Mr. Munchkin (feather plucking cockatoo)

From: Don and Millie

Mr. M. had suffered an injury due to falling and broke his tail (bone we suspect), after that he started to pick at his feathers and flesh.

Valerie said he was a mess when she got him. She improved (?) his diet with Harrisons, Scenic, and Roudybush pellets, bean mix with fruit and veggies. She gave him antibiotics to get rid of a infection from the injuries he inflicted on his wings. He showed improvement but his feathering was still terrible. He had on an Elizabethian collar (cone) has folicle damage from biting and having to pull broken pin feathers from his thrashing so many times.

When she got busy with personal matters, leaving the country for the adoption a few times, She approached me with the care of Mr. M. I took him in in February of this year. This change of environment didn’t suit him, and he (Murphy’s law) started to molt. He’d thrash around like he was determined to break all of the new feathers and he almost did them all in. It would be a continuous blood bath, and pulling of broken feathers. He lost it in the car traveling to Vals clinic to pull the ones that were too deep in for me to get. He spent his last night in the clinic.

He’d be so stressed out about everything, and so very hard to read what was bothering him, especially being so new to me. The car trips where now out of the question to much stress. So I changed his environment drastically. Put him into a small cage, low perches and his familiar toys and snuggly He was in a large grid wire cage, and now in a smaller sized one which is powder coated.

Mr. M’s neurological problems involved less than optimal perching. He had a head jerking motion, and sometimes a whole body spasm. He didn’t seem to focus well especially when holding him and walking. For his security a small dish towel is used to cover him lightly and walk with him that way. Otherwise he’ll launch in fear. We still do that. After he started to molt he lost about 10 grams of weight, we took off the e-collar and Valerie put on the current soft (covered foam) tube collar. This actually helped his head jerking which gave him better balance. Hestarted to eat well again (thus the name of MUNCHkin).

Because of his neurological problems he’d also stand in the front corner of the cage and march like a soldier. He’d be pretty quite except if he didn’t like something, was scared or did contact calls.

He’d have trouble in the beginning figuring out how to get off the perch once he climbed on. You could see his confusion. Once in a smaller environment it was more cozy and I raised him up onto the table at about waist to chest height.

His strong points were his fortitude and sweet nature. Never bit, loved and enjoyed being stroked, was wanting to be trusting but didn’t know

Hadn’t experienced anything like this with any of the other rescue birds. He was and is quite a challenge.

The course of action I took was to get an understanding and knowledge about sprouting (since I’m a novice I got the China Prarie Co’s Sprouting System), learn more about herbs and Holistic care for him (After discussions with Shauna who first told me about Dr. McWatters and his list she’s been an inspiration). I’ve been using organics and finally finished all of the Harrisons and won’t be feeding pellets to any of the fids anymore.

Since I don’t bake and don’t care to, I’ve been purchasing my birdy bread/muffins/cookies from Noe & Edgars Merry Muffins, and everyoneenjoys them (organic and homemade).

The other stuff I’ve been using is bee pollen, royal jelly, organic seeds, organic trail mix (no chocolate or carob) eyebright, alfalfa, barley & wheat grass, carrot powder, brewers yeast, horsetail, probiotics, flax seed oil, and for cleansing GSE, ACV and got Aloe Vera Detox if we need it. I give a very small amount (less than a pinch) of Valerian Root to Mr. M to help keep him calm.

The diet for all is Alicia McWatters Mash Diet from “A Guide to a Healthy Bird”.

Changes are showing in Mr. M already as stated before his collar is off, his feathers are much better, he isn’t thrashing as much, his head doesn’t jerk and he’s focusing. He actually is acting “normally” (I hate using that word) like other birds.

Still needing to overcome dry skin, and sparse downy feathering. He couldn’t get a proper bath before with the collar on. I try hard not to stress him as much as possible. So I take the whole cage to the sink now and mist him in his cage. He loves it, and have been using Georges’ pure aloe vera to soak him down.

He tends to preen very aggressively and have noticed a little feather pulling. I’m not sure what is left over from before (bad feathering that hasn’t molted yet) or if he’s stripping new feathers. Still no signs of mutilation. Hoping that the good soaking baths will help from now on.

It’s day by day, hour by hour with him but the changes are 100 fold compared to February when I first got him. He has so much more potential now. Even if he reverts back (one step) I feel we’ve accomplished two steps forward and we’ll still be ahead.

Millie K.