When you first recognize that your parrot has a feather plucking problem, it can be quite daunting trying figure out how to handle it. As mentioned in my last email, the first step is going to be to apply a barrier, like a bird collar that effectively protects the bird from self-harm.
I'd like to encourage you to consider the following things when choosing a bird collar:
The severity of your parrot plucking problem
How avidly your parrots plucks
Your parrots stamina for the weight of the collar, and
Where on its body that the bird is plucking
A bird that avidly plucks will destroy a collar faster while a weak bird with poor stamina needs a lighter weight collar.
Birds that pluck or mutilate their feet, legs and tails do better with tube collars because a traditional collar would have to be so long to cover those areas that it would cause the parrot to have trouble walking.
You'll notice that there are several styles of UnRuffledRx bird collars available to meet the needs of various plucking intensities and areas. Don't become overwhelmed. Read on to learn about how to choose a collar.
First, identify your parrots plucking severity
Looking at the graphic above, you'll see a range of plucking intensities. Mild plucking is one small bald patch, while moderate plucking refers to larger affected areas. Severe pluckers are mostly bald and the plucking, at this stage has taken on an addictive qualities Parrots that self-mutilate have acquired an extreme addiction to the brain chemistry changes that relieve anxiety and stress. These parrots often require both prescription grade medications and a very restrictive collar.
A MILD FEATHER PLUCKING parrot has not become fully addicted to the brain chemistry changes that occur with self-inflicted pain. These birds are much less prone to plucking with a strong sense of urgency. They are still able to find relief with natural parrot behaviors such as chewing and preening. Mild collars provide a light-weight, diversion to occupy the stressed parrots increased need to find relief with chewing and preening. Most mild pluckers adapt fairly to the collar fairly quickly when training strategies are used. Training instructions are included with each collar purchase. Mild pluckers are most amenable to improved parrot husbandry and environmental strategies that are aimed at reducing stressors that cause parrot anxiety. The collars below are for mild pluckers.
UnRuffledRX Soft Fleece Bird Collar - Slip On Style
MODERATE FEATHER PLUCKING, that has progressed to various body parts is likely in the early stages of the addictive process. You will want to try hard to stop the plucking at this stage by implementing as many of the recommended treatment strategies as possible. The farther along into the addictive process, the harder the habit is to manage. These birds have taken on a more urgent need to pluck. This means that the bird has likely outsmarted a simple, lightweight collar and needs something stiffer and thicker that is more difficult to get around. I've found moderate pluckers often respond well to a thicker collar and therefore, more difficult to pick up with the feet and bend the neck to access preferred plucking areas. With this level of plucking, you'll need to get more diligent in terms of finding out what environmental issues and parrot husbandry issues may be contributing to the parrots stress. This level of plucking responds well to over the counter calming supplements, especially AvianCalming Formula and Hemp Oil. You'll also want to start paying attention to your own reaction to the plucking as most parrots interpret your reaction with attention as a reward for plucking behavior. At this stage, offer your parrot tons of attention when you catch it playing with toys, eating, foraging, talking and vocalizing, and any other behaviors that are positive and safe.
SEVERE FEATHER PLUCKING | SELF-MUTILATION have definitely progressed to an addictive level, meaning that the endorphins that the brain releases in response to pain feel so good that the bird finds satisfaction in the "high" it gets from plucking itself. These birds need a thick, stiff collar for safety purposes. Your goal at this stage is to prevent your bird from progressing to self-mutilation. My Leather and Fringy line of UnRuffledRx Collars are for severe pluckers and mutilators. These thick and weighty collars are hard for a parrot to get around. Keep in mind that this level of plucking requires more experimentation in terms of finding what collar your bird will respond to without causing depression. Similar to treatment for a progressive disease, such as cancer, the treatment imposes complications that affect your pet's mental health. Plucking, as stated earlier, causes changes to brain chemistry.
Fringy Bird Collars for Severe Feather Picking Parrots
Diane Burroughs, LCSW, President of BirdSupplies.com and UnRuffledRx.com
P.S. Since an individual parrots plucking behavior may wax and wane throughout time, a lot of my customers buy a few different styles of collars to accommodate how severely the plucking currently is. Also, on the mild and moderate styles, people find it helpful to stack a tube collar with a traditional collar
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