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Lovebirds Plucking feathers





I found another bird has really helped me with Neo's little problem, I am reluctant to talk about it but if it lends a hand to someone else with the same problem or a similar problem I am happy to share what I have learnt.

When my attention was diverted (i.e. work) then Neo would start to pluck to punish me. Neo was very spoilt (to the point he used to sleep on my bedside table in a Cat Basket) - I suppose like other Parrots that are loved as much as my little Neo. This is when it started, one day when I was unable to spoil him because my attention has been diverted for that moment he started to pluck. Plucking later turned into self mutilation.

At the time I was lost, I screamed out help to my on-line communities (http://www.lovebirds.co.nz/forum) who first gave me the advice to have a full blood test to ensure that the reason for his plucking was emotional and not an illness. This was the start of a full learning curve for me in many ways.

I first came to learn from my Avian Vet that feather picking and self mutilation was not an uncommon problem in many parrot species. The causes are many and in most cases there is more than one than problem contributing to the feather picking.

Infectious Diseases can include Viral Diseases such as Beak and Feather disease, Polyomavirus, Poxvirus, Bacterial Diseases of the Skin (usually secondary infections) including Staphyloccus, Streptococcus, Gram Negative Infections and Mycobacteris, Chlamydia (which causes Meningitis and Pneumonia in Humans, we catch it from birds not birds catch it from us, its very unlikely that a bird will pick up any infections from humans, its more likely we will pick infections up from birds), Fungal disease of the skin and feathers, External Parasites such as Mites and Lice (uncommon cause of feather picking and or self mutilation) or internal Parasites such as Protozoa (Giardia, Hexmaita, Cichlosoma, worms or Coccidia.
training your birds
It could be a non infectious behavior such as Nutritional deficiencies (commonly involved in most feather picking) especially all seed diets, Allergies to food, Aerosol Particles and in contact substances, Poisons and Toxins, Heavy Metal (lead, zinc, and copper), Nicotine and Plant Poisons, Metabolic and Organ Disease, especially Liver, Kidney and Airsac problems, Psittacine Pruritic Polyfolliculosis, Skin growths and lumps such as Trauma, Wing Clipping, feather Cysts, Tumours, Abscesses, Adhesions, and Granulomas internal Tumours.

Or it could be a simple matter of behavioral problems which in Neo's case was. Behavioral problems such as Boredom, lack of a mate or friend, lack of visual, tactical and aural stimulation or lack of regular flying time, sunlight and showers. Birds that are threatened or insecure and last but not least HORMONAL , especially in breeding season and or molting.

My baby was stressed and sexually frustrated which lead to the plucking turning into self mutilation and soon I was able to start to relate the situation to when either my other half or I was stressed (very stressed from work and other environmental factors including Neo Plucking). Neo would feel the stress from a mile away and would commence mutilating himself. I suppose this is when he was at his worst.......

We spent weeks deciding on a new bird, not one that Neo can fall in love with (Neo was already in love with me which was one of his issues as I can't return that love) but more a bird that he can talk to when we were not at home. But not only did we have to find him company we had to learn to manage our stress (even though a lot of it was because he was plucking). We are both still learning not to get stressed but we seemed to have managed our stress to the point that Neo is not concerned that we are stressed.

Blame - who do I blame, well I blame "ME" (I think a lot of people in this situation forget that the blame is entirely in their court)... I have learnt a lot over the last 8 months, and I would never follow in those foot steps again. I would never have a sole house trained bird again; it will always be two or more. I will always continue to manage my stress, and would not get stressed to the extent that I was (work and life issues) again. I manage with Healthy food and exercise and discussing issues more openly now.

When I first introduced Morpheus (South American Quaker), Neo became his worst. This was expected, as things had to get worst before they got better. I suppose you could say, we had to now share our love and Neo had to learn share. Neo had to learn he was not the sole bird in the place, but most of all Neo had to learn he was a BIRD and not a human.

Soon to follow was his sleeping arrangements, Neo still sleeps in his cat basket but now he sleeps in a room that is pitch dark and away from the noise both my partner and I make after 7.30pm through to 7.00am in the morning.

I know every story and every reason differs from the above, but what I do know some Parrots with this problem are very spoilt like Neo was, most Parrots run the house like Neo did. >From what I have learnt spoilt Parrots pluck the minute the attention is diverted.

The long battle is not over, and probably will never be over. But today it doesn't effect me to such, that I was emotionally drained in finding solutions.

By Colleen McClure