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Dr. Jo
Dr. Jo, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 3215
Experience:  DVM from Iowa State University in 1994; actively engaged in private regular and emergency practice since that time, with a heavy emphasis on avian medicine.
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I have a problem with out quaker parrot.we have had him for

Customer Question

I have a problem with out quaker parrot.we have had him for about 10 months and about 2 months ago he started plucking himself to the point of making himself bleed.i call him an he but we don't actually know the sex of him.he stopped plucking for a few weeks and he seemed to be ok again but a few days ago he started again.we haven't changed his food,we don't do anything differently with him.the only change is my husband working away from home.charlie is still eating and drinking fine.he doesn't talk as much now and he keeps going in a corner just holding onto his cage.we live in the outer Hebrides so we haven't got a avian vet here.really need some help.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Shantal-Mod replied 4 years ago.


I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.

I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.

Thank you,


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I will wait longer for an answer.however I do find it disappointing after stating that it was kind of urgent that we are still no further forward.i do realise this isn't as straight forward as dealing with a dog or a cat.just hope we can find a solution to help Charlie.



Expert:  Shantal-Mod replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for getting back to me. We will continue to search for a Professional to assist you.

Thank you for your patience,

Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 4 years ago.
My name is Dr. Jo and I am a veterinarian with experience dealing with cases like what you are going through with Charlie. I am so sorry you have waited so long for a reply.

If you would like to discuss this with me, please let me know and I will do my best to help you.

Thank you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


have just got your email as I have been working.yes I would like to discuss this with you.i would really like to get to the bottom of what is wrong with Charlie as it bothers me to think that he is unhappy.



Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 4 years ago.
I received your reply. Thank you for being patient.

I am so sorry you are having this problem with Charlie and do not have access to an avian veterinarian. This type of problem is not uncommon and can be life-threatening when it's really severe. The really severe cases are the ones when the bird makes himself bleed, as you've indicated Charlie sometimes does, and actually starts damaging his own flesh. The resulting wounds can get infected and suddenly you have a very sick bird on your hands. Without medical attention this kind of severe problem can be life-threatening.

That is why it is with great relief I am assuming that Charlie presently is ONLY plucking his feathers, not damaging his skin. I hope I am correct in that assumption.

I am gathering some information about feather plucking for you right now. I'll have it posted in just a few minutes.

Thank you for being patient.
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 4 years ago.
I must start by saying I'm really glad you're committed to doing what you can to help Charlie because you're worried he's unhappy. It's true that many birds do not cope well with captivity. They are not domesticated animals and being kept as pets is certainly not their choice. It can be very difficult to meet the emotional, behavioral, environmental, and nutritional needs to keep a bird healthy, and feather plucking is a common disorder that results.

The reasons for feather-plucking are very complicated. Because this problem may be medical or behavioral (from stress or boredom), I usually tell people the first step is to take their bird to an avian veterinarian. If it is a medical problem contributing to the feather plucking, the plucking won't improve until you address the medical issue.

Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like this is an option for Charlie.

That means the next most important thing to do is to make sure you're doing the very best you can to provide him with the best possible nutrition, housing, and environmental enrichment. This will decrease the likelihood of continued plucking.

The bottom line is that many people do the very best they can for their parrots (and rule out medical causes) and their parrots still pluck. When that is the case, the people simply do their best to love the bird as is, understanding the bird is doing the best it can to cope with a difficult situation (captivity).

Some behavioral factors that can contribute to plucking include: a lack of meaningful "work" to do every day, hormonal reasons, boredom, or stress.

Here are some things Charlie needs to have to be healthy (and a healthy bird is less likely to pick).

- A healthy diet. Charlie should be on a diet that is 85% pellets and 15% a healthy variety of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, sprouts, and a minimum of protein in that order. It is best if Charlie has to work and forage for his food. He should spend much of his day looking for his food and taking things apart to get it. This can take a fair amount of creativity, but it will result in a healthier and happier bird.

- full-spectrum light: they need to be exposed to sunlight without the interference from glass for a few hrs. daily, or have access to a full-spectrum light source from a special bulb.

- toys: many of the foraging and puzzle types (see www.birdsjustwannahave Keep in mind a good toy is one a bird destroys.

- sleep: at least 10-12 hrs of dark, quiet, uninterrupted time in a predictable pattern every night.

- socialization: at least 4 hrs out with the family daily if they are pets

I should add that you should be very suspicious of any over-the-counter remedies you see advertised to solve feather-picking---there are no quick fixes and you will waste your money.

If you have taken the above steps and done everything you can do to be sure he is healthy and has plenty to keep his mind engaged, Charlie may still pluck. Simply put, it is extremely difficult for us to provide these highly intelligent creatures with everything they need to live an emotionally satisfying life. Many pick their feathers for life, and you will just have to do your best to love him for who he is.
I hope this information will help Charlie stop plucking, but even if it doesn't, I hope it helps to know that this is a common problem and it is incredibly difficult to solve.

Here are some good resources about feather picking:

I hope this information will provide you with a good start to better understanding the reasons for feather picking.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this very complicated problem.

I am hopeful this information helps, and am happy to keep discussing this with you until you are satisfied with the information I've provided.

Meanwhile, I'll hope for the best for you and Charlie.

Please let me know how else I can help.

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