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When They Pull Out Their Flight Feathers

Discuss topics associated with teaching birds to fly. Training parrots recall flight, target flying, and other flying exercises.

When They Pull Out Their Flight Feathers

Postby Scarlett O'Parrot » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:01 pm

I have a twenty year old African Grey who has been a pleasant family member her whole life. I would like to break her lifelong habit of removing her flight feathers, and your site has given me the renewed vision to tackle that kind of training.

She developed this grooming fetish the first time the breeder clipped her wings. She didn't like it. Those feather were "bad". When she was young she let them grow in to some extent, but she would eventually pick at them until the shaft broke and the feather was ragged. Those feathers were bad too. I think she can still grow them, because as she sits preening herself now, she has about 3 flight feathers and 1 tail feather. I haven't seen a fully grown red feather in ages. Otherwise she is perfectly content, likes to be handled, and seems healthy.

I guess the first step is to visit the vet. But how, oh how, can I address the habit of mutilation?
Scarlett O'Parrot
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 1
Number of Birds Owned: 1
Types of Birds Owned: African Grey "Congo"
Flight: No

Re: When They Pull Out Their Flight Feathers

Postby CaitlinRice413 » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:56 pm

It can be hard to guess what animals are thinking. My guess is that when the feathers were clipped, she over groomed them to maybe try to fix them because of how essential those feathers are. She could have been feeling a lot of anxiety over it and developed an obsessive compulsive habit of grooming them to relieve stress.

What have you tried to address the problem? Is there anything that worked for a short time, or things that didn't work? You said some of them are growing in, can you pin point anything that could be helping her stop?

I have an idea you can maybe try. Its good that you are going to the vet so maybe you won't need my suggestion. But I would see what happens if you started saving all the flight feathers that she molts and gather them together. Then incorporate them into a toy and see if she has interest in grooming them when they are not attached to her body. You could start adding other items to the toy with the feathers and see if she can wean off over grooming her feathers on her body. I would still have this sort of toy available for a while after (if) she lays off on her wings. Once she has grown out enough feathers to fly, it could aleviate the stress and replace the need to over groom. Who knows? Good luck!
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 142
Location: Kansas City, Kansas
Number of Birds Owned: 5
Types of Birds Owned: Parakeets, Illiger's Macaw
Flight: Yes

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