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Feather Barbering

weather: raining
outside: 8.4°C
mood: worried
userinfoSkippy's back from the vet and sleeping upstairs with a towel covering her cage right now.


We noticed that she'd been shredding her own feathers. This behaviour is what the avian community calls "barbering" and it's something that a lot of bird owners struggle with.

We first saw it about a week or two ago... around the time userinfoHusband Guy had successfully move both of our birds from an all-seed diet to an all-pellet diet, but it could have been going on much longer than that. She picks at the feathers underneath, so when she's sitting with her wings folded in, you don't really see it. We noticed when we saw one shredded one sticking out.

I only really saw how badly it was damaged when Dr. MacDonald stretched out her wings completely today. And it looked REALLY bad. Skippy has destroyed most of her flight feathers and a lot of her glide feathers too. We could see that she couldn't fly properly, but JEEZ.

The important thing is that she doesn't have dust mites. Dust mites can cause much itching and skin crawling which would have made her crazy.

The problem is more likely psychological though. Skippy is moulting right now. They lose a whole bunch of feathers once or twice a year and grow new feathers in. She may just be out of sorts with the diet change and moulting. All the same, Skippy is getting tested for Giardia (which could cause skin irritation), blood tests, kidney, liver, etc. done just in case. Test results should be in on Thursday. The shredded feathers have been trimmed as much as possible, she got a vitamin injection... and it's been a long day for her. =(

Dr. MacDonald said to move her back to an all-seed diet. Skippy may just be one of those birds that has a psychological attachment to her food. So, we're going back to mostly seed with a little bit of pellet mixed in and plenty of food all around her cage.

And more toys. *sigh* I'd buy her all the toys in the store if she would actually INTERACT with them. Notice I didn't say "play with them". I said "interact with them". By "interact", I mean more like "kill", "maim", "destroy", "maul".

I'd be okay if she even just ignored her toys, like userinfoSid does because there'd be a chance that she's actually doing something with them when we're not looking. But I didn't want to be spending $10 per toy when she's just going to get scared of them and have a cage fright episode. I can understand that she might be afraid of things that are bigger than she is, but when she comes out of her cage, she's not afraid of other things that are also much bigger than she is either... like my laptop and the remote control. =\

She likes to chew things up, like business cards, glasses and our couch, but she won't go near the things that were specifically for chewing. Feh.

[Update - Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - 2223h]

So, guess what? The little girl has completely stopped shredding herself. Or at least we think she has. We don't see the barbered bits of feather at the bottom of her cage anymore. She also destroyed about a quarter of this new toy I bought for her. I saw the torn off wood shavings and all the beads from one leg of it blasted all over the bottom of her cage. XD

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