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Normal Feathers for Recovering Plucker

LexiTheEck

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Hi All,

My name is Sean. I adopted a female Grand Eclectus named Lexi. She will turn 15 this year. My only previous experience was with Conures, and Cockatiels. She was plucked bare on her entire body, under her wings, & on top from the front back to where her flight feathers start. The typical advance plucking Eclectus areas from other pictures I have seen. I took her the the AV. Clean bill of health and labs looked great except for a slight vitamin D deficiency.

She was in a sad situation. Her only owner passed away, and left her to his his nephew and his wife. They were very nice people. I try to stay in touch and they are generally interested in how she is doing. They just weren't bird people. They tried to do the right thing by buying Volkman Eclectus, and giving her some fresh fruit, but they had very little info on how to feed her, and she was living full time in a cage devoid of any toys or other stimuli. They would feed her treats through the bars and put her cage by a window for sunlight, but she was very nervous, and nippy and they were afraid to handle her.

I've had her for 2 months now. She is on an all fresh food diet which I prepare for her now from grains, veggies(green,red,and orange), sweet potatoes, and legumes. and she gets her 15-20% fruit with her morning meal, and a few nuts, seeds, and plain unfortified undyed treat pellets, 2 or 3 times a week in foraging toys I make for her out of cardboard, and the plastic puzzle type ones. I also put her on a calcium supplement, calming supplement, and a moulting supplement. She has a mineral block in her cage full time now, after tearing through 3 cuttle bones in the first week I had her, even though her vitamin c tested normal. I weigh her every morning after her first poop and before eating and she maintains between 436-444 grams.

When she first came home with me, I did put a ruffled e collar and hooded sweatshirt on her. She wasn't breaking skin yet, but she was bruising herself in places from plucking and constantly over preening. In addition to the foraging toys, She has lots of shredable, and interactive toys which I rotate in out and around her cage for her every week, and she gets plenty of out of cage time. I also let her just hang out with my dogs and I 3-5 hours a day, and we have a few short 10-15 minute 1 on 1 sessions a day working on games like tossing a paper ball, or me tossing it and her fetching it, I have just started working with her on putting the ball in a little basket, so I can maybe teach her basketball and clean up her toys later. Just little things to keep her from getting bored.

She has completely quit plucking and is talking up a storm. Seems like something new from her past vocabulary comes out every couple days, and she is starting to mimic some of the things I say a lot too. She will shake, or revert to excessively preening if she gets startled like by a loud noise like thunder from a close lightning strike she wasn't expecting, or she is sleeping and one of the dog barks outside the door to her room, but settles down and stops relatively quickly, and almost immediately if I reassure her.

I was shocked how quickly she was willing to trust me, and crave being around me with as bad a state as she was in when I adopted her. She laid me open on the finger without any lunge or open mouth warning and no eye pinning the day I went to pick her up, and slowly reached in to see if she would step up, but 2 days later she was posturing, calling/begging for attention and bowed down for head scratches, and on day 3 instead of stepping up in the perch stick I was using to pet her on her cage top perch, she walked right past it and hopped up on my wrist. It just goes to show some birds can look the worst, seem hostile, and are still really just be looking to be loved.

Shee no longer needs the collar, but she prefers I keep the hooded sweatshirt on her. I've tried leaving it off, like just not putting it back on after bath time, but once she is dry, and does a quick preen spreading some oil from her preen gland, she first gets Antsy, then Vocal, not talking calling or locating either, but loud sqwaks, and if that didn't work then the Tremble/Shiver thing would come back, and I'd have a Trembling Sqwaking Eclectus pacing back and forth on her perch, or climbing all over her cage until I put the hoodie back on. She has me trained pretty well in only a couple months. Sorry for the short story. I just wanted to introduce my situation before diving into a question with my first post.



*****Now they the intro is over, on to my question/concern*******


She has good growth of what I would call down feathers on any other bird coming in pretty much everywhere except the underside of her wings. That area is still pretty bare and what is coming in looks like purple or dark grey hair strands.

My big question is, the color of her new body and wing foliage is a mixture of white grey and dark grey almost black fluffy feathers. Similar to like what the base of the feathers on her head and neck look like. Her new feathers on directly under her lower mandible on the other hand already have red tips. Is this grey to dark grey color normal, and they will eventually turn red and purple as they fill in and get longer, or is this possibly due to follicle damage from her previous plucking and poor diet? She is still wet from her shower, but if need be I can upload some pictures of her tomorrow. I wrote this as she was taking it, so she wasn't mad at me for ignoring her and paying attention to my phone lol.
 

Shezbug

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Welcome to the Avenue :hiya:

I really enjoyed reading about your journey with your girl so far :heart:

Some pics will help those members who are able to advise, plus we really love bird pics ;)
 

LexiTheEck

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Here are some quick pics of her growth over the last couple weeks from completely plucked chicken in the areas with the new growth. She was still slightly damp to the touch. They do fluff up when completely dry and she is done preening.

Hopefully these are good enough for someone who has experienced an advanced plucking eckie that stopped and recovered will be able to tell if they look normal or not. The ones n her upper back do seem to resemble the feathers babies grow in before they turn color, and the ones down around her vent have color in them after that area was also completely plucked except for the long tail flights. So will I remain hopeful she will get her color back, but it's not like I'm going to love her any less if she doesn't. IMG_20200325_042111.jpg IMG_20200325_043206.jpg IMG_20200325_041849.jpg IMG_20200325_043249.jpg IMG_20200325_042704.jpg IMG_20200325_042403.jpg .
 

Monaco

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@LexiTheEck welcome! I'm going to tag some folks with more experience for you. (I'm supposed to be on a tech fast, but I check every day for notifications, and I can't resist another ekkie!)

Thank you for helping your girl! There are several adopted female ekkies here. I'm so glad you are having such huge success so soon. Definitely play the long game with her, and try not to get discouraged if there are setbacks.

Yes, her feathers look identical to my girl's down (the crazy white and grey ones that look a little like dandelion seeds. The small ones with red tips also look good to me. Those body feathers, especially the shorter ones, look very different than normal barbed feathers on other species. I've been saving all sizes from Monaco pretty obsessively. They're fascinating, and impossibly vibrant.

You're going to find lots of information and support here! I'm happy you found us!

@mythic55
@EkkieLu
@Les charlson
 

mythic55

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@LexiTheEck

First and foremost- you are doing everything perfectly- bless your heart for taking in an Ekkie. Their evolutionary anatomy and mentality makes them a very complicated companion bird. We have a wealth of up to date information here- happy to answer any and all questions.

Those feathers look normal at this time. Also: due to the previous poor diet, high stress environment, enlarged/fatty liver is very likely as well as Vit A deficiency. In that case you may notice that feathers come in different strange colors: black barring, purple where they should be red, etc. She might end up looking a bit like a zebra or a neon dalmatian. Dont be alarmed, this will again molt out naturally.
 

LexiTheEck

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Thanks @mythic55

I have seen the fatty liver issue and vitamin A deficiency discussed in things I have read over the years. I notice an organic aloe vera juice detox for people(with a bunch of other ingredients as well) keeps coming up along with changing to a healthier diet and proper weight management as beneficial.

I am a scientific evidence kind of person, not a seeing is believing/seat of the pants believer. To me you have too many variables all happening at the same time, if you adopt a bird changing their living situation and stress level, then immediately change their diet from unhealthy to healthy, and put them on a detox formula, even with post labs showing an improvement, it cannot be realistically stated that the detox contributed to the improved well being, nor that it didn't have any side effects that are overlooked because the diet alone, or combined with lower stress may have caused an overall improvement.

This doesn't prove the aloe detox benefited your bird. It also doesn't disprove whether it had any I'll effects on your bird that without the detox, my have improved more quickly, and/or more overall with just a diet change or change in living conditions.

Has anyone here, who already had their bird on a healthy diet, and in their care for a while, still had evidence of fatty liver then tried one of the aloe detox juices, followed by a post detox exam with physical evidence and labs that back up an improved condition, or on the flip side, that the human detox could potentially be harmful to our birds?
 

Monaco

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I have seen some about the aloe detox too. While it is not likely going to be a harmful thing to add to a basic regimen, it will not be the straw that breaks the toxic camel's back either. It's just a tool that can help the body as it heals.
 

mythic55

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@LexiTheEck You will find people who swear by it- however as a scientist, I DO NOT. Not in humans nor animals.
Aloe it itself is not 'bad' it has pretty basic principals- healthy yes, in moderation. There are some unique attributes, but also proven side effects. Aloe is also known to cause digestive upset because of the laxative effect, and with the alkalinity properties and the delicate digestive system of ekkies it can cause irritation.

When I lived in Asia- they would sell the aloe drink at the homeopathic chemist... it was next to 'ground up pearl powder' and 'kava'. Kava can, and will kill you, and pearl powder is just a waste of resources. In summary, I have seen more myths then evidence; however with that said I will provide aloe plant (fresh) as a fun foraging tool, but not a 'detox'.

Liver disease is caused by environmental (ingestion of toxin) or from diet. Of course if you replace the liver irritants with aloe..... sure. Some things that have more scientific evidence is Milk Thistle in combination with a balanced diet- but as any human doctor will tell you 'it is better to just abstain than take drastic action'.
 

Les charlson

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Hi. Thank you for taking Lexi in. Great news. Monaco tagged me. I can only offer personal info.I wish I could be more helpful but I am not an expert.

They do love cuttle bones don't they. I have an Eclectus living with me permanently, and have taken in others that needed help over the years so can only go on lived experience. Everything I do is learned over time and I do it because it works for my guys and so I stick to what I know. Other people will have their own ideas.

A few thoughts and my apologies for the length of this reply.
My girl is not a plucker although she is disabled. What I understand is some do become addicted to it. Usually they start by pulling a feather out accidently when they preen/over preen and later try it again. A bit like some people who need distraction when stressed or bored, biting their nails but more severe. Its a hard habit to break. Its their diet I think and also they are conscious birds that need to be treated as conscious beings rather than a toy. There are plucker specialists. I am not that experienced but I do learn from them.

As for aloe vera juice detox, I have never used it on my birds and have no idea if it works. I just focused on getting them to change their diet, giving them enough rest, (sunset to sunrise bedtimes) and addressing their mental needs. Its not easy, it takes months and you are doing that already. They do spend a lot of time in nests being fed by their partners, more than one, so think part digested food is their norm. Some variety is good of course and we are all learning new things especially on how diet determines their feather quality as well as health.


My approach is to not put a drain on their system if I can help it. Lexi seems to be responding to you. The most important thing for her mental well being is for her to look forward to each day. If she feels good she will fight, if she feels bad she will give up. She needs to know you are coming and will expect you. If she is improving you are on the right track. If her droppings are normal thats even better.

Fresh food, plenty of fruit and as many small meals as you can manage during the day. They do need wet food. Grapes, passion fruit, pumpkin mash, cucumber sliced in half lengthways for the pulp and seeds, sprouts, watermelon, chillies as foot foods etc. At the beginning, expect to have more waste as she tries and discards new things. Eventually she will settle for the fresh food over the other type. There is a lot of info on this site. My guys love vege fritters, eggs and sweet potato fries. I eat the same diet as they do.

Her feathers will grow or they won't. I can see some areas that appear to be ok. Its hard to tell how well they will come in from a photo. Some down may be all she manages in other areas but they are strong birds and with the right diet and attitude miracles do happen. You didn't say how long she was plucking, or I missed it. If she didn't advance to self mutilation there is a good chance she will be able to grow new feathers. I can see she may have a few odd feathers but expect that. In time you will see if it is permanent.
Ruby shed primary feathers in her second year that were cut by the previous owner. Two moults before she started producing decent feathers. I wouldn't have believed it had they been uncut. I also couldn't take one of my charges to a vet for 3 months due to stress so I accepted we had to wait. In the meantime we developed a routine and he managed the trip eventually. A lot depends on the length of time she was in her previous predicament. I usually give up to a year to rectify problems.

If Lexi lived with me I would keep doing what you are doing. I probably wouldn't try a detox, mainly as her little system needs quiet. Everything that is good for her is good for her already. Your biggest hurdle is trust and diet. I cannot speak on pellets. I never rely on them although I offer as all of my guys get fresh food, cooked food along with a trail mix and some seed in case they decide they need it. I change it every day. Legumes are not their main food but I do offer a few green beans, fresh corn on the cob slices or snap peas etc as foot food. They are grazers so small meals often. They take their time compared to other parrots. A piece of coconut in the shell is great for keeping them busy too. I also offer Lorikeet nectar to make up for flowers. This is wet not dry. A branch to debark is popular here. Peanut butter on a piece of carrot or breadstick is fun on occasion.
She sounds wonderful. Still being able to trust. They aren't monogamous in the wild but they do have great capacities to love. I hope all goes well.
 
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