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African Grey Feather Plucking

I have a 10-month-old African grey name Paco. About a couple of months ago, Paco started plucking.

Q:  I have a 10-month-old African grey name Paco. About a couple of months ago, Paco started plucking. I have taken Paco to the vet. Paco is on a pellet diet. I give him showers and I have even sprayed Paco with 100 percent Aloe Vera Juice. I am at a loss on what to do. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Jean Pattison explains feather plucking in young African greysJean Pattison, also known as "The African Queen," explains:

Is your bird really plucking or are you just seeing an excess of feathers scattered around? Baby greys go through a soft molt at about 8 to 10 months where they lose a lot of their baby down. This is not the start of actual plucking. I always tell my clients that they have a 50/50 chance of their grey plucking. This is just what some birds do, and we love them anyway.

I have found, often times greys like private space. Greys do spend time awake at night, and I often wonder if they need little naps during the day. I think they need a place to retreat when they feel the need for privacy. I suggest that the cage be in a corner rather than on one wall, or just inside of a doorway. Coming through the doorway unexpectedly can be very unsettling for a bird. If the cage is on one wall, you can hang a towel or piece of wood on the outside of the cage so it appears to have an enclosed corner. I like hanging a wall of plywood inside the cage, as a shield from the rest of the cage. You can put hooks in the 10 inch end of the plywood and allow the 12 inches to hang down from the top of the cage near the corner. This will give you about a 10 by 10 square of private area behind the plywood screen. Attach a side mount screw-on perch, to the side of the cage in the private space. Do not use anything more confining as this, since you do not want your grey to feel like this is a nest box, and go into a breeding mode.

The proper wing clip is very important for greys. Improper clipping of the feathers can lead to feather picking or plucking. Dr. Marge Wissman has a great article on her website. At the top click on avian, then on the left click on Proper Wing Clip. In my experience this is the only way to clip an African grey’s wings.


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Reader Comments
I tried giving Tiko a bath (shower) and spraying something with moisturizers and aloe. All the ingredients are healthy, no chemicals. I give her more fresh food but nothing is helping. She's still missing feathers on her chest and legs. I bought a rolling bird stand so she wouldn't be alone on the porch. Do you think loneliness could have a lot to do with the feathers?
Mona, Brooksville, FL
Posted: 1/17/2014 7:03:45 PM
I accidentally checked international. Sorry about that.
Mona, Brooksville, FL
Posted: 12/23/2013 3:36:03 PM
I have an African Grey who's 13 years old. We had to move in to care for my mother so her cage is on the porch. Just the last few months I've noticed her legs missing some feathers. Now her chest is getting bald too. She's never seen picking at her feathers. Why is she doing this? Please, can someone help me?
Mona, International
Posted: 12/23/2013 3:34:24 PM
I have found a solution to my Grey, Albert's plucking.

She (yes,"she") has plucked her chest, neck, legs and shoulders over the past year and a half.

I won't list all the modifications I have tried. Among other things, I have tried various types of music, to no avail, then two days ago I once again went onto iTunes and browsed classical radio. I had played some very beautiful classics for her over time; she liked the music, but it didn't effect a cure for her problem.

I went to Venice Classic Radio. All I can say is she stopped and has not pulled ONE feather since I tuned in. It is streaming with no talking. The music is all beautiful, I like it too. Does this sound like an ad? It's not! I wanted to share this with every bird who suffers with this problem. Albert is so happy.
Juditha, Hope,, NJ
Posted: 5/17/2012 1:18:52 PM
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