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Dr. Pat
Dr. Pat, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 2863
Experience:  25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
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About two months ago my one year old lovebird started

Customer Question

About two months ago my one year old lovebird started plucking out of the blue. Overnight he plucked a bunch of his chest feathers. I took him to the vet immediately and she gave me an antibiotic as she thought it might have been a skin infection. She also gave me a cream for his skin and metacam. He didn't really get any better and I ended up taking him back to the vet again. I was given more antibiotic and metacam and a spray for his skin.

Almost a month later and nothing has changed. He's still plucking his feathers - only on his chest and back - and he's chewing the skin raw. I can hear him screeching at night because he's plucking himself and it hurts. I've looked at the possible causes of plucking and I have ruled some out. I don't think it's hormonal as he's shown absolutely zero signs of hormones at all. He used to masturbate before he started plucking but he hasn't done it in months. I don't think he's swallowed something he shouldn't have as he's eating normally, his crop feels normal and he's pooping normally. I was thinking it might have been fatty liver disease as the vet suggested but he has no other signs of this except that he does shake now and then. However, when he shakes I think he's cold as he tries to snuggle under my hand for warmth. He does have quite large bare patches.

One of the things I think it might have been was stress or delayed trauma. About three weeks before he started plucking, my friend's young daughter accidentally trapped him in the door. He fell to the floor and flapped around for a while as he couldnt move straight or fly. I took him to the vet after the incident and they said he was fine. I have heard though that trauma can take a while to set in after an accident- could this be a reason for the plucking?

I'm not sure it's stress as he does lead a pretty happy, carefree life. He has other birds for company, plenty of toys and I have a lot of free time to spend with him. Could it simply be that he started off plucking and now it's become a sort of itch-pluck cycle where the skin itches where new feathers are coming in so he plucks them? His behaviour has definitely changed since he started plucking. He's tired most of the time now and only has brief periods of activity. He spends most of his day snuggled up against me snoozing. Because of this he has recently started to not sleep at all at night. Aside from the tiredness, the plucking and the shaking there isn't anything else to give me much concern. He is able to fly - though he is much more slow and timid than he was before - and he perches and balances fine.

I am thinking I need to take him back to a vet as I'd like to see if a collar would be an idea. I'm getting really stressed at him being like he is and I just want him to be well again.

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Bird