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Pictures Taco is plucking and barbering again...

hrafn

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When I adopted Taco, it was obvious to me that he'd been plucking and barbering his feathers for a long time. His old owners claimed it had been his mate, Trixie, stealing feathers off of him to line her many nests, but considering his abuse and neglect (and the fact that Trixie had died, but Taco was still in awful shape) I figured at least a fair amount was self-inflicted.

At his first vet visit after I brought him home, I had Taco tested for giardia, chlamydia, and any other diseases, parasites, skin infections or toxins I or the vet could think of. Amazingly, he came back with a (mostly) clean bill of health, so the vet and I figured that his feather-destructive behaviour was down to him living a godawful life with a nasty, deficient diet and massive stress.

Putting him on a healthy diet, giving him fun and time-consuming things to do, and giving him lots of love seemed to do the trick. He stopped barbering!

But I always worried that it would take more than that to break an obsessive lifelong habit, and lo and behold, this latest molt seems to have been the trigger for another bout of destruction.

20181020_182830.jpg 20181020_182335.jpg 20181020_182935.jpg

My poor little mac. :(
 
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Begone

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this latest molt seems to have been the trigger for another bout of destruction.
Have you tried to bath him every day when he is molting? Trying to increase your air humidity?
It can be bad habits but also that he is itchy when molting.
 

Hankmacaw

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Don't give up on it being a physical issue. Has he had the blood inside his feathers cultured, a skin scraping and histology, an xray, a skin biopsy. Does he barber/pluck in any particular area. There are so many things that could be causing it.
 

hrafn

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Have you tried to bath him every day when he is molting? Trying to increase your air humidity?
It can be bad habits but also that he is itchy when molting.
He gets a shower every other day. I'll try daily instead.

Don't give up on it being a physical issue. Has he had the blood inside his feathers cultured, a skin scraping and histology, an xray, a skin biopsy. Does he barber/pluck in any particular area. There are so many things that could be causing it.
I definitely won't. When he improved, I assumed that his destruction was down to vitamin deficiencies and stress, but now that he's back to barbering I'm going to look into more physical possibilties.

He did get an xray to check for Asper (his old home was so gross and moldy...), and a skin scraping. I didn't think to get his feather shaft blood checked, so I guess that's next on the list.

He barbers his flights, and rips out chunks of feathers where his wings meet his sides. He does hold his wings in an awkward position, so I wonder whether they're bothering or hurting him.
 

Shezbug

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Oh no. Hope you can figure it out for him. Poor Taco
 

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I want you to read this start to finish. Really sit down read it and think about the answers. Make a diary if need be. Did your heat just kick on? Dryness? Is it hormonal season? Food allergy, boredom, stress. Can he be distracted from barbering? When does it happen? Where do you see the feathers clipped? What happened before and after he destructed? Who was home? There are MANY more questions then answers but start paying attention. Write it down in a diary if need be.

The Basics of Feather Picking
 

JLcribber

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You need to remember that once a bird has a feather distruction issue that will likely "always" be an issue no matter what you do or how healthy and happy your bird is. Sometimes it might get worse and sometimes it might even seem to go away only to rear its ugly head again.

Feather destruction is a coping mechanism that once ingrained is very difficult to completely turn around. It's the result of stress from living in a unnatural captive world.

The article Sarah posted is very good.
 

Hankmacaw

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I believe strongly that not all birds, maybe even the minority of those that pluck, do so out of a psychological or habitual reason. Of course some do pluck out of stress, but very few of our AA birds have much stress.

The vets are as confused as we owners are about plucking/barbering the reason being that few owners have the funds to do a really thorough physical search for a reason for plucking. Most will do cultures and chem panels and a possibly a skin scraping and xray - by then you have a substantial financial investment. There are many other tests that can be done - a biopsy and histology of several locations/ checking the inside of feathers with a blood culture/ a CT scan for tumors/physical abnormalities/and swollen organs/heart-circulatory abnormalities. Spinal abnormalities and other structural abnormalities can cause irritation or stress. This would cost a lot more money than most of us have, so our birds just continue plucking.

I don't and never had a plucking problem with my birds, but my heart goes out to those who do.
 

Macawnutz

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I believe strongly that not all birds, maybe even the minority of those that pluck, do so out of a psychological or habitual reason. Of course some do pluck out of stress, but very few of our AA birds have much stress.

The vets are as confused as we owners are about plucking/barbering the reason being that few owners have the funds to do a really thorough physical search for a reason for plucking. Most will do cultures and chem panels and a possibly a skin scraping and xray - by then you have a substantial financial investment. There are many other tests that can be done - a biopsy and histology of several locations/ checking the inside of feathers with a blood culture/ a CT scan for tumors/physical abnormalities/and swollen organs/heart-circulatory abnormalities. Spinal abnormalities and other structural abnormalities can cause irritation or stress. This would cost a lot more money than most of us have, so our birds just continue plucking.

I don't and never had a plucking problem with my birds, but my heart goes out to those who do.


AND EVEN WHEN YOU CHECK ALL THOSE THINGS YOU CAN STILL FEEL IN YOUR GUT IT'S NOT BEHAVIORAL.

Okay, sore subject for me. :laugh: It went all caps because I screamed it in my head.

I believe most birds start for a medical reason. All three of mine did. I also believe that someday I will find answers to two of mine. I'm that determined. I also know that once I know the cause of one of mine I will unteach the habit. To the best of my ability anyway.
 

hrafn

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I think I may as well just move myself and the kids into a vet clinic and make myself a little nook in the corner. We seem to be there more than anywhere else already. :dead:

Taco is going to go back to the vet and get any and every test we can come up with to find out what's wrong. If he is one of those rare fids whose destructive behaviour is down to emotional issues, we can go from there. But we definitely need to (at least try to) eliminate physical ailments as a cause first.
 

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Poor Taco! Sending hugs to both of you:sadhug2:
 

hrafn

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Can I have some opinions regarding using a poncho or cone to curb his plucking? I've never dealt with plucking before so I feel pretty lost.

A sweater would probably help with him plucking at his sides and neck, but not with barbering his wings. I really want him to leave his poor flights alone so he can start flying in earnest. He's been doing so well with the tossing practice. :(
 

cassiesdad

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I've never dealt with plucking before so I feel pretty lost.
I do know exactly how you feel. Milton began his plucking last year...in response to getting spooked by fireworks being set off next door. It has become a habit...he lets a few feathers grow in...then pulls them out. (usually in front of me) He also barbers a little...because he's clipped, he'll barber any new feather that comes in on his wings.
We had Milty checked out by his AV back when he began plucking...skin scraping, etc...nothing out of the ordinary was found.

I was so very discouraged when he started...after all, like you, I never had a bird barber or pluck themselves... Cassie came to us plucked, and regrew her feathers.
Can I have some opinions regarding using a poncho or cone to curb his plucking?
With the area that Milty plucks, it would be difficult for him to have a cone...he plucks his face (cheek) and a poncho-sweater arrangement would have to come high to the neck.
You need to remember that once a bird has a feather distruction issue that will likely "always" be an issue no matter what you do or how healthy and happy your bird is. Sometimes it might get worse and sometimes it might even seem to go away only to rear its ugly head again.

Feather destruction is a coping mechanism that once ingrained is very difficult to completely turn around. It's the result of stress from living in a unnatural captive world.
This describes Milton to a tee...a highly intelligent and sensitive animal trapped in an unnatural captive world.
 

hrafn

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Just had a scritchfest with Taco before bedtime (I'm no longer Stick Satan, thank god) and he let me get a real good look at his feathers.

He's been barbering his wings all to holy heck to the point where almost every feather looks like frayed ribbon, some of them snipped in half, and on closer inspection I can see that he's been messing with his chest a bit, too.

My fids tend to be a bit scruffy when they're molting, but I've caught him a couple times now. It's wildly upsetting.
 

hrafn

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I do know exactly how you feel. Milton began his plucking last year...in response to getting spooked by fireworks being set off next door. It has become a habit...he lets a few feathers grow in...then pulls them out. (usually in front of me) He also barbers a little...because he's clipped, he'll barber any new feather that comes in on his wings.
We had Milty checked out by his AV back when he began plucking...skin scraping, etc...nothing out of the ordinary was found.

I was so very discouraged when he started...after all, like you, I never had a bird barber or pluck themselves... Cassie came to us plucked, and regrew her feathers.

With the area that Milty plucks, it would be difficult for him to have a cone...he plucks his face (cheek) and a poncho-sweater arrangement would have to come high to the neck.

This describes Milton to a tee...a highly intelligent and sensitive animal trapped in an unnatural captive world.
Poor Milty! :(
 

cassiesdad

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Poor Milty! :(
And yet, through it all, Milton SEEMS like a very happy bird. He serenaded us with his usual "HI" song before we uncovered him, teased his Mom by throwing his food and water bowls on the floor before she changed them out, happily ate breakfast, (and had some of mine) then topped that all off with a half hour scritchfest, all the time saying "I LOVE YOU" to me.
Hardly signs of an unhappy bird...and yet...he barbers and plucks...
 

alshgs

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I hope you get it figured out! We had a crimson bellied conure a few years ago that started barbering his tail feathers and then his chest feathers. He was healthy otherwise, until he wasn't. I spent hundreds on him, and with the help of others to find out that our vet could only come up with one conclusion. Rio had enlarged kidneys and his liver was enlarged as well. His last procedure caused him to have a seizure and he wound up passing. A necropsy never did reveal the real reason either. So don't give up hope. I do have a plucker now, but she is a female and it is hormones. We're discussing the options for that now, as she is close to 12-13 years old and I don't want to stress her out further. He's beautiful.
 

hrafn

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Taco seems to be getting worse with his plucking and barbering, and I'm still at a loss. Follow-up exams and tests have brought up nothing, and for the most part he seems to be a happy, goofy mac. He never, ever plucks or barbers when I'm there, and if he's messing with his feathers when I enter the room he stops immediately. He'll preen in front of me, but that's it.

I've read and read and reread the article that Sarah posted, have tried everything I've heard of or been told about, but so far nothing. Poor, sweet Taco looks like absolute road kill at this point, and I just can't figure him out.

I want him to be happy and healthy, and I feel like an utter failure.
 

Shezbug

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I am sorry hrafn, this is heartbreaking. I have absolutely no advice as I have never in my life experienced plucking or barbering with any of the birds I have had. Only met naked birds at the vet clinic. I really hope you can find something to either keep him too busy to do this to himself or better still, the actual answer to the problem.
I am dreaming of the day you can sit back and relax with your feet up just enjoying your fids and not having to worry about fixing things or improving everything for them, you work so hard to make them all happy and comfortable so I think it is about time all your hard work paid off. :)

I think you are a success because you are still trying to figure it all out. Even the 'experts' have trouble with this stuff!
 
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