Ask Lafeber

Question:

May 21, 2020

Plucking Grey


My 30 year old female CAG feather plucks. Vet has no suggestions but worse she screeches for attention and hates the fact our grandkids moved in during the pandemic.


Answer:

Hi Norma,

If the plucking started after the grandkids moved in, then this was most likely the cause. It is certainly the cause of the unwanted screeching. If she was already plucking, then you might want to seek a second opinion from a Board Certified Avian Vet as there are tests that should be run.

As far as the screeching goes, she is understandably upset. Her world as she sees it has been turned upside down. This is an issue a lot of people are facing right now with pets and kids home all the time. It is important to have rules and to set boundaries for the kids. If just seeing them is upsetting her, then maybe she would be more comfortable in another room. She shouldn’t be shut away, but it can help to have a “safe” room for your pets right now, where the kids aren’t allowed. Screeching should generally be ignored, but if she is doing this only when the kids are present, then you can gently tell her you know she is upset and take her to her safe room. Give her a treat and turn on a TV or radio or some music. When she is quiet, give her some attention and if the kids are settled, try taking her back to her regular spot. But the kids need to cooperate, assuming they are old enough to understand – use inside voices only around the bird, no running or horseplay, etc. Explain that it scares her and instead teach them how to talk softly to her and how to reassure her. Kids are generally sensitive to something like this if given the chance to be.

While this may be a temporary arrangement, the bird can’t understand this and she could develop behavioral issues that will be hard to break – such as her current screeching. I’m going to give you a couple of links with great reading on bird behavior and dealing with screeching and other issues.

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Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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