Natural Parrot Care: Healing Feather Destruction, 4 of 7

This is the fourth of seven articles that chronicle the details of this precious bird’s healing process.

In sharing this information with you I ask you to acknowledge along with me that parrots are intelligent, sentient and self-aware individuals capable of feeling a wide range of human-like emotions.

 

Using a Holistic Approach for Healing Feather Destruction

 

Elvis developed very good eating habits.

Elvis developed very good eating habits.

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Since I was concerned about his nutrition  I gradually began adding certain supplements to his food. I formulated a personalized nutritional powder for him that included elements to provide additional support to his immune system and to help him cope with the stress of all the changes he was experiencing.

 

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In quarantine Elvis had developed very good  eating habits. He  readily consumed  most of the fresh foods, sprouts, and fruits or vegetables he was given. I was beginning to develop a good idea of the wide variety of  fresh  foods Elvis liked and would eat.

 

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Teaching Elvis to play and 'paper toys' were born.

Teaching Elvis to play and 'paper toys' were born.

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As an introduction to toys I began showing him how fun newspaper is to shred by holding it in my fingers and tearing it up. I drew him into the activities by encouraging him like he was a shy child, a bit timid but not afraid.  I also tucked folded pieces of newsprint in between the bars of his cage  so he could begin experimenting  with the fun of it on his own. This advanced to a special nut treat being wrapped inside his ‘paper toy’ for him to find.

 

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Fourteen days had gone by and Elvis appeared to be doing very well in quarantine. I would  spend time talking and playing with him each day. The paper tearing game had advanced to him pulverizing vegetable tanned leather laces and shredding woven basket strips made for parrots to chew.

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Green-checked conure exhibiting feather destruction habits.

Green-checked conure exhibiting feather destruction habits.

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The day before Elvis was to have his first avian veterinary check up I opened the door to his room and found the floor covered with feathers. He was naked except for his head, wings, and tail. The veterinarian would see him at his worst. Aside from the indications that his keel was misaligned, presumably from a fall,  Elvis was in good physical condition.

 

The next morning I did another session with Elvis. I was very concerned about why he had removed so many of his feathers. He conveyed that he had become frightened and felt very alone.  In our work together this time I recognized that another layer of his grieving process had surfaced. I helped him begin healing the mixed emotions of anger, fear, abandonment, betrayal, loss, and grief. Moving through the array of emotions surfacing within him  would be difficult for anyone. He would never again see the mother and daughter who had been his world. It became very clear to me that his bond with them was much stronger than the connection they felt for him.

 

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Even though Elvis had lost his mate two years earlier he still had unresolved grief issues surrounding her disappearance. I explained that she had died. No one had ever told him this.

 

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He also conveyed that he still doubted the decision the mother had made regarding her choice of giving him to me. I thanked him for honestly expressing his feelings.  Although I sensed that this was his grief talking, it was very important for me to honor and accept his feelings. Feelings and emotions are not right or wrong – they just are. Respecting his perspective would help facilitate his healing process.

 

Look for post – part 5 – and follow how a holistic approach helps this precious green-cheeked conure.

 

This article originally appeared in its entirety in the August 2007, issue #115, of Parrots magazine. Subscriptions to Parrots magazine are available on-line at www.parrotmag.com .

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