Saturday, December 5, 2020

Yes, I'm a Feather Picker

 


This post is written to answer questions and concerns regarding Einstein's feather picking issue and is not intended to address or diagnose feather destructive behavior in other parrots. If your parrot is having feather issues, please consult with a certified avian veterinarian to first rule out any physical causes. 

Thank you for your concern. Feather picking is not uncommon for African grey parrots and other parrots as well. The reasons they pick are not fully understood. It is an issue that has never been scientifically researched and at best has only been hypothesized. 

Some of the hypothesized reasons cited as causes for feather picking are:

1. Disease - Let me assure you Einstein is not sick. He has regular annual visits to a certified avian veterinarian. A complete examination with complete blood work is performed each year. In April of 2023 we had a CT scan performed. The results were excelent. No indications of arteriosclerosis or arthritis.

2. Poor diet - Einstein has always been fed a wholesome, organic diet of fresh vegetables, cooked whole grain, and beans in addition to a pelleted avian diet.

3. Abuse or neglect - We've had Einstein since he was 3 months old and he has never been abused or neglected.

4. Boredom and/or stress - Einstein is kept entertained with new and fun toys. We never force him to do anything he doesn't want to do and have trained him using positive reinforcement methods. He is allowed a lot of time out of the cage when we are home. He is allowed to play with toys, talk, or just "hang out" with us. He gets fresh air and sunshine on his screened-in porch when the weather is good and has access to full-spectrum lighting. Also, we give him regular aloe water showers.

5. Habit - Our avian vet believes Einstein feather picking is a habit. Einstein has been doing this for a very long time. To my memory, it started in 1999 with picking the downy feathers only at night. For the first 10 years, it would be seasonal. He would only do it in the spring, sometimes in the winter. He would also change the location of picking on his body from year to year. There was a time when his back was completely bald under his grey feathers. Then he allowed those downy feathers to grow back and he would pick under one wing. He would allow those to grow back. Then the next year, he would choose another place. 

Einstein doesn't pull feathers that have grown out. The feathers molt naturally and he allows them to grow part way. He pinches the base of the new feather, cutting off the blood supply to the growing feather. Then he plucks them out. With each successive molt, he has not allowed any new feathers to re-emerge on his neck, chest, and the spot on top of his left-wing. He is also picking his wing pits and his left hip. What you see on his belly is the result of the damaged feather follicles. Those feathers will not grow back. There are still many viable grey feather follicles, but not enough for his belly to be fully feathered again. 

The various veterinarians Einstein has seen have had no explanations as his exams wouldn't reveal anything physical. One vet told us that he would probably quit on his own. Sadly that never happened for an extended period. 

Things we have tried:

A humidifier to increase room humidity, increase showers, installed UV lighting, increased his sleep time, played rain sounds for him at night, provide a night light, moved his cage to a new location, covered his cage at night, uncovered his cage at night and offered chamomile tea.

We've also allowed him to sleep on his play perch in the bedroom with us from time to time. He's very happy sleeping on his play perch. Sometimes, I will wake during the night and hear him picking. I'll walk to the bathroom as this interrupts him. On my way back to bed I stop and talk to him. (The last thing anyone should do is give attention to a parrot that is picking because the attention you give is also a positive reinforcer.) His body language would tell me that he wanted scratches from me, so I'd bring him to bed to "cuddle" with me. (I am wide awake and there is no danger of me falling back to sleep at this point with him in bed with me.) He perches on my knee, while I sit up in bed. Then, after a while, I put him back on his perch to go back to sleep. I'd wake up the next morning only to find downy feathers and picked feathers. 

We have tried 2 different Avian CBD oils. CannAvia and HempWell. Neither helped. My vet told me she had a cockatoo as a patient, whose owner gave large doses daily of CBD and it had no effect. The vet explained to me that there just aren’t known dosage requirements for parrots. Our thoughts about collars, cones, or sweaters are that they can cause too much stress. They should be used in extreme cases when the parrot is causing wounds.  Drugs are also not recommended because it is a temporary fix, they begin again when taken off the drug.

We've been told, that parrots may get a release of endorphins when feather picking. Recently, we've learned that feather picking may be rooted in the early developmental stages of a young parrot. If they are not allowed to fledge properly or taken from the nest box too soon, particularly before their eyes have opened, they may be more prone to feather picking. Both of these theories have not been studied and verified. In 1997, when Einstein was hatched, his breeder did tell me she takes the babies from the nest box before their eyes open. This was standard practice at the time.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. We will never give up on this issue and hope that someday it will be resolved as more is learned about these amazing birds. Truth be told, they were never meant to live life in captivity and all we can do is love them, care for them, and protect them the best we can.

Marcia, Jeff, and Einstein (aka The Red-butt Chicken!)

81 comments:

Unknown said...

Thank you for the explanation . I never knew there was such a problem with feather picking. Very informational. I love watching him and hope that he has a long life.

Gary Freeeman said...

We have the same trouble with Toni Bird. 18 year old Africa grey.

Unknown said...

Hi,
I have a very intelligent African Gray (Sweetness)also. When I adopted her she had no tail feathers and was pretty bold. Over the past 15 plus years she has grown a full tail and many of her feathers have grown back. She still picks, but not anything like she did before.
She is very intelligent like Einstein! She is amazing. She has conversations with us, knows exactly what she is saying. She is one of God's miracles.

Gilda said...

I so hate this for Einstein. I have a green cheek conure who is 3 that has started plucking his chest. Vet says he is perfectly healthy. I have another conure he is bonded with so he is not lonely. IDK what to do to stop him and it breaks my heart since I know there is something wrong causing this behavior and I cant help him. I hope someday someone will figure it out for the picker's sake.

Unknown said...

The only thing I have noticed in the videos with Einstein is that a lot of times he has that posture where he Jitters his wings and lays flat that is a Body Language sign that he not want to be where he are at that time it's usually an anxiety type of thing and as for that vet that said he will stop on his own that cracks me up sometimes they do but most of the time once a bird starts plucking they will keep doing it unless the cause is found and corrected but the sad part is there are as many reasons for plucking as there are birds and sometimes even correcting the cause of the plucking doesn't even do anything sadly

Unknown said...

Hi guys ,love from Kev, Ellen and Charlie (the African Grey) we are from Scotland and have been following you for a while now, the blog on feather picking relates to us very well as Charlie is a feather picker and does all you have described ,and he rotates his plucking if that makes sense ,last month he started under his wings ,then his next molt ,his shoulders ,then back to his chest ,so it does make sense and he has done it since he was a chick apparently . Charlie is 11 years old we have had him 3 years and rescued him from a home which couldnt take care of him anymore due to work commitments , he is now very settled and is a full part of our life,and is very loved ,Thanks for all you do and love from all of us in Scotland regards Kev Ellen and Charlie

Unknown said...

Thank you for the detailed data and advice. I have about the same problem. Sometimes it seems to help if they have a companion in the vicinity. The worst picking on my Jacko's breast is mostly at the beginning of the winter season when the central heating system goes on again. Greetings from Flanders, Belgium.

Anonymous said...

You should try actual thc. birds talk better and some live longer

Unknown said...

It will never make any difference if Einstein has feathers or if he doesn't. Einstein will always be a special bird in our hearts. I just love your bird, he is so smart and so darling. Thank you for informing us And knowing that Einstein has a beautiful life, so now we know, plucking can happen any time. There is science in that.

Cheryl K said...

Some members of the Facebook group Simply Parrots have mentioned using Avi-calm, which I believe is a tea, with varied success.

Unknown said...

Dear Marcia, Jeff and our Red Butt Chicken we love you beyond words and you bring joy and smile on our faces even in the worst time of our lives. As father of 6 month old red button chicken who I got when he was only 25 days old...I know you guys have done amazing work with Einstein. My experience with Parrots says that sometimes they need covered or cozy place to sleep and night to feel secured and rest both feet on flat surface than on perch.I put mine in Cat sized pet carry bag to put him to sleep which almost replicates feeling of sleeping in the hole of tree for him. May be that will help him stop his night time plucking habit. I am sure might already tried that also... But birds being naturally afraid of predators this sleeping arrangements helps when they are fully covered and cozy in small place to sleep.

Lots of love to you lovely couple and your Red butt "everything" Grey. ๐Ÿ’

Unknown said...

Hi, Marcia I read that complete article in your voice in my head. I’m so used to hearing you talk about Einstein that it came naturally. Thank you for posting it, they are interesting and complex animals. Thanks to You and Jeff for sharing your boy with us. Seeing him enriches our lives.

Paula P said...

I also have a wonderful grey who is the light of my life. She also plucks and in doing so has damaged under her wings. I took her to the university vet school and had the "workup." We did finally use a round fishbowl style "necklace" and the area under her wings has healed. She can still reach some areas but does not injure her skin. She can easily get to her food and seems happy. She lets me touch under it and enjoys that gentle touch. It can easily be taken off and is lined with a very soft cushion where it meets her neck. She always kisses me after I do her daily wing and neck check. PaulaP

Anonymous said...

Hello! We have had a monk parakeet for many years, and he was a serious feather picker. But he was alone, and had poor feeding for years (my mom gave him coffee, potato chips, and smoked in the room). He was our pet when we were kids, but we grew and moved, and he got very lonely. Afterwards, I moved him to my own house, with my 2 amazona aestiva, and changed his diet. I noticed that my female amazon grew very fond of him, and "organized" his head feathers when they were growing (the little tubes fase). His feathers started to grow better, and before he died (of old age), he had his full wings back, and was flying again. Just to tell our experience, when he was with others, even much bigger than him (the amazons are very much bigger than the monks), he started to behave more like a bird, and got better. The other birds distracted him from the feather plucking habit. Other thing that we have notticed is that the little tubes of new feathers itch, and only the company of other birds grooming each other seams to help in that changing feather fase. Hope our experience can help in some way. Best regards from Brazil! Daniela

Anonymous said...

Mine mutilated to death, was awful.I cried months

Anonymous said...

Hang in there, guys! I have two greys, both rescues. One is a feather chewer, one is not. The best things we've found to help the chewer are to switch her off of pellets with dyes and artificial vitamins (I recommend TOPS), and to give her lots of other things to satisfy that chewing (she prefers fabric, paper, and leather). Einstein is a very well loved and well taken care of birdy, and is blessed to call you HIS!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you do everything possible and nothing works. You and Einstein make a super, super pair. The love you exude for Einstein is so very evident. His love for you is also evident in all your videos. We so look forward to Einstein live every Sunday on YouTube.

Unknown said...

I have a 17 year old conure who is also a plucker. Mostly seasonal, but she can't help herself and I believe it is habit because she is otherwise healthy and happy as a clam. Its like fingernail chewing - very very hard to stop.

Unknown said...

Hi there Einstein! My name is Gizmo and I have a lot in common with you! My hatch day is the same as yours and my owners hatchday is the same as yours too! I'm a hen and I fuzz my chest. Marcia said that's called barbering. I've done it all my life. Sometimes I get a bare patch on my chest because I pluck those thinking I should line my bag with them. Since I am a hen my owner has to be very careful during the spring and summer. I get extra almonds and vit C drops. Sometimes I lay eggs but I've never had issues because I get the extra calcium I need for the shells to stay strong. If I do lay eggs, I always do three, then I stop. This egg laying business didn't start until I was a late teenager. I was supposed to be a male!! But you know how that goes... My owner didn't need a DNA test when I laid that first egg!

I think I barber my chest feathers if I have to sit in my cage too long. It's just a habit from being bored. I get to stay outside my cage unless my owner is gone to the store. I have a box inside brown grocery bags. It's on top of my cage. I get to keep it even when I'm hormonal because if you take it away I get very anxious and fly around the house too much.

Ok, I just wanted to say hi and I watch you all the time in rewinds. You and I sound alot alike when we make noises, especially our water noises. Us grays have to stick together, we pluck because of what your Marcia says... We aren't meant to be captive and put in cages. But at least we live in good homes.

Adrian Poesiat said...

Thank you Marcia. It seems like you’ve tried everything.

Nina Mule' Lyons said...

Awe so sorry. We would love him with no feathers. He is the dearest bird. I’m sorry you are all in this mess. Saying a prayer for all of you.

Felicia said...

Our African grey Abby is also a feather picker. Ten years ago her previous owners gave her to us because they couldn’t “cure” her. But she is the sweetest creature I’ve ever had. She loves people—comes to greet visitors, follows us around the house, and hangs out with my husband in his office when he works from home. Her baldness has become part of who she is and she’s so endearing. I feel the same way about Einstein. Hugs to you and Einstein.

Ruth Howie said...

Thank you Marcia and Jeff. I had thought maybe it was when you got flooded out maybe he was a bit stressed with that but if it's been happening since 1999 that rules that out. As you say it could be a habit. A bit like humans biting their nails. He's such a sweet bird and a credit to you both. Love watching his antics and his cheeky ways.

Mike said...

Thank you Marcia mouse

Shazia said...

It breaks my heart to see my African grey's feather less chest. Malibu is so intelligent and she knows what is she talking and how to respond. She is very affectionate also very territorial. I tried everything to help her out but nothing works. Day by day bald patch is increasing. I don't know how to help her. she is loved, cared and given ample time out of the cage. Even so that she chew all wooden doors fames of my living room, side board, sofas and chair and still we don't want to cage her. She is a very very picky eater, we offer her fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, pellets but she would only eats if she feels likes or rather stay hungry without even touching her favourite food at times.I try giving her supplements too. I have no clue what to do.

Anonymous said...

Man, you are a great parent! I lost a brilliant grey in a divorce and last I knew he was ok. I worried about plucking, its so common. Good work, it's obvious you love Einstein!!

Sunshine said...

Yur are great parents.. Jeff Marcia.. Einstein is so blessed to have u people . I have doubt on this feathers missing on his belly chest. Because of full concern of this beautiful brilliant bird. God bless you too. Love that red butt chicken ๐Ÿ”

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this information:) It seems as though many birds in captivity suffer from this. Humans do as well....and one of my cats chews his fur too!!
I appreciate all you do for Einstein ๐Ÿ’•

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately we should not keep these birds in captivity...I have had mine since he was 6 weeks old and he is now 34 and seems very healthy but he also plucks his chest and does not want to come out of his cage. He is a good talker is on a good diet of soak beans, pellets, some seeds along with nuts and fresh veggies along with fruits.
The real problem is they outlive us then what happens. I don't think we should keep them in captivity due to their outliving their owners.

Anonymous said...

Hi there. My African grey turned 7 and my baby's story is exactly as Einstein. Aloe water is currently best but I might add, and I know some may get upset, but warmed cooking oil did the trick for us. And it was all by accident.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to explain everything and educate everyone

Jonas said...

Thanks for the feedback of Einstein. It can be related to that preening look like plucking if you aren't paying close attention. It can also be to groom themselves since it's natural for wild birds as well.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the explanation and hopefully someday he will stop, but all long as he's happy and healthy, that's what counts.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. It was interesting to read. I will probably not be able to have or own a beautiful precious bird like Einstein because I don't have the money to and live in an apartment. I still like to learn about them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the very informative answer. We know Einstein is so well taken care of. Let’s hope he stops this habit one day! He can be thankful for so much care and concern from his owner❤️

Anonymous said...

Animals with behavior problems is a tough issue I feel Einstein may have been taken from his Mommy way to soon it really bugs me when people are more interested in the money they'll be making than the animals their selling thank you for letting all of us know about his early and present life as well he is a very beautiful and fortunate bird to have you and Jeff in his corner and I love the red butt chicken lol

Anonymous said...

My parrot plucked before i got him. Hes never plucked a day since hes lived with me (going on 5 years i believe now?) He has a buddy bird in his room and i keep a super same routine for him. (Not so much for my other african greys). I truly think some birds just dont handle socializing and change as well as others. I keep new toys outside his cage until he shows interest. They can be so much like humans. Some take vacations. Others sre content living their lives going to the same small town coffee shop and not adventuring out as much. Thats my theory anyway.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for explaining this for people like me who just wanna know. I love Einstein so much. I can't get enough of him. You are so lucky to have him. Bless you all... gotta go now to see what Einstein is up too lol

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to explain his plucking. I have a happy healthy almost 2 year old female Eclectus that started plucking a little over a month ago. She has seen an avian vet and got a clean bill of health. She has a wonderful life, healthy diet. She is the queen of our castle. I have done all the things too. Hemp oil, red palm oil. Aloe baths. She seems as happy as ever but it is definitely taking a toll on me. It brakes my heart and makes me feel helpless.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have tried it all. He seems happy and that is most important. Blessings

MajesticWolf123 said...

Einstein, you are so loved by Marcia and Jeff!

Anonymous said...

I guess that leaves prayer. God loves His creation and He loves you Einstein, and so do we. We release Love to you Einstein and displace all and every anxious thought and declare Shalom Peace to your body. You are perfect just the way God made you. Nothing is missing. ❤

Anonymous said...

Our 55+ wild caught male amazon selectively plucks too. One of his vets at university of tennessee suggested that the downy chest plucking may be creating a brooding patch. He to is happy healthy and well adjusted.

Anonymous said...

My African grey is 10 years old. Just this past summer she has started to pick feathers under her neck. Not bare, but it is fuzzy. Lol. She used to scissor her wing feathers but that habit was stopped. Like you, she is happy and healthy. And I love her no matter what her habits are. (I bite my nails. She forgives me for that habit!)

Anonymous said...

I have kept birds for many years. One thing I notice is that birds in the wild do not pluck their feathers. I wonder if it has something to do with the loss of their flock. Birds are noisy gregarious creatures who seem to thrive in groups. I have a 60 year old Moluccan who had been kept in substandard conditions with multiple owners but he has never plucked but he could be quiet aggressive when I first adopted him. Maybe the emotional makeup may predispose a bird to plucking. For example us humans may have anxiety attacks and a bird might pluck. Unfortunately it is very difficult to observe this as birds cannot converse with us to that degree. I have watched Einstein before the plucking was noticeable he always seems comfortable and interacts with his humans well. I know this makes the birds owners feel guilty but until they can have a good conversation with us I guess we may never know.

Anonymous said...

Hello ,please can uou explain the aloe water?

Cari said...

My male African Grey is 22 years old. When he was young he used to pluck the down feathers on his chest. We tried multiple “cures.” Our bird breeder suggested we add a baked chicken leg with skin removed to his diet every day even though he had a very healthy diet. It adds protein and some fat to his diet. He loves to pick at the leg, eats a little chicken and all of the bone marrow. This stopped him from feather picking.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this explanation. It clears up quite a few of questions I've always sought answers to. Give Einstein a hig from us.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing he is such a beautiful bird and Marcia and Jeff are such good parents!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for you explanation. I love watching and hearing Einstrein

Daniel Stevens said...

I have one bird that I got from a rescue she was 14 years old. Plucks her chest. She's 21 now.
I've heard of bird lights that suppose to help(basically the same as reptile lights but larger)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the information & everyone's comments. Love you redbut!

Anonymous said...

I have a rescued Grey, Fred, that is about 30 years old. We have had him for about 25 years. He was more than halfway plucked when we saved him. He had already mutilated his wings so he can never fly again. We tried everything. Then about 10 years ago we took in a very young handfed cockatiel that was going to be taken to the humane society. We named him Bubba. Fred LOVES Bubba. He completely stopped plucking about a year later. No plucking at all. All feathers grew back. Einstein needs a Bubba to love.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone tried colloidal silver??????

Einstein Parrot said...

I would consult with an avian veterinarian before using colloidal silver.

Anonymous said...

My African Grey is around 40 years old and doing great. We are his second or third owner. He doesn't do excessive plucking. He is bold and not afraid of the dogs. We cage him between the kitchen and living room so he feels like he is with us at all times. We share everything wwe eat with him as a treat. We call our Italian bird

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the perfect explanation that answers all my questions, even the one we hadn't thought of yet
P.S. If you want to learn a new word, I suggest you:
Je T'aime
(Which means: I Love You)
Kisses Kisses to Einstein
Magali, From Quebec
Bisous ❌️๐Ÿงก๐Ÿงก

Unknown said...

Hello.....Just food for thought,
For almost 18 years , Einstein was called 'good girl'. After finding that She is a He, he isn't called ' good girl'.
I wonder if this may have an emotional affect....and possibly attribute to feather plucking over time.
He lost an endearment that's he's had since infancy.

CollectiblesCat said...

Hello. I have an African Grey Parrot as well. When I got him he had no feathers on his chest and was not very friendly. I got him a huge cage that opens on top, wallpapered his room with jungle wallpaper, play jungle sounds lightly in the background, and give him green grapes with a variety of nuts that I handpick and mix myself daily. None of this changed his feather-picking behavior. Then I got another African Grey Parrot to keep him company and add electrolytes to his water. After several weeks, he no longer picks his feathers. Hurray!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

We have the same issue , we tried everything

Anonymous said...

Get him a girlfriend!

Lisa said...

I have had my Grey since he was hatched. As soon as he was hatched I went daily to the bird store and spent a few hours with him so the transition to coming home with me would not be traumatic to him. He is 15 years old and eats a very good diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, soak and boil bean mixture, plus whatever human food that is safe for him to eat along with seeds. He eats well.

On December 12th of 2021 my roommate in his infinite wisdom changed the gas fireplace logs while I wasn't home and killed my macaw and my senegal. For reasons I do not understand it missed Tango. Since then he has been plucking some feathers out. Not to the extreme but it is noticeable. I took him to the vet who did blood work and gave him an exam then they put him on haloperidol, which I had a bad feeling about. I gave it to him for a few days but he stopped eating, so I decided that it is better to have a bird missing feathers than one who is starving and took him off of it. He is eating now.

I just purchased some bird CBD and hope it helps him. Since the death of my two other feathered family members I take Tango with me wherever I go when I travel. I am praying something works for him to stop plucking. Thank you for this thread. It lets me know that I am not alone.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for sharing this

Anonymous said...

Gender identity crisis in birds?

Anonymous said...

I had a cockatoo parrot that plucked all of his feathers off of his chest. Yes it looks really sad however I know that they are very well taken care of

Blue_Lugia said...

Marcia and Jeff unfortunately don't have the opportunity to get another bird. Einstein takes up much time and he is enough to them. In order to give Einstein another bird friend they would had to rehome him and they don't want to do that. They want to take care of Einstein as long as possible.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your explanation in this! I've had a ring neck parrot and quaker parrot. My quaker would pull feathers out for a season but, he stopped. I was concerned when I seen the picture. Happy Tails Einstein and Family!๐Ÿฆœ๐Ÿฆ๐Ÿฆœ❤️

Anonymous said...

My love bird was picking her feathers to the point of bleeding. It was heartbreaking. I put her in the cage with my cockatiel and she stopped picking. Her feathers came back and they dwelt together comfortably for 6 years, until my cockatiel died - she was 21 y.o.. The love bird lived alone for another 3 years until she too died; she was a little over 10 y.o. never picked her feathers again. Perhaps they just need another bird of a feather?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the explanation. I know nothing about these birds I love to watch Einstein thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the information.

Anonymous said...

That posture is, more often than not, one that is used to beg for a particular toy or food. It is done by all birds at one time or another. It is considered normal behavior.

Anonymous said...

I can’t imagine that any bird in captivity is more loved or gets more attention than your Einstein. Moreover I know of one African Grey, and I’m sure there are many, that has lived his whole live in a cage, bites ferociously , probably due to lack of socialization, and has all of his feathers at 30 years of age. I truely hope that there will be a time that we can solve this for our beloved birds.

Kyralialuna from Germany said...

Hello! Thanks for your very detailed explanation! I never dared to ask you, but I must admit I was curious and googled it. So glad I did! I am 32years old and grew up with birds and own 6 parrots myself right now. I know it is frustrating but what I have experienced from my own, personal, individual situation is that he might do it because it is a self-reinforcing habit. When you have excluded illnesses, which you did it might be a psychological thing. It's like humans who are "addicted" to bite their nails. They do it to calm themselves. Why? We don't know. He just started doing it, when he was stressed, you said he might have been taken out of his nest too early? Might be the reason, but unless he tells you, you will never know. We had one parrot, that liked to play with his old feathers, when he was molting. But he liked it so much, that he started cracking his own feathers when he was not molting and therefore picking them out, because he liked cracking the shafts so much. And I don't think you can stop him from doing that. As long as he isn't damaging his skin, he should be alright. Best wishes ♥

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. Einstein you still look good with no feathers in front. Had a parakeet a couple of times that enjoyed plucking some of his tail feathers. He was still healthy and happy.

sandymwp said...

Our African Grey was a feather plucker.....Chumley. Loved that bird.

Anonymous said...

As a fellow bird parent, it's so hard when they pluck! The only success I've seen is putting plants (even fakes) near cages/play areas. This has helped us immensely! Who knows if he will like it or not, but I love Einstein and his videos and wish you all the best! ❤️

Mystie said...

It is probably very similar to skin picking problem with humans. It sometimes starts when someone has eczema or something and continues as a habit that is extremely hard to stop.

sandymwp said...

Chumley, African Gray, was also a feather picker. Vet care, special foods, lots of attention.....never made a difference. Great talker, friendly. Love Einstein and his antics.

Mariela said...

I had a parrot. It was a little one, not an African. I think the problem is stress. Even if you take care of them, are very social and have a partner for life. My parrot never did this, but tried, and I used to stop it by saying something. I think maybe he needs a mate, and, even when we love them so much, the captivity it's bad for them. The picking sometimes is so bad that they end up with blood. On the other hand, between the birds, are used to pick each other to take off the joint of the feathers. I used to help her to take it off with my nails, carefully, when they were there for a long time. It looks like dandruff. I think is like a social thing for them. They always need attention and it's very important for them to have silence when they sleep and the like to be in the dark for that. They also love to have baths with warm water, but be careful that the temperature is not cold outside, because they can get a cold. It's bad for them to eat meat. Some ppl say that they pick themselves because of that. I'm not a professional, but I had my parrot for 17 years. Now she's in a pet cemetery with my 16 years old cat.

Anonymous said...

Hello. my father is a breeder of birds of various species. when I remember how he always explained everything to me as a dieter, what he was doing and why, I thought of trying boiled eggs. And an eggshell. Plus sand.
Even when changing feathers, he used to add this to his diet. I don't know if you've already tried it or if you give it regularly :) I'm keeping my fingers crossed and it's wonderful that you take care of it in such a thorough way

Anonymous said...

Don't know about parrots, and just thinking aloud here, but I do know about other birds ... birds have tiny mites on their skin and in their feathers, it's normal, we have some too of a different type .. normally the number are in check. For instance tardis leave near our hair line and we need to wash regularly to keep these in check. Wondering if these birds need bathing water to play in nearby, at a time of their choice. It could also be an issue of temperature. They can't remove a jumper like we can, but plucking down has that effect... sort of get this sweater off me type of feeling,,, exacerbated by central heating systems. Id try a cooler room, not cold and a fresh bath always available and teach them how to use it. They probably never learned how to preen. And I'd use some kind of oil on their skin to moisturise... a vitamin E Rich One,,, rapeseed for instance