Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman
Subject: Re: Hi Leigh ~ Why Won’t This African Grey Play With His Toys?
I wanted to thank you for your awesome weekly email – I look forward to the information and the humor every week!
I have a question on lighting and biting:
We have a 4yr old Quaker, Boop, who we think is male… does a bit of chest plucking – almost like a Tourettes behavior… but he seems to get awful pin feathers. It’s better now I have him on an avian vitamin powder.
We had a spectrum light that we used regularly, but are now away from home while my hubby is in Cancer treatment.
I try to go home once a week or two, and our Teenagers are trying to keep the fort together while we are gone… so the light has not been on.
I was going to set up a timer – but here are my 2 questions…
- Do we need to have a spectrum light 12/12 hrs year-round?
- Or do we take a break for Winter?
We live north of Seattle, so it’s always ‘dark’ here lol… and Everyone needs vitamin D… What does our sweet monster baby need?
- Also…Yes, he is a biter.
Mostly to say “No”, I don’t want to go on your hand or do what you want me to… but what I really mind is that I cannot ever pet him.
He will almost always at least nip at people if they get too close to his cage (except me) but then not being able to give him a scritch – which he loves if I hold him – is super frustrating.
I love him to bits!! Is this just a trust issue?
Or poor communication we have settled into?
He is not really into treats, so trying to reward train him his problem.
- We live out in the boonies… and now I work from home -when we r home:)
I had to take a 60% pay cut for this position after covid but here is why it’s worth it:
Lunchtime in the summer was AWESOME – Boop helps me in the yard and feeding the horses and gardening or taking a nap in the lounge chair… he is free flight and we are both delighted about that!
Super Great Life for us both! Pics attached.
Thank you for your time and ideas,
Make Today Great!
Thank you for the kind words, Leigh, we love the encouragement.
In answer to your first question about lighting, we have learned that the lighting should be consistent 24/7 365 days a year.
We disrespect daylight savings time so in our case all birds have their lights turn on/off at 7:30 a.M. And p.M.
Daylight savings time is abandoned so when spring arrives the lighting will come on and off at 8:30 AM. and PM.
This is based upon our parrots being indigenous to equatorial regions of the earth where the days and nights are evenly divided by about 12 hours each.
By providing a light cycle that mimics millions of years of our bird’s instinctual expectations, circadian rhythms remain stable against the moving targets of sunrise and sundown in north America.
A 72 hour light therapy treatment could possibly help with the plucking.
Try drizzling some melted (5 seconds in the microwave) coconut oil over his regular food to help his skin.
I would examine his chest area for sensitivity that could be a chest plucking trigger.
In that Boop is flighted he may have flown into a window or wall which can cause bruising and plucking is a way for birds to deal with signal pain.
You mentioned vitamin D and I can tell you unequivocally lighting has no impact on the production of vitamin D in birds.
Quakers, much like the one I have on my left shoulder as I write this, are nippy birds.
We never sought out a quaker but a rescue fell into our lap last February from a bad situation.
Chili is no exception and we work hard to reduce his biting.
If he’s on an arm and he tries to go for a scab that he created, we “earthquake” the arm, shake it up rapidly.
If he is shoulder riding and gets annoying he goes back into the cage.
In that, we’ve had him for a little less than a year he’s becoming better the more we socialize with him.
As for treats you really have to experiment.
All three big birds (we have six budgies downstairs) like different treats but we introduce everything from a single pretzel stick to a small piece of toast.
Chili loves cheese but the other birds won’t touch it.
He also lives with two other birds upstairs with us a cockatiel and an African ringneck.
15 minutes before the lights go out every night Chile and Keto get a small piece of Lafebers Avi-Cakes while Barney the Cockatiel exhibits an agitated State until he gets his 1 inch long Millet sprig.
Chili’s favorite place to go is Keto’s cage (the African ringneck) and eat from his food dish which contains the identical stuff in his own cage or just hangs out until Keto starts calling out verbally until one of us relocates him back to his cage or play stand.
Chili invading Keto’s birdcage ~ Video
Catherine just recently has been able to start scratching his head but like I said we’re about a year into this relationship so patience is your friend here.
It’s interesting having birds around horses.
A few years back I got into falconry.
We trained at Mcrea Farms dressage stable which is enclosed making it a very good facility to train young Hawks and Falcons.
At the end of each bird training session, we would Mount horses with a raptor on our gloved hand and parade around the stable socializing both horse and bird.
I ended up abandoning my hopes of becoming a falconer after fully understanding how tightly regulated The sport is at the federal and state levels.
BTW, all pin feathers are awful but they’re a small price to pay for staying beautiful over decades.