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Discussion Starter #1
Do you think that not mo(u)lting because of plucking can cause serious metabolism issues in the long run?
Thanks for your advice!
 

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Not sure but he could be moulting and you wouldn't be able to tell because of the plucking.
 

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Not sure but he could be moulting and you wouldn't be able to tell because of the plucking.
Sometimes I notice a little bit of fluff and some feathers (not many). I was just wondering because once I mentioned he was not moulting and enigma said that plucking must have messed up his metabolism a bit, so I was just worried that it could cause some serious disorder in the long run... :(
 

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Well, he has been moulting a bit in the last few days, but unfortunately (maybe because he feels more irritated than usual) he has also been plucking even more... :(
 

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Hi, I'm new here (but have a lot of bird experience in not only pet birds but also breeding and hand-raising, avian medicine, and avian nutrition) and I just read through your post. I have my bachelor's degree in health science\animal science with a minor in animal psychology and most of my master's in physician assistant studies along with applied animal health science, and I've recently been studying again (I'm 36 and graduated in 2002 and left school in 2004, so book wise I'm out of the loop, but have lots of hands-on experience, mostly with birds). I'm sorry your little guy is a plucker, it's an awful symptom for a bird to have, and it's so frustrating for the owner that loves their bird and wants to help them...

So I take it your bird is a male cockatiel, but how old is he and how long has he been plucking? How long have you had him (how many owners has he had) and at what point did he start plucking? Was there an event or medical problem that started it (a definitive start point) or did he just start doing it? And how badly does he pluck? Is it full body, or just a specific part(s)? Has he ever gone through his skin or self-mutilated in any other way? What does his bet say? What have you tried that has worked or didn't work?

This is without a doubt the most complex problem a captive raised bird goes through, and rarely is it simple to stop. I had a female conure that plucked from her vent area all the way up her belly and chest to her neck, and it started right after she laid the only egg she ever laid. It was like laying that egg traumatized her so much that she told her body she was replacing the egg laying with plucking, and if she ever stopped plucking she would start laying eggs again. After 2 years of trying everything I could try and spending a small fortune at 4 different avian vet's, one in NY that was a reproductive specialist, I happened to see a pack of fake bird eggs in a pet store. I bought them, brought them home, and put them in a nest I made out of a cardboard box. Either she was going to start laying again and go crazy, or something else really horrible was going to happen, or possibly this might calm her down...well she sat on those eggs for the first week constantly, and then gradually it went down to a hour or two a day. All of her feathers grew back in, less a few small patches where she had destroyed the follicles. I left those eggs in her cage until the day she died, and she was the most wonderful bird ever...

Anyway, as far as your molting question, yes the person that told you his system is out of whack from having fewer feathers to molt is correct. I'm assuming that your bird must pluck quite a lot of his feathers if it's effecting his molting, and I'm sorry about that, it's terrible to see them like that...

Compare your bird's problem to a woman that has a total hysterectomy at a very young age. She has both her ovaries surgically removed so she no longer menstruates or produces sex hormones, which triggers a lot of different body systems, organs, and glands to act as if they are older than they are. So she essentially has the body of a 50 year old woman but the brain of a 30 year old woman. She wants to do things that a 30 year old woman with lots of estrogen does, and with the same speed and endurance of a 30 year old, but her body refuses and functions like a woman that has gone through natural menopause. It's an awful situation to be in and to deal with.

So your bird's brain is telling his body to molt, but his follicles don't have any feathers to release, and it won't be triggered to grow new feathers without releasing the old ones...now assuming he still has some feathers as you said you've seen some molting, this is good because the feathers he has left will keep his system going. The problem is that new feather growth perpetuates the endless cycle of plucking, then those follicles not molting, and so on. So the key is to try to pin point what caused the plucking to begin with, address that problem, and try different solutions to stop the plucking as new feathers grow in to the small areas he can still molt. Then hopefully if the plucking continues to be stopped, the molting cycle will trigger the dormant follicles to start growing feathers again, assuming he hasn't destroyed the follicles...

"Dance Like Nobody's Watching"
 

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Thank you for your interest and your reply, and welcome to the board, Ellen!!!

Yes, my tiel is male and he turned 7 in August. He has been plucking for about 2-2 1/2 years. He just started doing it, although at that time I had to go out more often than usual and it is possible that he missed me.

I had him since he was 10 weeks (the anniversary of the adoption will be in 5 days!). He is in very good health so it appears to definitely be a behavioural problem (the vet agreed). He is a happy kid, very attached to me (he is my shadow - when I move from the chair in front of the computer to go and play the piano he goes to his new "seat" from where he watches me play even before I sit down at the bench because he "knows" I am going to play).

He is very lively and healthy, which ironically could be the reason why he plucks. He is up to something non-stop, always touching, always experimenting. He is also very curious. I give him a lot of attention. Maybe it is a mistake as when I cannot give him attention he plucks. When I play with him he completely forgets about plucking. He is so dependent on me. For example even if the door of the cage is open he usually calls me because he wants to be carried out or wants me to give him my hand so he can walk up to my shoulder. Once he is out he is more independent, although he calls me every time I leave the room.

In order to correct the problem I gave him more toys to shred, more calcium and vitamin, and I even bought a SAD lamp. A couple of weeks ago I also bought an anti-plucking spray which had no effect whatsoever apart from the fact that he doesn't like to be sprayed and every time he sees the bottle he goes mad.

He is not a huge plucker. He only plucks his neck, under his wings and sometimes his chest. If he is relaxed and "tucked in" you wouldn't even notice he is a plucker. His other feathers are wonderful, bright and shiny, which confirms he is in good health.

I love this kid to bits and would do anything to help him.

I am glad you were able to solve the problem with your female conure!
 

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Thank you for your interest and your reply, and welcome to the board, Ellen!!!

Yes, my tiel is male and he turned 7 in August. He has been plucking for about 2-2 1/2 years. He just started doing it, although at that time I had to go out more often than usual and it is possible that he missed me.

I had him since he was 10 weeks (the anniversary of the adoption will be in 5 days!). He is in very good health so it appears to definitely be a behavioural problem (the vet agreed). He is a happy kid, very attached to me (he is my shadow - when I move from the chair in front of the computer to go and play the piano he goes to his new "seat" from where he watches me play even before I sit down at the bench because he "knows" I am going to play).

He is very lively and healthy, which ironically could be the reason why he plucks. He is up to something non-stop, always touching, always experimenting. He is also very curious. I give him a lot of attention. Maybe it is a mistake as when I cannot give him attention he plucks. When I play with him he completely forgets about plucking. He is so dependent on me. For example even if the door of the cage is open he usually calls me because he wants to be carried out or wants me to give him my hand so he can walk up to my shoulder. Once he is out he is more independent, although he calls me every time I leave the room.

In order to correct the problem I gave him more toys to shred, more calcium and vitamin, and I even bought a SAD lamp. A couple of weeks ago I also bought an anti-plucking spray which had no effect whatsoever apart from the fact that he doesn't like to be sprayed and every time he sees the bottle he goes mad.

He is not a huge plucker. He only plucks his neck, under his wings and sometimes his chest. If he is relaxed and "tucked in" you wouldn't even notice he is a plucker. His other feathers are wonderful, bright and shiny, which confirms he is in good health.

I love this kid to bits and would do anything to help him.

I am glad you were able to solve the problem with your female conure!
Well it certainly sounds like your bird's plucking is linked to anxiety, most likely caused by just what you said: he always wants to be with you and wants your attention. It also sounds like he has a bit of ADHD going on in that he always has to be doing something and can't just relax. So the plucking is like a little hobby he's come up with... anxiety is a very common cause of plucking, the causes of the anxiety differ, but the end result is the same. I've seen great results from birds that pluck due to anxiety being put on a very low dose of anti-anxiety medication. You obviously don't want to sedate your bird, but you also don't want him to destroy his follicles. You may want to discuss this with your avian vet and give it a try. Just a small, daily dose usually completely stops all plucking, and once his feathers grow back in and he's not itchy anymore, you may be able to stop the medication forever.

"Dance Like Nobody's Watching"
 

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Yes, I will definitely discuss anti-anxiety medication with the vet.
I guess it is similar to nail-biting in humans (I bite my nails myself).
Spring (it is spring here) seems to irritate him more than ever, probably also because he has been moulting a bit and the pin feathers irritated him, so unfortunately he plucked them out immediately.
 

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Hi, I'm new here (but have a lot of bird experience in not only pet birds but also breeding and hand-raising, avian medicine, and avian nutrition) and I just read through your post. I have my bachelor's degree in health science\animal science with a minor in animal psychology and most of my master's in physician assistant studies along with applied animal health science, and I've recently been studying again (I'm 36 and graduated in 2002 and left school in 2004, so book wise I'm out of the loop, but have lots of hands-on experience, mostly with birds). I'm sorry your little guy is a plucker, it's an awful symptom for a bird to have, and it's so frustrating for the owner that loves their bird and wants to help them...

So I take it your bird is a male cockatiel, but how old is he and how long has he been plucking? How long have you had him (how many owners has he had) and at what point did he start plucking? Was there an event or medical problem that started it (a definitive start point) or did he just start doing it? And how badly does he pluck? Is it full body, or just a specific part(s)? Has he ever gone through his skin or self-mutilated in any other way? What does his bet say? What have you tried that has worked or didn't work?

This is without a doubt the most complex problem a captive raised bird goes through, and rarely is it simple to stop. I had a female conure that plucked from her vent area all the way up her belly and chest to her neck, and it started right after she laid the only egg she ever laid. It was like laying that egg traumatized her so much that she told her body she was replacing the egg laying with plucking, and if she ever stopped plucking she would start laying eggs again. After 2 years of trying everything I could try and spending a small fortune at 4 different avian vet's, one in NY that was a reproductive specialist, I happened to see a pack of fake bird eggs in a pet store. I bought them, brought them home, and put them in a nest I made out of a cardboard box. Either she was going to start laying again and go crazy, or something else really horrible was going to happen, or possibly this might calm her down...well she sat on those eggs for the first week constantly, and then gradually it went down to a hour or two a day. All of her feathers grew back in, less a few small patches where she had destroyed the follicles. I left those eggs in her cage until the day she died, and she was the most wonderful bird ever...

Anyway, as far as your molting question, yes the person that told you his system is out of whack from having fewer feathers to molt is correct. I'm assuming that your bird must pluck quite a lot of his feathers if it's effecting his molting, and I'm sorry about that, it's terrible to see them like that...

Compare your bird's problem to a woman that has a total hysterectomy at a very young age. She has both her ovaries surgically removed so she no longer menstruates or produces sex hormones, which triggers a lot of different body systems, organs, and glands to act as if they are older than they are. So she essentially has the body of a 50 year old woman but the brain of a 30 year old woman. She wants to do things that a 30 year old woman with lots of estrogen does, and with the same speed and endurance of a 30 year old, but her body refuses and functions like a woman that has gone through natural menopause. It's an awful situation to be in and to deal with.

So your bird's brain is telling his body to molt, but his follicles don't have any feathers to release, and it won't be triggered to grow new feathers without releasing the old ones...now assuming he still has some feathers as you said you've seen some molting, this is good because the feathers he has left will keep his system going. The problem is that new feather growth perpetuates the endless cycle of plucking, then those follicles not molting, and so on. So the key is to try to pin point what caused the plucking to begin with, address that problem, and try different solutions to stop the plucking as new feathers grow in to the small areas he can still molt. Then hopefully if the plucking continues to be stopped, the molting cycle will trigger the dormant follicles to start growing feathers again, assuming he hasn't destroyed the follicles...

"Dance Like Nobody's Watching"
Very informative post and thank you for comparing this too a woman who had a hysterectomy at a young age ... just what happened to me and I have been sick ever since in one way or the other. Same with my pet 'tiels and budgies ... it seems to rub off on them ... so I give them lots of out of cage time every day or nearly every day and make sure they get a spray bath. I want to try one of those feather sprays for them too although it is expensive.

I am thinking of buying a nest box for both species and see if that eases the feather plucking too.
 

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I am also find that starting in November they start to moult and keep it up over a few months on and off depending on which bird it is. Some spring they are in tip top condision again and ready to drive me nuts with the nesting behavior. Never knew that the space under my desk was so fascinating... I have found eggs under the desk and under my bed.
 

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Very informative post and thank you for comparing this too a woman who had a hysterectomy at a young age ... just what happened to me and I have been sick ever since in one way or the other. Same with my pet 'tiels and budgies ... it seems to rub off on them ... so I give them lots of out of cage time every day or nearly every day and make sure they get a spray bath. I want to try one of those feather sprays for them too although it is expensive.

I am thinking of buying a nest box for both species and see if that eases the feather plucking too.
I'm right there with you! I was 32 when they took everything, and at 37 now I have felt crappy every day since. It changes you, and I often feel like I should be doing things or I want to be, but my body has other ideas. Nothing seems or feels right anymore, and there are days when I go absolutely insane, lol...

"Dance Like Nobody's Watching"
 
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