• Welcome to Avian Avenue! To view our forum with less advertisments please register with us.
    Memberships are free and it will just take a moment. Click here

Bird is starting to pluck

Lelushio

Meeting neighbors
Joined
10/16/18
Messages
21
So I bought a nice harness about 3 days ago and started harness training my lovebird, Lily. She seemed to be responding well enough, even though she seemed really uncomfortable with it, we were making good progress so I thought it was fine. She was starting to put her head through the hole herself so I thought it was fine. But for some strange reason, every time we got to the point where she would stick her head through the harness, she would stop paying attention and start preening and would just ignore me. Then I noticed that she was yanking and I could hear small ripping sounds. I immediately put the harness away and started freaking out. I tried calming down so Lily wouldn’t be more stressed, but I just felt so awful that it was my fault she was plucking and I hadn’t even known! It’s my first time having a bird pluck, but looking back I’ve only seen her doing it for two days, but I am determined to stop it early. She doesn’t have any feathers on the bottom of her cage, which is good, and she seems to only be plucking tiny tiny feathers for now. I rotated and added toys and her cage and have some nice wood and branches in there now. I’ve taken away the harness far from sight and she seems to be doing better, but I am still just so scared. I’ll be leaving the TV on from now on when I leave the house and will take her out and will give her mental enrichment and will play with her. I know I shouldn’t freak out or constantly correct her when I see her plucking, so I’m trying not to do that. I’ve been misting her more frequently as well, although I’m sure it’s due to stress and most likely also because she’s a female and has gotten very sexual recently. But still, I am really scared, is there anything else I should do? Will I ever be able to harness train her again without her becoming super stressed? Can I correct the behavior because I caught it within the first like 2-3 days of her doing it? Am I doing this all wrong?
 

Peachfaced

The Peachy Inkpress
JOLLY-PATROLLY
Super Moderator
Vendor
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
11/17/09
Messages
11,509
Location
FL
Real Name
Sadie
Plucking is really hard to pinpoint as far as the reason. How old is the bird, and how long have you had her?

I don't know that it's related to the harness, necessarily. I would head to the vet if I were you to rule out the common irritants; fungal infection on the skin or within the feathers, possible allergen (what's the harness made of?), etc.

Look for multiple feathers growing from the same follicle, as well. Lovebirds are one of the species susceptible to polyfolliculitis. (My Sherbie has it)
 

Lelushio

Meeting neighbors
Joined
10/16/18
Messages
21
I’m highly sure it’s because of stress though. Because every time I would start harness training her she would just stop paying attention after 5 minutes and just start “preening” which I have now identified as plucking. I haven’t rotated her toys in a bit so she is also probably bored. She’s only a year old, and I have been watching very carefully before and she was preening normally, I never saw her yank and all the feathers that came out were intact. She’s also in her mating time, so sexual frustration could also play a factor. How do I stop sexual frustration though? It seems by every little thing she’ll smooth down the feathers on her head and start walking with her head up high and haughty. Then she’ll either aggressively attack or lift up her tail and wings. I put her in her cage when this happens, and she goes to bed at 8:00, but no matter what I do she still seems to keep doing it!
 

Lelushio

Meeting neighbors
Joined
10/16/18
Messages
21
Also whenever she sees the harness the feathers on her head smooth down and she starts to get nervous. She’s flown away from me several times as I attempted harness training. Maybe I’m harness training to roughly?
 

JLcribber

@cockatoojohn
Vendor
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Shutterbugs' Best
Avenue Concierge
Joined
10/16/09
Messages
22,570
Location
Alberta, Canada
Real Name
John
So dump the harness. Common sense.
 

Peachfaced

The Peachy Inkpress
JOLLY-PATROLLY
Super Moderator
Vendor
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
11/17/09
Messages
11,509
Location
FL
Real Name
Sadie
But is it possible to ever try to harness train her?
You will have to go very very slowly. Start from scratch when it's time.

 

Feather

Biking along the boulevard
Avenue Veteran
Joined
7/3/11
Messages
5,474
She seemed to be responding well enough, even though she seemed really uncomfortable with it, we were making good progress so I thought it was fine.
If your bird ever seemed really uncomfortable with the training, then it was not fine. That was your first sign that she wasn't on board with the idea. In the future, you need to listen to Lily when she tells you she's uncomfortable with something and either take it much slower or bring it to a complete stop. You took away her choice, and that is something we as trainers should never do. Training will never be a positive experience if they can't say no.

I agree with John - ditch the harness. A harness can be fantastic, but ONLY if the bird thinks so too. This is a very unnatural behavior you're trying to teach her, after all.
Rowan, Skyline, and now Monster Truck are all harness trained. I would love to harness train Zyda as well, but we've never gotten further than sticking her head through the hole. She's not okay with the idea of the harness going around her body, and I've had to accept that she will never wear one. It's simply not something for every bird.

Put the harness away and keep an eye on her to see if the plucking stops.
 

Lelushio

Meeting neighbors
Joined
10/16/18
Messages
21
If your bird ever seemed really uncomfortable with the training, then it was not fine. That was your first sign that she wasn't on board with the idea. In the future, you need to listen to Lily when she tells you she's uncomfortable with something and either take it much slower or bring it to a complete stop. You took away her choice, and that is something we as trainers should never do. Training will never be a positive experience if they can't say no.

I agree with John - ditch the harness. A harness can be fantastic, but ONLY if the bird thinks so too. This is a very unnatural behavior you're trying to teach her, after all.
Rowan, Skyline, and now Monster Truck are all harness trained. I would love to harness train Zyda as well, but we've never gotten further than sticking her head through the hole. She's not okay with the idea of the harness going around her body, and I've had to accept that she will never wear one. It's simply not something for every bird.

Put the harness away and keep an eye on her to see if the plucking stops.
Lily was onboard with it at first, which was why I felt comfortable harness training her, she really does enjoy when I train her and she liked harness training at first. But once she started to stick her head through she was no longer onboard with it. So I didn’t necessarily take away her right, she has been trained with plenty of tricks so I thought she would be able to handle harness training, and she was excited at first (especially when I brought out treats) but once the harness started going over her head, she immediately freaked out. And I’m pretty sure alll birds are uncomfortable with it at first, it’s not like they’ll just stick their head through it on the very first time. It takes hard work on both sides, and she wasn’t scared or uncomfortable with the harness at first. As I previously stated, we were making great progress, until we reached that stage. So instead of telling me I’m the worst bird owner ever for trying to harness train her, have a little bit empathy would you? And please read the full story first. I did state that we were making good progress but she soon started to freak out later. I think what some people on this forum need to realize is to not attack the bird owner. I was trying not to sob when I saw her plucking (Which thank god she stopped! I’ve been watching her all day and playing with her and she hasn’t plucked once!) so if I saw that comment then, I would have felt like a terrible parent and that I am an awful bird mom, and I think that would be the small thing that would have caused an avalanche if I read it at the time. So plz don’t go around telling people they don’t know how to listen to their bird. I hope you don’t go around being rude to other bird parents, thank you.
 

Lelushio

Meeting neighbors
Joined
10/16/18
Messages
21
Ok so on my post I said really uncomfortable, but she wasn’t really. She only became really ubcormfortable once we started going to the phase where she stuck her head through.
 

Peachfaced

The Peachy Inkpress
JOLLY-PATROLLY
Super Moderator
Vendor
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
11/17/09
Messages
11,509
Location
FL
Real Name
Sadie
Hmm, maybe we can work with going "through" something while you give the harness a break? Maybe a tall cardboard tube? (Like an oatmeal container). Get her to go through one end to the other, and reward. Or one of those big bird bagel rings; have her step through it and work with putting it around her so she gets used to that kind of motion.
 

Lelushio

Meeting neighbors
Joined
10/16/18
Messages
21
No no no no. Lily is TERRIFIED of any tube, no matter what it’s made of, how big it is, and how long it is. She will fly away the moment she sees one.
 

Lelushio

Meeting neighbors
Joined
10/16/18
Messages
21
Oh she will step through a really big circle, I used to make the hole really big for the harness and she would go through it, but the moment it goes on her neck and she feels it kn her wings, she freaks out and bites it, and if she doesn’t shell get rly stressed. So that’s where I’ve been stuck
 

Peachfaced

The Peachy Inkpress
JOLLY-PATROLLY
Super Moderator
Vendor
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
11/17/09
Messages
11,509
Location
FL
Real Name
Sadie
Oh, wow! That's rather surprising. Most hens will make a beeline for them. :chin:Well, the birdie bagels might still work, I just don't know what the middle sizes are. I've got a couple that are like 3" diameter, that would be like a swing for a Lovebird. They're like 3/4 inch thick.

I would try to make it as fun for her as you can, kind of like peek-a-boo.

 

Lelushio

Meeting neighbors
Joined
10/16/18
Messages
21
But the reason I want to harness train Lily is because she LOVES going outside. When she was young and I was an inexperienced bird owner, I took her outside with no harness. I know, stupid right? At the time she couldn’t fly more than like 4 feet because she was only 4 months and her wings were clipped but one time she flew and I did not expect her to fly so far. I never took her outside again, but I feel bad. She really wants to go outside but I can’t take her!
 

Lelushio

Meeting neighbors
Joined
10/16/18
Messages
21
She loves hair ties, and will walk through them some times.
 

Peachfaced

The Peachy Inkpress
JOLLY-PATROLLY
Super Moderator
Vendor
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
11/17/09
Messages
11,509
Location
FL
Real Name
Sadie
Hair ties would work! I wouldn't leave her to play with them by herself, but for training that would help.

I know it isn't the same, but you could take her out in a travel cage so she gets fresh air and sun, at least. Some folks have a backpack style bird carrier as well. They're a pretty penny, but it'd be another way to enjoy the outdoors.

Here's a thread where TikiMyn has her Lovies in her Celltei bag: http://forums.avianavenue.com/index.php?threads/we-did-it.215009/
 
Top