we have a cockatoo that is plucking out her feathers can you help
Type of Animal: cockatoo
Name of Bird: tinker
anti peck sprays, calciumto add to water
Hello, I'm Dr. Bob.I'm sorry to read of Tinker's condition. How long has she been feather plucking?
She started doing this about two years ago, but of late she is doing it all the time and getting very bald, it can not be bordem because she does it even we have her out ,and thats most of the day
Okay, thank you.Feather plucking is a bad habit that often starts at times of stress or illness, and can persist long after the original cause has resolved. The approach to correction of the condition is multi-factored. Our first area of concern is diet.What does she eat?
she eats the normal seed with nuts etc, also a lot of what we eat like cooked potato fresh carrot lots of fruit loves cheese and a cup of tea, this has always been the case as we have had her from a baby
Thank you.Feather plucking is a complex habit based in over-zealous preening. In order to wean them from this self-destructive behavior, the conditions of their lives must be made optimal. Compare what you're feeding Tinker to what professional aviary keepers feed their parrots: 70% high quality pelleted parrot food, such as those made by Kaytee, Zupreem, Harrison's, Lafeber, or other reputable manufacturers (these may be purchased online) , 20% dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, cilantro, collard, turnip or beet greens, cooked sweet potato, squash, or pumpkin, carrots with the tops attached, dried chili pepper, yellow, green and red fresh peppers, and only 10% seeds and nut foods. Lettuce is practically all water,is of no food value in the diet, and shouldn't be fed to birds. Fruit is okay as an occasional treat, but also contains 90% water and fills the bird up without providing many nutrients by weight. Grit is no longer considered necessary to the healthy upkeep of pet birds, and grit impactions can be fatal. Most pet birds' diets consist of too high a proportion of seeds and nuts, which are out of balance in calcium and phosphorus, too high in fat, and low in iodine and this imbalance eventually catches up with them. Sunflower seeds are especially high in fat content. Beside all this, pet bird food is usually not shelf dated, and is often more than a year old when purchased. Most of the perishable nutrients are often gone by the time the birds actually eat it. Seeds and nuts tend to go rancid in time, and if the birds don't refuse to eat them, oil soluble vitamin deficiencies may result. Check your bird food package to see if there is a "Best by" date printed on the label. You can tell a lot about the manufacturer by whether or not they date their product, in spite of what they say about themselves in advertising or on the package. Proper nutrients in balance with one another help prevent digestive, respiratory, nerve, skin, feather plucking and organ problems, as well as behavior problems like self mutilation, excessive vocalization, aggression and excessive egg laying by females. One of the major reasons for this is that diets high in seed and nut foods tend to cause the liver to become sick, as fat tissue replaces healthy liver tissue. Excessive fats in seed-rich diets encourage the overproduction of sexual hormones causing moodiness, and unwanted sexual behavior as well as other side-effects. Although it may be easier to get your bird to switch to a better diet, since she's already used to eating a pretty varied diet, you can read an excellent article about how to get her to eat more properly online here: http://www.cockatielcottage.net/finicky.htmlCockatiels kept as pets in the average home live an average of seven years, while those kept in professionally maintained aviaries routinely live as long as 35 years, the difference is primarily dietary. The statistics would be proportionately similar for your bird.Another consideration is proper rest. Birds should be allowed 12-14 hours of sleep under a dark cover in a quiet part of the house, away from T.V. radio or conversational noises. Environment also plays a part to help build them up emotionally, and improvements help them to deal with stress more effectively. New toys, changed frequently to combat boredom, can be helpful, and you may want to consider placing natural tree branches in his cage for the distraction, interest, and safe chewing exercise. Be sure to use non-toxic branches only, a list can be found here: www.mdvaden.com/bird_page.shtml This is called "environmental enrichment" and is often helpful in stimulating, entertaining, and distracting them from bad habits and moods, which in turn, is good for their overall health, besides being a help in distracting them from their over-preening behavior.If she continues to feather pluck despite six weeks of the changes I've suggested, she may need medical help to overcome this behavior. Avian veterinarians can prescribe behavior modifying medications to help Tinker get over her feather fixation.If you should have further questions, please let me know. Kindest regards,Dr. Bob
35 years in general practice, including avian.
Thank you for your help, i just wondered , you said stree can be a factor, well we have for the last two years taken her to spain, she hates the journey and is sick,we were told to give her rescue remedy and that helps. would you think it would help if i gave her this now for a while
Hello again!Rescue Remedy is fine anytime, and could very well be helpful in relieving stress when used with the other adjustments to her living arrangements that I described.The medications used to combat feather plucking have anxiety relieving properties, much stronger than those of Rescue Remedy, but it's certainly worth the effort to try.If I may be of further assistance to you, please let me know.Dr. Bob
Hi Jpan,I'm just following up on our conversation about tinker. How is everything going?Dr. Bob
Well at the moment she is still plucking her feathers, but i am giving her the rescue and have ordered the new food,i know you said more sleep but that is difficult because she is in a big cage so not easy to put her in the dark early. we used to cover her when she had a smaller cage but she pulled the cove in the cage and eat some, we nearly lost her as she got blocked up thanks for your interest Joan
Hello again.The problem with covering her cage is a tough one! Perhaps you can find one made from a stiffer material.Sleep is a crucial component of the campaign to break the plucking habit, otherwise a prescription anxiety relieving medication must be necessary. I'm sure that you, like me, would prefer natural sleep to chemicals.If I may be of further assistance to you, please let me know.Kindest regards,Dr. Bob