This is the story of Belleek...the male Eclectus who came to
us with no feathers!
Below is our story...mine and Belleek's, but I wanted to share another very comprehensive link with you about feather destruction. To read this other link, click here.
On the afternoon of August 26th, 2006 my Mom and I were on our way to a little apartment across town. About two weeks earlier, Mom had seen an ad for a male Eclectus that was completely plucked. She kept trying to ignore the ad because "I already have Charley and I don't need another pet!" However, something seemed to keep drawing her back to the ad. I kept hearing the story about this "poor male Ekkie:"
"Lisa, there's this male Eclectus on the internet and he is all plucked! He almost doesn't have any feathers. His owners both have health problems and are having to sell him. You know what?"
"I'm in love with him already and I don't even know him!"
"Mom, you already have Charley....why do you want another pet?" (The rule is that each girl gets one pet)
"I know, Lis, but he looks so bad and is on a diet of straight pellets with no fresh fruits or veggies!."
Now, with Eclectus, they are never supposed to have more than a little bit of pellets, if any at all. Eclectus have the longest digestive track of any parrot. Thus, they need a Ton of fresh fruits and veggies. Our Eclectus get about double amounts of Pamperedpeeps Parrot Mash and all the other goodies. Pellets can give them high toxic levels due to the additives and supplements in the pellet. Our Eclectus page has more information and also has a small list of sites with information. Thus, you can understand why Mom was so horrified to hear that Belleek was only eating pellets.
"Mom, please, you don't need another bird...." She kept worrying that he would end up in hands of another owner who would keep him on pellets not knowing any better.
But in spite of all my "no's," she informed me the next morning that she had called on Belleek. She had to leave a message, but was still hopeful. About a week later, the man still hadn't called her back, so she called and left another message. Another few days went by and then finally we got a call back. The man said that "I have had a ton of messages left on my phone about this guy, but my wife and I have decided that yours was the nicest. If you want to come meet Belleek, go ahead!"
Mom was on cloud 9 and so we left the next afternoon to go meet him. When we walked into their apartment, the first thing you saw was a huge cage with a Scarlet Macaw. The Macaw had tons of toys and looked very happy, but she plucked, too. The man said that they just didn't have enough time to play with their birds and they were plucking. We walked over to the other cage and there sat Belleek. He was in a lot worse condition than I figured, and I was a little bit surprised. I couldn't believe mom was going to give them money for this bird due to his condition. He was completely plucked with just a few feathers on back and chest. He only had two tail feathers. The couple who owned him obviously loved him very much and just didn't know that Eclectus and pellets are not a good combination. On the way home, Mom and I raided Dad's car, finding raisins, trail mix, and more wonderful goodies! Belleek loved the raisins and all the nuts. We brought him home and put him in a cage right in our kitchen where he gets full advantage of all the activity.
In the next couple days, he got showers/baths morning and night and lots of fresh veggies, fruits, pasta, all the goodies in pamperedpeeps parrot mash. In the mornings he went out on our screened in porch and got a few hours of natural light. Almost every night, he eats dinner with us on the table and loves it!
Belleek has been at our house for about three weeks now and just because of being on a good diet with outside light, lots of attention and many baths,
He has changed...
from this to this:
To give you a bit more history on Belleek, his previous owners did do some things really right. If you have a bird that is plucking, one of your first moves should be to take him in to an AVIAN vet for an exam. The vet needs to test for parasites, metal poisoning, PBFD and other possible causes. The previous owners did do this for Belleek almost every year. Their vet had him on Baytril, Clavamox, Ivomec, Haloperidol Tabs, and Clomiprame according to his medical records. None of this helped The vet records indicate that he was very plucked as soon as 1997. This will be a hard habit to break.
Usually when a bird plucks from his head down, like Belleek does, it is a behavioral problem. Belleek has been plucking for 9-10 years, so this is going to be one tough habit to break. Mom has lots of ideas on what to try. Frequent baths, lots of fresh foods, sunlight, and companionship have all been mentioned. If we fail with these changes, we will try Pluck no More, Aloe Detox (http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/ and now found at Sprouts Grocery Stores!), George's Aloe spray, Calendula dips, looking into food allergies (the Feeding Feathers forum), the Sock Buddy are all ideas up mom's sleeves. Feeding of live branches can also help a bird get his mind off plucking. Hanging toys that are designed for shredding is another help. Another idea is to add Vitamin E to your bird's diet or to rub your bird with Vitamin E oil or aloe.
Belleek is helping us to learn more about how important the socialization and exposure is to produce a companion bird that is flexible and tolerant. He accompanied mom to our barn of horses today. First off, he tried to shimmy up to mom's head when walking by the dogs even though he was on her shoulder and she stands a tall 6'3". Then he was terrified, terrified, of the horses. He leaped off of her into the grass and tried running away! This was so interesting to me for we have had baby Eclectus, baby Greys, baby Poicephalus, baby everythings down with the horses with no fears at all. I am learning that the wide range of activities we do with the babies really helps them be more tolerant as adults.
We also can't wait to try and get Belleek in a flight suit, but will wait till some of these pin feathers are not so prickly. Update, Belleek allowed a flight suit to be put on in December. We put one on and then I went driving one of our miniature horses. He had a blast hooting like an owl the entire time!
Belleek is such a sweetie :) At night, Mom and I will sit on either end of our kitchen table and will call Belleek. He runs back and forth between us when we call him! Click here to see him running to us and playing with us. We tend to work on recall with all of our parrots. There are more fun videos of recall on the Congo Grey page and on the Eclectus page.
I took the above set of pictures due to going out of town for 4 days. I feared coming home to a plucked bird. I had a friend/neighbor feeding and watering him and prayed :) When we got home, all the new gorgeous feathers were still there!
With October came a new thrill! Belleek loves bike riding. He rides up on my shoulder, gives kisses while hanging on and observes the world whizzing by. I think I must be simulating flying for him. We whiz by dogs, cows, horses, stop and talk to neighbors. Still no plucking. He lives on a screened in porch at this point and I think he tracks the Gouldian Finch aviary. I bet he knows which finches have babies, who is on eggs and who is committing adultery. Yes, that goes on in my Gouldian Finch aviary!
Belleek was an interesting puzzle for me in December. After being here about 4 months, he started plucking again. At first, I thought it was due to some baby Ekkies who were fledging and flying all around his area. He would holler at them and I thought they were stressing him. But, they weaned and left and he continued to pluck. Then I realized, I had switched him to the deluxe large hookbill that the rest of my bigger parrots are on. I put him back on to Volkmans Eclectus diet and his plucking stopped.
His eating behavior is really strange too when he is in "plucking mode." He did this when he first came to me and then when I switched the seeds. While he is eating, he takes a bite and then whips his head around and bites at his back. He would do this with every bite. To me, it looked like he knew the food was making him itchy. How I wish he could tell me.
This was just my personal experience with Volkmans and it has been good, but this is a really small sample size and I could never really make conclusions from my one experience. I just know I keep Belleek on Volkmans. I must also stress that they all get big dishes of our mash, fruits and sprouts daily.
Late August, 2007, makes it one year since he has been year and he is feathered out nicely. He also has a new woman in his life....some hot Redhead!
August 2008. Belleek is happily paired up with a hen. The good news is that he is content, the bad news is that she plucks him!!!