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Thread: HELP! Flight feather plucking!

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    Brand New Egg TheProgrammingCockatiel's Avatar
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    HELP! Flight feather plucking!

    Hi all,

    This morning when I went to open Ares' cage, I noticed there were a lot of feathers...everywhere. I looked closer and realized they were his flight feathers. Two of the feathers had grown back in recently, and they were his longest flight feathers. Those two had blood on them. The other feathers were still cut from when he got them cut as a baby, but he had plucked those out as well. Those ones didn't have any blood on them. Ares is 7 months old. He still isn't comfortable with being handled, but he does respond to the "Wings up!" command occasionally and I didn't see any bloody spots.
    I want to take him to an avian vet, but I live in South Dakota and it's ridiculously difficult to find an avian vet here, much less one that's open on Sundays.

    What should I do? I'm scared. I've never encountered this issue before and I'm not sure how to help him. He doesn't seem to be acting any different than normal.

    Thank you!

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    Brand New Egg TheProgrammingCockatiel's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Flight feather plucking!

    Quick addition - I do notice now that he seems to be tired. Could he be sleep deprived, or maybe he had a night terror? He isn't any less active than he normally is at this time, but he does seem a bit down. Yesterday, we tried to introduce some fresh fruits and veggies to his diet by putting out a dish of them near his regular food bowl, but he seemed terrified of it and refused to go eat until we took it out. He's eaten treats from that very same dish before, which is why I thought he would recognize it and not freak out. We then tried putting very small pieces of grape and apple in with his normal food, but when he went down to eat he tried a piece, freaked out, and climbed back up to his "safe" perch. We took the pieces of fruit out, and he finally went down to eat, but he didn't eat much and went straight back to his perch after about 30 seconds of nibbling.
    Could this be a contributing factor? He was so stressed out he resorted to feather plucking?

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    Brand New Egg TheProgrammingCockatiel's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Flight feather plucking!

    Update - we monitored him carefully throughout the day yesterday and made sure he was drinking and eating normally, and the temperature around the cage was a steady 80 degrees F. This morning, there were no new feathers and he was playing with his toys again! His droppings from yesterday were a bit watery, but they seem to be back to normal today. We found a local avian vet and we'll still be giving them a call, but I'm a bit worried about physically taking him in since there are so many diseases that can be picked up at a clinic from other birds, people, etc.

    Any advice on this? I've heard that covering the travel cage with a clean towel or blanket will help, but I'm still unsure. House calls are ridiculously expensive, though, and we're on a tight budget as is.

    What do you all think? He seems to be back to normal at this point. Should we just keep monitoring his food/water intake and droppings?

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    Re: HELP! Flight feather plucking!

    Hello Heather.. Welcome to the community and please take a deep breath. From what you described, it sounds to me that Ares is molting. All birds do it and it's perfectly normal. You mentioned that Ares is 7 months old and just to make you aware that usually their first molt will put some stress on them. A couple signs of stress is that they maybe cranky or not as vocal. Usually when birds molt, they will preen their feathers and the loose feathers will fall to the bottom of the cage.. They don't lose all there feathers at once. Sometimes the molting will last a couple weeks to or maybe even a month, all depends on the bird. Some birds molt once a year. My cockatiel molts a couple of times a year.. There are times when I got home from work I thought a pillow fight broke out from my bird molting.
    Tango / White Faced Pied Male: Hatched on October 09, 2011 - Homed on April 28, 2012.

    Tiels:
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    Caesar / Normal Gray Male: 1977 - 1994
    Piper / Lutino Hen: 1994 - 2010
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    Re: HELP! Flight feather plucking!

    Tikki my daughters conure had a hard molt last year and it must of really been bothering him like crazy. He barbed the heck of his wing feathers and also pulled quite a few of them out by spinning them around trying to barb them. He was a mess and after a few days my daughter brought him to the vets. He stayed there overnight so they could watch him and give him a medicated bath. His vet recommended giving him lots of misting and feeding him a drop of organic red palm oil everyday. Tikki loves the palm oil and licks it off our fingertip.

    It is possible that Ares had a night fright as well and his feathers might have caught in his cage which is why you seen a few drops of blood as well. Something might have spooked him and he bashed around in his cage. They are scary to see and so easy for them to hurt themselves. Keep a close eye on him and if he is hand friendly I would try to spread his wings and make sure no broken feather shafts are left in his wing area. If so you may have to take him the vets because these could bleed.
    Fly Free Boomer, we will forever love you.

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    Re: HELP! Flight feather plucking!

    Thanks, everyone! I appreciate the advice.

    Ares isn't hand friendly yet, even though it claimed he was hand-fed AND hand-raised. I'm guessing either they just hand-fed him, or he had a traumatic experience with hands. He's willing to step up for a treat, but won't let us touch him at all and freaks out if we try. He'll eat from our hands, but nothing more. Any advice on how to get him used to being handled, at least a little?

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    Re: HELP! Flight feather plucking!

    Our hands are the biggest trust issue for all caged birds. It is an issue that I feel is natural imbred behavior. All birds in; the wild have to deal with many possible predators, and Mother Nature has created them to protect themselves. They often use their beak. (Ouch), when it comes to interacting with us! Even on occasion, a tame bird that we have had for along time will bite.

    I would suggest you get some millet sprigs at the store. Take one and extend the top of it far out to him so that he can eat off the top, but your hand will not be so close to him. Practice this training often. This will help to improve his trust in you that you will not hurt him.

    Take it slow and easy with him. It is a real plus he will eat from your hands. I agree with you that something may have happened as a baby to frighten him. Do not lose heart though. In time, I feel he will trust you completely.
    Last edited by maxollie; 01-23-2019 at 09:53 AM.

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