Picking problem?

by Heather
(Chicago, IL)

I have a cockatiel that is about 15 years old. For the last year he has been picking underneath his right wing! Sometimes he will pick himself bloody to the point where I had to take him to the vet numerous times! My avian specialized vet has tested him for everything and he is a few grams underweight!!! My avian vet is scratching her head in wonder because the really expensive and over $300 full panel blood test showed he was perfectly fine! So, now we had to cut into shape a really small e-collar for my pet bird! Which is rediculous looking and seems like it is too heavy for his neck! And he still tries to pick underneath his wing! So far I have tried pellet diets, fresh food diets, seed diets with more protein, one bath a day, two baths a day, no bath a day, changing the cage & water & food three times a day, antibiotics, silvadine creams, vitamins, direct sunlight therapy, no sunlight, cooked meats, raw vegetables, mineral blocks, full blood panel, mite tests, humidifiers,x-rays, and people who talk to animals!!!!!!
I know he eats the seeds fully, drinks plenty of water, is very active, gets plenty of out of cage time(5-8 hours day sometimes more if he sleeps with me), gets plenty of sunlight(the curtain opens when I wake up), and his disposition is very sweet but he can be feisty when he wants to be! He doesn't bite no one and sings like a canery!
Also, he has a hard time lifting the wing he is picking and currently can't fly and I haven't clipped his wings in over a year! And his tail feathers are always short and distressed!
His medical history- he has had a feather cyst removed on his hip in 2002(laser surgery), he had lead poisoning in 2001, and was in a dogs mouth in 1998 but was not injured.
I think this is the most expensive cockatiel on the face of the planet! I spent $50 on him and he has costed me over $8,000 in vet bills! Please help because I'm at my wits end here and so is the vets in my area. I live in Chicago. Oh, I also notice that he does it when he knows I'm up in the morning. I've pretended to be asleep and he does do it until I start moving aroun but my vet insists that it is medical!

Comments for Picking problem?

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Jul 07, 2015
re: Ali's comment from 7/5/10
by: Lori

The poster obviously did not read the bird owner's comment. The bird has been seen by the vet for the problems & would clearly tell if it was a blood feather. Axillary dermatitis is serious & hard to heal due to lack of allergy testing panels for birds & a number of other factors that can contribute to this difficult integument issue that is presented to avian vets more & more now. Very complex. Comments like that from posters who think they can solve avian problems, are completely out of line. She is diagnosing & unless she is a certified specialty avian veterinarian, she has no buisness making such comments. This condition doesn't 'cure itself,'
Dr. Lori Slavonowicz DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian) All Exotic Creatures Specialty Hospital

Jul 22, 2010
Feather picking problem
by: The Avian Vet

The tube collar is something that a veterinarian should apply and monitor. I use pipe insulation from the home improvement store.

The colored pellets are bad and may be contributing to his plucking. Was he eating Harrison?s consistently then stopped? If so, give him only Harrison's and nothing else. He will eat them again. When he starts, eating them again, then you can slowly ad small amounts of treats back to his diet.

Be careful using the feather glo, many of these supplements have preservatives and can make things worse, not better. If your bird eats pellets then you should give no supplements at all, except maybe the Sunshine factor, and not even that if he is eating Harrison?s High Potency.

Dr B

Jul 19, 2010
Plucking problem
by: Heather

Well, I got him some "feather glo" which is an iodine solution for birds.My vet recommended it. He has seemed to improve a bit with it but hasn't completely quit plucking! Also, can anyone tell me where I can get the tube collar? I will definately try the vitamin suppliment because he lost the most of his weight due to trying the pelleted diet! He is very picky!!!I even tried to make them seem like it was a treat and he still wouldn't eat them! He's really smart about things like that! He likes the colorful kind of pelleted food but my vet said that was bad for him because there is a lot of dyes and preservatives in those kind. But he completely quit eating with the Harrison's pellets. As I said very picky!!!!! I'll bring up to my vet about a skin biopsy and see what she says! Thank you all for helping me out with this problem!

Jul 06, 2010
Picking problem?
by: Linda

Hi and thanks for writing. FOLLOW THE AVIAN VET'S INSTRUCTIONS TO THE LETTER. Change him over to the Harrison's pellets and only feed 10-15% organic fruit and veggies a few times a week.The change takes time, so here is a link about how to go about it written by our Avian Vet:

Switching Birds to Pellets article.

Print out Dr. B's suggestions and take them with you to the Avian Vet's office. DO NOT CUT HIS WINGS AS THIS WILL DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WITH A CAPITAL N! He needs to be stressed as little as is possible, and this includes him getting 12 hours of quiet darkness each night for sleeping. If he is not getting enough rest, that is a whole other problem in and of itself.

Your bird is also NOT GETTING FULL SPECTRUM light. Light coming through a window is NOT FULL SPECTRUM LIGHT and will barely keep a plant alive, and won't keep a blooming plant alive.

Right now, concentrate on Dr. B's suggestions and go from there.

Hopefully, your little bird will get some relief and rest shortly.


Jul 06, 2010
Bird picking problem
by: The Avian Vet

This is a medical condition, often called axillary dermatitis. This does not indicate cause, however. I recommend a skin biopsy to try and determine the etiology. It is possible that it is a cancer, possibly squamous cell carcinoma. I also recommend using the AVI-x product, Soother Plus, as a topical treatment. It should be applied 4 times daily. You also need to get him eating 80% pellets, like Harrison's, and supplement with AVI-x Sunshine Factor, which is an organic red palm oil to provide the omega fatty acids he is missing in his diet.

In my office, I would use a drug called metronidazole which treats for Giardia and takes care of some nasty bacteria that may be the cause or could be secondary infections.

He is miserable and needs further medical attention. I have been successful at treating these in the past with some of what you have already done in combination with the things I have mentioned. Although I am not a fan of the collar, I do think that collars can be a useful adjunct, but know the collars that look like satellite dishes. I use a tube collar which is more comfortable and does not affect his eating, drinking or playing.

Dr B

Jul 05, 2010
by: ali

ok so all you have to do is take it to the vet and check for blood feathers.Clip the feather that he is pecking on.if none of that works and he is still pecking that means it is getting old and will cure itself.

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