african grey feathers illness?

by Sandie
(Harrisburg NC)

my 19 year old african greys feathers look kind of fluffed up and kind of turned sideways. It's hard to explain. My other grey is 18 and looks fine. Are ruffled feathers like this a sign of illness?

I also need to tell you that I raised him from 3 weeks old and as a baby he ate the correct food when I was hand feeding him. But when it was time to feed him a bird chow, he refused to eat it and I could never get him to even try it.

I have offered him several kinds over the years. (My other grey is 18 and he's been eating Zupreem for years.) So my 19 year old McKeever has been eating just about what we eat. I know that is not supposed to be healthy but if he won't eat the bird food I can't let him starve. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks Sandie

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Oct 14, 2011
african grey feathers illness?
by: Linda

Both your Greys need to be changed over to organic pellets, and there are several kinds found here. Unfortunately, ZuPreem is what we refer to as junk pellets because it is full of dye, a chemical that tastes like sugar and is used as a binder in face creams and lotions, plus dangerous chemicals to preserve the food. The sugar like chemical is also addicting for birds and like any drug, they want it above everything else. This junk pellet explanation also includes Lafaebers' products where they use even more of the face cream binder to hold their foods together.

The organic pellets contain none of the above and do provide a complete diet. No human food should ever be given as this can be toxic for a bird plus it ruins their appetites for the plain food parrots are supposed to be eating.

Follow the instructions in the article Tracie gave you a link to as it was written by an Avian Vet. As Tracie said, it can take a long time, and it WILL happen because it happend with my two very stubborn Amazons many years ago. It seemed to take forever, and it finally did take with them. I ended up having to put a drop or two of organic apple juice on the Harrisons pellets before they took to them. Just a drop per pellet will be quite enough and make sure apple juice comes from a health food store and says "Certified Organic" and read label to make sure no sugar or corn syrup is added. Processed sugar is poison for birds as is salt, so avoid both like your bird's life depends on it, and it does.


Oct 13, 2011
Bad looking feathers
by: Tracie

Dr B can not tell what might be causing this, and suggests that you Find an Avian Vet to examine your birds.

Proper nutrition is extremely important. Our birds are like children, they will learn to eat what we provide for them. If I don't want my child to grow up only eating hot dogs and ding dongs, then I will only provide those items once in a while. She will NEVER have the chance to "get hooked" on bad food.

Now that you have allowed your birds to "get hooked" on bad food, you will have to work much harder to get them to eat better. It may take over a year, but it CAN be done.

DO take your bird for an exam before trying to switch it's diet, because you want to correct any illness before adding the stress of a diet change.

Here is our Switching Birds To Pellets article that was written by our avian vet.

I approach it differently. Once I see them eat a pellet, then I KNOW they see it as food, even if not the preferred food.

I remove any uneaten food before I go to bed. In the morning, when the birds are really hungry, I only offer pellets. I do NOT offer anything else until mid-afternoon. If they are hungry, they will eat at least some of the pellets. I add their 20% healthy treats, but only 20% of the pellets they have eaten. If they barely ate the pellets, then they barely get any treats.

This method has worked on all my birds. While the birds do NOT know that a pellet is food, I trick them into eating them by crushing them or rolling them with fruit or some wet treat. Some put them in bird bread. But the key is to get them to eat a pellet and see it as food.

DO take your bird to an avian vet to rule out disease or illness. Especially since you have another bird that could get a disease or illness from the bird with bad feathers. But both birds are subject to illness due to the poor diet.

An added thought... Are you making sure the table food you feed is organic? If not, you are feeding chemicals that are added to food, in the water fed to crops and sprayed on to keep disease and bugs from plants. Birds have tiny organs that have to filter anything bad you give them, and it only takes one weak cell to reproduce and cause cancer.

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