African Grey picking belly

by Diane J

I have an African Grey-about 11 years old. He is always picking his belly. He has no down either on his belly. His diet is a toast with peanut butter and a combination of seed and pellets. He does like table food as well. He sometimes plays in his water bowl which is clean at all times. He does like ice in his water. He has been picking for a long time. I would love to stop this - I am thinking this is now a habit like nail bitting for people. I believe there is something you can purchase to put around their neck but then he would not be able to preen himself at all.

I have tried just pellets and avi bars as well. Do you have any suggestions??? We did bring him to a avi vet and everything was good except a calcium deficiency - this was a while ago.

Thank you

Comments for African Grey picking belly

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Jan 05, 2010
Alternate to bird collar
by: Tracie

Your bird's diet could be the cause of the feather destruction and picking. Please read Dr B's Feather Damaging Behavior article a couple of times.

Water dishes can NOT stay clean. When your bird eats and then goes to the dish to drink, it gets soiled. Also, bacteria continues to grow all day. Water bottles are the safest route to go unless your bird is one of the rare birds that likes to stick their tongue in the tube. More birds die from bacterial infections than cutting their tongue in a water tube.

We have feather plucking remedies, but a check up at your avian vet is your first step, to make sure there is not an internal problem that needs to be corrected.

Jan 04, 2010
African Grey picking belly
by: Linda

Okay, I have a few suggestions, and you'll need to hear them and then do what's best for your bird. Forget the peanut butter. That peanut butter is full of salt, preservatives, bad oil among other things. It can, all by itself, be causing an allergic reaction and/or an imbalance in his proteins.

Also, leave off the table food entirely. The food we eat has salt, sugar, fats and possibly preservatives, pesticides, etc. in it. None of that is good for your bird and will also cause a vitamin/mineral protein imbalance in his diet.

He needs to be eating high quality, organic pellets like Harrison's. Tracie carries the Harrisons out here as well as several other oganic pellets. He needs to be eating mostly the pellets with a little bit of organic veggies no more than 10% of the total diet in veggies or fruit.

I don't know what kind of pellets you feed, but unless they are certified organic and without preservatives, dyes and other problem ingredients, you will need to change to one of the ones out here. Yes, the better pellets cost a little more, and you will be pleased with your bird's condition and will have no dietary problems. Skin and feather quality is dependent on a high quality diet made for a bird.

So, to recap, lose the peanut butter, table food and most of the seeds. Feed your bird, bird food and leave the people food for people.

I'd also suggest you take him back to the Avian Vet for a checkup to make sure he is still not suffering from the calcium deficiency. DO NOT GIVE HIM CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS as these will further mess with his dietary balance.

Get him on some high quality pellets, a little organic fresh fruit and veggies and stop with the people food. Your bird will not get better unless you make the suggested changes in his diet. He's like a child in that he'll eat anything you offer, and it's up to you to provide the high quality nutrition he needs and deserves.

The feather picking can be being caused by protein, vitamin, and mineral imbalances in his diet and only time and good nutrition will help with this. If vet wants to put a collar on him for a while, then please do this. He will start to mutilate himself next if you don't. Self mutilation comes after they have pulled all the feathers out in an area. The feathers may not grow back after too much plucking, to get with your Avian vet immediately and get his bird on a diet that is good for him.

Thanks for writing and let us know how it goes,

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