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Charlie chews off his tail feathers...

Posted By: charlieandme

Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 12:20 AM

When Charlie came to live with me he had one tail feather. At one point it fell out and a new one grew back. Recently he started growing another one in addition to the single tail feather, but now the new feather is no longer there... eek It was only poking out a couple of inches, but now it's been chewed off!! This can't be good. eek What would cause a 2 to leave just one feather? Is this going to make him more prone to plucking?

I wonder if he started chewing his feathers when he was left alone that few weeks just before he came to my house and now he can't leave them alone? He doesn't damage his other feathers, he seems to take great pride in them.

I'm so bummed for Charlie. I don't know why I didn't ask the original owner about his tail feather deficiency.

Any ideas?

Posted By: EchosMom

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 12:28 AM

Originally Posted By: charlieandme
What would cause a 2 to leave just one feather?


What would cause a 'Too to chew all but one? I don't know the answer to either...no one can know for sure, unless it's medically related. If medical conditions have been ruled out, then it's behaviorial, and since we can't see into their minds, we can't possibly know why.

Originally Posted By: charlieandme
Is this going to make him more prone to plucking?


Not sure I understand your question. Is what going to make him more prone to plucking?
Posted By: charlieandme

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 12:37 AM

Well the thought occurred to me that he's already chewing on his feathers, it doesn't seem like much of a leap for him to start chewing other feathers and then maybe even start plucking them to chew.

He had his blood tests and cultures less than a month ago. All good.

But he just leaves one, how weird is that? It's a little frazzled but not chewed on.



Posted By: EchosMom

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 01:03 AM

Gotcha!!

Feather destructive behaviors come in "many shapes and sizes".
There is no way to predict if his feather chewing will expand to other areas or in a different manner (chewing vs. plucking).

That is odd that he leaves just one...perhaps he's "saving it for later"?
Posted By: charlieandme

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 01:30 AM

Maybe he was on his last feather when I took him home and he stopped? Course that wouldn't explain why he's chewing new ones again. I'll bush his new tail feathers with hot sauce, just kidding

Could it be he's young, hand raised, and doesn't know how to groom his tail feathers properly? Course, again it wouldn't explain why he leaves one. Maybe the other ones grow out wrong and they feel funny unless they are short?

I really thought they were cut by the "groomer". I was told he would need to be clipped every few months or so, then I found out it's every molting. And then after reading here I read some "groomers" would clip tail feathers as well as wing feathers. So I assumed her groomer wasn't up to cockatoo standards.

There is some good news, he LOVES to be outside now! He was so afraid to come outside at first. He wouldn't let me leave his side. Oh, and the neighbor dogs were nice enough to teach him to bark.
Posted By: EchosMom

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 02:59 AM

It COULD be any one of the reasons you cited, or a combination of some/all or none of them.

We'd all like to know what others are thinking (especially our birds). And thinking is a behavior. But thinking is a covert behavior, it is the private event of the thinker. So it is best that we stop trying to figure out what the bird is thinking, and instead concentrate on what it is doing and what events (if any) trigger the behavior.

Feather destruction is very complex because we are not sure of what internal, stimulating reinforcement is being received, such as endorphins.
Posted By: Ketrel

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 03:18 AM

did you add anything to his diet recently?

move his cage?

If you can call the old owner and find out if he was chewing when he left that may give you a hint?
Posted By: EchosMom

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 04:00 AM

Ketrel, Charlie's entire world has changed in the past few weeks and it's already been said that he came into his new home with 1 tail feather.

CM, until I went back and read your previous posts, I wasn't aware that Charlie is so young - very young to have begun feather destruction. Is he flighted? What size cage does he have - did he have? Perhaps his tail feathers were broken rather than chewed initially?
Posted By: Belongs2Sammy

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 04:01 AM

Sammy was/is/was/is/was/ a tail feather chewer. One of his triggers were people gawking at him (like visiting friends/family members) that he didn't know. Another big problem was lonliness. I used to seperate my other birds from him so he could have a room to himself during the day while I went to work. He hates those birds, but until very recently I didn't realize how important just their presence was, even if all were tucked away in cages in the same room. My living situation changed and I no longer have the room to let him run free in all day, so the birds all stay in their cages in the same room while I work. Almost immediately he stopped chewing his tail feathers.

Like EM said, it's impossible to know what they are thinking, but I hope this helps you to identify triggers.
Posted By: Birdfriend

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 04:16 AM

I have a Goffin's that leaves one feather on his tail, also. He starts barbering (snipping off) feathers every November. Then he lets them grow back. He always leaves that one tail feather. It is one of the middle feathers on his right side.
Posted By: Ketrel

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 04:42 AM

how old is he?
Posted By: charlieandme

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 05:25 AM

I didn't really think I was trying to figure out what Charlie was thinking...I'm the kind of person that responds to the animal's behavior. But I can see why you would think that because I asked why would he leave just one feather. Clearly Charlie isn't the only 2 guilty of this, what a strange behavior. What in the world are thinking when they leave 1 tail feather....

I've been doing some reading, hoping to acquire some insight on this behavior. Foraging seems to play a part, we do a little of that, but perhaps not enough. I read several different ways to make foraging toys. Poking around in your archive makes me really glad I adopted Charlie and didn't buy him. whistle

Charlie is right at a year old.

I posted a video of him, his cage is in the video. I'm not sure of the size, but you know maybe the main perch is to close to the back bars.


I'm going to contact his previous owner but it's a bit complicated, so I can't just pick up the phone. I will get the information though. I'm going to write down a list of questions.
Posted By: ralphsdad

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 05:49 AM

Charlie is still really young and from what Ive seen babies tend to play really hard and tail feathers especially can be broken easily. So could charlie have just accidentally broken his tail feathers leaving just the one remaining?

Ralph used to have the exact opposite problem. All of her tail feathers were perfect except the middle one. Awhile back I left her unclipped. When she was relearning that she could in fact fly she suffered a bad landing breaking several tail feathers off. As they grew back in the middle one would start off fine and then it just kept disappearing. This happened several times. Im not sure if she was plucking it out or she kept breaking it on accident and removing it. Either way she was middle tail feather-less for months. I put a humidifier closer to the cage and bathed her more often and this seemed to help some.

It could just be that they are just really itching him and the only way can think of to relieve the itching is by removing the feather(s). Have you tried using an aloe spray to help relieve the itching of new feathers growing in?
Posted By: charlieandme

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 06:09 AM

No I haven't tried aloe. Do they have spray for birds?

You know I'm really thinking that maybe his perch position is the problem.

He showers with me about everyday... blushHe doesn't always get in the water and get soaked but he's in the bathroom almost everyday getting a good steam. I'd say he only actually gets pretty wet once a week, maybe less. It's his decision. I blow dry him until he tells me he's dry enough. And the blow dryer is some distance away so I hope I'm not over doing anything.

And I finally just read how cockatoos molt! Thanks mytoos! I've been looking for that for a while but I'd get sidetracked looking and/or reading something else and then forget.
Posted By: charlieandme

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 06:20 AM

I think I found my answers...

http://www.mytoos.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Board=5&Number=58710&Searchpage=7&Main=6636&Words=%26quot%3Btail+feathers&topic=0&Search=true#Post58710

Page 7 of the 8 that came up when I did my search. Now I have to go play with Charlie, he's talking to me.

Thanks!!!!!!
Posted By: ralphsdad

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 09:30 AM

I have seen some sprays sold to help with molting but they are basically just aloe juice and water. You can go to a health food store and buy aloe juice pretty cheaply. It has been filtered so it isnt as goopy as the stuff that comes directly from the plant. Then just mix it with water until you can smell the aloe in the water (about 1/3 aloe to 2/3 water). The mixture can then be put into a spray bottle and spritzed on after or in place of a bath.
Posted By: Lene

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 10:52 AM

My Quaker chews his tail feathers off when it's breeding time..
Posted By: ALI_G

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 08:39 PM

simon chews his tail off and his flight feathers on his wings. he also has 1 nice tail feather.
Posted By: Bokka-pooh

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/13/08 09:00 PM

Sometimes plucking, cheiwng, over preening, barbering becomes habitual and they cannot stop it themselves.

I took in a Female Mollucan who barbers her tail feathers and flight feathers. She is molting and they're starting to look bad again. But I will not clip the annoying ratyt flights or tail feathers. Im hoping in time, they'll molt in good without her botheirng them much.

We spritz her tail and flight feathers several times a day! Morning, Lunch, Afternoon(around 4), Nighttime and then around 7pm.

TOOs usuall wont preen if they are wet, this is what we have found out with our two smile

Hope this helps. Sometimes just breaking a habit AND/or correcting something that caused it helps ALOT smile

Bokka my Umbie hasnt plucked since I got him ^^ and he hasnt chewed so bad he looks tattered for a year! he still overpreens. But we're working on it. An dI've had him for almost a year and half smile

I believe someday he will stop.

Mercedez
Posted By: charlieandme

Re: Charlie chews off his tail feathers... - 03/14/08 12:41 AM

Well hopefully if he is chewing on them I can distract him somehow. I'm hopeful we can head this off somehow.
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