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bird Question:

Plucking and aggressive African Ringneck

Hello Imran, I have an IRN (Indian Ringneck) and he is nearly 1 year old and he has no hair. I don't know what is the reason. I'm giving him sunflower seed and every kind of fruits. He is so aggressive also. What you can suggest to me? thx

Female African Ringneck

Answer:

Hello Mamoste,

I must first commend you for seeking help about your little African Ringneck! These creatures are amazing, complicated, and mysterious all in one. I know feather plucking can be frustrating and I'm here to tell you, it's a complicated subject. There is no one cure or one answer. I'm afraid each bird is different and finding a solution will require you to put on your detective hat.

My first advice would be to take him to an avian veterinarian to give the bird an overall physical examination. Most avian veterinarians will check for metal toxicity, fungal infections, bacterial infections, or parasites. Your vet might decide to run other tests as well. The good news from your photo is that your little friend does not look to have psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD). He seems to be only picking his feathers on the wing coverts and chest area.

It is also important you start a journal and write down when your bird plucks his feathers. It could be something in his environment that is triggering his behavior or it could be a bad habit picked up. He could be scared of an object, might be feeling anxious, phobic, etc. Just be on the lookout until you find out what's bothering your feathered friend then take the proper precautions to eliminate anything you believe is causing him to pluck.

You had mentioned his diet consists of sun flower seeds. This should be changed as sun flower seeds are not good for your African Ringneck solely. Instead, the bulk of his diet should consist of fruits and vegetables. Foods that should be given more often are dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, and cantaloupe. These food items are high in Vitamin A, a nutrient most pet parrots are deficient in. Also, the bird should be given essential fatty acids such as coconut oil daily to help his plumage look shiny and vibrant. One other product that's shown to help reduce feather plucking is dende oil.

If you have access to a good pellet mix, I would highly recommend it as a staple for his diet. Studies have shown that properly fed birds stop feather plucking, or at least reduce this bad habit.

Also, try to make sure his food and water bowls are made of ceramic. Though plastic might seem harmless, some birds are more sensitive to the chemicals in plastic.

Your African Ringneck needs a few hours of direct sunlight too. It is important he be placed in the sun with access to shade. This helps with Vitamin D production, something many parrots do not get due to their owners keeping them only indoors. Just make sure his cage is protected by predators and the wiring is small enough to ensure rodents or snakes cannot get at him.

As mentioned above, keep in mind feather plucking has no overnight cure so to speak. It could be a few months or year before any changes are seen. Most changes will be seen once the bird molts and new feathers grow in. Also, keep in mind unfortunately, some parrots never stop plucking.

I know your very saddened by his onset of feather plucking. The key is to hang in there and try many different remedies till you find one that works. It's definitely no easy task, but over time and through lots of investigative work you'll start to see patterns in your ringneck.

You also mentioned that your parrot is quite aggressive. My advice would be to start a positive reinforcement program. Start with clicker training. You can check out the article I put together on the subject by clicking here.

The more you train your ringneck, the more tame he'll become. The most important thing is to always ignore biting, hissing, or aggressive behavior. Overtime, the behavior will phase out once your ringneck knows biting is not an effective route for communication.

I hope this helps push you in the right direction. I have a lot of information on feather plucking coming soon. I'll gladly forward you the information when it is available.

Wishing you all the best my friend, IMRAN-C

   

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