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Kiwi plucking his chest and masturbating 24/7

Martin88

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Hello guys! A year ago me and my partner got Kiwi, he is an Agaporni fischeri and our first bird. A few months ago he started humping my hands and my girlfriend's hoodie, that's all he would do the second he got out the cage - hump and regurgitate. I even went to vet but he said it was his way of socializing with us, which doesn't sound right to me but what do I know. Recently things have taken a turn for the worse, all Kiwi does is hump the perches in his cage and pluck his chest - there's a decent bald spot there now. His general behavior has changed a lot, on one hand all he does is masturbate and pluck himself but also he has become a lot more calm and lets me scratch his cheeks, something he very very rarely let me do in the past. He also just looks a lot more tired and just isn't himself anymore. Is that a normal thing - season, hormones ? I have been looking for an avian vet around us but there are none and I had a bad experience with a general one once. I really dont know if this behaviour is normal or if there is something wrong with him. Also some context, we work very long hours, sometimes Kiwi will spend the whole day alone in the house/his cage (we don't have other birds or pets for that matter). Since he is our first bird and all we have to go on is google I just wanted to ask for an advise. Thanks.

PS: Also, the second I take him out of his cage he poops, like he waits for it. I keep the door open so he can come out when he wants and one day he literally flew out and came to take the biggest dump on me...
 
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Nichole615

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Hi and welcome!

What sort of enrichment/foraging activities are you providing?

What dies his diet consist of?

How do you interact with him? How much time per day?

Here is an article worth reading.

 

Martin88

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Hi Nichole, we try to interact with him as much as possible. To be precise sometimes we barely get to interact with him due to the long work hours. Somedays I might interact with him anywhere from 40 50 mins to maybe none at all if I do night shifts. His cage is in the living room where we eat dinner and watch tv, we dont have a separate bird room or anything and I have read it is better that he is in the living room so he is around while we go about different activities even though he might be in the cage. When he is out, he would go around and prod , mostly peck, at different things. He loves being on our shoulders and he always fights to get there. He used to bite us non stop, still kind of does although 90 percent of the time it isnt hard. Vet said it is normal for a growing bird. His diet consists mostly of seeds but I try to give him veg (spinach, rocket, broccoli) and fruit (oranges, bananas, tangerines) and Im trying to make him eat more pellets but he has always preferred and went for the seeds. As for enrichment and foraging, he has got hanging toys (usually 2) in the cage and toys on the floor of it (plastic ball with other balls inside that makes rattling noise). I have heard lovebirds need variety so we ordered more to be able to change them more often. We don't have anything for foraging Im afraid, im not even sure what it consists of. Thanks for responding and for the article, I will definitely read it since the constant humping has made it more difficult to interact with him, now he humps the perches in his cage but before he would get to it with my hand the second I got him oout of the cage.
 

Kassiani

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I don't have lovebirds, but one of my male budgies had a problem with hormones this spring that made him lame (his gonads were, apparently, enormous). The vet advised upping their sleep/dark time to 16 hours per night for a period of 10 to 12 weeks. This helped him tremendously. It also meant that the budgies were covered by 3:30 p.m. so I could get them up at 7:30 a.m. before leaving for work.

Keep working to improve his diet. That is so vital to his over-all health. My budgies were seed fiends when I got them, and they finally converted to pellets. I use TOPS pellets with a bit of Harrisons mixed in. And, I have to grind the tops in a coffee grinder I bought specifically for their pellets.

More toys! Different kinds to find out what he likes. As many as 10 in the cage at all times--chewing toys, shredding toys, foraging toys, stainless steel bells, balls, natural wood perches of various shapes. And change his cage around frequently (every week)--location of perches, toys, food dishes (if possible) to keep him on his toes during hormone season. It helps! One member here makes her bird forage for all of his food, which has been very helpful for him.

If none of your efforts seems to help with his hormones or plucking, you may need to put him in a soft, petal collar for a bit. My Cherry-Headed Conure is a plucker and occasional self-mutilator. His torso and back are bare and will never grow back, but his wings, head, and tail are feathered. At this point, I put him in the collar only if he hurts his skin.

Does your vet think he is in overall good health? Were you given any suggestions as far as the plucking was concerned?
 

Zara

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Welcome Martin,

I even went to vet but he said it was his way of socializing with us, which doesn't sound right to me
Yea, that´s not right at all.

Kassiani left a great post above.
Reducing daylight hours can really help a lot.
Having plenty of toys to play with as well as foraging can help keep your bird entertained while alone, distracted from plucking and provide enrichment parallel to what they would have in the wild. There are lots of ways to introduce foraging. I suggest offering multiple different activities. For eg. there are foraging cups, you place food or treats inside, these can be washed and reused. Then there are wheels, that work a similar way. Then you can get a piece of cardboard and press some treats into it for your bird to dig out. Use a plate of beads and sprinkle some dry food over so your bird has to rummage around for the food.
Once you understand the concept of foraging, you wioll be able to think of some ideas for yourself and they don´t all cost money nor are they complicated. Presenting foods in a different way can be foraging (for eg. sticking a couple of sunflower seeds into the floret of a broccoli).

My youngest bird (who is Roseicollis) is single and he humps, feeds and tends to his Kong toy. He spends a lot of time with it, but he does not get over protective of it, nor does he try to mate me or my partner. So that is a ¨healthy¨ output for his hormones (well, as best he can get in captivity without having a mate).

I´ll tag @TikiMyn , she has had trouble with her boys before and may be able to offer some more unique advice
 

Martin88

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Thank you guys! I have started making effort to spend more time with him already. We also bought a bunch of new toys and I changed the layout of the whole cage 2 days ago... for some reason he is not one bit interested in any of the new toys/swings etc. I left one of the old perches in the cage and he clings to it, plucking his chest whnever he is inside or even outside the cage. I also have started covering him earlier and uncovering him later during the day, hopefully that helps a bit. As for the diet, I try to provide vegetables and fruit everyday, even bought some vitamins for his water (drops), despite all of that he mainly goes for the seeds whenever they are around, even when I mix them with pellets he will nudge everything around with his head looking for the seeds in particular. He seems to scratch himself with his leg a lot too, I even thought he had some bugs or something but couldn't find anything upon inspection. At the end of the day if nothing else happens I will get one of those collars and hopefully that stops him from going at his chest, he is absolutely obsessed with it. I thought that all of this might be because Kiwi doesn't have a pal in the cage to spend his time with althoujgh I was told at the beginning that they can be perfectly fine on their own, I am starting to doubt that now. Unfortunately we live in Spain and the area we find ourselves in is very limited when it comes to avian vets, we have already been turned down by a few ''ordinary vets'' and also had a bad experience with one of them. I will definitgely look into foraging toys next. Once again, thank you very much, as first time owners of a bird and nobody to talk to we felt completely lost and frustrated not knowing how to help our bird out but this forum has been great help.
 

Martin88

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PS: we also got him a little, fluffy hut/tent thing that hangs from the cage since we were afraid that he would be cold during the winter but he has become very, very territorial and aggressive about/around it so now I'm starting to think it might have been a bad decision. Also I found stains from what I assume is regurgitating on the inside of it so now I started removing it and putting it back in only at night when he goes to sleep. Any suggestions about that ?
 

Nichole615

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I left one of the old perches in the cage and he clings to it
He's probably clinging to what is familiar. Perhaps there was too much change at once. Can you add some other stuff he enjoyed back in? Changing things up doesn't necessarily mean changing stuff out, but can also just be rearranging his existing items.

even bought some vitamins for his water (drops)
Use these vitamin drops with extreme caution. The general consensus here is they can be harmful even if given at the recommended dose.
 
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Nichole615

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PS: we also got him a little, fluffy hut/tent thing that hangs from the cage since we were afraid that he would be cold during the winter but he has become very, very territorial and aggressive about/around it so now I'm starting to think it might have been a bad decision. Also I found stains from what I assume is regurgitating on the inside of it so now I started removing it and putting it back in only at night when he goes to sleep. Any suggestions about that ?
Get rid of it as it will only encourage hormonal behaviors. And they are sometimes unsafe depending on material. Hope you saved your receipt. Return it to the store. As long as people keep buying, they'll keep selling.
 
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tka

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Get rid of the sleeping hut entirely. Birds only use nests when they are reproducing - and as you have seen, they are a major trigger for hormones. The highest perch in the cage should be a natural branch of the appropriate diameter, and he will use this as a sleeping perch.

If he seeks out seeds, make him work for them and use seeds in his foraging toy. He can have pellets in bowls. It's a win-win for you - either he's eating pellets, or he's foraging and using his brain to get the seeds.

Have a read of this article:


The most important thing is how you interact with him. The only parrot another parrot would enjoy close contact with is their mate. By having him on your shoulder all the time, you've basically told him that he has a mate and should reproduce with them. His hormones are going wild and everything in his body is telling him to get ready to make babies. Unfortunately, you are never going to be able to be a good mate to him because you're not a lovebird, and this adds its own kind of frustration. This means that you have to essentially break up with your bird. There should be NO cuddling, snuggling or time spent on your shoulder and lap.

Set up perches for him so he can still be in the same room as you, but keep him off your shoulder. Teach him how to target a stick and get him flying and exercising, teach him some tricks, and get him playing independently. He needs to be much less bonded to the humans around him, and more like an independent bird.
 

Yuki Shiro

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" There should be NO cuddling, snuggling or time spent on your shoulder and lap. "
-But this is not generally like this, is it? I mean, as long as a bird doesn't change behaviour, I could cuddle his head a bit, if it's sitting on my shoulder?
 

tka

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With any bird, you should limit contact to touching the head only - no touching or stroking the back, wings, under the wings and vent.

Whether shoulder time is possible depends on the bird. After dealing with a hen who thought I was her mate, I err on the side of caution. For a bird who knows that they are a bird and is pair-bonded to another bird, I might make an exception; however, you should be prepared to cut out shoulder time at any point at the very first sign of problems. For birds who are hormonal, who have had issues such as screaming and feather destruction, who are oriented towards people, who lack a pair-bond with another bird and/or who are single birds, I would not allow shoulder time and cuddles. It's simply more trouble than it's worth, and just causes problems in the long term.
 
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