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  1. #1
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    Sunni - we need advice on his picking his feathers out

    I have a 10 year old lutino cockatiel, Sunni, who has been picking out his feathers since he was one. When it started, I took him to the vet who said he was healthy. She also said lutinos were more nervous than birds of other colors. I had noticed that, because one night, he was sitting on my shoulder when my power went out. The next thing I heard was a little gasp - and it wasn't me! I got a lantern on and he stopped gasping.
    She gave me a spray which had mainly aloe vera in it and I sprayed him daily. He didn't like it and it didn't help. After awhile, I stopped, because I read that picking alone wouldn't cause them to be sick and I felt that the spraying was making him frantic. I tried giving him extra attention, but it didn't seem to help either. Since he came home, his cage has been open, but he won't fly from it unless he sees me. He loves perching outside on the top and looking out a window. Lately, he's been picking different areas and now he's making me frantic. Besides the spot on his belly, he's branched out and done the inside of his wings and now he's started on a shoulder. I can spray him without his getting too upset now, but he really only likes it when it's hot out.
    Maybe there have been advances in the past 10 years. Does anyone have any advice for us?
    Thanks,
    Maria

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    Re: Sunni - we need advice on his picking his feathers out

    Hi Maria,
    I had a Lutino too but she was not at all nervous. Did you take her to an avian vet? I personally think it could be an allergy. I did have a gray by the name of Woodstock and he started the feather plucking between his wings and the vet told me to give him Benedryl. I did give it to him orally but I can't remember what the dosage was. After that, he stopped plucking and his one area between his wings did grow back.

    I did notice that you were in Michigan. My vets are located in Warren. I go to Warren Woods Veterinary Hospital and they have two excellent avian vets.

  3. #3
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    Re: Sunni - we need advice on his picking his feathers out

    It doesn't sound like that vet had much experience in plucking. Tiels tend to not be pluckers for the most part because they are so docile. But, yes they hate the dark (very prone to night frights). Have you noticed any trigger at all to his plucking, or just all the time?

    There are a couple of ways to try - if it is boredom, lots of toys and preeners/shredders help. If it is an allergy, either medication or if it is a food allergy trying to pinpoint what food allergy is causing it. Stress can cause plucking, but if he is doing it all the time, not likely unless he is in a very stressful environment (kids poking at him, predator animals harassing him, etc) which I doubt is the case. If worst comes to worse and you just cannot stop his plucking, which after this long it is likely habit as much as anything, vets can give you a collar to let the area heal and often once it's healed up it's easier to keep them from picking - the feathers growing back itch and hurt which makes a bird want to pluck even more.

    I know they are not tiels, but we have had a few lovies with severe plucking issues and people have given lots of different things their vets and they are trying, so I would suggest looking up msminnamouse‎ and pixibubbles threads about their lovies (top right, search their names). Now, msminnamouse's Clover is a very severe case, but she has gone through most of the plucking remedies trying to help her, so you may get some ideas out of their posts.

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    Re: Sunni - we need advice on his picking his feathers out

    Caroline,
    Yes, I went to the Warren Woods vet too - my seller recommended her. Thanks for reminding me about the Benadryl; it was her recommendation to me. The only problem was I could not get him to take it. I had a tiny plastic syringe an he wasn't going to open his mouth for it. I finally added it to ice cream (lactose-free) but he really never took enough of it to do any good. So, now Pet Pals' owner suggested something he has good results with, but again, getting it in his body is very hard. I tried ice cream again, but apparently the little bird is on a diet. He did eat some pita bread with it , but not enough for a dose and he was very clear that he liked the pita and not the wet stuff. So, I plan on going back to the owner and ask him to show me how he can get Sunni to take it. Maybe I need a manly voice and demeanor?

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    Re: Sunni - we need advice on his picking his feathers out

    Sunni was a nervous little baby when I bought him. He had somehow broken a wing which had healed leaving a pink scar when I saw him at 12 weeks. I didn't pay it much attention because he was the cutest thing I had ever seen.
    I didn't notice a trigger but the bird store owner suggested the heating system in the winter created a lot of dry air and made him itchy. By the time we hit spring, he was hooked. He does have shredders, a mirror and a rock he tries to balance on (the rock rocks!), but could probably do with more toys. We cuddle and scritch morning and night, sometimes in afternoons. I'll try looking up the names you gave me and if all else fails, we'll go back to the vet.
    Thank you, Marrie, for all the advice.
    You can see Sunni on my Youtube page; Mommaria. There's an early video of him trying to whistle Andy Griffith with no visible plucking and another of him helping me prepare scrambled eggs where there's a little spot on his left shoulder and at 14 seconds and a little after, there's a glimpse of his abdomen which is a little bare. The biggest spot is when my sister sings to him "Thea sings the Muffin Man". When he flutters, you catch see under his wing, on his throat and then the bare belly spot. And now he's starting up again in new areas.
    Last edited by sunni; 03-19-2012 at 04:52 PM. Reason: spelling corrections

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    Re: Sunni - we need advice on his picking his feathers out

    If you think it may be dry air you could try a humidifier, that makes the heat/ac make the air less dry for them. To get medicine into a birds mouth the best way is to hold them wrapped in a towel and syringe it into their beak, a breeder or vet can show you how to properly hold them for it. They don't like it, but it's hard to get them to take anything on food.

  7. #7
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    Re: Sunni - we need advice on his picking his feathers out

    I thought it was the dry air, but I put him in one room with the orchids (inaccessible to him) and let the humidity go until there was condensation on the windows. That probably wasn't very smart, but he was healthy except for the plucking. I think you're right. I'll go back to the pet store and have them show me. It sounds less traumatic than the cone of shame! I'll let you know. Thank you for all the ideas.

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