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Save a Lovebird

Melodyple

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Two days ago I saw a blue lovebird in the window of a petshop. The feathers around his neck was plucked, and the nails on one foot were missing and the fingers were short. He stood alone in an empty cage. I couldnt stop thinking abuk him and I went and got it today. The seller even gave a discount because he was injured. It was a very heartbreaking experience. The seller did not know him gender and age. However, I brought the bird home and observed it. The bird can stand on its perch despite its disabled foot. Sometimes he has balance problems when he jumps between perches. I kept the perches low in case he fell down because he was injured, but my bird is hovering on top of the cage with one leg and beak, like a monkey upside down. I placed the perches in the middle upper part of the cage. I'm thinking of placing a soft sponge under the cage in case it falls. I saw the bird pluck out its new feathers while grooming itself. I gave him colorful toys, but he was a little disinterested. He likes to roam on the cage wires. I showed him millet but the bird got away. He is very timid bird. I left the millet in his cage and walked away. He sat in front of it for a few minutes and finally ate. At night, I observed him sleeping on one leg in front of his food bowl. The seller told me he was not yet one old, but when I brought the bird home, I saw that it had a very prominent and thick brown iris in its eyes. If it's really an old bird as I guessed, it's a very strong bird since it can live in this state for so long. I want to help him as much as I can. I can improve the quality of life and hopefully make him happy.
I would like to get your advice as well. Especially about the cage setup and plucked feathers.
 

Shezbug

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Welcome to the Avenue :hiya:

Birds can be quite amazing with how easily many of them still function with missing toes and other disabilities- I follow an Instagram account that has two African greys and both birds are missing their whole feet, they hang upside down and get about much better than I would have ever imagined.

If he is hovering the top of the cage then it is best to offer him a perch up nice and high. If you are concerned he will fall then you can put a no pill fleece blanket at the bottom of the cage, he may not ever fall from his perch- he may have adjusted well to having missing toe parts.

Plucking is not good and is best off assessed by an avian vet to rule out medical reasons for the plucking- it is not always simply a behavioral thing. It is always recommended to have a vet check done for any new bird so it may be a good idea to get that out of the way as soon as you can.

@Zara is really well informed and very helpful when it comes to lovebirds so I am sure she will chime in as soon as she is online.


Can you share some pictures of your cage set up and of course your new feathered friend?
 

tuinal

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The poor bird has been sat in a cage - potentially for years - and resorted to destructive feather-plucking from boredom and frustration.

If this is your first bird, read up carefully on how to prepare a safe environment for a bird, and let it roam free from the cage whenever you're home. It will probably return, or refuse to leave, to the cage a lot at first, since it will have a degree of birdie-stockholm-syndrome. But if you leave the door open, it will gradually become curious and adventurous small step-by-step, since it's in their nature. Designing a 'good cage' can be a bit like designing a good prison cell - it's much better than a bad prison cell, but it's still a prison cell. Ideally as a lovebird owner the cage is for sleeping and visiting, not living.

You should of course get it checked by a vet asap. A collar is a simple solution to feather-plucking, but if that's the route taken it will need to be gradually introduced to a happy home or it will pluck again as soon as the collar is removed.

Birds are remarkably able to function with disabilities and just get on with it - inspiringly so. An injury is sad, but will not prevent it living a happy life, provided things like infection risk are monitored and treated by a vet. What you basically need to do is to gradually and gently engage it, firstly simply with hand-fed rewards for human contact (sunflower seeds are the default), then move on to things like target training after a few months to start building a bond. If the bird starts to bond with you and has frequent meaningful daily contact, it will in all likelihood stop depression/plucking, since it's basic desire is to find a pair-bond - whether human or avian (and the inability to do this is, in all likelihood, what's caused it to suffer and start self mutilating).
 

Zara

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Welcome to the Avenue :)

I´m glad you took the little guy home. Do you know which species this is?

There is good advice above, introducing non pilling fleece blankets to line the cage to soften falls (sponge would be dangerous as can easily be ingested), and also regarding setting up a vet visit just to be sure the plucking isn´t due to an illness. A collar could be a good option for stopping the plucking initially.

It is always recommended to have a vet check done for any new bird
Especially lovebirds, because unfortunately they seem to be quite riddled with illnesses in some parts of the world.
**When bringing home a lovebird, it is important to have them tested for PBFD, Psittacosis and Polyoma by your avian vet.

If the bird starts to bond with you and has frequent meaningful daily contact, it will in all likelihood stop depression/plucking, since it's basic desire is to find a pair-bond - whether human or avian (and the inability to do this is, in all likelihood, what's caused it to suffer and start self mutilating).
Sorry, this is not always the case. If only it were so simple. You did say ¨in all likelyhood¨ which doesn´t mean it will fix the problem, but it´s more like a ¨maybe it could help¨ sort of situation. This bird could have polyfolliculosis (PPPF) which is incurable, or simply this could be a habit developed and won´t go away.
I don´t mean to be negative, and I don´t mean to not try to fix this, but just keep in mind that there may not be a solution, but it is ok. A bird can be a plucker and a happy bird. There´s plenty of birds on AA who live great lives with their familes but have plucked their feathers.

We have a Special Needs Crossing where we post about living with, caring for, how to set up cages for our birds with different special needs. I posted my youngest hens set up in there (I do need to update it but I never seem to have the time, but I think it would be helpful for you);
I posted pictures and wrote about why I chose or changed things in the cage. My bird has a closed foot, so she can´t grab with one foot, so it is kind of similar I think. Like Shezbug already said, these birds really do adapt well, so much so that my bird is now in a floor cage, and even has a partner :)
 

Melodyple

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Hello there. I took a video to show the condition of my birds. He was very excited when he heard the voice of my green lovebird(Robin). He doesn't look sick. Very energetic. And today his appetite was very good. He emptied the entire food bowl. He ate all carrots and peppers. I checked it for mites overnight and it was clean. So I brought it with Robin. Yes, I know that veterinary control is required, that he should be in quarantine for a while. However, I live in Turkey/Mersin. And here there is a veterinary understanding that only serves cats and dogs. They don't even test the birds for the diseases you mentioned. I was very impressed that my bluebird was so excited about the sound of the Robin. He plucked round 10-15 feathers first day but today he only plucked 2 feathers. They talked all day. Robin always stood near him in the cage. Robin would never sit on a food bowl. This day he sat on the bowl to stay close. So I had to relocate the food bowl. However, I'm undecided whether to put him in a shorter cage. I provided him with a blanket and wrapped it in a plastic bag. I put newspaper on it. He slipped off the wires once today.
 
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Zara

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I provided him with a blanket and wrapped it in a plastic bag.
No plastic bag, he may pick at it and ingest pieces. You can lay newspaper over the top if you want to make easier cleanup.

I'm undecided whether to put him in a shorter cage.
No, he will be ok.
You could look for a platform perch for him, my little one loves those, I even made a platform swing and she sits on it every single day.
If you don´t have one, you could make a temporary platform out of cardboard and plastic perches under to hold it up (if you looked at the link I posted above about Adelie, you can see how I made on with a piece of cardboard.

He plucked round 10-15 feathers first day but today he only plucked 2 feathers.
That is a good sign :)

That is one pair of happy lovebirds!!! :swoon:
If there is any way to make their perches more level it will be easier for them to sit together side by side.
 

Zara

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@dollfish lives in Turkey. She has a larger parrot, but it could still be helpful to be in touch on here. Maybe she will know where to get good platform perches from :)
 

dollfish

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Thank you @Zara for tagging me. There are indeed some very cheap platform perch options. I've listed a couple below.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

There are several avian and exotic veterinaries but none in your area that I know of, although there are Facebook groups that you can join to ask for some help. But I do strongly suggest getting in touch with an avian veterinary and getting consultancy even if it is only possible via the phone or by a long drive. Like the others said, plucking may be a sign of an underlying disease.

Your birds are beautiful!
 

Melodyple

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Hello there. I reviewed your photos. Today I made a platform for my bird. I couldn't tell if he was comfortable on the platform, so I put a perch at the same level. When I stepped back from the cage he went to the perch and stood there. So I positioned platform to get him used to the platform and put his food bowl and water on it. But instead of using that platform, he descends from the cage wires to the food bowl and goes back to its perch from the food bowl to the cage wires. He doesn't want to step on the platform. I don't want it to fall down and make extra effort for transportation and tire himself. Should I still remove the perches and force him onto the platform?
I think his wings were clipped. Two feathers were plucked yesterday. One was a wing feather. Looks like the tip has been cut off. He's already having trouble flying. It makes sometimes successful and sometimes unsuccessful flights between perches. Actually, these are risks. Should I remove the perches completely?
I gave him a slightly thicker perch . It was the first time that he stood a little on his disabled foot. Then he lost his balance
 

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Zara

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Should I still remove the perches and force him onto the platform?
No. It is good to leave options.

I think his wings were clipped. Two feathers were plucked yesterday. One was a wing feather. Looks like the tip has been cut off.
It is possible he is moulting and the wing feather dropped is a result of that. Was the blood in the quill?

t makes sometimes successful and sometimes unsuccessful flights between perches. Actually, these are risks. Should I remove the perches completely?
No. but you can lower them so they are half way down the cage. See how he gets on. Birds like to be high, so see if he tries climbing the cage to get higher.
 

Shezbug

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The feather looks more to me like a broken one- it also doesn’t appear to be a flight feather to me but I’m not very familiar with LB feathers. I could be wrong with both my thoughts on the feather but it just doesn’t look like a flight and it’s not straight enough for clipped.
 

Melodyple

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While watching him yesterday, he took that feather out of his wing and threw it away. There was no blood on it. The tip looked like a very clean cut to me. There was no crushing. By the way, I got very emotional after seeing him lose his balance while standing on his disabled foot. I replaced the perch above with the platform. Now he stands on his disabled foot again. At least there is no danger of falling now. Is it healthy to put cardboard on it? I hope it doesn't cause him to slip. I crumpled the cardboard a little. So I thought there would be no pressure on him feet.
 

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TikiMyn

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How lucky he is you saw him:heart: The video of the meeting is just the loveliest, so touching! I am happy he has a companion and caring caretaker now. It sounds like he plucked his feather, there could be a lot of reasons for that like some other said already. I have a Fischer's girl who once plucked herself untill she was all but bald. It was horrible to watch but thankfully now she is as full feathered as she will get. I can't express how much good vet care can do. Good luck with them! I will be following your journey quietly:)
 

Melodyple

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We have been together for 3 days and our feather pulling problem has ended very quickly. I thought it would be difficult when I saw that he plucked so much feathers on the first day. He plucked no feathers today. And he got used to his new food very quickly. He eat the same foods as my other birds. It took me a month to get used to them. When he first came, his poop was very small, like that of budgies. Now it's starting to poop bigger like my Robin. Now that I'm thinking about it, his cage in the petshop was very close to the ground and there were puppies running around. The sunflower seeds in the cage in the petshop were bigger than the ones I use at home. Cant believe the things that small changes can create. I am researching and observing for a suitable cage and layout so that he can move more comfortably. His normal foot is on his right side. He is very successful in his moves to the right. I get ideas by observing it. For now, I put his food next to the perch he uses the most. It doesn't take effort to reach the food. I will feed him this way for a while and let him get used to the environment and me. I will encourage him to move in the cage when I provide a more suitable cage and safe way of transportation for him.
 

Zara

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Great update! hopefully the follicles aren´t damaged and the feathers will regrow in the future :fingerscrossed:
 

Melodyple

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Hi. My bird is doing very well now. He has new feathers and now he chirps while he sleeps. You know I put him next to Robin. Robin is female. Now they are in separate cages but side by side. Robin exhibits mating moves. She spreads its wings to both sides. My disabled bird Zeus, wants to feed him and vomits. We were the only ones with Robin. But now I am confused about what to do. I wonder if they're a couple now? Should I get them in the same cage? If I separate them, will they have psychological problems? They often stand next to each other. They talk all the time. They follow each other constantly. What should I do?
 

Melodyple

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Hello, it's been a long time. I want to give the latest information about my bird's condition. Because I believe it will help other people as well.
At first, Zeus had stopped pulling his feathers. After a while, I opened the cage door and encouraged him to go outside. They got out of the cage and started to spend time with Robin. They groomed each other and shared their meals. While Robin could fly wherever he wanted, Zeus wanted to fly with him, but he was constantly falling to the ground because he could not fly. And I found plucked feathers around again...Whenever Zeus fell to the ground, I would go to him with his cage. Zeus was jumping into his cage. He was getting into the cage, retreating to his corner and starting to pull his feathers out. As I observed Zeus, I realized that as he experienced stress, he was pulling him feathers. I changed my strategy and when he fell to the ground, I started to go to him with a prize. I handed him millet and rewarded him and then let him jump into his cage. This strategy worked. now when he fell he stopped running into his cage anxiously and our plucking problem is over again. And he learned to fly. Now it flies very well, it can be landed neatly wherever it wants. He can follow Robin. One day I came to check on my parrots and saw that Zeus was bald under his eye ... At first, I thought he was rubbing her face somewhere. While watching robin and zeus today, I saw that robin is pulling the feathers of zeus ... he is pulling the feathers under his eyes, the feathers on his head. Zeus sticks his head under Robin...I got worried when I saw it and immediately took them into their cages. they are in separate cages. and they are not happy at all to be apart from each other. Robin hadn't done this before. I must say that Robin is a very jealous bird. When I get close to Zeus, Robin makes strange noises and immediately goes to Zeus and starts grooming him. he stands between zeus and me...I don't want to take them out together anymore. This situation will bother both of them very much and most likely Zeus will start pulling his feathers. When they get out of the cage, the first thing they do is run into each other. I'll take it apart for a while and watch what happens. I want the best for Zeus. I was very happy when I saw he start to fly freely around. I was very happy when I saw that Robin and Zeus were friends. and now zeus has a huge baldness under his eye...
 
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