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FEATURE


For the first few months George seemed to settle in well and showed no signs of aggression, we made sure we didn’t over handle him and tried to encourage him to play independently. Unfortunately George didn’t like anything new and wouldn’t go anywhere near a new toy even after weeks of trying to introduce it slowly to him. My plan of giving him lots of things to chew to try and stop him from chewing his feathers wasn’t going very well, he turned his nose up at chewing toys, preening toys, foraging toys, kitchen rolls and branches from the garden. I decided to try a regime of bathing him daily but guess what? George didn’t like to be bathed either, so I eased back to twice a week as I knew it was causing him stress.


It was still summer at this point and George was an affectionate little companion, prone to bursts of hyperactivity but basically a happy little chap. He was mostly feathered and we hoped this would continue. We took George, along with our other parrots, to our educational talks at schools, fetes and other events and he quickly became a favourite with everyone, he was such a cheeky little character, saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ at the right times and singing and dancing with anyone who would


take the time to stop and say hello. But, as with most cockatoos, (the males in particular), there is a darker side to George, one that I cannot pretend to understand. October came and George started to pull his feathers, it was devastating to see him frantically picking at himself, no matter what we did, he continued to pluck and along with the plucking, his behaviour changed. He became more and more unpredictable, one moment he would be enjoying a cuddle and then he would turn and bite and he started to fly at visitors in full attack mode, he became cage territorial as well and would attack your fingers as you removed the pots from his cage. He didn’t want to come out of his cage and if you had the audacity to clean in or around his cage he would fling himself at the bars, screeching and flapping. I spoke regularly with his previous owner and she confirmed that this was a cycle that repeated every year. I talked to other parrot owners and read everything I could find on feather plucking to try to find some solution to his problem, however the more I read, the more I realised that there is no single answer to feather plucking, it appears to be as individual as the bird is. I felt totally helpless but I had no choice but to stand by and watch as my cheeky little George


We took George, along with our other parrots, to our educational talks at schools, fetes and other events and he quickly became a favourite with everyone, he was such a cheeky little character, saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ at the right times and singing and dancing with anyone who would take the time to stop and say hello.


BIRD SCENE 17


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