Q: I have a Moluccan cockatoo that is about 14 to 15 years old. She lays five to six eggs a year, but this year she has been very emotional around that time and has started pulling her feathers. Is there any medicine I could give her to help her mellow out? I plan to make an appointment with an avian veterinarian shortly. It has been a couple of years since I had her checked.
Kashmir Csaky explains:
There are medications that your veterinarian can prescribe, such as Lupron. Lupron is normally prescribed to prevent excessive egg laying in compromised hens, and it can save a hen’s life. Some veterinarians prescribe Lupron for feather picking if they suspect that the feather picking is due to hormonal changes. They might also prescribe it for severe aggression in male parrots.
Removing the eggs can lead to excessive egg laying and egg binding. Do not remove your hen’s eggs until she decides to abandon them, unless they crack. By permitting her to sit on the eggs, she is less likely to double-clutch or try to replace them immediately.
You can reduce breeding behavior by increasing training and outings as soon as she abandons her eggs or anytime you begin to see breeding activity. Provide her with distractions. Take her to the home of a friend who is receptive to having her visit. If her wing feathers are trimmed and she is controllable, take her out for a picnic. Introduce some trick training. Get her mind focused on something other than breeding. If you do some trick training with her, you can take her to schools and do short demonstrations.
The more confinement she experiences, the more likely she is to become broody. Even if she roams the house, this might not be enough distraction to prevent breeding behavior. Also, move her cage to a different location in her room every night. Nesting birds sleep in the same location each night, and they feel the spot is safe for laying eggs and raising babies. By moving her cage around each night, she will not feel as secure about laying eggs in it.