Is Your Parrot Plucking
We seem to get calls from people asking what they can do to stop their parrot from plucking. We have talk to some people and they say there are different types of pluckers. There are some known issues that can cause plucking and some birds can be helped. However, there are those that continue to pluck although everything has been tried.
Something we feel is very important first step is ruling out a health issues. Your vet may look for any number of things, causing the plucking;
- Vitamin Deficiency
- Hormones Parasites
- Thyroid and so on.
Any number of these or something else health wise could be causing the plucking.
Once the vet has determined that it is not a health issue, he/she might suggest something. Anything is worth a try.
Therefore, the parrot is checked out with the avian vet and everything is good there. Then we would ask when did the plucking start?
Any number of things could cause it:
Lack of Toys, too small of a cage, change in environment, boredom, something added to the area that may appear scary to the bird. New Baby/person in home, change in routine, new /changes in the environment. New Bird in the home, someone in the home teasing the bird, loss of mate/favorite person. Lack of Sleep, lack of Bathing. This is only showing you plucking can be cause by this or anything.
We want to point out that when trying to understand what is causing this, nothing should be over looked. Parrots we have come across over the years. Our success rate in getting it stop is around 90%. You might see many people using collars to stop the plucking.
Although this may help, we feel only in extreme cases this should be used. Mutilating is the extreme end of plucking when the bird actually chews at their skin causing lesions and bleeding. It should not be confused with chewing a blood feather where a sign of blood can be seen.
Once a bird does pluck, it can very easily turn into a habit. Habits are difficult to break but not impossible. Some times a change in environment is enough to stop the plucking. Providing preening toys can also help. Preening toys are a toy that can simulate a feather or simulate the feeling they would get by plucking their feathers. Toys made of string, straws, newspaper etc. make good preening toys and the birds can pull, snip and shred them, which should help to preoccupy them and keep them away from their own feathers.
I should also point out here that there are a couple different types of plucking.
- Snipping/Barbering — is where the parrot would chew pieces of the feather. You can see that nips as the feather ends would be v-shaped where the parrot has nip off the piece of feather. Some birds nip until the entire feather is gone. Some only nip the ends of the feathers. There can be many causes as to why the parrot does, is this a form of plucking am not a vet so cannot say.
- Plucking — When a parrot plucks, we want to rule out medical first. As plucking can be cause, do to a medical condition. Once medical is ruled out than, we try to see what could be stressing the parrot. Although parrots might only pluck one area of their body, in most cases you will see that the parrot can reach the head area, so it never is plucked.
I would not say plucking is from in breeding. There can be so many different ideas as to why a parrot plucks. Many will pluck in the wild to begin their nest, for breeding. However, stress could be a big factor in plucking; same as their diet, lack of toys and the list goes on.
Extreme mutilating, meaning parrots will break their skin and begin to eat themselves. When it gets to this point people will use different things to stop this. One person we have talked to says in the wild they do not have the things listed below, but they seem to over come the problem.
We have provided a list below. We recommend if you have a parrot that plucks go to your vet. Make sure your vet agrees with what you are putting on the parrot to stop the plucking, as sometimes you might think you are doing a good thing. In fact doing more harm.
- Sock — We have herded people will using a sock with the toes cut out that would be placed around the neck. This brings concerns up though. Make sure the sock is not tight. Make sure there is no loose thread. Socks that get wet will tighten, so care must be taken to ensure that it is always loose.
People take the sock off every couple of days and spray the parrot down with a warm mist.
- Vests/Flight Suites — Parrot flight suits are something that people have tried. Remove every couple of days and spray the parrot down with a warm mist.
- Pluck No More — We have tried Pluck No More. It is a product by King’s Cages. We have not had any success with this product but have heard of others that have. One word of advice, make sure to follow the instructions as the bottle reads including the use of distilled water.
- Collars — I think this would be the last resort for us. We would not do this with out the vet’s approval. We have yet to put a collar on a parrot. I think if one has a good vet, and researches other methods that collars do not have to be used.
As far as what has been mention above, we have only tried the Pluck No More. As for the Vests/Flight Suites & Collars I can’t imagine putting one on, any that we have seen, we notice the parrot trying to get them off. One would think the stress of having this on, will only because more damage to the parrot.
In most cases people would have likely put a collar on Opal. However, we did an operation. Read below.
Last year we had Opal and Claddy arrive here. We want to share what we did.
Opal and Claddy came here as pluckers. Claddy was not as bad as Opal. Opal was at the point that is something was not done, she would die. She was chewing her one wing. The people who surrender them to us, mention he did consult a very while known vet, shots were given to her, although they only worked for a short time. Within 3 weeks, they spent $800.00 but in the end, Opal still plucked.
We took Opal to our vet, he explained it like this. The shaft feathers had become like pins, every time she would move, a shaft feather would pluck her, like sticking a pin in a human. So he suggested to operate, he pulled out 50 shaft feathers from her wings and tail. He gave her an 80% chance to become fully feathered. She would have a new start to grow in feathers.
She was put on seven different types of meds for 7 days. Within weeks, we saw new feathers coming back. Both parrots were put on Harrison Bird Food. Today they are fully feathered. Would the work on all pluckers that is some we cannot answer. However, can say it work for Opal.
Claddy was put on Harrison Bird Food. We totally believe in Harrison Bird Food for pluckers. Although it may be pricey, it works. We also give the parrots Luke warm spray downs, with a home remedy, that works for us. What works for us might not work for you.
As we mention above we have had a 90% success rate in helping pluckers over come their problems just by changes in their environment, ensure proper diet, spending lots time out of cage. We really believe that Harrison Bird Food is great for pluckers. All parrots here that were pluckers when they came, we have them on Harrison Bird Food. Feathers are coming back slowly and we have not seen them pluck.
If you try something and it does not work, please keep trying for the sake of your parrot. You will see parrots that because of plucking, because of the damage, they will never get feathers back. However, in most cases they can get all feathers back and not pluck again.
- Another cause of plucking —
Giardia is a one-celled protozoal organism that is commonly found in pet and aviary birds. It lives in the small intestines (usually the duodenum) and is shed sporadically in the droppings. It may cause diarrhea, malnutrition and malabsorption in affected animals.
In some birds, especially cockatiels, it may induce pruritis (itching); causing a bird to scream and pull feathers or digs at the skin with the beak. The skin of birds infested with giardia may appear dry and flaky. Most often, the underside of the wings, the insides of the thighs and perhaps the chest are plucked.
Giardia is quite common in cockatiels, lovebirds and budgies, however, it can be found in most species of birds, including Amazons, macaws, pionus, Eclectus, lories, parrotlets, parakeets, African grey parrots, Poicephalus and cockatoos. It is also found in canaries, finches, doves and pigeons. Ground birds are commonly infested.
In addition to causing diarrhea, malnutrition, itching, feather picking and weight loss, it may also cause mortality of baby birds in the nest. Often, the babies will be very thin, have poor feathering and will cry excessively to be fed. Many will die before fledging. The droppings may be malodorous. Adults and babies may show staining of fecal material around the vent.
The organism is difficult to diagnose for several reasons. Giardia is not shed in every dropping. It is a very fragile organism in one form, and may disintegrate before it can be diagnosed. Regular fecal parasite exams, performed in a vet’s clinic or by a professional lab, may miss this organism because of its fragility. A new procedure has greatly increased the chance of diagnosing giardia in birds.
This involves preserving the feces (and giardia cysts) in 5% formalin (NOT the usual 10% used to preserve normal tissues). The preserved feces are then sent to a special lab that only studies parasites, and a different type of microscope, called a phase contrast scope, is used to diagnose giardia. Your veterinarian going the extra distance has diagnosed this elusive parasite diagnosed in your bird.
You may be surprised that your bird is being diagnosed now with giardia, as a veterinarian may have examined it previously, and it may even have had fecal parasite exams performed in the past. A solitary pet bird may harbour giardia for long periods before.