When you first realize that you're dealing with a parrot plucking problem, it can be quite daunting to try figure out how to handle it. Your first step, in order to get a handle on the problem quickly, 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
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, designed to meet the needs of various plucking intensities and affected body parts. 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 plucking because the pain actually temporarily relieves anxiety and stress. These parrots often require both prescription grade medications and a very restrictive collar. Lets look more carefully at each level of plucking.
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.
Moderate feather pluckers have taken on a more urgent need to pluck. This means that the bird will likely outsmart a simple, lightweight collar and may need 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 containing L-Theanine 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. These collars are a good choice.
SEVERE FEATHER PLUCKING | SELF-MUTILATION has 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. Severe plucking and mutilation needs a thick, stiff collar for safety purposes.
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. goal at this stage is to prevent your bird from progressing to self-mutilation or getting worse.
My Leather and Fringy line of UnRuffledRx Parrot Plucking Collars are for severe pluckers and mutilators. These thick and weighty collars are hard for a parrot to lift and chew at the same time. Similar to treatment of a progressive disease, treatment for severe parrot plucking imposes complications that may affect your pet's mental health. This level of parrot plucking often causes changes to brain chemistry making plucking a compulsion. These are sturdy collars designed for severe parrot plucking.
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 over time, a lot of my customers buy a few different styles of collars to accommodate how severely the parrot plucking is on any given day. Also, on the mild and moderate styles, people find it helpful to stack a tube collar with a traditional collar.