>I have an African grey that I purchased about 3 months ago. He was about 12
>weeks old at the time of purchase (just weaned off the tube feeder).
>Everything was fine until about a month ago when he began plucking out
>feathers. Up to now he has plucked about a third of his feathers. We have
>talked to the pet store which told us it was an emotional problem and would
>probably pass. Our family spends lots of time with the bird and can't think
>of any major changes which caused this behavior (either in diet or
Yes it is true that feather picking could be emotional or psychological
in nature but this is not true in every case. The pet store person
that said "it was an emotional poblem and would probably pass," is
full of apple sauce. It's this kind of thing that makes me view pet
stores with a high degree of scepticism. The best thing for you to
do is take your little guy to your skilled avian vet. Your vet
should give you grey a complete phisical to rule out any organic
problem that could also cause feather picking. Our timneh has a bit
of a feather picking problem, although no where near what you describe.
Among the solutions for psychological problems there can be included
drug therapy. A particular kind of hormone shot followed by another
a month later. If that doesn't work then there a some other types of
*** that might as a next step. Our timneh got a hormone shot but
he was doing pretty well with just the first one that we didn't have
him get the second shot. Aside from that, we personally feel that
*** have there place when used as sparingly as possible. There
are a couple of other things that help that don't cost any money.
Those two things are; Routine and Change. Even those two words seem
diametrically opposed. Our vet has an Eclectus (another very
intelligent criter) that had the same problem. He established a routine
in which at specific times of the day certain events happened in his
birds life. He would give him treats at a given time and take him out
and play with him at a specific time for a specific duration. As
far as change goes, change the layout of the cage. Change the perches
to different locations and levels. If your cage has built in water &
food dish holders reverse which side you put them. This cage changing
you can schedule for once a month. I'm sure you've probably been told
about the value of a variety of toys for your birds happiness. These
little guys can have a lot of fun with things we wouldn't at first
consider as bird toys. Cage location can also be important for your
birds well being. Contrary to some opinions you can change the cage
location. Each night we move our birds's cages into our bedroom in
case they have night frights (or earth quakes) we are right there to
respond to them. They consider this pretty cool. It's our bed time
"routine". If we start by moving one cage the other bird starts
vocalizing that weshouldn't forget him and wants us to get his cage
too. In the mornings we move the cages out to the living room. We
have just started alternating days when the cages stay in the bedroom
or living during the day. If they're in the bedroom they get the TV
turned on to the childrens cable channel. If they're in the living
room they get radio programs.
There are many, many things for you to do and you can enjoy doing
them. These little guys a deffinitly a challenge which is also
what makes them such good animal companions to have.
Best of luck, and keep us posted.
Your fellow bird pal in S. CA.