Quaker putting a strain on marriage

by Deb
(Brookfield, WI)

Dear kind vet: I apologize in advance for this long email. I am at my wits end with my 11y/o male quaker. He has always been an active, vocal bird. He is entertaining and my little buddy. The big problem is the strain on my marriage of 26yrs! He adores my husband (MH), who wants nothing to do with the bird. He wimpers when MH leaves the room. He yaps incessantly beginning when MH gets up in the morning, when he hears MH in another room, until MH either leaves the house or pays attention to him. Those interactions usually end with a bite.

I've tried to educate MH in handling with no luck.
Bucho (boo-cho) is fed Pretty Bird mixed with fruit Zupreem and seeds. He is offered other fresh vegetables and fruit, pasta,rice, bread. I waste 7/8 of his seemingly untouched food (pellets) along with both developed and downy feathers every morning when changing the cage paper.

I've noticed he does not dunk his food like my friend's female quaker. He always seems nervous picking and plucking. He enjoys frequent baths. I am thinking he may be malnourished. I cannot get him to drink vitamins mixed in water.

His home is on the main floor in a room that is used occasionally. The cage is good size, against a wall. He can see out the window, but is not right by it. He is provided oak twigs and paper to shred and build with.

When he is very noisy, I place him in a slightly smaller cage in the basement. This cage is right by a patio door. I have a towel over half of the top for hiding. He seems calmer,and is quiet here. And-he doesn't pluck! Sometimes he is down there for hours alone when we have company too.

I don't know what to do. It seems he is nervous with his "flock" around and calm when alone.
He is good w/regards to general health, although a bit underweight at 4oz.

I would appreciate any insights you have on the above issues: The husband, food, and cage placement. Thank you so much!

Comments for Quaker putting a strain on marriage

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Oct 02, 2010
just needed to say
by: Anonymous

Never BLEACH anything that your bird will come into contact with it is very dangerous to your bird as is most house hold cleaning products

Jul 20, 2008
About Bucho
by: Anonymous

Dr. B-
thank you so much for the advice. what Harrison's pellets should I try? The super fine or fine high potency? Bucho weighs 4oz or 115g.

I pulled all the oak twigs out of Bucho's cage (I see they were on the toxic list!). I remember you said no outdoor sticks, but I cleaned, bleached,and froze overnight dogwood and crabapple twigs-
He just doesn't take to the toy sticks.
Sometimes he'll play with popsicle sticks.

Bathing-I will look for the Aviax(?) on this website.

We'll see what happens! Thanks again.

Jun 30, 2008
Quaker behavior problem
by: The Vet

I think you can help this bird a great deal by switching his diet. Those colored, sugar pellets are horrible for birds. They cause hyperactivity and other problems, and even in some cases are blamed for feather damaging behaviors. You need to switch him to Harrison's pellets. These should make up 85% of his diet. We can provide you with instructions on how to get him to eat the new food.

You should not put vitamins in the water. These are a health hazard and do nothing for your bird nutritionally. Feeding him pellets with treats is the only way to balance his diet.

I recommend not giving branches from outside due to the potential for parasites and disease. There are many commercially available toys and things for them to shred. Planet Pleasures makes some great toys that Quakers love. His cage should be at least 20 x 24, larger is better. His cage should be located in a more traveled area of your home. Someplace he can see activity constantly, instead of occasionally.

Is the lighting better down there in the basement? Maybe he likes the temperature better, more light, more to see, I don't know why he prefers it down there. Maybe because he can't see MH. The behaviors you describe about their interaction sounds more like aggression that affection.

What does he weigh in grams? Has he been seen by an avian veterinarian in the last 12 months? Birds need annual exams and vaccinations, so if he has not been, it is time. Quakers are one of the most common species of parrots that pluck their feathers. It is often difficult to determine the cause. There are some things you can do that may help.

1. Bathe daily, use water and Avi-x Bird Rain on alternating days and get him very wet every day.
2. Increase the humidity in his room to 60&
3. Change his diet to Harrison's pellets
4. Teach him to forage using the methods in the Captive Foraging DVD. Create some of your own methods of foraging too.

Please let me know how he progresses.

Dr B

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