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African Grey Excessive Feather Plucking ???

Mizzy

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Hello everyone,
I'm really worried about my african grey Toto. About a month or so ago I noticed that there were feathers on the ground I assumed it was molting because I havent seen him plucking his feathers out. Later on I see him preening but then I think he starts plucking (I'm not sure its my first time owning a parrot). I always catch him with feathers in his beak, the long ones and his tail feathers as well. Now his feathers look really raggedy and I'm really worried I cant get him to stop! He's 14 months and he's on a good diet (pellets, fruits, veggies) and I bathe him often. He's almost never in his cage unless its time for him to go to bed or if no one's home and he's always playing with one of us and has a lot of toys to play with. I could really use some help! Thank you :) toto.jpeg toto2.jpeg
 

dollfish

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Can you give us some more detail of Toto's daily routine? his cage set-up, training and other living conditions?
 

TikkiTembo

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My Cockatoo has been much kinder to his feathers since eliminating carbs and sugars from his diet, and keeping him busy busy busy with toys! Plus discouraging all hormonal behaviors.
 

Mizzy

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Can you give us some more detail of Toto's daily routine? his cage set-up, training and other living conditions?
So his cage has a play stand on top with a few toys that he likes and a place for food and water. Its always in the living room (unless he's sleeping then we put it in a separate room) because we spend most of our time there. The cage in the morning is placed near the window so he can get some sunlight. He does this weird thing in the cage thought when we put him in if we're leaving or need to clean Im not sure how to explain it but he pushes his whole back on the cage with one foot on either side of the bars and it really messes up his feathers (I wish I could explain it better and I get really worried so I take him out and now I think he does it because he knows I'll let him out immediately. His daily routine, so we take his cage to the living room in the morning and feed him fresh veggies (green beens are his fav) and then he likes to play with his toys. He also loves to the go on the railing and slide up and down its really cute :) He basically spends the day with either one of us (we're 5 in total) and sometimes he takes a nap with me (he likes to nap in his own blanket next to me) and during the day he eats his pellets and at night he gets some more veggies. He gets a big bowl of fruit once a week. I hope that helps!
 

Mizzy

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My Cockatoo has been much kinder to his feathers since eliminating carbs and sugars from his diet, and keeping him busy busy busy with toys! Plus discouraging all hormonal behaviors.
Do you mean carbs and sugar in his fruits the veggies? (sorry if thats a dumb question), do you have any recommendations? How do I discourage hormonal behaviors :D
 

TikkiTembo

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Do you mean carbs and sugar in his fruits the veggies? (sorry if thats a dumb question), do you have any recommendations? How do I discourage hormonal behaviors :D
Yep! He gets just a piece or two of fruit a week, and little to no pasta or breads. We also took him off of the fruity Zupreem pellets which have some sugars or flavorings in them. Now he's eating Higgins Intune and Roudybush with lots of veggies. We removed his favorite toy to mate with, remove all boxes or bags he can nest in. He is not allowed on the floor or flat surfaces like the table unless we're training. He's no longer allowed on my shoulder either. It's been a big process with a lot of trial and error!
 

Mizzy

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Yep! He gets just a piece or two of fruit a week, and little to no pasta or breads. We also took him off of the fruity Zupreem pellets which have some sugars or flavorings in them. Now he's eating Higgins Intune and Roudybush with lots of veggies. We removed his favorite toy to mate with, remove all boxes or bags he can nest in. He is not allowed on the floor or flat surfaces like the table unless we're training. He's no longer allowed on my shoulder either. It's been a big process with a lot of trial and error!
He gets roudybush pellets so thats good! May I ask whats wrong with flat surfaces and shoulders? Sorry again for such a dumb question
 

TikkiTembo

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He gets roudybush pellets so thats good! May I ask whats wrong with flat surfaces and shoulders? Sorry again for such a dumb question
Not dumb at all!! We've been working with a behaviorist who taught us these things. She says that letting them walk around on tables, counters, floor, etc can encourage them to engage in nesting behaviors. When Chipper went on the floor, he'd chew the baseboards into tiny shards and think he was making a nest. It was dangerous for anyone in the home who wants toes, since he was ready to guard his nest! If I allowed him to explore the counter, I guarantee he'd find a nook or cranny and do the same thing. Also, him being on my shoulder reinforces to him that I'm his mate, and it makes him hate my husband even more. Of course, all birds are different! My cockatiel can go anywhere and isn't nesty, and my Senegal can be on my shoulder for hours. But Chipper is SO hormonal. His feather destructive behavior and screaming and lunging have all decreased since changing his hormonal triggers.
 

JLcribber

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I think before you worry about all the other stuff, you need to go to an Avian Vet and rule out any illness.
I'll second that.
 

Macawnutz

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You need to see a vet and increase bathing.

 

Hawk12237

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Hello everyone,
I'm really worried about my african grey Toto. About a month or so ago I noticed that there were feathers on the ground I assumed it was molting because I havent seen him plucking his feathers out. Later on I see him preening but then I think he starts plucking (I'm not sure its my first time owning a parrot). I always catch him with feathers in his beak, the long ones and his tail feathers as well. Now his feathers look really raggedy and I'm really worried I cant get him to stop! He's 14 months and he's on a good diet (pellets, fruits, veggies) and I bathe him often. He's almost never in his cage unless its time for him to go to bed or if no one's home and he's always playing with one of us and has a lot of toys to play with. I could really use some help! Thank you :) View attachment 326084 View attachment 326085
My Grey of 8 years has never once plucked. Matter of fact I never had a single bird that plucked
and I had a lot of birds over time!! When I see plucked bird, I see an unhappy bird in one way or another.
Don't take that the wrong way, you can do everything right, and still have a bird not happy in some way.
It happens, the key is to identify what it is.

I would recommend a vet check. Reason being it may be an under lying
health issue.

Salt and sugar in excess will cause itchy skin, dry skin, and the bird wants to get to the itch.
By plucking...
You bathe frequently you stated, some birds are very sensitive to water softner salt from tap water.
Dries their skin, makes them itch. Drives them nuts.
Run an experiment, use bottled distilled water for bathing. See if you notice a difference.
Diet may play a roll in it as well, even if your feeding the good stuff. Some birds develop
reaction to foods. Rare but does happen.
Last thing I'd be concerned about is environmental irritants in its surroundings. Ie: toys (with bad paint)
dust, mites, and etc... Skin related alignments is usually something ingested most of the time.
The rest is considered contact irritants.
Stress is the other factor that causes plucking.
 

BertAllen

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Looking at the second picture I noticed that he has no main flight feathers on the left wing. Did he break some off while flying and them molt out the rest?
If you have pictures of those large features it would help. Tinker did just that and it severely restricted his flight till the grew back in.
Tinker also started to molt quite a bit at that age and has finally slowed down now at 20 months old.

As others on here have said a visit to the vet will help rule out any other issues.
 

LynnInColorado

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So his cage has a play stand on top with a few toys that he likes and a place for food and water. Its always in the living room (unless he's sleeping then we put it in a separate room) because we spend most of our time there. The cage in the morning is placed near the window so he can get some sunlight. He does this weird thing in the cage thought when we put him in if we're leaving or need to clean Im not sure how to explain it but he pushes his whole back on the cage with one foot on either side of the bars and it really messes up his feathers (I wish I could explain it better and I get really worried so I take him out and now I think he does it because he knows I'll let him out immediately. His daily routine, so we take his cage to the living room in the morning and feed him fresh veggies (green beens are his fav) and then he likes to play with his toys. He also loves to the go on the railing and slide up and down its really cute :) He basically spends the day with either one of us (we're 5 in total) and sometimes he takes a nap with me (he likes to nap in his own blanket next to me) and during the day he eats his pellets and at night he gets some more veggies. He gets a big bowl of fruit once a week. I hope that helps!
Sounds like you’re doing a great job. My CAG got messed up tail feathers in her sleeping cage and I realized a perch was too close to her beloved rope swing.
 

Kenzie

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If your hopeful vet visit goes well I would look into enrichment assuming all other things check out.

Greys are among the most intelligent species and lounging around all day may seem fine, but they usually need more than that! If you don't already, that is. Some brain games. Trick training, flight training, etc but EVERYDAY! They would probably do best with 10-30 minute sessions (depending how motivated and how easily they are catching onto new learning). Teach some new tricks (wave, spin, show wings). I feel like a lot of greys pluck because they are potatoes that do not wish to be potatoes. I personally haven't owned a grey but I've heard a ton from folks that own them and know their enrichment needs are through the roof. I could not own one without an outdoor aviary, indoor aviary, and lot's of time and patience to spend on various training to keep the parrot the happiest it can be.
 

Mizzy

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10
Looking at the second picture I noticed that he has no main flight feathers on the left wing. Did he break some off while flying and them molt out the rest?
If you have pictures of those large features it would help. Tinker did just that and it severely restricted his flight till the grew back in.
Tinker also started to molt quite a bit at that age and has finally slowed down now at 20 months old.

As others on here have said a visit to the vet will help rule out any other issues.
His flight wings were like this when we got him I'm assuming the pet shop only trimmed one side? He still can fly though! I hope they grow back :( While he molted did he tend to pluck his feathers? I read that molting can irritate them and make them itchy :/
 

Mizzy

Moving in
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Messages
10
My Grey of 8 years has never once plucked. Matter of fact I never had a single bird that plucked
and I had a lot of birds over time!! When I see plucked bird, I see an unhappy bird in one way or another.
Don't take that the wrong way, you can do everything right, and still have a bird not happy in some way.
It happens, the key is to identify what it is.

I would recommend a vet check. Reason being it may be an under lying
health issue.

Salt and sugar in excess will cause itchy skin, dry skin, and the bird wants to get to the itch.
By plucking...
You bathe frequently you stated, some birds are very sensitive to water softner salt from tap water.
Dries their skin, makes them itch. Drives them nuts.
Run an experiment, use bottled distilled water for bathing. See if you notice a difference.
Diet may play a roll in it as well, even if your feeding the good stuff. Some birds develop
reaction to foods. Rare but does happen.
Last thing I'd be concerned about is environmental irritants in its surroundings. Ie: toys (with bad paint)
dust, mites, and etc... Skin related alignments is usually something ingested most of the time.
The rest is considered contact irritants.
Stress is the other factor that causes plucking.
I'll try the bottled water and let you know! may I know what diet (and brand) you feed your bird :) I'm taking toto to a vet tomorrow im just very anxious about it because im worried he might get scared and end up plucking more so I tried to resolve it first but its getting way out of hand now and I just want him to be healthy and happy :( regarding the toys, do you have any safe brands in mind? In regards to stress im 100% sure he isnt stressed he loves spending time with the whole family and doesnt really show any other signs of stress as I've read on the web.
 

Mizzy

Moving in
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If your hopeful vet visit goes well I would look into enrichment assuming all other things check out.

Greys are among the most intelligent species and lounging around all day may seem fine, but they usually need more than that! If you don't already, that is. Some brain games. Trick training, flight training, etc but EVERYDAY! They would probably do best with 10-30 minute sessions (depending how motivated and how easily they are catching onto new learning). Teach some new tricks (wave, spin, show wings). I feel like a lot of greys pluck because they are potatoes that do not wish to be potatoes. I personally haven't owned a grey but I've heard a ton from folks that own them and know their enrichment needs are through the roof. I could not own one without an outdoor aviary, indoor aviary, and lot's of time and patience to spend on various training to keep the parrot the happiest it can be.
I do spend a lot of time with him and give him new things to play with but I havent really thought of teaching him new tricks (besides the basics) I always thought he'd hate it for some reason but i will give it a go!
 

Mizzy

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Sounds like you’re doing a great job. My CAG got messed up tail feathers in her sleeping cage and I realized a perch was too close to her beloved rope swing.
Thank you! I just want him to stop plucking and be healthy :( Toto keeps shoving his back to the cage its so weird but I might just try changing his perch, I'm desperate
 

Kenzie

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409
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I do spend a lot of time with him and give him new things to play with but I havent really thought of teaching him new tricks (besides the basics) I always thought he'd hate it for some reason but i will give it a go!
The amazon I adopted was a perch potato for her 4? years of life. It took a lot of encouragement and a lot of figuring stuff out to get the dusty wheels turning in her brain, but once she started getting the hang of training and learning how fun and enriching it can be to use her brain, she LOVED it so much and I could see such a large difference in her.

Don't be discouraged if your bird is acting like they dislike it. If their learning side of their brain has been dormant, it's something that has to be introduced like a whole new trick itself and will take time and their favorite reward. May be hard to kick start it, but once it takes off, it's so awesome and comes to them naturally. Gotta take things slow and at baby, basic steps. You wouldn't give an infant a hard puzzle to start with.

Target training will be the easiest thing to learn I would imagine.
 
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