Nanday Conure Forum

Message #2233. This is a followup to #2227.

Date:Monday October 25, 2004 9:27:12 pm MDT
Subject:Re: feather plucking?
Message:It sounds to me like Mr. Bird is feeling his hormones (hence the tearing up of cage papers). That might also be a little displaced aggression he is working on there with those papers. Displaced aggression is normal for such an intelligent pet. He isn't in control (no should he be while living in the human's home) of his life and it can be naturally frustrating. We are intelligent beings also and we would feel angry at times if we were held captive, even if we were given the best of foods, most comfy of sleeping spots and time to come out of our rooms and move around and explore, if we had several toys, etc...we still couldn't do everything we wanted to do when we wanted to do it (kind of like being teenagers again - many teens also feel angry). Anyhow, all parrots need something they can be boss of and something they can control and something they can beat up. My hormonal male pionus (a real pistol at times) is like this. He makes such a loud ruckus and beats the mess out of quite a few of his hanging toys. They have a lot of energy and need to burn it out of their system. If you can get Mr. Bird on your finger and hold your arm out straight at shoulder's heighth and then swing your arm back just behind you and swing it back up again (we call this bowling for birds) because your swing is similar to the swing you might take with a bowling ball). When you swing your arm down, the bird should flap while holding onto your finger. Do this a few times when Mr. Bird is in one of these moods and it should work to burn off some of that excess energy. Stop this flapping exercise at the first sign that your bird is becoming tired, starting to pant and holding its beak open. Most pet birds today don't get much exercise so you don't want to over do it with your bird if he is "out of shape". <smile>

I also see the tendency in my Nanday to have a "mini-fit" if he doesn't get his way. For example, when he is on my shoulder and he starts to nip at my bra strap through my shirt, he actually makes holes in my shirts. I cannot tell you how many of my shirts have been "decorated" in this way over the years, but anyhow, when I try to stop him and say "Hey, knock it off, stop it" he gets a little indignant and grabs my finger with a little more pressure than his usual "stop that" nips go. Sometimes he makes a sassy squawk back at me in addition to the firm nip. Knowing this, I try to prevent the situation from occuring and will let him come up when I have a shirt that I don't care if it gets holes nipped in it. So, if I were you, I would only let Mr. Bird come to this sink with you if you intend to have him play in the sink. You could let him do his playing first then let him go preen himself and dry off on the play gym while you finish business in the sink. If you know what tends to make him pick his feathers, try to avoid those situations if possible. Instead of letting him eat the candy, maybe you could give him an empty wrapper to play with while you enjoy the piece of candy that was inside. Don't let him see the actual piece of candy though because he is a smart little guy and he will feel cheated, most likely. Or you could replace the piece of candy with a piece of dried papaya and wrap the papaya up in the wrapper. Watch him closely, but chances are he isn't going to actually eat the wrapper, just tear it up and get to the treat on the inside.

This is how we modify our parrot's behavior - by modifying our behavior. It is a psychological game. <smile>

Many birds that pluck do pluck for emotional reasons, and not getting their way could be considered an emotional response, in my opinion. You are really lucky to have witnessed this behavior. Many people spend thousands of dollars, much heartache and brain-wracking as they try as hard as they can to help their vet's determine what is causing this behavior. After ruling out medical causes, finding the psychological or emotional causes can be very difficult. Good for you for being an observant parrot owner! That is just what Mr. Bird needs.

I truly hope some of this can help you and Mr. Bird, Linda.

Linda wrote:

> I am finding however that he needs much to tear- and or rip up,
> mainly kleenex and that's ok. But I've noticed over the past two days
> if I don't let him have his way, such as helping himself to a piece of
> candy (Which I don't let him), or hop in a sink full of hot soapy
> water I'm finding he once in a while appears to be preening, but in
> the next minute he'll shreik like it hurts and then I see a use to be
> feather in his beak.
> Is he feather plucking again? I hope not. He spends a great deal of
> time with us out of his cage, and we want him to be in the best of
> health. I'm also aware that the vet's next step is to put a collar on
> him to help him stop feather picking all toghether.
> Thanks for any advice.

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