Ask Lafeber

Question:

May 28, 2021

Ask the Vet webinar – Grey feather destructive behavior


“This is Pat and
I first want to thank you and tell everyone involved in putting this program on, how much it is loved and appreciated.

I have 2 female Timneh African Grays, one about 8 and the other about 6. Just about a year ago the older one started to shred her tail and wing feathers. Not plucking them only shredding them. Vet said she was doing that to make a nest and it was a hormonal problem. For about 6 months we did hormone shots every 3 to 4 weeks. She would let her feathers grow out so far and then shred them. I also researched and made sure she did not get any fruit or vegetables that were known to increase hormone production. Stopped the shots 3 months ago and there has been no change in her behavior, no worst nor no better. At first she was a little off balance because of the tail feathers but does OK now. My concern is that she does not have any long wing feathers to slow down or break a fall and if this continues that it might go from shredding to plucking. “


Answer:

Hi Pat,

Feather destructive behavior is a frustrating and often mysterious condition. It can often begin with a medical cause and then turn into a habitual behavior. Most cases probably have a medical cause. It is best to treat the bird medically and behaviorally. Meaning that once the medical cause is diagnosed and treated, the bird should be fitted with a collar to allow the feathers to grow back. You are right to worry about her balance. You should keep her from high places and lower her perches. You can pad the cage floor with papers or towels to keep her from injuring herself on the metal grate. I’m not certain that the excessive shredding can be attributed to hormones. I would recommend consulting with Lisa Bono, A Certified Parrot Behavior Consultant who specializes in Greys. I’ll email you with her contact information. She presents a regular webinar series called The Grey Way. Past episodes can be seen here, and she will be presenting a new episode in June.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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