TielGang

New member
Sep 21, 2022
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Parrots
Cockatiels
Hey guys,
I have a 2 1/2 year old female cockatiel who started plucking around 5 months ago. She only plucks under her wings, above the tail feathers, and in the lower half of her chest. I’ve done quite a lot of research about this and wanted to see if there is something you guys could recommend.

Her diet is TOPs pellets with chop (both daily). She went to the vet around 1 month after I first noticed and she got a full physical, blood work, poop samples, skin test for mites. All came back normal. She gets plenty of out of cage time and no changes happened when she started plucking (environment stayed the same, no changes in anything at all). She has a UVA/UVB lamp on for 11 hours a day and the rest is dark for her to sleep. Any help would be greatly appreciated and just ask if you need clarification on anything about her/her environment/etc.
 

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your bird could just have a habit of plucking. Some birds just pluck for fun. What i would do is get a bird cone so you bird doesnt pluck itself
1663823069339.png

here is what they look like
I hope this helps
 
I think 11hrs is a lot of time to have a UV light on. I thought for birds like cockatiels it’s recommended to only give an hour or hour and a half to not damage their eyes and to not put them in breeding condition. I think that’s something I would cut back because the spots she’s plucking sound like it could be hormonal. Around sexual areas and to form a brood patch.

Cut back light, excess petting or physical contact, and rich food. Or one variable and see what happens. I’d look at light first.
 
I agree with Heather. My vet does recommend use of a UVA/UVB bulb for my parrot here in Minnesota, but only for 2-3 hours (and he doesn't stay under it the whole time, he's all over the place!). Some people recommend not using supplemental light at all. One thing to double check is that your bulb is specific for birds and not for reptiles - if I remember right the lights for birds are lower output and are meant to simulate morning daylight which is less intense.

My parrot does destroy his feathers but he doesn't mutilate his skin - neither of the vets I've worked with recommend using a cone for him. A cone doesn't stop their impulse to pluck and it can get in the way of normal activity, so if she's not at risk of injuring herself I wouldn't start with that if your vet didn't recommend it.

My vets recommended addressing any health issues first and then addressing diet and hormone triggers (things like Heather suggested). And then making sure he has lots and lots of things to keep him busy - he's a bird that likes puzzles to solve all day long :)

In general for keeping her busy - your cage setup looks like there's a good amount to do, fun!! Does your cockatiel like to forage on the ground too? You could try a dish with food/treats and crumple up pieces of paper that she has to pick through.

Has she been on TOPS/chop since you've had her? (So, no diet changes 5 months ago? ;) ) Overall since your girl has a clean bill of health otherwise, in your shoes I'd start with the things Heather suggested and see how it goes for a couple of months.
 
your bird could just have a habit of plucking. Some birds just pluck for fun. What i would do is get a bird cone so you bird doesnt pluck itself
View attachment 44339
here is what they look like
I hope this helps
I personally wouldn't get a cone like this unless the plucking gets to the point of self-mutilation. Cones can be extremely stressful, especially for flighted birds, but there are some parrots "collars" that allow birds to fly while preventing them from plucking. TBH, birds who pluck need all the flying they can get, both to distract them, and because not being able to fly can cause mental health issues in birds. PS, I've never heard of a bird who plucks for "fun". There is almost always a reason, even if you don't realize it. I don't think any creature would think causing themselves pain by pulling out their feathers is "fun".
I think 11hrs is a lot of time to have a UV light on. I thought for birds like cockatiels it’s recommended to only give an hour or hour and a half to not damage their eyes and to not put them in breeding condition. I think that’s something I would cut back because the spots she’s plucking sound like it could be hormonal. Around sexual areas and to form a brood patch.
Thirding this. Also, sometimes too much aritfical UV exposure can cause plucking from discomfort. Especially if your bird doesn't have an area to completely get out of the light.
 

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