blue and gold macaw nesting behavior?? - plucking

by Tish
(Havre De Grace , Maryland USA)

I have had my macaw for about 5 yrs, was told when she was giving to me she was between 8 and 12 yrs old? About six months after I got her she started plucking her feathers on her chest. I took her to a avian vet who did several test and put her on diazapam and a anti depresant.. nothing seam to work.

They suggested to give her a lupron shot. which was way out of my price range since she may need it 2 times a year @ $600.00 a shot.
She has contiued to pick all her feathers on her chest and back.
Now she stared with a what seams to me a nesting behavior?
She tears all her paper up on only 1 side of her cage and is spending alot of time on the bottom of the cage.
She also has been perching differently with 1 leg on her food dish and the other on her perch with the tail touching the perch. she will stand upright on the perch at times and start this whinning sound while her head is streached back.
All this is new and she has been doing this for about 1 and 1/2 weeks.
when I get near the cage she wants to go to the bottom to get some attention. I wanted to discourage this so I would walk away. being that she would consider me to be her mate.
worried ...should I be concerned and will she get over this herself

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Jul 13, 2018
by: Atoffd

ALL macaws need constant attention, or at least 2-3 hours a day. This includes, touching, preening, teaching tricks, really, any type of interaction. The feather picking/plucking will become less and less with interaction. When you’re home, take him/her out of the cage and interact. Think of your macaw as a 2 yr old child who needs and wants attention.
It’s ok for the macaw to think of you as his/her mate... That’s normal behavior. THEY REQUIRE ATTENTION. Give it....
I have a 14 yr old BG macaw. I am his mate. He’s part of the family. Loud squawks and all. These are normally in the morning and late afternoon. Even if I’m in the same room with him, he squawks/yells..... it’s normal behavior. It’s a wild instinct. He’s calling all other macaws in the area that it’s time to come home to roost.
Bottom line...... GIVE HIM PLENTY OF ATTENTION. He’s going crazy because he doesn’t have friends to play with.

Jul 04, 2018
by: Tom

I have a female blue n gold Mccaw lopsey has been in our family since birth she is turning 48 years old this october. Lopsey lost her mate popsey yrs ago and plucked after she stll plucks her chest. The food i give her is nuts fruits greens and only natural foods no junk food and tons of attention rides in my truck lots of fresh air and showers bath time lol .. Just wondering if anyone that has a mccaw close to the age of mine has any ideas how to prevent it naturally or is it what it is... Birds got spunk and i havnt meet anyone yet with a bird close to the same age

Feb 12, 2018
Plucking behavior
by: Anonymous

While I agree that many birds pluck their feathers as a kind of nervous tick, I learned recently that females also will pluck a spot bare on their chest or belly in order to provide skin contact and extra warmth to their eggs when nesting. I have had a blue and gold for over 20 years and she started laying several years ago. Her nesting has happened more frequently and lasted longer in the past few years which concerns me.

I took her for a check up and ran blood work after she laid 4 or 5 eggs consecutively and she was alright. However, I do worry about her little body being depleted from all that laying and roosting. It is good to supplement their diets with fruits, vegetables and nuts especially during these times so that they can replenish what they lose from laying the eggs. My concern is the length of time... my bird just keeps laying eggs, even if I don't take them away, as advised to discourage subsequent laying (this lets them go through the natural process and hopefully satisfies their primal urge to procreate)

I feel so sorry for her as I am not equipped physically or otherwise to let her mate. My vet told me to restrict her light, noise and activity, don't give a lot of fatty foods like certain nuts and basically stop doing anything that is enjoyable for you and your bird since they perceive us as their mate and believe conditions to be prime for reproducing when resources and attachment are in high supply. I haven't been able to bring myself to cut her off like that because it seems like she would feel I was punishing her. I already feel badly enough that she slaves over her precious little eggs and will never have the satisfaction of hatching them or mothering them, as she so desperately wants.

I hope this helps with your conundrum if you find that she is exhibiting nesting behavior. As for me, I am still scouring the internet for advice on how to deal with the repeated laying.

Dec 06, 2015
Nesting Behavior
by: Steve

I have a 12 yr old BG Macaw named Coco. I've studied his behavior as well as reading online about nesting.
About once a year (usually winter) he goes into the nesting mode. He is not caged and has free run of the house. 90% of the day he stays on his play perch. During November/December time frame when I sit at my computer he is at my feet under the desk pecking at my feet. I started giving him paper to tear for his entertainment. After years of this happening, I realized he was in the nesting mode. Shortly after nesting mode begins, I can tell that he is masturbating by his body posture with his tail feathers between his legs, his squealing and when he has succeeded I have seen him doing the climax jerk. All of this coincides with the nesting mode. This is the only time of year he does this. He has a hormone dump and he will attack anyone other than me who approaches his so called nest. He stays this way for 2-4 weeks until his hormones subside to a normal state. He has never plucked his feathers. I assume it's because I give him a basket and paper to shred in the basket which he takes his stress out on. All of this is under my desk. I even gave him a small play egg but it was rejected by him. This nesting cycle is normal. Some vets discourage allowing a nest to be made. I would rather him to go through a normal cycle and feel like a normal bird.
Hope this helps

Aug 29, 2012
dear tish
by: karen

tish....i have owned a blue and gld macaw for 14 yrs......hi/her name is floyd.i am also for the first time seeing floyd always on the floor of his cage......and is also shredding his flooring to the tinyest bits. im also very confused as to why my floyd's doing this!!!! i hope someone can clear this up for all 4 of us!!!(what i don't believe is that our birds r doing this for any reason other than something that's "instinctual"!

also concerned, KAREN

Editor's note: Please read the other comments and what the avian vet, Dr B., posted.

Dec 22, 2010
she layed an egg
by: Anonymous

well tonight she layed a egg. wont leave the bottom of her cage. WOW....Poor thing seamed like she went through alot for that egg. Its not fetile. So what dod i do now.???

Dec 14, 2010
by: Tish

The previous owners said she laied a egg at one point. I saw it. but it was broken on the bottom of the cage. She was not diplaying any odd berhavior then either.
I have also read that once they start plucking it is very hard to get them to stop.

What about the behavior about spending alot of time on the bottom of the cage? This had happened suddenly. She has a very large cage with two sides, but only tears the paper on the one side.
As far as all those test the vet didnt offer or think I needed to have it done. I am thinking I just am over my head and over my buget on this. I dont want her to have undiagnosed problems either.
There is only 1 aveian vet in my area. Not to many around.

Dec 13, 2010
B&G plucking
by: The Avian Vet

First, you need to get a diagnosis for why she is behaving this way. How do you know that she is a she? Was she DNA sexed? Were x-rays taken? Did they do a triglyceride blood level? I do not think this is a behavior problem. Most feather damaging birds I see have health problems and not behavior problems. The diazepam and antidepressants are not effective in 99.99% of cases because it does not get to the root cause of the problem. First you need more diagnostics to determine if this is truly a reproductive problem. Start with radiographs to see what the ovaries look like. IF that is not conclusive then you need endoscopy. Lupron is an effective treatment for some cases, however, $600.00 per injection is incredibly high, and second, without diagnostics, including radiographs, endoscopy and triglyceride levels, there is no way to know if she even needs it or not. I think you need to do more to find out the cause, and maybe see a specialist.

Dr B

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