feather chewing

by alicia

My quaker parrot started chewing her feathers in january 2008. I took her to a vet who thought that she was chewing out of frustration for wanting to breed. she has had liver problems, but was doing really well over the summer, she chewed on the feathers on her legs, but was looking good besides that.

She has once again started chewing she has chewed alot off of her chest, some on her wings and legs. I feed her the mazuri pellet and I also feed her scrambled eggs with paprika on them. I also maked muffins with the jiffy mix, I add apple, peanut butter, oats, zucchini, and carrots.

I rotate her toys regularly, and I give her lots of attention. I mist her every other day. I tried using a humidifier last year but it didn't seem to change anything. I am going to try this again, beginning tonight. She is chewing quickly and I am finding little piles of feathers in her cage all of the time. If you could help me in any way I'd appreciate it. I am careful about not having anything toxic around her. I don't know what to do anymore.

Comments for feather chewing

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Oct 24, 2008
Feather Chewing Quaker Parrot
by: The Vet

Feather plucking is a complicated problem, and often times is not curable, unless a cause can be found. A cause can only be found if you have some diagnostic work performed by a veterinarian.

I am not in agreement that a mate or wanting to breed causes this problem. I do however believe that quakers are not happy in flocks of 1, but getting another bird rarely or never helps. In the wild they flock even in the breeding season and I feel that isolating them from a flock is stressful and often leads to this problem of plucking.

I recommend that you first take your bird to see an avian veterinary specialist. You should have a thorough work up done, including blood work, cultures, viral screening and possibly skin biopsies.

In the meantime there are some things that you can do to improve his chances of successful treatment.

First, make sure he is on a good diet. The best you can feed is Harrison's High Potency pellets. This should make up 80% of the diet. The remaining 20% can be any treat, but focusing on fresh vegetables. This is a better choice than Mazuri because it is organic. Some feather damaging behaviors can be caused by artificial preservatives and other artificial ingredients.

Second, you should bathe him every day, alternating days with water, and Avi-x Bird Rain. The day you bathe with the water you should really wet him thoroughly. However, keep in mind that if he has no feathers he is going to get cold, so keep him warm with a heating pad on the cage, or a space heater, or keep him in the bathroom until he is mostly dry. Even when he is not wet he will be cold, so keeping a heating pad on his cage at all times may be beneficial.

Third, you should teach your bird how to forage. There are many ways to do this. You can make things yourself, or by toys and feeders that help. The Captive Foraging DVD is great to teach you about foraging. Foraging toys are good too.

Fourth - As a general rule your bid should be drinking from a water bottle because they are more sanitary. In addition, with a water bottle you can dispense this medication "Pluck No More." It has helped about 30% of my patients improve or stop plucking altogether.

Fifth, give your bird a full spectrum light. This will be very beneficial.

Finally, environmentally you should be sure your bird is healthy and comfortable. For example, the right size cage is 20 x 24 minimum. No smoking around your bird. He needs several different kinds of perches in this cage including pedicure, natural branches, and rope.

Hope this helps. Please let me know.

Dr B

You can purchase these items mentioned right here at Tracie's Parrot Supply Store

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