The Plucking Series — Part 3

Winston climbs

What’s Inside Winston

Winston climbs
Winston climbs downward. There are treats in the foraging cups behind him and in the coconut hut he’s headed toward. Food is a motivator for movement.

For the third week of Winston’s case study, we’ll begin with the startling results of his blood work. His veterinarian had difficulty getting a good amount of blood for all of his well-bird workups when he had his checkup April 5. His skin was a bit yellow and the veins somewhat hidden. This was alarming in itself. Winston typically has pink skin on his adorable belly, which is the only “skin” I regularly move fluffy feathers to look at. Even his belly skin had a bit of a yellow “tint” to it that morning, which took me completely by surprise. The vet calmed me down…

His blood work came back with no elevated markers for liver problems, thank goodness! But Mr. Winston is chubby. I am embarrassed by the fatness that has crept into his body while under my watch. He had dropped 56 grams in the 15 months since his last well-bird checkup, but he still weighs 518 grams. His blood sugar level is too high—349 when a normal range for parrots is between 145 and 245, with eclectus typically hanging around the low end of that range. His protein level is a bit low—total protein is 4.1 g/dL and albumin level is 1.9 g/dL.

Needless to say, Winston is on a new exercise regimen where I encourage him to walk around the house, climb over little obstacles I pile on the floor for him, and climb along the jungle gym that hangs from the dining room ceiling. He has no qualms about digging through foraging systems for treats, so the foraging systems are part of the jungle gym he must traverse.

I’m also increasing his bath times. He loves to bathe, and makes quite a production out of dipping, splashing, flapping, and then climbing to a perch to rest before returning to the bath bowl to dip, splash, and flap some more. A good bath for Winston can last half an hour. That’s good exercise for a perch potato.

So far, Winston has gained 2 grams.

This means we have more work to do to get the fat deposits away.

We will be going back to the vet for another blood panel in a few months.

For now, the increased interactions during exercise time and extra bath times are offering a different/new pattern of enrichment. We’ll see if this increase in activity helps distract him from feather-plucking.

Eclectus feather plucking fruit with breakfast
Winston’s breakfast during week three included a wee bit of fruit one morning. Notice the world’s smallest bite of banana amid about half a tablespoon of pomegranate arils, a yellow sweet pepper, some yellow summer squash, a bite of turnip, and some dehydrated peas. In the dry-food dish, Winston’s preferred ZuPreem natural pellets, Pretty Bird natural gold pellets, dehydrated peas, about a quarter of an avicake and one nutriberry round out the morning’s offerings.

For his dietary needs, I’ve lessened the amount of pellets (not by much) offered each day. I’ve also added some beans and soaked foods into the rotation to help increase his healthy protein intake. For example, one morning I offered a heaping tablespoon of Volkman’s Featherglow Soak & Simmer mix with beans and lentils. One morning I offered a tablespoon of Worldly Cuisines African Sunset with quinoa. This was in addition to his tablespoon of chopped veggie mix or cut up peppers, etc. I keep a nice variety in the dishes for him so there’s plenty of interest, plenty of choice. My next step, courtesy of my friend CB Buckley, is to place portions of Winston’s breakfast in different areas of his cage so he must move around and stretch to get his food. I’ll report back on his opinion of that next week when I share the anti-anxiety remedy I’ve instituted as well.

Full Disclosure: I haven’t gotten the permission of Winston’s vet to share names/info yet, so I don’t want to blast the clinic’s information all over the Internet until I have clearance to do so.

4 thoughts on “The Plucking Series — Part 3”

  1. I’m following this. Thank you for sharing. I have a coming 2 year old who was flying a lot. I got his wings clipped bc I was afraid he’d get Caught in the blinds and right after he must have had a crash and hurt his right wing. He started plucking his right chest in a small patch. We got him to a vet right away and got meds and he was doing well. Then my Job changed and for 2 months, until we bought a new house and moved, I lived away during the week and was only home on weekends. He’s now plucking everywhere. I have compounded banana flavored Xanax for him but I can’t get it in Him. He hates it.

    We’re in the new house and getting unpacked and settled but I fear it’s now a really bad habit. He is on an Ekkie diet like yours, has a full spectrum light, gets baths every other day, has music on when we’re gone, and has many toys and things like apples and squash to chew up. I just don’t know what to do.

    1. Poor little dude…All that change will take time to get used to. I’m not sure that I love the idea of Xanax for parrots, but your vet will be wiser than I am on that point. If he hates the banana flavor, can your vet put it in a different flavor? (Petri the Great is NOT a fan of cherry flavored antibiotics.) I hope that the plucking habit decreases as your little guy gets used to the new house! I also hope the ideas we all share here are useful…

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