feather picking, gagging and agression

by Jessica
(new york)

he cuddles

he cuddles

he cuddles
the gagging
Quaker parrot

I recently adopted a beautiful 13 year old male quaker parrot from a family who needed to give him up. I have had him 5 months and he is finally coming out of his shell and talking and cuddling with us which is wonderful. When we fist got him I noticed that he had two small patches of feathers missing on the tips of his wings on either side of his head, the previous owners told us the vet had done an exam and found the cause of his feather picking was not medical and there was no need to worry. His wings are not clipped and he can fly but I worry he will continue to pull out his feathers and harm himself. He also makes gagging motions which look like he is choking but then abruptly stops and sticks out his tongue.

Kiwi also has a lovely disposition but when he decides to speak he gets very agressive. He will only speak when in his cage and if I repeat any of what he says he will chase and bite me until he draws blood.

He has many toys and spend the majority of the time out of his cage playing, tearing paper and cuddling. I have fallen in love with this bird in the past few months and would appreciate any advice you can give me on helping me and my parrot get along more and form a relationship to last many years. Thank you.

Comments for feather picking, gagging and agression

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Nov 11, 2016
feather plucking
by: betty

I have a red-banded conure, age approximately
26 years old. We brought him home as a young bird.
Over the years he has experienced several moves,
and at one time resided with someone else for
several years. I got him back, and he was very
happy....he used to like being with me on my
shoulder, but not for some years now. he does
talk, but limited in expressions. For the past
six months his feathers have disappeared from his
breast and legs....then have come in again, but
still not altogether. I noticed today that his
breast feathers were gone again in one spot.
we have two cats. One who totally ignores the
bird, and the other, who uses his "please pay
attention to me" by stretching up to look into
the cage...I am concerned about the feathers.
His diet is seeds, fruit, veggies, vitamins,and
occasional pieces of american cheese and cookies. Any comments? I know he is old, but he is lively and sings, and yaps....

Sep 16, 2013
Regarding the 'gagging'
by: Anonymous

I have 2 Quakers, 1 is a very tempremental female rescue the other a young male I raised rom 2wks.....Both have a behavior that was puzzling to me at first... they like to stretch their beaks...really wide open....at least that's the only thing I can figure they're doing. I had never had a Quaker before until I got my rescued female. I thought she was gasping or something was wrong at first. But the behavior continued and was the same in my boy that I acquired some months later as a baby. They both do 2 things I still find strange but are apparently perfectly normal.. they will open their beak and blow.. making an audible blowing noise.. and they will also open their beak really wide and look almost like their gagging.....sometimes will even do it when I'm scritching under the lower beak on their cheeks. It really seems like they're just stretching their beaks... it must feel good or something! They've been checked by a vet.. very healthy.

Jan 28, 2013
Feather picking and aggression
by: Anonymous

Hi, Jessica. I have a Quaker parrot also and she used to pluck her chest until it bled. It was due to stress from her previous home as she was abused there. She still plucked when I got her and I'm sure it was from stress because it was a new home and I had a cat. The cat never bothered the bird but just it's presence in the house made her nervous. The cat passed away in December 2011 and my bird has stopped plucking.

As for the aggression thing, it could be hormones or it could be that the bird wasn't properly trained. I would sit at the table and my bird would walk over to me so sweetly, step up on my arm and bite me hard enough to draw blood. It was a game to her because she liked to hear me cry out in pain. I started giving her a firm "no!" and putting her back in the cage and leaving the room. It took some time but she doesn't do it anymore. She also tries to be nippy when she's on my shoulder; sitting pretty and then just lashing out and taking a bite. Again, a firm no and putting her back in the cage.

Birds have good days and bad days just like people. One morning I thought someone had swapped my bird for Godzilla because she was a terror all day long. Throwing everything off the table, not letting me near the cage, coming after me and biting really hard. I don't know what caused her to do that but thankfully it only lasted one day.

As for the gagging thing, your bird could be regurgitating food or there could be something in your house that has a strong smell. Scented candles, air fresheners, deoderant, perfume and household cleaners are harmful for birds and should not be used around them.

There are some good parrot trainign articles on this site. ( Parrot Training page) Remember, you are the boss, not the bird and it's up to you to teach him which behaviors are acceptable. Good luck.

Jan 27, 2013
feather picking, gagging and agression
by: Linda

First of all, he needs to be examined by an Avian Vet ONLY in your area. Since his previous owners did not provide paperwork as to his health at the time of adoption, consider that he has not been examined in quite a while. We recommend all new birds be thoroughly examined by avian vet because the stress of being rehomed brings their immune systems down leaving them open to any bacteria or virus around. Once he has a clean bill of health or has been diagnosed and treated, you can do the following:

He needs to be eating a high quality 100% enriched diet of organic pellets. The best is Harrisons found here. The reason for organic is to keep birds from eating dangerous chemicals in the form of preservatives, dyes, sugars and salt all of which harm birds. The change from seeds or junk pellets, i.e. ZuPreem, Lafaebers takes time and below is article on how to make the change slowly written by avian vet.

Switching Birds To Pellets article

A good diet combined with knowing for sure your bird is healthy will go a long way in getting him to trust you more. Trust takes time, and if he's been neglected to some degree in previous home, it will take longer. The aggression he's showing about his talking is part of this lack of trust. If he is sick with any kind of infection or other physical issues, aggression is one way birds have to let us know this. A sick bird is not a very playful bird, and plucking is a direct result of poor diet. A bird this age can have fatty liver disease from eating seeds, so avian vet needs to do bloodwork to see how organs are functioning. Fatty liver disease will normally go away once bird is on a diet made for birds and of high quality. Seeds are nothing more than fat, so bird's livers are compromised.The longer you wait to get him on a good diet the more guarantee of full out liver damage there will be.

Let us know what avian vet has to say, and begin changing his diet to one that is 100% nutrition as soon as possible. Make no changes until he has been examined and/or treated by avian vet.

It is a pleasure to hear your love for him in your "voice", and we are always here for you and your precious little friend.


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