs. hand raised babies. ChristaNL will enjoy that fact as the Netherlands are way ahead of us Americans. Two birds allowed to fledge, and are kept flighted are less likely to pluck. Three birds that get to spend time outside or have outings outside are less likely to pluck. This is an exotic vet, as he is old school before avian specialist, but he had been practicing for 30 years. Also their success is with useing haldol medication, and their success is over 90 %. [ame="https://youtu.be/TfOCjf6YgV8"]Cockatude 14 They are back! Finally, an effective treatment for feather picking behavior. - YouTube[/ame]
 

ChristaNL

Banned
May 23, 2018
3,559
118
NL= the Netherlands, Europe
Parrots
Sunny a female B&G macaw;
Japie (m) & Appie (f), both are congo african grey;
All are rescues- had to leave their previous homes for 'reasons', are still in contact with them :)
I was lucky enough to catch a lecture about plucking from Yvonne van Zeeland
(https://www.researchgate.net/public...iew_with_consideration_of_comparative_aspects )
She did a lot of research in the States as well ;)


But unfortunately yes: robbed-from-the-nest parrots ('handraised' as the euphemism goes) are NINE TIMES more likely to become serious pluckers than normal parentraised birds.
(And the jury is still out in letting them get completely weaned etc. by the parents first- because the moment they show signs of feeding themselves...they get separated and sold of course, but that might also be to soon -> but at least they have seen adult birds preen etc.)

Anyway- plucking is horribly prevalent with the Toos and the african grays in captivity (about 49%!!) as the leaders of the plucking-pack-- but we all kind of knew that already, right?


Oh, it is proven that radio/ TV actually *do* help with boredom relieve and feeling isolated.
LOL they are now experimenting with letting parrots turn on the radio/tv by themselves and choosing channels/ types of music
(and individuals do as well: remember the youtubes of Petra the CAG and the voice-controll-thingy?)



(While I am typing this Sunny is trying to lick the cursor, so maybe a touchscreen? Teach her to play games?)
(not sure if it is a good idea- she demolished the previous monitor.. but she has a carefull day)
 
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Niteldy

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Indian Ringneck and 2 love birds
If you've spent very much time with parrots you've probably heard the term or seen the results of plucking. Plucking is disturbing and complex, in many cases the reasons are difficult to pinpoint. There are no easy answers or explanations.

It's a terrifying event to discover a pile of feathers in the floor of your bird's cage. It's even more shocking to see a bare patch of skin or a bleeding wound on your beloved pet. Each case is different and the reasons are numerous.

Parrots don't pluck in the wild. Consider that for a moment. Wild parrots face stress in their natural environments every day. They also find mates, build nests and provide for their chicks. They endure weather changes, vanishing habitats, scarce food supplies, all while fending off natural predators, and still, they don't pluck.

In many cases, our beloved pets are treated like royalty, they are family members, a lot of them live in cages that cost more than their owners' refrigerators, sofas or mountain bikes, their diets are healthier and more costly than our own, we spend more on parrot toys than we spend for shoes or entertainment, the birds' every whim is catered to, or so it seems. Sound familiar? Why then, would a seemingly healthy, happy, parrot resort to attacking itself in such a horrible way? Simply said, living with humans may not kill them, but in some cases, it can cause them to pull out their feathers. Sadly, in extreme cases, plucking can lead to mutilation which can in turn lead to death.

It should also be said that a tremendous number of parrots have not only adapted to our environment, but they thrive with their human flocks, their life expectancy is far longer, they are healthier in most cases and appear to be very happy pets. That's saying a lot, considering many parrot species are only a few generations removed from their wild relatives. So what makes some birds pluck while others never do?

As much as we'd like to offer a cure for each and every case of plucking, the best we can do is to explore some of the more obvious causes, teach you to recognize the symptoms, and offer some resources that may help you to resolve your own bird's unique cases.

Plucking usually starts with over preening, barbering, feather chewing or feather picking. This happens when a bird becomes preoccupied with normal, healthy feather grooming and progresses to unhealthy habits. The legs, chest, upper back, under the wings and around the neck are popular starting places.

Some species are more predisposed than others to plucking. African greys, cockatoos, macaws, quakers, conures, and eclectus top the list, but any parrot can pluck. One of the most advanced cases I've ever seen was a budgie. I also know a male cockatiel who resides in an avian clinic, his owner relinquished ownership and permanently entrusted the bird's care to the veterinarians. The cockatiel's plucking and treatment is ongoing and the vets have yet to find a specific cause, medical or otherwise. It should be noted that in this case the bird was treated well from the day he hatched, and to date there are no obvious medical or environmental reasons for the bird to pluck.

When you see signs that your bird is plucking and start looking for answers you will find an overwhelming amount of information that may or may not apply to your bird. A lot of research has been done and new research is being added daily. There is no short answer, but the good news is, in many cases there are changes that can be made to help your parrot stop plucking.

Basic Needs
Some of the more basic reasons for plucking can be addressed easily.
It should go without saying that parrots need and deserve to have their basic needs met. Cage, set up, diet, vet care, exercise, enriching activities and interaction. All these factors play an important part in any parrot's health.

Avian Vet Care
You may not want to be told that your bird needs a thorough examination by a qualified Avian Veterinarian just because he pulled out a few feathers or because you've noticed subtle changes in his behavior, but that's the best possible advice. The initial exam can either pinpoint or rule out medical issues that could be the underlying cause. Many Avian specialists will be willing to work with you to resolve your birds plucking issues even after medical issues are resolved or ruled out.

Diet
I can't stress enough how important diet is. For many years seed was the standard accepted diet for avians. Today we know better, and we are still learning. There are so many commercial parrot diets available it's difficult to decide which one is best. Information is also freely available for the asking, but opinions on diet vary widely. For our purposes here, suffice it to say, diet in one way or another is often a direct or indirect cause of plucking.

Environmental Toxins
Our homes are filled with products that can be harmful or fatal to our avian companions' fragile respiratory systems. It is wise to make yourself familiar with the long list of possibilities. Non stick cookware and appliances, chemically treated carpets and upholstery, paints, aerosols, candles, potpourri, room fresheners, cleaning products, smoke from any source, zinc, lead, cadmium. These are just a few of the more obvious dangers. Many toxins can lead to a bird's sudden death. Exposure to harmful, breathable or consumable toxins can cause less visible, but very serious health issues for your bird in the long term, these underlying causes can in many cases lead to plucking.

Stress
Just like people, birds are individuals, where one may thrive in a particular environment another may be driven to distraction by the very same thing. Other household pets, wild birds, sirens, car alarms, children, strangers, cage location, video games, weather, a favorite human's absence, a new home, new family member, a traumatic experience. Again, the list is endless, knowing your bird goes a long way toward keeping them happy, safe and comfortable in their feathers.

Air Quality
Dry air, airborne allergens, powder down, dust, all these and more can cause our feathered friends to itch, the discomfort can then lead to over preening, barbering, obsessive chewing and plucking. Frequent baths or showers for your feathered friends, clean cages, air purifiers and appropriate humidity levels contribute to clean, healthy, bird friendly, air, humans benefit too.

Hormones
It's no surprise that hormone levels tend to aggravate plucking, especially in birds that have plucked in the past. This is not usually the only determining factor, but hormones should not be excluded as a possible cause.

Once A Plucker...
For whatever reason caused a bird to pluck in the first place, be aware that the plucking can or may have become habitual, in these cases, treating the bird is similar to treating a long time addict. The bird has learned to use plucking as a method of self comfort and often it's a hard habit to give up. In some cases the plucking has continued long enough to cause permanent follicle damage and the feathers can never be replaced. Once a bird has plucked, they seem to be more susceptible to returning to the habit in times of stress.

Abuse and Neglect
We've all seen the photos, most of us have read at least a few stories and clenched our fists in outrage over the human species' unbelievable capacity for cruelty. On the other side of that coin are the kind and compassionate souls who take it upon themselves to undo the damage, to show the horribly abused, the forgotten, and the neglected that there is hope, there is love, there is a better life and a better way. To you kind souls, you have my deepest gratitude and respect. Not a single one among us can save them all, but together we can learn, we can support each other and we can keep an open mind and see the problem for what it is, without judgement or condemnation toward our fellow bird lovers. We can and should explore the many facets of this widespread problem and put our heads together to find positive solutions.

We have started a list of links that we feel may be helpful. If anyone would like to add a particular link, please contact any of the moderators and we will happily add it to the list.

*********************************************
Treating and Preventing Feather Picking

Parrots - Feather plucking in parrots - Learn causes and remedies for feather plucking and feather chewing.

Winged Wisdom Pet Bird Magazine - Quaker Mutilation Syndrome (QMS) in pet parrots & exotic birds

***********************************************

We are frequently asked, Is my bird plucking and how do I stop it? I wish we could give you a quick cure, failing that, we instead wish to offer you a few possible explanations, a place to share information and openly discuss your own birds and your personal experiences. It's possible someone else may have have found positive solutions to some of the various symptoms of plucking. At the very least, the parronts of pluckers will know they are not alone.

Some photos may be graphic and some stories, difficult to hear.
We will not tolerate judgment, condemnation, negative or insulting remarks. All inflammatory posts will be removed without prior notice at the moderators' discretion. These birds and their humans are heroes and should be treated with all due respect. It is our hope that we can leave this thread open for ongoing discussion and new resources as they become available.
However do I thank you for so much information ? Brilliant I say! Thank you from the bottom of my heart and my precious Stan Lees little heart. I with my tea and he with my tea biscuit will be busy reading now- Goodnight.
 

Niteldy

Member
Oct 26, 2021
23
Media
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31
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Indian Ringneck and 2 love birds
Ok I'm posting a link to a you tube video I watched about feather picking. It focused on Cockatoos but I still found it informative. Some highlights, parrot raised babies are very unlikely to pluck, vs. hand raised babies. ChristaNL will enjoy that fact as the Netherlands are way ahead of us Americans. Two birds allowed to fledge, and are kept flighted are less likely to pluck. Three birds that get to spend time outside or have outings outside are less likely to pluck. This is an exotic vet, as he is old school before avian specialist, but he had been practicing for 30 years. Also their success is with useing haldol medication, and their success is over 90 %. [ame="[MEDIA=youtube]TfOCjf6YgV8[/MEDIA]"]Cockatude 14 They are back! Finally, an effective treatment for feather picking behavior. - YouTube[/ame]
Thank you for the info! How interesting.
 

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