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Dr. Pat
Dr. Pat, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 4244
Experience:  25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
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she started plucking her feathers a few weeks after my husband

Customer Question

she started plucking her feathers a few weeks after my husband passed away is there any thing i can do to stop her
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  Shantal-Mod replied 5 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,


Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 5 years ago.
Greetings, I am Dr. Pat. I have worked with birds for many years. I will do my best to help you.

I need more information.

What kind of bird?

For how long has this been going on?

What does she eat? When is she in bed? Inddors/outdoor/cage/no cage?

Can you tell me a little more?

Birds expereince grief and loss as much as people do. And they often self-destruct. This is a physical, mental, and psychological problem and you have to approach it on ALL levels.

First, the physical level is the easiest. If she had something going on prior to the loss, there is severe immune suppression with grief and the other emotional upheavals. She may be very ill.

You may have to deal with the emnotional part separately, but first thing is to make certain every thing is 100% in her health and husbandry.

Then strict 12-14 hours DARK QUIET UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP AT NIGHT. Sleep deprivation leads to bad behavior, anxiety and physical problems.

The bird needs proper diet.

Even with proper diet, sleep, medical care and environment, grief does not just go away. I am sure her routine is completely different now, and they really count on predictable daily schedule. So do your best in that department: everything the same, everyday.

Feather issues can be caused by a multitude of things, including bacterial skin infection, viruses, fungal infections, allergies, metal poisoning, hormonal flux, psychological or combination of these factors. The difficulty is diagnosing the problems and assigning an intelligent treatment plan. Your vet will want to run a number of tests so that appropriate medications can be prescribed.

Inflammatory skin/follicle disease is common. The causes can include local infection, metabolic problems, or even intestinal parasites. It can also be a prime area for even more serious problems like skin cancer. An avian-experienced vet should take a look at the poor bird, and run some tests. If he were my patient, I would start with complete fecal analysis and direct smear, bacterial culture and sensitivity of the feces, skin, feather pulp, and choana. Depending on the case I might do a fungal culture. Routine blood work is necessary to rule out other issues. Generally I start them out on injectable antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen.

Pet/feed store medications and home remedies are harmful, ineffective, immuno-suppressive, and make them much worse and may interfere with the veterinarian's diagnosis and treatment. Do not use them. Homeopathy and natureopathic techniques do not work in avians and can actually be very dangerous.

I know it is expensive, but you may not have many home options, because the first thing you need a vet for is to find out what is going on. Treatment is only as good as the diagnosis. If you call around, you may find a vet to work within your means.

You may have to deal with the emnotional part separately, but first thing is to make certain every thing is 100% in her health and husbandry.

I really must stress that you need a bird-experienced person, and not just a vet who advertises that they care for birds.

You need to take your bird to see an avian-experienced veterinarian ASAP for complete examination, diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Check

lan Jones Bird Vet
Web Address:
Phone: 07787 507 427
Address: c/o The British Wildlife Centre, eastbourne Road
City: Lingfield, Surrey Zip: RH7 6LF
Comments: Alan is now semi-retired but holds surgeries at the following locations below
Avian Vet? Yes

CJ Hall Veterianry Surgeons - Dr. Matthew Fiddes BVScHons CertZooMed MRCVS
Web Address:
Phone: 020 8876 9696
Address: 15 Temple Sheen Road
City: East Sheen, London Zip: SW14 7PY
Comments: Other information: 80% of patenits are avian and exotics. The practice set up for this purpose. All vets and nurses are qualified and professional. They are always willing to help and you will be greeted with a smile.
Avian Vet? Yes

Eastbourne Road(A22), Newchapel,
Lingfield, Surrey
01342 835 000
By appointment only Tuesdays & alternate Friday/Saturdays.

81 Woodville Road
Thornton Heath, Surrey
By appointment only, Tuesday mornings, once every four weeks.

The Old Corn Store
London Road
Westerham, Kent
TN16 1DR
By appointment only, Every Friday, alternating mornings and afternoons.

Newham Court Shopping Village
Bearsted Road
Maidstone, Kent
ME14 5LH
Open session, first come first served, Wednesday afternoons from 4 - 5.30 pm, once every four weeks.

Beddington Park
By appointment only, Tuesday afternoons once every four weeks.

Here are a few suggestions that I give everyone: important!

The following guidelines help with basic issues such as nutrition, obesity, good immune status. Surprising how the following can make a bird healthy, and how infrequently birds are ill if they are on the following regimen. No amount of medicine is going to work if the birds' basic needs are not met.

Birds should be on a high-quality, preferably prescription, pelleted diet: I prefer High-potency Harrison's



In addition, they should be offered dark leafy greens, cooked sweet potatoes, yams, squash, pumpkin; entire (tops and bottoms) fresh carrots and so forth. No seeds (and that means a mix, or millet, or sprays, etc. etc.) and only healthy, low-fat high fiber people food. A dietary change should be closely monitored and supervised by your avian vet.

Daily Maintenance

Birds should get 12-14 hours dark, quiet, uninterrupted sleep at night. Any less and they can suffer from sleep deprivation and associated illnesses. They should be covered or their cage placed in a dark room that is not used after they go to bed.

The cage material should be cleaned everyday, and twice a day if the bird is really messy. Paper towels, newspaper, bath towels are ok. Never use corn cob, sawdust, wood chips, or walnut shell.
Food and water dishes should be cleaned and changed daily. Keep one set cleaned while the other is in use.

Fresh, perishable food should be placed in separate food bowls. Remove fresh food from the cage after a couple of hours to avoid spoilage.

Change cage papers daily, and clean the grate and tray weekly.

Clean food debris or droppings from toys and perches as needed (which can be as often as once a day).

Grit is not necessary for birds, and will cause digestive problems and death. The best sources of minerals (and vitamins) are leafy greens. Never give grit, gravel sandpaper or cement perches. A bird will eat those to excess when it is not feeling well or if there is a nutritional deficiency. They do not need it at all (an old myth from the poultry days, even poultry do not need it). It can cause an impaction and lead to serious or fatal consequences.

With everything perfect, she still may have problems. As in people, it takes time and acceptance. I know it may sound silly, but talk to her like a 10 year old kid, and explain exactly what happened. If you have photos or movies, let her watch. The DO understand what is going on, and she may just be horribly frightened, confused and lonely. You need each other, so it is very important to help her out.

Get back with me with more details and I may be able to be more soecific.