Plucking Feathers

by Anne
(Hillsboro, OR)

I was searching the web to find out why our conure is plucking and came across this website. I noticed a similar problem and would like to find out more about what we can do to help our bird.

We have a Green Cheek Conure that is 6 years old who started plucking her feathers about a month ago. We took her to the vet and they ran every test possible and found nothing. She was perscribed some medicine to ease the soreness on her skin.

The last couple days we noticed that she was eating the toilet paper tubes instead of her food. We are not sure what is wrong. Here are answers to the questions asked in the simular situation:
First we need to determine why she is plucking.

Have you had her DNA sexed as a female? Yes,recently, no results yet.

What is her diet? mixture of seeds and pellets, banana, carrots, broccolli, bread, cereal. Basically whatever fresh fruit and veggie that we eat each day. She eats when we eat.

How much light is she getting? Is it full spectrum? Yes, we have a daytime light lamp.

Does she have opportunity to forage? not really.

What has changed in her routine, environment, lifestyle, etc. recently? nothing has changed.

Does she drink from a water bottle? Yes

Does this happen the same time of year? first time plucking

Do you have other pets? No

Does anyone smoke tobacco in the home? No

What size is her cage? 36x30x18

Is she vaccinated for Avian Polyomavirus? Yes

What do you use in the cage tray? clear plastic trash bags that we cut to fit

Comments for Plucking Feathers

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Aug 21, 2009
Bird plucking feathers
by: The Vet

Is she just plucking feathers or is she damaging her skin too?

I would recommend more diagnostics. For example, good x-rays can be helpful to determine if the ovaries (or testicles) are enlarged or have a cyst or tumor. These types of female problems can lead to plucking. The x-rays can also tell if there is foreign material on the GI tract that your bird may have ingested. In addition, blood tests for lead and zinc should be done, if they have not already.

What changed about a month ago that could have precipitated this? Change in routine, moved the cage, added a new pet, added a new person, have her wings clipped?...

Where is her cage located?

What pellets does she eat? How much of her diet is pellets?

Does she like to bathe?

Where is she plucking? Chest? Legs? Under wings?...

Dr B

Aug 18, 2009
Bird plucking mystery
by: Tracie

I am sorry to hear your bird has started this! Our GC conure started plucking once, and even though we solved the problem, she had a hard time breaking the habit. I am glad you are working to get this resolved so soon, because sometimes it takes a long time to figure out the solution.

I would have a concern about the toilet paper rolls you mention she is eating. The glue they use in toilet paper and paper towel rolls might be harmful for your bird. Please purchase bird safe toys for your bird to chew up and destroy.

It sounds like you have done a thorough investigation, but just in case I would like to add some questions for you to consider. You do NOT have to post your answers, I just wanted to throw them out.

Have you started using a new cleanser in your house that you spray on things in your bird room?

Do you wash your bird dishes with bird safe cleaners, like Pet Focus?

Has someone in your house started wearing perfume or cologne that the bird may not like or is allergic to?

Do you feed your bird organic food and vegetables? The chemicals they feed plants and spray on them are toxic to you and your birds. Your store may have started getting something you are feeding your bird from a new supplier and your bird might be reacting to a chemical they either feed the plants with (you can't wash off what is inside the plant cells) or that they spray on the plants.

Have you purchased a new iron, ironing board cover, toaster oven or something with Teflon on it?

These kinds of questions are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself. There are obviously more questions than people could possibly post.

One lady I am familiar with had her bird start plucking just because she purchased some holiday salt and pepper shakers that bothered her bird. She finally realized that the bird "freaked" when she took the bird near them I think.

Please read the articles on our Parrot Training page that cover feather destruction issues.

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