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Help me, please, with my feather plucker, self mutilator, scared, and aggressive CH Conure

Kassiani

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As some of you know, I have adopted a CH Conure who has a history of feather plucking (naked except for wings, tail, and head), and began to injure his own chest about 2.5 weeks before my final adoption. I took him to the vet this past Tuesday, and am waiting the lab results. At that time, the vet placed a soft, petal collar on him to keep him away from his chest. He is hormonal and frequently cage aggressive. He is currently a no-touch bird as in he is not tame to step up or allow me to handle him without toweling.

Since then, he's been so angry at the collar, at how it keeps him from holding food in his foot, keeps him from picking at himself, keeps him from being sure of where he is placing his feet. Trimming the collar might help, but it would probably allow him to get at his chest again.

I have many chewing and shredding toys in his cage. I have tried to begin target training, which went OK yesterday, but not at all today. I play music for him and have tried to spend time in the room with him, but I have to work and have 3 other birds who need my attention, too.

I guess what I'm hoping is that someone can share their experience bringing home a special needs bird and what helped the bird to settle in? We're just not having a good day :(

Also, for those of you with birds who wear collars, how often do you change and wash them? I'm sure I need to buy several collars.

Please help with any tips you have!!
 

Aves

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You're so kind to welcome a special needs bird into your home. Special needs people and animals are often overlooked. Maybe he's not ready for your kindness. Sorry I don't have any tips. Good luck with Opie! :sadhug2:
 

Forest

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I don't have experience with this, so I can't advise, but I just wanted to say hang in there! :bighug:
I know you'll get some great advice from the more experienced members.
 

Hankmacaw

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Hang in there @Kassiani. It takes so much time and consistency on your part. I brought home Kitty (GW macaw, 35 yo female) and she is still completely irrational with her responses to me. It's hard for me to get my head around, because she has been a pet bird her entire 35 years, yet she acts like a bird that has been abused the entire time. To complicate matters she has several very serious illnesses that require medications, so she has to be toweled twice a day for those. I have seen a smidgen of improvement, but very little.

Consistent kindness and encouraging talk (even if you are telling him you'd like to wring his neck, do it in a sweet voice and a smile. Many contacts with him throughout the day - talking to him, even if you are calling him an SOB, do it sweetly. Offer treats all through the day. Once in awhile you need to push the envelope just a little bit to find out if you have made progress.

Patience - it is going to be trying - patience.
 

Kassiani

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Thank you so much, @Hankmacaw. He’s such a special guy, and I’m hoping he will settle in! I’m fortunate that I don’t have to give him medication at the moment! I can’t imagine having to towel a bird twice a day who is new to you! I’m sorry you and Kitty are having to go through that.

Consistent kindness and encouraging talk (even if you are telling him you'd like to wring his neck, do it in a sweet voice and a smile. Many contacts with him throughout the day - talking to him, even if you are calling him an SOB, do it sweetly.
Have you been listening in to my conversations with him? Lol!
I always try to speak softly or sing to him and have music playing in his room. And I have been offering treats every time I come back in the room even if I just have to drop them in his dish. I know I have to be patient.

Have any of your Macaws had to wear a collar?
 

sunnysmom

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Poor bird. Do you know anything about his backstory? I remember of course you seeing him at the rescue but I don't remember if the rescue knew his history. Did the vet say if the thought the feathers would come back? I'm trying to think of some members here who have collars for their birds. I know we have some but I'm drawing a complete blank. @Mizzely ?
 

camelotshadow

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Try to remember its not been that long & now he's got this thing around his neck so he is grumpy. I know you hoped to shower him with love & give him a better life as we all did but he is a grouchy hormonal plucker turned mutilator so he is dealing with issues & now the collar. He's very frustrated so you just need to let him be & not take it personally.

Did you say he had a family & that he was loved? I can't recall. I wonder if the rescue can give his previous family your number? Maybe they can call you & give you some more info so you can get more ways to appeal to his better side.

Grumpy needs his space to figure it out. Nothing to do with you & unfortunately he needs the collar as his health/medical needs come first.

Watch him & get a feel for him. Get an idea how to best reach him by his interactions. See what calms him etc. Go to him when he is calm.

Its hard not to want to make him better all at once but not realistic so don't stress.
They feel it even if you sugar coat it. Try to be neutral. Accept him now for what he is & just be patient hoping sooner than later he will settle down & you can start to show him ways to be happier.

Is he eating? Getting enough sleep?

I'm really hoping he will just wake up one day & be happy Opie but it might not be for a while.
 

Camsan

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I don’t have any experience with the collar but wanted to chime in to say I have been keeping up with your thread on him and he is such a handsome fella. Hugs to you and Opie and keep up the great work, rewards will come tenfold I am sure of it :hug8:
 

Hankmacaw

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Have any of your Macaws had to wear a collar?
When Jasper lost her rear toe on one foot it got infected and she would not leave it alone. Dr. and i decided to put a collar on her (haha). She flipped and flopped and fell off everything and would not quit. So we resorted to Haldol. That stuff is hard to get the right dosage - too much and you have a zombie bird, too little and she was manic. She did some really funny things. like diving off the high perch in her cage - she thought she was Greg Louganis, the word champion diver. It worked and she didn't chew on her toe long enough for the infection to clear.

That has been my only experience with a collar. Better living through drugs.
 

Kassiani

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Do you know anything about his backstory?
I have some information but it's a bit confused, I think. My rep said that he was in a home with people who love him but had to give him up because of the health of one of the family members. A volunteer said that Opie had been adopted once and brought back. So....?

Did the vet say if the thought the feathers would come back?
The rescue's vet said no. I'm waiting for a call from my vet tonight with labs, and I hope to ask him then.

He's very frustrated so you just need to let him be & not take it personally.
Oh, I don't take it personally. I'm not sure how to explain it. I want him to be as comfortable and happy as possible with me. I feel like I need to learn so much to make that happen.

Did you say he had a family & that he was loved? I can't recall. I wonder if the rescue can give his previous family your number? Maybe they can call you & give you some more info so you can get more ways to appeal to his better side.
As far as I know, yes. But, the rescue has had bad experiences with previous owners and current owners being in contact and in conflict over who treated the bird the best...they don't give out names or numbers. Full stop.

Is he eating? Getting enough sleep?
He is finally eating. He will not touch the chop and sprouts yet, but will his seed and pellet mix. I put veggies on a skewer and apple. He seems to enjoy that. I have given him just the smallest bite of fresh banana a couple of times. He really enjoys that!
 

Kassiani

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When Jasper lost her rear toe on one foot it got infected and she would not leave it alone. Dr. and i decided to put a collar on her (haha). She flipped and flopped and fell off everything and would not quit. So we resorted to Haldol. That stuff is hard to get the right dosage - too much and you have a zombie bird, too little and she was manic. She did some really funny things. like diving off the high perch in her cage - she thought she was Greg Louganis, the word champion diver. It worked and she didn't chew on her toe long enough for the infection to clear.

That has been my only experience with a collar. Better living through drugs.
Oh no, Jasper! I'm sorry you both went through that. His behavior with the collar on has been kind of funny, but I try not to laugh at him! I guess I hope that the timing will work out that his chest will heal and he will be more relaxed here by then.

I did put a towel and additional food and water dishes at the bottom of the cage so that if he fell or was having a hard time climbing back up he could still waddle over the get food and water.
 

Sarahmoluccan

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Collars can be one of those necessary evils unfortunately. As long as he's still eating and drinking and not freaking out its probably the best option. I found caring for a self mutilator you're constantly trying to pick the lesser evil of difficult decisions. It can be difficult and trying, but it absolutely worth it.

In terms of how often you should change the collar or give out of collar time really depends on the bird. Ideally out of collar time would happen everyday but given the difficulties your facing I wouldn't worry about that right now. It would probably just add stress to both you and Opie. I'd work on building some trust and bond first :) And even then while its lovely to give out collar time often each situation is different and finding what works best for you and Opie is the main goal.

It would be a good idea to get at least 1 or 2 spare collars in his current one get damaged or dirty and you have to wash it.

I wish you and Opie all the best!! Good luck with him and thankyou for giving him a soft place to land. :heart2: :hug8:
 

camelotshadow

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Seems to be molting time. Penny has pins & is losing some feathers.
Not sure if they go by time of year or light etc but I've always wondered if South American birds would keep breeding or molting schedules of there ancestors or does it entirely depend on there current environment. They do seem to be programmed for some instinct or maybe thats learned from parents?

Likely once they were bred out of So America that they were on the time schedule of where they live.

Penny is a So Cal girl all her life.
 

Birdie Mama

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Just throwing it out there, though I’m sure you thought of it and probably lots of reasons against it

how about the body part to a flight harness. It would cover his sore, he has no feathers under to preen and his wings are clear and his beloved food holder toes, may help calm him down a bit. Just depends if you have to apply a cream to him then it would not work...

I don’t know much about the harness, but was just thinking, he can’t pick and frees his feet....or a cute little tank top....
 
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