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Barbering flight feathers

JustMyFids

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Jess
Hello! My newest flock member is a 4 year old green wing macaw named Cami. He came to me with feather destructive behavior towards his flight feathers. The previous owner tried a lot of things including imping him and nothing has helped, everything came back clear besides for a bit he had persistent high white blood cell count to the point where it was over 50k. With the imp, he only barbered the flights that were coming in, he didn’t touch the imped flights. Almost all his left wing imps fell out and he is barbering the new flights when they come in. He is VERY hormonal, constantly masterbating and regurgitating even tho we only cuddle his head. His diet consists of chop and Roudybush pellets and he is cageless (lives on a massive dragonwood stand), he has unlimited access to foraging toys, shreddable toys, block toys, etc… and still nothing has helped. I’m thinking of trying a hormone implant but I’m not sure if it would help. Any advice?
 

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Cali

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Awwww poor baby, so sorry he and you are going through this... I apologize, I have no advice, just wanted to wish you both all the best and a speedy resolution.
 

Pixiebeak

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The reason for that high of a wbc count needs to be found.

Chronic kidney, might be one , x-ray might be a next step , risk rewards consider between your I and your vet. I had a good kidney article shared with me if I can find .

You might try a different pellet brand . Sometimes there are sensitivity.

You might try a little pain medication as those big flight feathers come in. Tumeric and ginger have anti inflammatory properties.

Established plucking, FDB is very difficult I think near impossible to eliminate. The only known success, or at least improvement I know of from real life , are with mood altering meds. I had a rescue foster with severe mutilation and plucking. The meds stopped mutilation, allowed flight and tail feathers to come in and left alone, some on back , but bare skin everywhere else. After weaning off, still left wings and tail alone for the remaining 3 months of foster he was with me . After that I don't know never got an update.
 

Shezbug

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Funny you mention the pain meds @Pixiebeak my vet once offered me a bottle of pain meds for Burt when he was having a massive molt- she said the flights and tail feathers are for many birds like growing teeth are for little children... painful and irritating.
 

Icey

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I know @Macawnutz had the imping done on one of her big beautiful macaws. Hopefully she can offer some advice. :)
 

Macawnutz

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Feather destruction is difficult to diagnose BUT you have other symptoms to aid you. You have to find out the cause to the WBC. A high WBC usually means you have infection or inflammation in your body. That infection or inflammation is most likely causing the FDB. Find the best Avian Specialist near you and be ready to run every test they recommend. If they can't find the cause, find a better vet.
 
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JustMyFids

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Feather destruction is difficult to diagnose BUT you have other symptoms to aid you. You have to find out the cause to the WBC. A high WBC usually means you have infection or inflammation in your body. That infection or inflammation is most likely causing the FDB. Find the best Avian Specialist near you and be ready to run every test they recommend. If they can't find the cause, find a better vet.
I read through every one of his vet records from the previous owner and it seems like a feather biopsy showed he has an Inflammatory Skin Disease, why I wasn’t told this when I got him, I’m not sure. His most current blood work showed WBC at 15k, still a bit high but not nearly as bad at 55k.
 

JustMyFids

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The reason for that high of a wbc count needs to be found.

Chronic kidney, might be one , x-ray might be a next step , risk rewards consider between your I and your vet. I had a good kidney article shared with me if I can find .

You might try a different pellet brand . Sometimes there are sensitivity.

You might try a little pain medication as those big flight feathers come in. Tumeric and ginger have anti inflammatory properties.

Established plucking, FDB is very difficult I think near impossible to eliminate. The only known success, or at least improvement I know of from real life , are with mood altering meds. I had a rescue foster with severe mutilation and plucking. The meds stopped mutilation, allowed flight and tail feathers to come in and left alone, some on back , but bare skin everywhere else. After weaning off, still left wings and tail alone for the remaining 3 months of foster he was with me . After that I don't know never got an update.
His bloodwork doesn’t show any issues so I think it’s safe to rule Chronic Kidney out
 

Parutti

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Pain medication makes a noticeable difference for my plucker, especially when he's molting. We don't yet have him on anything year round because we want to get an idea of how his kidneys/liver are working first (he's 100g so we have to pick and choose blood tests).
 

Macawnutz

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Have you established a new vet for him with new bloodwork or are you solely relying on previous visits? If you start treating the FDB as behavioral without completely ruling out a medical cause you are doing him a disservice. Inflammatory skin disease is vague and if true medications should have been given to start minimizing symptoms.

Has he been tested for asper? That's one of multiple other medical causes it could be.


COMMON CAUSES OF FEATHER PICKING
The most common causes of feather picking are the following:

A. Infectious disease
B. Allergies
C. Endocrine/Reproductive Disease
D. Toxins
E. Parasites
F. Hypothyroidism
G. Primary Skin Infection
H. Dietary Deficiencies
I. Systemic Disease
J. Behavior

 

JustMyFids

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Have you established a new vet for him with new bloodwork or are you solely relying on previous visits? If you start treating the FDB as behavioral without completely ruling out a medical cause you are doing him a disservice. Inflammatory skin disease is vague and if true medications should have been given to start minimizing symptoms.

Has he been tested for asper? That's one of multiple other medical causes it could be.


COMMON CAUSES OF FEATHER PICKING
The most common causes of feather picking are the following:

A. Infectious disease
B. Allergies
C. Endocrine/Reproductive Disease
D. Toxins
E. Parasites
F. Hypothyroidism
G. Primary Skin Infection
H. Dietary Deficiencies
I. Systemic Disease
J. Behavior

He was tested for Asper and other diseases, it was assumed to be allergies but no meds helped so that was ruled out. He was on a bad “raw” diet that lacked protein for about a year so protein deficiency is quite possible.
 

Macawnutz

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He was tested for Asper and other diseases, it was assumed to be allergies but no meds helped so that was ruled out. He was on a bad “raw” diet that lacked protein for about a year so protein deficiency is quite possible.
So you are relying on past paperwork and not interested in continuing to look for a medical cause?

My amazon tested low negative for asper and we still treated him. What allergy testing was done? For how long? What meds were used? What "other diseases" were tested for?
 

JustMyFids

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I am doing both, I have access to all his previous medical records and I am bringing him to vets as well. I’m not getting my hopes up that I will be able to stop the barbering, but I will always be working towards it His old owner is a friend of mine so she gave me all his paperwork. He has been on:
Ibuprofen, Meloxicam, Gabapentin, Tramadol, Amitriptyline, Chlorpheniramine, Amoxicillin, Doxycyline, and something else that I cannot remember the name of haha. This was all in the last two years.
He was tested for ABV, Polyoma, chlamydia, PBFD, Pachecos, Mycobacterium, Asper, and a couple other things that I’m forgetting but can’t find the paperwork on.
 

aooratrix

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There's a reason for that high WBC. Asper can "hide" in the body and can be hard to accurately diagnose. I'm not saying that's it, but I don't think you're done with asper. In your other thread, you talked about protein a lot. Yes, bird feathers are constructed of protein, so they need it, but there isn't much specific info available about psittaciform dietary requirements, let alone when you narrow focus down to species. Protein Requirements of 3 Parrot Species I know birds in captivity can source protein from pellets, sprouts, (legumes, grains, etc.) peanut butter (small amounts), nuts, etc. Did they diagnose that bird was protein deficient? How?

I have had birds for decades. In that time, I've seen a lot of dietary practices and fads come and go: monkey biscuits, chop, "salad," coconut oil, red palm oil, pellets only, raw whole, mash, etc. Those changes taught me that we don't know specifics but DO know that parrots need a variety of foods from which they can source as much nutrition as possible. I no longer feed chop because of the damage freezing does to produce nutritionally. I switched to natural pellets because, hey, natural MUST be better, like organic, right? I also know that my parrots are in superb condition, are flighted, and enjoy life. I throw a lot of food "at the wall", so to speak, and hope they're getting MOST of what they need.

For a macaw, I would want to rule out a skin issue. Avian Skin Issues Again, I'd be concerned about the WBC. If you're confident that trustworthy avian vets have ruled out a biological source, then you're left with psychological, which is much harder to correct, IMO. Good luck!
 
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