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Vet, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 83
Experience:  I have spent many years in mixed practice, dealing with all the major species.
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my african grey is plucking his feathers he is 12 years old

Customer Question

my african grey is plucking his feathers he is 12 years old and has not done this before
he has now doing it continuosly can you suggest an answer please
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Dan replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question, I'm Dr. Dan and I'll try to help you.
What is in the best interest of your feathery friend is you need to find a bird savvy vet to take your bird to. Make sure you ask if this vet has dealt with feather loss before. The reason you need the vet and I can't help you very much online is because there are literally a hundred reasons feather loss can begin. Some are medical conditions, some are hormonal conditions, some are nutritional conditions and some are behavioral conditions. A vet is needed to take a detailed history and examine your bird to even begin to find a place to start. I can tell you these cases take a lot of time, patience and understanding on your part. There is almost never a quick shot, pill or fix to take care of this. If you want to try things on your own first, a good place to start is by purchasing the following things Birds for Dummies© written by Brian Speer, DVM, and the DVD called Captive Foraging© by Scott Echols, DVM. Here are a couple of other free resources to give you an idea about feather damaging. These items may get you a start but are much more effective if guided by a vet. I hope this helps, best wishes.
Dr. Dan
Expert:  Vet replied 3 years ago.
I certainly agree that feather plucking is a complex subject with no easy fixes. From a practical perspective, as long as your bird has a good body weight and appetite and is being fed with good quality food, the most likely causes are: parasites both internal and external, which can be diagnosed and eliminated by your vet, irritants such as plaster dust from building works or a new fabric cleaner, and stress. That last one is a big one. Just as we bite our nails when anxious, parrots can feather pluck. Think back carefully to when the problem started: what changed? New arrivals in the house? Noise outside? A change in routine? A surprisingly common cause I have found is sleep deprivation. The cage is usually sited in the family room, where there is activity and light until late. Birds tend to wake with the dawn light, so their sleep time is drastically reduced as we force them to adapt to our rhythms. Have a good think about this and get back to us if you come up with anything relevant. Often when the stressor is identified and corrected, the feather plucking remains but fades slowly over many months, only to flare up at odd times. The important thing is to manage the problem and minimise triggers to minimise flare-ups. Please keep us posted. All the very best Vet Andrew