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Healing Feather Destruction

Situation

Elvis, a Green Cheeked conure, was given to Leslie in May 2005 because he plucked his feathers. His former caretakers knew they could not address his needs and decided it was in his best interest to re-home him.

When Leslie first met Elvis he had no conure-appropriate toys in his cage. His diet consisted primarily of dry seeds, sunflower seeds, and an occasional apple.

Behavior

After arriving home Leslie quickly discovered that Elvis also had acquired the habits of pinching, biting (breaking the skin and drawing blood), along with ripping holes in clothing. One highlight was that he had been trained to "step up" onto a portable perch. The day before Elvis was scheduled to have his first avian vet examination he stripped himself bald leaving feathers only on his head, wings, and tail. The vet saw precious little Elvis at his worst.

Assessment

Malnutrition, from being fed primary a dry seed diet, played a key role in the feather destruction suffered by this precious Green Cheek conure. A gradual diet transitioning process was implemented immediately.This slowly converted Elvis away from eating primarily dry seeds to a diet comprised of mixed sprouts (i.e., sprouted seeds, beans, and legumes); fresh fruit or steamed vegetables, walnut tidbits, and organic parrot pellets.

 

Behavior work focusing on creating the desired behaviors was also started right away. Elvis was taught to play with toys and chew on conure-appropriate play things. This graduated Elvis to enjoying and becoming capable of self enrichment - the ability to entertain himself while in his cage or on his play stand.

A holistic body-mind-spirit approach was closely followed during Elvis' healing process. Areas addressed and approaches used in his personalized program included diet, select nutritional supplements, flower essence blends, medicinal herbs, teaching him to play with toys (self enrichment), and healing and communication work for the anger and grief of being given away. His anger-based actions of pinching, biting, and clothing destruction were approached with patience and kindness while Elvis learned more preferable behavior options.

  An example of the fresh food Elvis eats. This dish holds an assortment of mixed sprouts with steamed sweet potatoes. The organic parrot pellets are fed in a separate dish.    
 

Result

Elvis is now fully feathered. He trusts Leslie and feels loved, valued, and cared for. He is a happy well-adjusted Green Cheek conure who enjoys what his life has become. By addressing the reason for his feather destruction, biting, and pinching at the source these problems have been completely resolved.

A more complete article on Elvis appears in the July 2007 issue #114 of Parrots Magazine.

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