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Discussion Starter #1
Please help. Am I on the right track with my poor sweet 'teil named Bell? :tiel2:

Situation:
1 year ago, friends bird watched for a week (their place). He came back... changed (loud, distrustful). Also, I have PTSD, so am not entirely emotionally stable. Bell and I can effect each other negatively. :( I don't yell or anything, but Bell can pick up on how screaming effects me, even if I "ignore" him.

He was getting better, then 6 months ago, loud/messy family members started staying in my tiny front room (where Bell is). I got terribly re-triggered. Bell seemed to follow in suit. I couldn't take it anymore. I went out of town for most of last month (until they left). At home was Bell, the hubby, and our guests (making hubby :wacko: too). When I was gone, one night he plucked out a bunch of feathers under his wings (on wing and body) & the top/middle of the outside of his wing. :cry: He picked out both new and developed feathers.

Picking is decreasing with measures below, but still happening. Aside from down, now he's only picking tiny, new, developing feathers breaking the sheath (which leads me to believe it's over-preening at this point). They're all like the upper-left in this image.


Measures I have taken already:
  • Health/Nutrition: Liquid vitamins.
  • Purchased molting/conditioning supplement seeds. (separate bowl)
  • Vitamin D! Placing him outside in the sun as much as I'm able. (from 2-5 hours most days). He loves it out there!! This has made biggest difference, I think.
  • Stopped letting him taste *everything* we're eating. (I got some bad advice early on).
  • Cleaned cage like a boss when I got home (Hubby didn't clean at all. Poop, food.. feathers present from first major pick.) Making sure to use PoopOff like... daily.
  • Changed cover. Made sure it does NOT have any sent or fabric softener on it.
  • Misting him 1 to 3 times a day with warmish water or Natural Chemistry's "Bird Bath".
  • Hormonal: Covering up for more hours in the evening. Also for naps when he's cranky. (He LOVES being covered. Silly thing.)
  • Removed his *ahem*... "girlfriend" (swing). Felt bad about it...
  • Distractions: Playing more TV and having music on just for him. :)
  • Got him a Tropical fruit & seed treat stick for him to munch on and put another cuttlebone in (he gets picky when it gets too small.)
  • Interacting with him more.
  • Getting him used to a new toy.

Things that are on the list TO DO:
  • Avian Vet - checkup, probable collar and to clip his nails (we're scared...) Worried on this point, as we're pretty dirt poor right now.
  • Mineral Block
  • Buy or build a play gym! (he's more apt to play with new things if not in cage).
  • More protein, vegetables and some fruits (again, outside of cage).
  • Switch from liquid vitamins to treat-form vitamin (I hear liquid in water promotes bacterial growth and degrades fast)
  • Slowly integrate pellets and/or parakeet mix (Currently on "Wild Harvest" from Walmart. ick)
  • Get/use Natural Chemistry's "Gnawful" (Maybe? any good???)
  • Daily schedule/routine. This one is of great concern for me, as I've never been able to do this for myself. =/

I still have a very heard time, emotionally, with his screaming and I still can't go most days without having to cover him up and put him in the other room. It triggers me, usually, in one way or another. To top things off, there is a gal who lives upstairs also has PTSD (I'm pretty sure... young and ex-military), and also does a fair amount of drugs. =/ She and her dog makes a lot of noise that sets off both me and the bird. And the bird's screaming sets her off, and then she makes more noise, etc.... *sigh* It's not a good cycle. Right now, she's taken to vacuuming like every hour. Bell and I are not a fan.

Anyway!! Any advice, corrections on my plan, etc? :confused:
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I feel bad for making my post so long. :(

Also please be kind if the answers can be found elsewhere. As an pre- over- compensating measure, I developed what you'd call a research-addiction. I'm trying to break it, as the constant research and over-thinking demolish my life, when present.
 

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I'm sure someone with more cockatiel behavioral experience than I will be by shortly to offer some great advice, to add to what you're already doing. I just wanted to offer my compassion for your situation (those must of been some horrendous guests to have you and the bird so upset). I commend you for trying to find a solution to your bird's problems. It shows you really care about him. I'll be hoping he improves. I also wanted to add that even dedicated, long-term bird lovers have noise sensitivity issues. I have five parrots of my own and I really am noise sensitive. I've had some of my parrots for over 11 years, so it's been something that I've had to manage, and I think I've done pretty well, because none of them is a chronic screamer. Being on forums, such as this one, are really great because you pick up advice that really works. One thing I do when mine are being really noisy is let them out to get some vigorous exercise (teach flying to a target, such as your arm, or, if clipped, teach them wing flapping exercises). Then I give them a shower or let them bathe in a shallow bowl of cool water. Usually, after all that, they're ready for a nap. I could also suggest an outdoor enclosure, such as a safe aviary. I have one on my covered back porch, and my birds rotate out there on nice days.
Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'll be looking into vets today. Scared about our finances, tho...

Also very sad and frustrated. He screams so much. I don't know what to do sometimes, and it's like Bell doesn't either. He wants out, but he won't step-up for me when he's in his cage. Once out and on my husband's finger, he'll step up for me just fine.

I really regret ever letting him out of my sight.

The screaming got terribly bad after we left him with friends. I don't talk to them any more, so I have no idea what they did to him in the span of that week. I only have two thought/clues on that. They said that they would talk and sing back to him a lot. When I came to get him, he sang sweetly. My friends said "wow! He's never done that before." So that means they were praising him for an entire week for screeching. But then why hasn't the behavior corrected itself in over a year? Apparently the guy also had a history of violent anger problems, so who knows on that end...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm sure someone with more cockatiel behavioral experience than I will be by shortly to offer some great advice, to add to what you're already doing. I just wanted to offer my compassion for your situation (those must of been some horrendous guests to have you and the bird so upset). I commend you for trying to find a solution to your bird's problems. It shows you really care about him. I'll be hoping he improves. I also wanted to add that even dedicated, long-term bird lovers have noise sensitivity issues. I have five parrots of my own and I really am noise sensitive. I've had some of my parrots for over 11 years, so it's been something that I've had to manage, and I think I've done pretty well, because none of them is a chronic screamer. Being on forums, such as this one, are really great because you pick up advice that really works. One thing I do when mine are being really noisy is let them out to get some vigorous exercise (teach flying to a target, such as your arm, or, if clipped, teach them wing flapping exercises). Then I give them a shower or let them bathe in a shallow bowl of cool water. Usually, after all that, they're ready for a nap. I could also suggest an outdoor enclosure, such as a safe aviary. I have one on my covered back porch, and my birds rotate out there on nice days.
Good luck!
Thank you for your kind reply. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It seems extreme, but, I wonder if it's even ethical for us to keep him...
I don't know if I can ever give him what he needs. :(

I love him and I want what's best for him. I don't know if I am what's best for him.
 

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OK. I'm not quite sure if my previous post is unfortunately insightful, or just me cycling downwards and feeling exasperated and defeated. =/ Having a better day now with him. Here's how today has run:

Noon - Cover taken off. Food, water, paper change (We work late and rise late. I'm trying to fix this.) Screaming. Wouldn't come out.
2:30 - still screaming put outside.
3:00 - still screaming. Put cover on one part of cage so he has shade if he needs it.
4:00 - STILL screaming, only now it got worse (as usual). Car sounds at 4 daily?? I went outside and sat with him. He sang sweetly and kiss sounds for a few minutes as I talked with him and read to him.
4:05 - Screaming again, even with me by him. I turned my back. Only looked/talked when he was quiet or actually tweeted/sang.
4:30 - Not working. I gave him a spray shower. He didn't like it. Right after, I brought him inside, sat the cage on the ground, opened the door and POOF! He hopped right out and has been happy and quiet (outside of getting angry at a blanket)
5:30 - flying lessons! (he's not great at it and usually acts like he's clipped). Did well to land on my finger and hand and even took single millets from my fingers as rewards. Also did step-up sets.
5:48 - Calmed down. Just climbed the outside of his cage fir the fist time, and is sitting tweeting softly on top. Grooming.

Picking update
Even when out, I'm afraid he may still be picking. While on the desk with me I only saw parts of sheaths and a few fluffs, but when he grooms, he's frantically switching from spot to spot sometimes and favoring the already picked spots. Maybe I'm just sensitive to it at the moment, though.
 

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I'm so sorry to hear of your continued issues. Is there a trusted friend or relative you could leave him with for a week or so so you can get a rest from the constant screaming. At this point, it has to be something you're focusing on, which makes it sound even worse. It's really not normal for any bird to scream nonstop like that. There is usually a cause. My Galah almost never screams but when he does it's "something." It's often a Sherlock Holmes session to figure it out. Last time, it was a feather duster than was left laying too close to his cage. Once removed, the scream ceased immediately.

Have you thought about contacting a parrot behaviorist? There are several licensed ones that are quite reputable and will do a phone consultation. I think in this case, it would be money well spent. I hope you find a solution. My heart goes out to you.
 

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Also, did you notice that after his flying lessons he stopped screaming? Proof that exercise really does slow him down on that some. I'd concentrate on giving him a lot of exercise. My birds always calm down after a lot of exercise and a shower. A bowl of warm food (oatmeal, birdy bread, warm sweet potato, etc) is good for calming them down and making them eat and take an afternoon nap. Good luck! I know you're trying.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks. Yeah, no one that we could leave him with. =( Closest person is hundreds of miles away.

Yeah, he quieted down the first time I had him fly.

7:30 - started screaming again. Did a couple of flights and put him back in his cage. Didn't do anything. Kept screaming so I took him out again after a few minutes and had him fly. After a only two tiny flights he was breathing heavy and freaked out. I listened to his breathing and he seemed to be wheezing! Very soft and high pitched like a whine. Wouldn't take treats or cuddles.

Put him back in his cage and BOOM! Back to screaming.

So I took his new toy out of his cage. No change. So I covered him up and now he's quiet.
 

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I'm so sorry you're having to deal with all of this, and wish I could help you in some way. You're doing everything you can for him, and everything I've read in your posts makes me think that you really care about him.

The only thing help I could offer is showing you this link. It has a lot of good information on stress in pet birds, and good ideas with using herbs and such for calming them down.

http://www.naturalbird.com/mcwatters/avian_stress.htm

This is the list it has in there, and I've used some of these things myself to combat anxiety. Kava Kava is great.
chamomile
passion flower
oat straw
skullcap
valerian
kava kava
lemon balm
St. John’s wort
Siberian ginseng

I think that if you two are continually negatively affecting each other's well being, you may want to consider rehoming him. Only after you've tried everything to fix the situation, of course. It's unfortunate, but if he's triggering your attacks, and nothing is working to break the cycle, you may want to consider it. OF COURSE I'm not telling you to just get rid of your birdie, I'm just trying to say that if you have to, don't feel bad.

Hope I'm not just being confusing. I'm sending good vibes your way.
:)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you! I'll check it out.

I wish that I could fill Bell's cage with bright new toys to play with, but he's just so nonplussed with anything new inside his cage. =/

I also noticed his wings were drooping and he had his flight feathers off of his back/tailfeathers. Although I'm assuming that may be because of the new feathers (that he hasn't picked) trying to grow back in. Poor guy. It's difficult trying to heal myself and him at the same time. =(
 
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