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advice please? [Jun. 26th, 2006|12:11 am]


I have a Sun Conure named "Bird bird" that is about 13 years old. I foolishly bought her when I was 16, not knowing what I was getting myself into. The first 7 years of her life were the best. She slept in bed with me next to my head on the pillow, took showers with me, ate mixed seeds, pellets, and fruit.

Things changed drastically for her and I when I moved out of my parents house after college and into an apt. with my boyfriend. She no longer slept with me, and while I was at work my boyfriend would keep her covered because he couldn't stand her screaming. I pleaded with him to leave her cage uncovered, but he wouldn't listen. She began plucking her chest and back. A year later I parted ways with my boyfriend, but my schedule stayed busy. I was gone sometimes 12 hours of the day while my bird was home alone. The plucking continued, and I assumed it was out of boredom and stress.

I am married now and my husband is semi-tolerant of my bird. She is still plucking herself even though I try to spend as much time as I can with her. I feed her enriched pellets, fruits & veggies (though she rarely eats them), almonds, sunflowers seeds, & water in a plastic hamster bottle.
She takes a bath almost everyday. I change the water daily and make sure it is luke warm. I clean her cage at least once a week.

I've had advice given to me over the years from a Avian Vet Tech friend of mine, but none of it has really seemed to help. She plucks her back, chest, tummy, legs, and sometimes her flight feathers. She's almost completely bald on her underside. She usually plucks the feathers just as they start to bud. If the feather can emerge far enough, she will eventually leave it alone, but most the time she plucks them down to nubs or sometimes pulls them out.

Honestly I don't know what to do. Her plucking has lessened over the last couple years, but it is still bad. I look at the photos of the plucking birds in this community and realize how bad off my bird is. I don't have a lot of money and can't afford to take my bird to a specialist who is going to charge $500.00 plus, and may not even be able to help me. My husband is disabled and can not work so we are living on a very fixed income.

In my opinion, Bird Bird seems to be suffering from itchiness. She plucks all of the time, in her cage, while she is sitting on me, just after she's bathed, etc. Recently, I've noticed an odd smell to her after she baths that almost resembles a mildewing dish cloth. Is it possible she has some kind of skin fungus or mold? If so, is there anything over the counter that I could do about this without having to spend a fortune.

I'm ready to just get the credit card out, take Bird Bird to the vet, and spend whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this.

After reading several articles I realized I need to invest in an artificial sunlight source. I will also replace her bath water with distilled/filtered water.
She like to chew on cardboard tubes, swabs, paper, etc, but I read that these might not be good for her. She also enjoys chewing the shoulders out of my t-shirts, chewing a straw toy in her cage, and biting the ends of my hair off :0)

I love my Bird Bird and want to see her happy and healthy. I work out of my home now so I spend lots of time with her and I'm determined to make her whole again.

[User Picture]From: bloolark
2006-06-26 05:34 am (UTC)
I'm ready to just get the credit card out, take Bird Bird to the vet, and spend whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this.

Honestly, that's probably what you should do. And it may be way more than $500. Conures rarely pluck for behavioral reasons, and any parrot who is plucking needs to go to the vet for a thorough workup.

http://www.featherpicking.com/Vet_Tests.htm is a good link on some of the recommended tests.

http://www.featherpicking.com/Basics_of_FP.htm is also a good link.

I wish you the utmost luck in figuring out what's going on!
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[User Picture]From: winds_of_fall
2006-06-26 11:19 pm (UTC)
my birdy is a plucker too. when i got him, that's all he did. he finally has most of the feathers on his chest again.
i don't know a lot about avian diseases or skin irritants, but it's possible that the lack of feathers and her constant picking at the skin is giving the irritation as well.
since you're working from home now, i'm sure you'll be able to give her the love and attention that she's been craving. it's good that she's improved over the last couple years. perhaps now it is habit more than distress? one could only hope.
however, if there is a will, there is a way to the vet just to make sure
it sounds like you love bird bird dearly. i wish the best for the both of you
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[User Picture]From: dizzydezzy
2006-06-27 12:07 am (UTC)
Just a note, companion parrots, especially smaller ones, should NEVER sleep with you on your pillow. Unlike cats and dogs they are not fast enough to react if you roll over and squash them, and many many birds are injusred and killed unwittingly by owners who let them sleep in the bed...

Itchiness and dry skin can be a sign of a yeast(fungus) infection, and a whole bunch of different bacterial infections that birds can get, as well as just plain dry skin (from diet and environmental factors). I think the vet would be the best thing for her..
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