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I have a plucker :(


phangtonpower
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Hey everyone,

          So the thread title says it all. I know it's a common problem. I I have not taken her to the vet yet. I live in Japan and there are no local vets and the nearest one was 3 hours away, but we did find one an hour and half a way and we have set an appointment for this coming Monday.  

So I think she is plucking because of nesting behavior. It started a few years ago when she started laying eggs. We try our hardest to discourage this. She has a separate sleeping cage and that could be the issue, as she usually only does it when she goes to bed. I've noticed that when I clean her cage out she starts plucking pretty bad again. how can I keep her cage clean?

I know I should try keeping her in her main cage for bed time, but my house is really small and her cage is in the main living room where we can spend most of our time with her. It would be too loud for her if we kept her in there at night. Plus winter time is pretty harsh and old Japanese houses aren't insolated so warming up a smaller area (her sleep cage) is easier than keeping her in the main cage which uses a oil radiator. It's pretty expensive keeping it running through out winter as it is now. 

We still aren't sure if that's the main cause, so we're going to see what the vet says. Hopefully he can be helpful as local vets in general, even the ones that were trained in avian medicine, have been horrifying. He has a youtube channel and does talk a lot about bird issues. I'm hoping it's not stress. We have her out a few hours a day including walks outside when the weather is warm enough, try and feed her a good diet, and try and interact with her as much as possible. 

I hate showing this video, but you can see the size of my house and a little bit of where her cage is located. Any help will be appreciated! 

 

Edit: I would also love to try products that would help, but they do not exist in Japan. Maybe home remedies?? 

 

Edited by phangtonpower
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I don't have experience with plucking. Seeing the vet would be my first step, which you are doing. The one thing I thought of was do you have a light for her? I use this one: AvianSun 5.0 UVB Compact Fluorescent Bulb. I've seen others dealing with plucking say UVB light can help.

Meanwhile, hello and welcome to the forum!

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7 minutes ago, Timbersmom said:

I don't have experience with plucking. Seeing the vet would be my first step, which you are doing. The one thing I thought of was do you have a light for her? I use this one: AvianSun 5.0 UVB Compact Fluorescent Bulb. I've seen others dealing with plucking say UVB light can help.

Meanwhile, hello and welcome to the forum!

They don't sell Avian lights here and I'm kinda worried of importing because voltage is different here. I do have a light on her. The best thing I can do, which I have to find a new solution for very soon, is a cfl that has a good kelvin rating for plants? Other wise the only other bulbs I can find are for reptiles and they just didn't seem right. 

 

Edit: Ohisashiburi(long time no see)!! You helped a long time ago when I was trying to figure out a way to keep her warm in the winter. 

Edited by phangtonpower
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I'm sorry to hear about this.  As you know, this is not an easy problem to solve.  When we started to see this problem in our Grey [probably more than 15 years ago], Corey, we tried a number of avian vets.   I was NOT happy with most of the solutions we heard about [or tired] until we got Corey to see Dr. Brian Speer in Oakley CA at the Medical Center for Birds.   He said that this problem was just beginning for Corey and that we basically needed to engage her more.  We were both working full-time jobs at the time and she was being left alone at least 9 1/2 hours a day for 5 days per week.  Lucky for us, our work status changed and we could spend more time with her after about a year or so after this started.  At the time when this problem was most severe for Corey, Dr. Speer was treating Corey with a pain-killer [I don't remember if he specifically determined what was causing her pain] and probably what amounts to a mild, avian tranquilizer.  They were both liquid solutions.   I don't remember specifically the names of those drugs.  These drugs [and spending as much time with Corey as we possibly could and trying to do everything to reduce her stress] we managed to bring her feather destruction habits under control.  If you look at her pictures now, she looks fine:  fully feathered.   I have heard of some avian vets prescribing drugs to control hormones in female Greys but we never had to do that.  Corey has never shown any interest in laying eggs [even though we know she is a female].

Over the following years, whenever it looked like this problem might be coming up again we tried Kings Cages Pluck No More.  This probably doesn't work for all Greys but it did seem to help Corey.  Fortunately, we haven't had to use it in the last 10 years and that might be because Corey has us so well trained to take care of her in the way she needs to be cared for.  Here is the link:

https://kingscages.com/pluck-no-more/

As other people have written, it's good you are seeing a vet but you probably know that you need to see the correct vet [an avian specialist].  I wish you the best of luck.   Best, Terry

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, terryspear said:

I'm sorry to hear about this.  As you know, this is not an easy problem to solve.  When we started to see this problem in our Grey [probably more than 15 years ago], Corey, we tried a number of avian vets.   I was NOT happy with most of the solutions we heard about [or tired] until we got Corey to see Dr. Brian Speer in Oakley CA at the Medical Center for Birds.   He said that this problem was just beginning for Corey and that we basically needed to engage her more.  We were both working full-time jobs at the time and she was being left alone at least 9 1/2 hours a day for 5 days per week.  Lucky for us, our work status changed and we could spend more time with her after about a year or so after this started.  At the time when this problem was most severe for Corey, Dr. Speer was treating Corey with a pain-killer [I don't remember if he specifically determined what was causing her pain] and probably what amounts to a mild, avian tranquilizer.  They were both liquid solutions.   I don't remember specifically the names of those drugs.  These drugs [and spending as much time with Corey as we possibly could and trying to do everything to reduce her stress] we managed to bring her feather destruction habits under control.  If you look at her pictures now, she looks fine:  fully feathered.   I have heard of some avian vets prescribing drugs to control hormones in female Greys but we never had to do that.  Corey has never shown any interest in laying eggs [even though we know she is a female].

Over the following years, whenever it looked like this problem might be coming up again we tried Kings Cages Pluck No More.  This probably doesn't work for all Greys but it did seem to help Corey.  Fortunately, we haven't had to use it in the last 10 years and that might be because Corey has us so well trained to take care of her in the way she needs to be cared for.  Here is the link:

https://kingscages.com/pluck-no-more/

As other people have written, it's good you are seeing a vet but you probably know that you need to see the correct vet [an avian specialist].  I wish you the best of luck.   Best, Terry

Thanks for the well wishes!

I'm a part time teacher at universities here. We've been teaching online for the last year and a half, so I'm with her for most of the day, but her plucking has not gotten any better. In fact I feel it's getting worse. 

She plucks mostly at night in her sleep cage especially after I've cleaned it. Should I just leave all her feathers in there?

I'm not hopeful for any medication for her from the vet. Medication for people here isn't great. My friend broke his leg and needed major surgery on it. They were giving him aspirin for pain at the hospital. 

Edited by phangtonpower
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I see that you do have a sleep cage and I think that is good.  We changed Corey's sleep arrangements when I realized that the night time was hardest for her.  I think it has to do with the fact that birds, when they sleep, are very vulnerable because they can NOT fly to get away from danger.  This is generally all birds, not just pet birds.  I could be wrong but I think it's a built in fear/behavior instinct that most birds have.  So, the first thing we did was create a "night time" cage for her in our bedroom.  I have a sense over the years that Corey clearly did want to be with her humans at night.  Except for the very front of her cage, we cover all the other sides of the cage with towels.  And we keep this cage very clean:  vacuum out all the dust and any feathers [not when she is close to this cage].  However, if changing your Grey's sleeping cage is bothering your Grey, I would trust your instincts. Then, we have a low night light in the hall [probably 8 feet from her cage].  I think this is also important so she can look out and see that she is safe.  The other thing that I think helps our Grey is giving her showers.  Luckily for us, she trusts my husband and goes willing to him [on a basket] when he showers. [She probably gets up to 1 or 2 showers/week].  He puts her under the shower spray until she's very wet and then hands her to me to be dried off.  She used to let me gently dry her with a hair dryer but now she will only let me towel her off before I return her to her cage.  We do this during the day when it's still warm in the house so she doesn't get chilled. 

You might try to order the "Pluck No More" product from Kings Cages.  Hopefully, they will ship to your location.  If that doesn't help, you could consider contacting The Medical Center for Birds in Oakley, California and seeing what they would recommend.  I know that most Vet hospitals are busy but they might tell you what they would recommend in your situation.  Maybe your Vet could obtain and prescribe what the Medical Center for Birds recommends.  It's worth a try.  You might need to push because sometimes the only way you get what you really need is to be not only informed but also kind AND insistent. 

I do think it's worthwhile to try to reduce stress for your Grey.  I know this is not easy.  We have a small space that we take Corey to play.  It's private and quiet.  She asks to go there by saying: "See Your Box" and she calls to us when she wants us to come back to her regular cage or other places in the house.  I know that you do not have a lot of space but maybe you could find a closet your Grey would like.

One thing that gave me ideas of how to engage our Grey was watching YouTube videos of an African Grey called:  Einstein.  Einstein and his family live in Texas, USA and they frequently film Einstein going about his life.  If you searched on "African Grey, Einstein" in the YouTube search bar; I bet you would find videos.  I am sure people will point out that Einstein also displays effects "feather destruction" behavior but I think Einstein's humans do a good job of living with him. 

Continue to try different things:  slowly and methodically [one at a time].  Introduce things slowly.  Greys do not like a lot of change in their life so you have to move slow. 

I really hope that something I wrote can help you and your Grey.  Greys are amazing creatures and they deserve the best chance of a quality life.

 

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I just went to the Medical Center for Birds website to get the advice they give to their clients on feather damaging behavior and feather care and attached the two articles. 

 

Peko looks very good in your video.  I'm very impressed that you can get Peko into a harness!  No way could I convince Corey to let us do that. 

Feather Care 2018(1).pdf Feather Damaging Behaviors 2018.pdf

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8 hours ago, terryspear said:

So, the first thing we did was create a "night time" cage for her in our bedroom.  I have a sense over the years that Corey clearly did want to be with her humans at night.  

We moved our Huey and GreycieMae into our bedroom as well.  Greycie used to have night frights all the time.   We could hear her thrashing around in the birdroom.   Stressed me the hell out.   When we moved into our new house, one of the deals I cut was Greys in the bedroom since it's so big.   She sleeps on a ladder and he sleeps on a rolling perch.   Not a single night fright in a whole year now.

 

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14 hours ago, terryspear said:

I just went to the Medical Center for Birds website to get the advice they give to their clients on feather damaging behavior and feather care and attached the two articles. 

 

Peko looks very good in your video.  I'm very impressed that you can get Peko into a harness!  No way could I convince Corey to let us do that. 

Feather Care 2018(1).pdf 68.58 kB · 0 downloads Feather Damaging Behaviors 2018.pdf 114.39 kB · 0 downloads

Thanks for the links. 

I feel her sleep cage maybe too small so she thinks that it's a nesting box. Funny thing is that this is a standard sized cage for Japanese and was almost $400

999-7778.jpg

We had to import our main one from the states. 

I actually take her into the shower with me everyday. She only likes misting bottles and she'll fly down from her perch to the window sill when she wants a spray down, which is not often. But I read some where that spraying them everyday helps with plucking. Maybe one of the reasons pluck no more works for some? I'm trying to spray her a couple times a day. I don't get her totally wet, but enough to get some moisture in. 

Again thanks for replying and I'll do my best!

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Here's another thing to think about:  could Peko have developed some food allergy?  We had always heard to move our Grey to pellets and the best pellets were Harrison's.  I think Corey did not do well on Harrison's pellets.

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8 hours ago, terryspear said:

Here's another thing to think about:  could Peko have developed some food allergy?  We had always heard to move our Grey to pellets and the best pellets were Harrison's.  I think Corey did not do well on Harrison's pellets.

Not sure about food allergies. I'll admit she doesn't have the best diet.  We do give her fresh fruits and veggies everyday, but she only picks out what she likes, so we've trying to do chop the last few days, She still picking out what she likes though. At least she has to dig around it so it keeps her busy. We do also give her harrisons. She eats eat it if she doesn't like in her fresh foods bowl. Harrisons is really expensive here and I have no idea when they'll stop carrying it. 

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There are some cooked mixes like Birdie Bistro and Higgins Worldly Cuisine that Timber likes. He will NOT eat a pellet under any circumstances, I've tried them all. Also, I keep a quality mix of seed available. To some, seed has a bad name, but as Dave007 (one of our valued members who had a lot of experienced but has passed away) said, seeds are a natural part of their diet. I mix safflower seed, hemp seed, a few sunflower seeds along with some nutriberries from LaFeber in Timber's bowl all day. They also have the advantage of not having to be changed every few hours. You can also feed boiled egg white and occasional helpings of lean meats like boiled, baked or roasted chicken.

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8 hours ago, Timbersmom said:

There are some cooked mixes like Birdie Bistro and Higgins Worldly Cuisine that Timber likes. He will NOT eat a pellet under any circumstances, I've tried them all. Also, I keep a quality mix of seed available. To some, seed has a bad name, but as Dave007 (one of our valued members who had a lot of experienced but has passed away) said, seeds are a natural part of their diet. I mix safflower seed, hemp seed, a few sunflower seeds along with some nutriberries from LaFeber in Timber's bowl all day. They also have the advantage of not having to be changed every few hours. You can also feed boiled egg white and occasional helpings of lean meats like boiled, baked or roasted chicken.

She really loves edamame and corn. We're trying to cut back on that. We also used whole peanuts as rewards. We've been cutting back on that too, cutting a peanut into smaller pieces. Everything seems to be working. They also sell super grain packs that you are supposed to mix into rice when you make it for people. It has things like hemp, quinoa, beans, etc. We've boiled some of it by itself and mixing it into the chop. So far so good. Yesterday I also found hemp seed. It feels like she's taking to the new diet ok. We've tried giving her nutriberries like snacks to her in the past with no luck.

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