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Plucking Under Wings

elitys

Sprinting down the street
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4/29/20
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Elise
Our tiel, Baby, has had minor feather plucking for some time. My theory is that it originated when my boyfriend went off to school and Baby was left in the care of his mom from September 2019 till April 2020.

No shame to his mom (she is Baby's next favorite person and loves him very much) but I don't think he was given top quality care. His mom did not have much experience or knowledge with birds and neither did my boyfriend for that matter. Baby was on a poor diet, did not have very many toys he liked, and was probably left alone too much during this period.

Now he has developed a minor feather plucking habit. When he preens under his wings, he sometimes chirps and pulls out a bit of down feather with pink on the end so I know it's not just falling out normally. He has slight balding patches right at the wing-pits, but lets the feathers grow enough to where it's not super obvious unless you actually watch him do it.

He doesn't pluck anywhere else, but he does overpreen his tail feathers. He breaks a lot of them off halfway, but no bleeding occurs.

It makes me pretty sad. It's a period in Baby's life that bothers me quite a bit even though I didn't really have control over it. I also didn't know much about birds until I started becoming interested in getting one myself, so I didn't even know enough to step in and say something. But good pet care is something I value incredibly highly because of certain experiences I've had, so it is upsetting that life events and lack of knowledge on my boyfriend's part resulted in this. He's not a bad person and cares about Baby, but this happened and Baby is left with a seemingly unbreakable destructive habit because of it.

Anyway, enough of my woes. Now that we all live together, I've been able to share a lot of my bird knowledge with my boyfriend and taken a stronger role in improving Baby's care. We've switched him to a better diet (now eats pellets and a veggie/grain mix instead of just seeds), provided a wider range of toy materials to find things he likes, given his cage a more enriching and thoughtful layout, and we decided to adopt Russet as an additional flockmate to help with Baby's separation issues (which has turned out to be mutually beneficial for both of them).

Does anyone have any experience with feather plucking for cockatiels? Is it possible that he will recover from this and eventually stop the behavior? From what I've read, it seems unlikely unfortunately. But if there is anything we can do to lessen or begin to remove the behavior, I want to try.

This is kind of hard to talk about and it makes me feel quite guilty. Even if I wasn't "directly" at fault, I was still complicit in the ignorance.

Thank you for reading and offering advice if you do.
 

elitys

Sprinting down the street
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OR, USA
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Elise
Plucking under the wings is a classic symptom of giardia. I would start with a vet visit to address that and other possible medical causes.
He has been to the vet recently, and I found it odd that the vet didn't notice the plucking. Is there any other info you can share about giardia? Perhaps a thread or article on it?

I'm concerned that because it's been going on so long, it's now behavioral even if it began as medical.
 

Birdbabe

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Giardia is found in a poo sample,,I had a teil misdiagnosed for years, she plucked under her wings and had dry flaking skin under there,,I tried everything ! But ny new vet found it right away, I had medicate everyone, and meticulously clean everything! For a couple weeks, dailey. She recovered, every one else was ok. She passed from old age, .☹
 

Sparkles99

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Sorry I don't have a link, this is from experience. In mammals, it prefers to hang out in & ruin the small intestine, & prevent food absorption.

It's cyclical & spreads via encapsulated cysts. They don't shed cysts 100% of the time. This makes it hard to find. Sometimes they never catch the cysts. In cats, it causes telltale liquid diarrhea & changes the colour of the feces to an awful camo green. It almost killed one of my cats when she was a kitten, twice.

Unfortunately the cysts are hardy. They can last ages in the environment without a host & are hard to kill. If you can bleach things, that works. If you can wash on hot & dry on hot, that works. Anything else in the environment is trash. Some people report Lysol or steam cleaning kills the cysts. BTW, 'the environment' includes your bird - not sure what you're supposed to do about that.

You'll have to scour your entire bird room & everything in it while treating your bird & avoiding things that kill giardia but also hurt your bird (don't know much about birds yet, but I'd be careful, from what I've read). It's also imperative to clean up any droppings immediately. This could be hard with a bird.

Giardia is the reason every pet I get goes straight to the vet for a check up & fecal sample (for microscope & visual inspection). To see its devastating effects is haunting. Not exaggerating.
 

elitys

Sprinting down the street
Joined
4/29/20
Messages
371
Location
OR, USA
Real Name
Elise
Sorry I don't have a link, this is from experience. In mammals, it prefers to hang out in & ruin the small intestine, & prevent food absorption.

It's cyclical & spreads via encapsulated cysts. They don't shed cysts 100% of the time. This makes it hard to find. Sometimes they never catch the cysts. In cats, it causes telltale liquid diarrhea & changes the colour of the feces to an awful camo green. It almost killed one of my cats when she was a kitten, twice.

Unfortunately the cysts are hardy. They can last ages in the environment without a host & are hard to kill. If you can bleach things, that works. If you can wash on hot & dry on hot, that works. Anything else in the environment is trash. Some people report Lysol or steam cleaning kills the cysts. BTW, 'the environment' includes your bird - not sure what you're supposed to do about that.

You'll have to scour your entire bird room & everything in it while treating your bird & avoiding things that kill giardia but also hurt your bird (don't know much about birds yet, but I'd be careful, from what I've read). It's also imperative to clean up any droppings immediately. This could be hard with a bird.

Giardia is the reason every pet I get goes straight to the vet for a check up & fecal sample (for microscope & visual inspection). To see its devastating effects is haunting. Not exaggerating.
Interesting. Sounds pretty scary. I hope that's not what it is then. We have two other birds that are housed in cages sandwiching his and they all come in contact with each other and things they each touch. No symptoms from the other two so far though.

I suppose a vet check for a fecal sample is in order then? Poppy had one when I first got her, but I don't know if/when Baby has.
 

enigma731

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Giardia can be intermittently shed and difficult to diagnose on fecal exam. So I would start with a regular fecal exam and then if that doesn't show anything, I would ask for a PCR test to look for giardia DNA. Sorry I'm not able to paste threads or sources right now, I'm having some technical issues with the forum. But, if you do a search for giardia in thread titles, you should be able to find a lot of info.
 
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