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Plucking or Molting?

shibaak

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Shibaak
Hi all.
I have a green cheek conure, almost 9 months old. A few weeks ago, we took him for a bloof test and since then, he has been losing feathers way way too fast. His head is covered with pins. Every day I see a few feathers at the bottom of the cage and I see a few falling when he is with us. A few days ago, I was looking at his pictures from when we got him, and I realized that his feathers are way way too bad now. I did a little research, but I am not sure what's going on. I noticed that he does preen himself very often. But I have not seen him taking his feathers out, but I see the feathers falling off though when he preens.

Just a little of general information. Overall he seems to be happy. He spends a lot of time, 5 to 8 hours a day, with us. His diet is pellet with some seeds and fruits. He does not eat vegetables, no matter how hard I have tried. I did notice that he does not play with his toys because he tends to go and sit in the darker spot of his cage which is farther from hos toys. So I have changed his cage in a way that has light everywhere. He seem to be spending more time playing.
He hates sunlight, and I cannot make him go to sunlight at all. But his room gets a lot of light (I am not sure if that's enough). He takes a bath almost every other day. He sleeps 12 hours a night in a dark quiet room.

Hos pictures are attached. Can you please check them and let me know what you think? Is he plucking? Or is this a very heavy molting or over preening or barbering? Or whatever else? I am so worried for him. I ha e no idea what to do and how I can make him stop preening himself. I will take him to the vet next week as well, but I am so worried. Can you help me know what this is and how I can help reverse this?
 

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Shezbug

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What pellets are you feeding and what types of veg have you tried and how were they served? I personally would be knocking out the fruit and only giving it as a treat (like a small piece a couple of times a week) as it is very high in sugar and not as packed with what our birds need as veg are.
The sun your bird gets through the windows in his room is not enough so hopefully your choice of pellet is one with added vitamins.

A photo of your whole cage and where it is might be helpful for some of the other members to give you some advice on how to change things up a bit so your bird gets the best out his cage and hopefully they can make some suggestions to help you figure out the sunlight issue- I have never heard of a bird not liking sunlight but I guess that could be a situational thing.
 

shibaak

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What pellets are you feeding and what types of veg have you tried and how were they served? I personally would be knocking out the fruit and only giving it as a treat (like a small piece a couple of times a week) as it is very high in sugar and not as packed with what our birds need as veg are.
The sun your bird gets through the windows in his room is not enough so hopefully your choice of pellet is one with added vitamins.

A photo of your whole cage and where it is might be helpful for some of the other members to give you some advice on how to change things up a bit so your bird gets the best out his cage and hopefully they can make some suggestions to help you figure out the sunlight issue- I have never heard of a bird not liking sunlight but I guess that could be a situational thing.
Thank you for your response. He eats roudybush pellets. I have tried vegetables chopped, mash, whole, big pieces, small pieces, whatever shape and cut that's possible. I have also tried them several times of the day. Morning, evening, afternoon, noon, night. I have tried every trick I found on the internet: eating with me from my plate (which works for everything else), putting in his cage, playfully giving it to him, through foraging, etc. But so far, no luck. I have started trying again testerday though, and I am committed to make it work this time whatever it takes.

I will take a picture of his cage setup and place in the morning. But his cage is close to the window, but not very close. About 2 to 3 meters away. But he hates sun and fresh air overall. Whenever I take him even to the balcony, he starts biting me to take him in. When we got him, I saw him only once opening his feather in his cage in a small piece that had taken sun, but never again after that. But I think it might change if I put him inside his small cage and leave it in sunlight behind the window. Maybe staring with 10 minuets a day and gradually increasing it to 1 or 2 hours, maybe divided to a few half an hours throughout the day. The problem is also that the weather is getting very cold here and we cannot leave the windows open anymore. Closing the window will reduce UV a lot. I may need to try UV light for him.

But what do you think the issue is? Is it plucking? Or heavy molting? I am not sure what the issue is.
 
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Shezbug

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To be honest I can not see clearly enough between my bad eyes and crappy computer screen when I enlarge the pic to say anything other than the feathers are not looking as healthy as they could be.

It kinda looks to me like a mix of a heavy molt and bronzing but I am not certain. Is he handled a lot?

Do you see him babering or plucking?

@Mizzely @Zara
 

Zara

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It does look like barbering (at the top of the wings) and a little bronzing in other places, however at that age, could this be an ugly moult (first moult)? @webchirp
 

shibaak

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It does look like barbering (at the top of the wings) and a little bronzing in other places, however at that age, could this be an ugly moult (first moult)? @webchirp
Thank you.
It is his first molt. He spends a lot of time with us, but most of the time, he sits on our knees. But I read about handling, and asked my husband yesterday not to take him in his hands anymore.
I am so worried for him. What should I do? How can I stop his barbering?
 

shibaak

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To be honest I can not see clearly enough between my bad eyes and crappy computer screen when I enlarge the pic to say anything other than the feathers are not looking as healthy as they could be.

It kinda looks to me like a mix of a heavy molt and bronzing but I am not certain. Is he handled a lot?

Do you see him babering or plucking?

@Mizzely @Zara
I did not see plucking. But I just read about barbering, and I think he does that a bit. I am not sure if it's intentional barbering, or if it's just because he is trying to fix damaged feathers and some pieces come out. But I have seen that in his preens (or whatever I thought they were preens so far), he does take pieces of his feathers in his mouth and tries to chew on them.

How can I make him stop that?

Here are a more clear set of images and a movie that may show what he does. I uploaded them in google drive. I will add more clear pictures tomorrow in daylight as well.
Tutu's Images - Google Drive

I have already added toys to his cage and changed the setup so he plays with them. I also take a piece of toy (even a paper) with me, when he is with me now, so he plays with that rather than preening himself. I have almost completely stopped the seeds and have him on mainly pellets with one time fruits during the day. I am determined to make him eat vegetables and I will make sure to have him get much more sunlight as well or get him a UV light.
Is there anything else I could do? How I could improve this situation?
 

Zara

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Mizzely

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Anytime there is feather destructive behavior, but ESPECIALLY with young birds, a vet visit is in order. Baby birds are rough on their feathers and looking disheveled is not uncommon, but plucking and barbering for babies IS uncommon.

If he's not playing, you might need to try and change the type of toys. My green cheek was one of the reasons I started making my own toys as she wouldn't play with most pet shop toys. Balsa, thin pine, cork, Mahogany, yucca, etc were her favorites.

Foraging is also a good way to distract them. Try to put most or all of their food in multiple areas around the cage. The more time they have to look around for food, the less time they have to pick at themselves
 

webchirp

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I agree with Mizzely...get the diet changed...seeds are really bad for them as a main staple.
 

shibaak

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Thank you for your replies.
I have made him so many toys in the past few days to make sure he plays with them and he does play more often now.

His diet is not seed-based. It's mostly pellets, and since a few days ago, I have reduced his treats which were mostly seeds as well. So he gets maybe 3 or 4 sunflower seeds as treat in total now. Every time a small piece. Sometimes also wheat. So he is becoming almost 90% pellet-based. But with a 1000 tricks, I finally could make him eat carrots today. So I will surely make him eat vegetables more often now. It takes time though. He does not like them at all. When he does, I will make sure, he will have fresh vegies for morning and evenings.

I am also going to get him a UV lamp. And make sure he gets some time in sun as well. Even though he hates it!

I also have a vet visit in a couple of weeks to do a full checkup and know if there's any medical issue.

I was thinking of also getting him another bird, so he would not be lonely or go through sexual frustration. I know the introduction is a long long process and if they bond, they might not like me anymore, but I think eventually it can help him to have a companion and not be lonely. I don't mind if I become only a food provider as long as he is happy. Can that help him? Any advice is helpful in this regard as well.

Is there anything else that I should or can do to help him? It's so heartbreaking to see him like that. I feel so bad that I didn't notice the feathers sooner. Every time I look at the feathers, I want to cry. He was such a beauty when he came to me and now he's like this.
 

Chomskypom

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I want to preface this by saying that I don’t have personal experience with feather damaging or with conures. But I saw this article linked in another thread: The Real Truth: Sleep Needs in Parrots
and thought it might be of interest.

While the article specifically mentions African Greys, I think there are some points worth considering, such as this quote:
“If your parrot chews his feathers more at night, look to the sleep schedule. If he is awake at 6:00 am because a little bit of light comes into his room and you don’t get him up until 8:00 am, that two-hour period is prime feather damaging time.”
Elsewhere she cites a study that identified 12 or more hours of sleep as a risk factor for feather damaging in Greys.

This might not apply to your situation at all! But it sounds like you’re trying to look at every possible angle and this is something I didn’t see anyone else mention.
You clearly love your bird so much. I really hope you’re able to get him sorted out soon.
 

shibaak

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Thank you for mentioning sleep. I usually put him in his cage and cover it at around 8 to 9 pm and he wakes up at around 8 am (he screams when he wakes up for me to go get him from his cage). Where we live, its very long days in summer, so I should sort of create his cycle with covering and uncovering his cage. He gets the almost 10 to 12 hours that I've read about conures. But I will read the article for sure. I may get some insight into his condition.
 
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shibaak

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Here are the photos of his feathers in daylight. I took some from the frint as well, but the front seems fine.

Google drive folder

Please let me know if you know what's going on and how I can help him.
 

elitys

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I don't have much experience with feather damaging behavior, but I can offer a bit of advice for the veggies. You may have tried this, but I found that chopping veggies very finely and then mixing them with something the bird likes worked better than just offering them. To get my bird to eat greens, I had to make a greens and pellet powder mush, but this worked just because she likes the pellets so much. Maybe sweet potato, fruit, or even boiled egg would work better as a mixer for you (but be sure to moderate it accordingly of course).

Some veggies my bird will eat without complaint. For example, she loves all types of peppers (spicy, sweet, large, small, with or without seeds) and enjoys eggplant, squash, sweet potato, peas, green beans, and others.

She is not the biggest fan of leafy greens, but will eat them finely chopped and mixed with other things. She will also nibble on sprouts and crunch romaine lettuce. She cannot stand carrots though and will not eat them.

From what I've seen about managing feather destruction is to first see a vet to rule out medical causes. Then offer distractions as much as possible, which is what you seem to be doing already. I think Flock Talk on YouTube mentioned that she likes to keep big preening toys (toys that are easy to shred and nibble on that include materials like crinkle paper or soft woods) near sleeping spots and perches that the bird spends a lot of time at.

Good luck with your birdie and I hope his feather health starts improving soon.
 

shibaak

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I don't have much experience with feather damaging behavior, but I can offer a bit of advice for the veggies. You may have tried this, but I found that chopping veggies very finely and then mixing them with something the bird likes worked better than just offering them. To get my bird to eat greens, I had to make a greens and pellet powder mush, but this worked just because she likes the pellets so much. Maybe sweet potato, fruit, or even boiled egg would work better as a mixer for you (but be sure to moderate it accordingly of course).

Some veggies my bird will eat without complaint. For example, she loves all types of peppers (spicy, sweet, large, small, with or without seeds) and enjoys eggplant, squash, sweet potato, peas, green beans, and others.

She is not the biggest fan of leafy greens, but will eat them finely chopped and mixed with other things. She will also nibble on sprouts and crunch romaine lettuce. She cannot stand carrots though and will not eat them.

From what I've seen about managing feather destruction is to first see a vet to rule out medical causes. Then offer distractions as much as possible, which is what you seem to be doing already. I think Flock Talk on YouTube mentioned that she likes to keep big preening toys (toys that are easy to shred and nibble on that include materials like crinkle paper or soft woods) near sleeping spots and perches that the bird spends a lot of time at.

Good luck with your birdie and I hope his feather health starts improving soon.
Thank you for the advice. Last night, I tool our his pellets dish from his cage so he would not be able to eat until the next morning. This morning, I made him a chop and added a few drops of rasberry juice to it. Then I pretended I was eating it. It was morning and he was hungry. I offered him. He was reluctant at first, but I guess hunger made him try. He liked the mild taste of rasberry, and very soon finished the whole chop! Then I cut a few thin long piece of carrot and gave him. He first did not touch them. But after a few minutes, started nibbling on them and finally ate them. He was busy with them for almost an hour! I guess thos problem was finally solved!
 
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