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Urgent African Grey Bald Spots - Worried

Nimily

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Hello everyone,

About three and a half years ago, I was given the most amazing opportunity (because of these forums) to adopt my African Grey Henry. Henry is now 14 years old, and has only plucked once in his life during a time of distress many, many years ago (literally he plucked for one day and never did it again). He has been fully feathered, but he sometimes gets a slightly "homeless" looking spot on his chest when he's molting.

A few days ago, I mentioned to my husband that he looked uncomfortable because we noticed a ton of tiny pin feathers coming in around that same spot. Now I don't see the pin feathers anymore, but he suddenly has two bald spots. These are way beyond what I have ever seen on him before, and I am seriously worried sick. I have been watching him like a hawk... he is acting normal. He's preening right now, but I'm not seeing him pluck anything out. He doesn't seem lethargic. I don't know what could be going on, but I'm scared.

We used to have an avian vet who was right down the street from us, but she moved away. I looked online, and the closest avian vet is a 2 hour drive away. Henry HATES crates and hasn't been to a vet since he was a baby. I am very scared to force him into a crate and have him in the car for 4 hours to see a vet... I'm scared the stress of that might make things worse.

Please, can anyone give me input on what this might be or what I should do? I was reading up on the various things this could be, from plucking to bird mites. I think I scared myself more than I need to... I remember seeing him yawn like 4 times in a row 2 days ago, and as of last night I was just convinced that that meant he must have mites in his air sacs. I did a sweep of his cage and his main bird stand, as well as his body, and I haven't found any evidence of mites though, and he's singing and whistling like normal.

We also have a rescue lesser sulfur crested cockatoo and she is not showing any signs of anything abnormal.

Other factors that probably don't matter but might: We're trying to buy our first house and have been stressed. I doubt my stress would have transferred to Henry, but you never know. The other new thing is that we recently found some wild mice living in a corner close to Henry's cage. This house has had mice problems off and on for the past decade, but there have been more mice than normal lately and we've had to use mouse traps to get rid of them. We found a box that had a ton of droppings in the corner near his cage, and we got rid of it and cleaned the area well. The mice couldn't have made him sick or something, could they? For the record, we do keep the birds' cage clean, though he's really only in it to sleep. He's with me the rest of the day, every day.

Please tell me that I'm worried for nothing.
Here are some photos from yesterday so you can see what I mean. Sorry they are bad... I had to use the flash and Henry doesn't like the camera.

WP_20160119_20_39_20_Pro.jpg WP_20160119_20_39_30_Pro 1.jpg WP_20160119_20_39_34_Pro.jpg WP_20160119_20_39_40_Pro.jpg
I can't tell if these little feathers are chewed off "normal" feathers, or are baby feathers. I should be able to tell after 3 years, but I guess I can't.

Also, am I being paranoid, or do his wings looks droopy? This is him right next to me, right now. He does have his "sleepy face" on.
droopy or just sleepy.png
 
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rocky'smom

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Welcome to AA. do you have a avian vet that you can get too. if so I would make Appt as soon as possible.
 

Nimily

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Thanks so much for your reply. The closest vet would require that Henry be stuck in the car for four hours. Do you think it would be worth the stress of that? I just emailed the vet to see if I could convince her to come to us.
 

rocky'smom

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I think that it would be worth the trip just for your peace of mind. it could be infection or something that is causing the itches and the picking.
 

sunnysmom

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It's very unusual for indoor birds to have mites. So I don't think that would be it. A vet check is always good to rule out health issues.

@Greycloud ? @Danita ?
 

Cynthia & Percy

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some birds like rides have a driver and hold henry in the back seat where he can see you and calmly talk to him he might enjoy it
 

Nimily

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OK, I called the local vet and they said they can see him even though they are not on the avian veterinarians list. I'm going to cross my fingers and hope I can get him into a crate. He's flighted, so I don't want to try to transport him in the car where he can fly around and hurt himself. Hopefully all of my worrying is for nothing.
 

rocky'smom

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set it up with treat in the crate something that he loves to eat.
 

Begone

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Get him in the bathroom, then close the light (to almost dark) and put him in the crate. Less stressful then to chase him in a big room with full light.
 

parrotluv

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When I read your message, first thing that I saw, you say you got a new cockatoo! Could be plucking because of the new addition to the family.
 

Nimily

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When I read your message, first thing that I saw, you say you got a new cockatoo! Could be plucking because of the new addition to the family.
Our cockatoo isn't new. We ended up getting both birds at the same time almost 4 years ago. So definitely not that.
Do the photos look like plucking? For those of you with plucking experience?
 

Ziggy Stardust

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Oh do keep us posted when you can,about Henry. Maybe the non avian vet could Skype or conference call a regular avian vet if he or she has trouble figuring out what's going on. African Greys are very sensitive and intuitive and pick up the owners moods pretty easily. If I had mice and I was in the process of moving, I'd be stressed big time. There could be many factors at play. Perhaps some of the other grey owners can help you better.
 

Clueless

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I'll tag @ncGreyBirdLady

We have a lot of grey owners, maybe one can help.

I know avian vets are vital. Does the vet you are taking her to have parrot experience?

Do you have a humidifier at home? If the air is dry, and the bird is molting, maybe it's a double whammy for skin itches.
 

Amillio

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It looks like he has been plucking to me. You could trying spraying or bathing to give the grey some moisture. And foraging toys are a good distraction.
 

ncGreyBirdLady

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Hi and welcome to the Avenue:hug8:It does look like plucking.It could be a combination of stress,dryness and even hormones.I have 8 Greys and only Grizzlebird plucks(just his neck area) He plucked his entire chest overnight many years ago during a very stressful night.Then he never plucked again-until he was 14/15 years old:(Now he consistently plucks the pins out as soon as they grow in! Your bird has pins growing in now-Keep an eye on them to see if he leaves them alone.Please do not let him know/feel how stressed You are about this,it could make it worse:( See the Vet to rule out anything Medical and keep us posted:hug8: Yup that is the Grizz-allowing the pins to fluff out before pulling them-lil booger:laugh:
 

Nimily

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Thank you all. I have an appointment with the local non-avian vet in a few days. The receptionist said he's "qualified" to look at parrots, though he's not listed on the avian vet registry. I'm going to talk to him and make sure he knows what he's doing. Henry only lets me hold him... he won't even let my husband pick him up. So I'm very concerned that if I take him to some strange person, it might make the stress and plucking (if that's what it is) worse.

I'm watching him constantly and have seen him preen the area, but I have yet to see him actually pull out any feathers. No to the humidifier, but he's 14 and that's never been an issue. Maybe I should get one, just to be safe. The birds do sit in the bathroom with me when I take a shower and seem to like the mist. Henry takes a bath in his bath bowl at least 3x a week.

Here's a close up of him last night while he was eating an almond. I can't tell if these feathers are old ones and he just ripped out part of the feather but not the whole thing? Or are these all new feathers? It's so hard to tell.

I ordered some "Rescue Remedy" so that the vet visit will be easier on him. WP_20160120_19_51_14_Pro.jpg

I'll update once I know more.
 

sunnysmom

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I would maybe try to find out how many birds he actually sees. Arguably any vet is "qualified" to treat a bird but that doesn't mean they know how to handle them etc. When we first got Sunny, I noticed bubbles in his dropping one Saturday morning and completely panicked. I found a vet open on Saturdays who said he treated birds. We rushed Sunny there and it was horrible. They were way too rough with Sunny, and actually hurt his little leg. They took him in a room away from me and all he did was scream (at this point I was literally crying) and I got into an argument with the vet because he wanted to trim Sunny's beak because it was "sharp". I refused. Then when I refused to let him clip Sunny's wings, the vet actually looked at me and said "you know he can fly". :banghead: Sunny was completely traumatized. It was horrible. Oh, and without running any tests, he told me Sunny was fine.

I then took Sunny to the vet I actually had wanted to go to but who didn't have Saturday hours and it was a completely different experience. He was so good with Sunny. Let me stay with him the whole time. Did a gram stain, etc. Sunny was pretty much unphased by the whole visit. It was such a relief that this this time I cried well, out of relief. A vet doesn't have to be avian certified to be a good vet but he does need to be knowledgeable and see birds as a regular part of his practice in my opinion to be good.
 

Chopper

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No to the humidifier, but he's 14 and that's never been an issue. Maybe I should get one, just to be safe.
You know - we all change. When I was younger I didn't need lotion on my skin as much as I do now.
A humidifier won't and it will probably help.
 

mythic55

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Looks like plucking to me- especially since it is localized, and of course the skin is in good (relative) condition. I would take him to a vet to rule out anything- but more investigation should deb done to environment and potential issues. Anything can cause stressors..... anything.

What is the temp/humidity of the room he is enclosed?
Possible that the drafts from windows? or not offered UV lights? or, or, or...
Diet change? new toy? complicated I know, but listing off any changes that occurred from onset is very beneficial.
 

Nimily

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I just wanted to update everyone. The vet came back and said Henry is as healthy as it gets. His blood panel was perfect and she couldn't find anything wrong with him. He even let the vet tech hold him (my jaw literally dropped to the floor when it happened)!

He chewed some more feathers after the vet experience, but I haven't seen him plucking anything since. I still think this whole thing is bizarre... I was almost hoping it was a medical thing so we'd have an easy fix. I am convinced that it's the mice in this house that were stressing him out... they probably move around in his area at night and make a lot of scary noises. We've caught 12 mice in the past couple weeks... it's so gross! Hoping to find a new place to live very soon and hopefully this won't continue to be an issue.

The plus side is that after the veterinary visit (and the car ride from hell), Henry now lets my husband hold him. It seems to have deeply bonded them, because they have been inseparable ever since. It's kind of amazing. The only bad thing is that he seems to need us more than he used to... we can't even leave the room to go to the bathroom without it being the end of the world. I almost wonder if we should consider someday getting him a companion african grey friend from a rescue since he and our cockatoo don't care for each other. I really don't know.

Crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. Thank you for all of your help and suggestions.
 
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