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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have had WiiWoo for about three years. In the last three weeks he has been chewing/preening his back feathers. I don't know what is happening because if it were a molt I don't understand why his feathers on the bottom of the cage are not the normal 'fluff' but pieces, or hairs of the feathers off the shaft, or half of a feather.

These are small feathers he's been working on. No tail feathers, no chest, no wing. Just his back.

If he is chewing them I am not sure why. Under his wings, I see rows of big pin coming in as if he is growing a brand new set of large feathers under his wings. But he's leaving those alone. What he seems preoccupied is just the back.

I'm hoping my photos will show the problem more clearly.

I brought him to the vet but the vet seems not to know if it is a bad molt or plucking. He said it would require blood tests and even then he said he wouldn't know for sure. I don't understand.

WiiWoo is eating very healthy. His feathers look beautiful everywhere else.

The only behavior problem I see lately is that he goes into panic mode if I leave his company. He literally screams. I've gotten him new toys, voices to listen to when I'm gone and lots of out of the cage time. But when he is out of the cage he only wants to sit on my head or shoulder. He won't perch anywhere. Is this hormonal?

I'd love any feedback. he is my sweet boy ;o(



 

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Flock calling is normal when you leave the room. Did the vet check for mites? Most tiels pluck due to skin conditions or mites. I do not think this is molting at all. Did you see an avian vet or exotic? I think you need to see another vet with more experience. In the meantime , there are some people who make soft bird collars that can help prevent the bird from plucking.

How much time do you let your bird out of the cage? What type of toys does he get to play with while in the cage? It is very common for a single tiel to be a Velcro bird. They are flock animals and a single lone tiel needs a lot of attention.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm not sure if he checked for mites. I assumed he looked him over thoroughly, but, there may be another vet in the area that specializes only in birds that I can take him to. This vet came highly recommended so I thought he checked him through. Unfortunately I had to leave WiiWoo at the vets that day in order to squeeze him for a short notice appointment so I wasn't in the room to see the exam.

He is out of his cage for a few hours a day, and has a lot of shred toys.

I didn't think it was a molt either as I've never seen feathers fall out this way before, sort of like he is chewing on them.

He does seem to be pulling at his toes a lot too whenever he is preening and fussing with his back.

It sounds like maybe I need to see a different vet, you think?

Thank you...I feel like he needs help.
 

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If you have a magnifying glass, take a good look at lost feathers. Mites are visiable with magnification. The skin exposed sort of looks raw , so , honestly he is biting himself for some reason. Try giving him a mist shower then take some photos of his back, to see if there are any growths or wounds, skin infections. Only a vet can treat these conditions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Will do. I have an appointment for him today at 5:30 and before I go I will look at his feathers with a magnifying glass and keep him misted. I so appreciate your feedback and will post later tonight with what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Interestingly, this second vet I saw today said that these situations are best treated through a process of elimination. That it could be a plucking behavior brought on by hormones, or an underlying condition, or an environmental change. I did get an antibiotic and also an inflammatory med. But if he doesn't seem better, all they can do is x-rays under an anesthetic and testing panel, which is very costly, so I hope it resolves as a hormonal thing. The hope is that at the worst, he started a plucking behavior that is just now annoying him as feathers are growing back in. No mites. I hope this helps others here too.
 

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Tiels are not known for plucking like their big cousins, cockatoos. Not to say it doesn’t happen, but it is usually a physical health condition causing it, like infection, wounds, mites, etc. Or if he had a stroke and has neurological problems (this isn’t likely either esp if he acts normal otherwise).

In the meantime what is his diet? How much out of cage time does he have? Does he get exercise and enrichment? Have you tried foraging? There’s some Facebook people that make really nice soft collars for tiels as well. I once saw a kind lady give one away for free that makes them. Wish I could remember who.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I wanted to follow up.

Since this plucking/chewing began I really dedicated myself to his nutrition. I admit I got busy and relied on just the pellets and the seed and sometimes vegies. I got back in the daily habit now of giving him some eggs and chicken and leafy stuff. Whatever I can encourage him to eat. Some brown rice etc. He was always a very healthy bird.

But I think I may have figured something out. When all this started, I remember I took out his big round seed bowl because he goes in there and uses it to 'mate' and his sounds were driving me nuts so I removed it. I put it back in, in my desperate attempt to get things back to normal, and it took about a week before he went back to this behavior with his bowl and he now has stopped chewing and over grooming which he was doing constantly. I think this has been a hormonal behavior and he got frustrated without an outlet?

He doesn't want anything to do with his toys as for shredding, he's in the bowl instead! He used to love that bowl before this started. But now that the bowl is back and he is doing that again, he is so much calmer. I cannot even convey how less frazzled he seems. He is not aggressive. He is not as desperate for me to pay attention to him 24/7.

He gets a few hours of out of cage time a day. More during the week. Weekends, too many people are going in out of the front door and he is flighted.

I think if he lays off the chewing of the feathers I'll just let him do this when it's the season?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Little update about the fabric collar. It is really an interesting little thing. He is on day two of wearing the little fabric collar and he spends a lot more time chewing on his leather strings instead of his back feathers. I think it will take at least two months to regrow. And then, I'll have to see if the habit breaks. He is a little depressed but it is new to him. Plus, it was so heartbreaking to watch him chewing constantly on himself.
 
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