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Can see skin when preening

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Can see skin when preening

Postby tofu_and_tuna » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:43 pm

Hi everyone. Recently (after Christmas), I've noticed that one of my parrotlets has bald spots when she preens. You cannot see her skin otherwise, only when she's contorting her body to preen, but I wasn't able to see any skin before. How concerned should I be? The spots are around her neck and back of head. She also has began to not want to be preened by our other bird most of the time. She will back away or face her beak towards the other bird.

After Thanksgiving, we took her to the vet. Here he said there was definite molting going on, and he showed us the stress bars on her wings (our other bird also had these). Since then we've tried to mitigate the amount of stress by putting bird heaters in the cage, etc. We aren't sure in the bars are from the pet store/taking them home or something like that, because I've never seen any of the wing feathers molt, so I assume these are the same ones.

I do not think she or the other bird we have is plucking her, there has been no blood. Because of this and because the other bird occasionally bullies her (chasing) we are going to separate them for a while to see if her feathers improve.

Why did she suddenly get these bald spots? Our other bird does not have them at all, so I dont think it can be mites. What is your advice about separating birds? Is this molting or something more serious? https://imgur.com/a/qRxSm
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Re: Can see skin when preening

Postby Bird woman » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:47 pm

Stress bars in our companion parrots can be related to sickness , poor food and yes stress , medication etc.
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Re: Can see skin when preening

Postby Pajarita » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:17 am

Welcome to the forum! Going by the pictures you posted, she is either plucking herself or the other bird is doing it but, in my personal opinion, it is definitely plucking.

Now, what could be causing this?
1. Extreme color mutations [as in green birds that end up white like yours], can be a product of inbreeding and inbreeding causes not only physical deformities but also 'weak minds' and 'weak minds' are much more susceptible to the chronic stress that makes them pluck [and get stress bars].
2. If she was molting in the winter, there is something going on that shouldn't with her endocrine system -an endocrine system out of whack messes up everything in their bodies and it's also a cause of chronic stress.
3. If the other bird is a male and he is sexually frustrated [messed up endocrine system would do this, especially if added to a high protein diet], it could be him who is plucking her.

I have a male/female bonded pair of plets [Paquita is a Lucinda phenotype and Rajah is a turquoise Pacific]. I had originally given the female [which had been plucking for years] to a friend of mine with the condition that he had to find her a mate. He tried but couldn't find any to rehome so I got an ex-breeder for him. They seem to do well for a time, she had even stopped plucking but something went wrong and he started attacking her and she started plucking. What went wrong, I don't know but they had to be separated and Paquita continued plucking in earnest. After my friend died, Michael [the Parrot Wizard and owner of this site] flew down to North Carolina to pick them up and bring them to me [this friend was a moderator in this site]. They came in separate cages but I put them back together immediately and Rajah never attacked her and she never plucked so, although Wolf [the friend] claimed to have done what I am doing, maybe he was not as strict as I am because they get along very well, he never attacks her and she is now fully feathered and looking beautiful.

Now, if I had to venture a guess, I would say that the problem with plets that don't get along and/or pluck and/or have stress bars is due to inadequate husbandry. Plets, like all other aviary small species, seem to be extremely opportunistic breeders [read: they become overly hormonal and sexually frustrated very easily] so they need to be kept at a strict solar schedule with full exposure to dawn and dusk and fed a low protein diet with lots of fruits and leafy greens [they LOVE leafy greens!] ergo, they cannot be free-fed any protein food [seeds, pellets, nutriberries, avicake, etc - mine eat gloop and raw produce for breakfast and half a heaping tablespoon of a good quality budgie mix each for dinner]. My recommendation to you is to re-evaluate your husbandry in terms of light schedule and diet. Oh, and I would also get rid of that sleeping hut this time of the year and only use it during breeding season.
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Re: Can see skin when preening

Postby tofu_and_tuna » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:26 pm

Hi, can you elaborate more on point number two? I'm not sure what you mean, do p'lets not molt in winter because it is supposed to be cold or less daylight hours?

We try to have the same daylight hours regardless of season, is this correct? We also keep it around 73 degrees in the apartment and have two bird warmers in the cage. Could this be why she doesn't "realize" it's winter?

They are also both female, does this change anything in regard to breeding/hormones?
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Re: Can see skin when preening

Postby Pajarita » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:54 am

Point 2 refers to avian photoperiodism - look it up and you'll find lots and lots of studies and articles about it. It basically means that birds regulate their 'periods' [seasons] by light [meaning the number of daylight hours in the different seasons] so, if you keep them to the same number of daylight hours [through manipulation of it by artificial lights], their endocrine systems will go out of whack and get all confused not knowing when it's spring [breeding season], summer [raising season and molt] and winter [resting or non-breeding season]. I not only keep my birds at a very strict solar schedule [which requires the bird to be fully exposed -meaning, at the very least, 1.5 hours of twilight- to dawn and dusk without any interference from artificial lights], I also try to make the temperature lower in the winter [my thermostat is set at 68 and the birds are next to a window far from the thermostat so I am sure their spot gets a bit colder during the night] and change the diet, making it lower in protein, fat and general nutrition.

As to having two females instead of a male/female pair... well, I really do not have any personal experience in that with plets. For one thing, I strive [very hard, I might add] to get all my birds to bond with another of the opposite gender in their own species] and I do this because this is what nature decreed is what they need to be happy BUT, having said that, there are birds that don't mind having a companion of their own gender. I currently have a bonded pair of two female amazons of different species and they are very happy together, they preen each other, they cuddle against each other to sleep, they even have sex and lay eggs, taking turns in the nest. I've also had tiels that preferred companions of their own gender but, on the other hand, lovebirds [which I believe are the African version of the South American plets] are not happy this way and you can't put two females together or you will end up with one of them getting hurt or even killed - but you can do it with males!
Pajarita
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Gender: This parrot forum member is female
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