Q: Do any of the anti-plucking products available actually work?
Gary M., New London, CT
A: There are two types of products on the market that address the issue of plucking: one approaches the problem medicinally, the other physically prevents access to the affected areas.
The following is my opinion. It is based on research of the ingredients in the herbal products and on the opinions of trusted sources who have used them and other products:
There are a few varieties of these products available, but there is one main brand whose name you would recognize. I am not going to mention this name (you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure it out) because I don’t wish to give any attention to a product I disapprove of. This un-named product is distributed by a company whose main product I LOVE, own and would recommend to anyone. It is a strange affiliation that I have never understood.
This product is an herbal liquid that is added to the bird’s daily drinking water. The company does provide some testimonial claiming that it works. I know of a few cases where owners have seen results. It seems reasonable that the product has had some successes, but at what cost.
This product contains ingredients which cause lethargy It’s aim is to stupefy. Plucking is most often a behavioral problem. To the manufacturers way of thinking, the best way to eliminate a behavioral problem is to eliminate the behavior. Unfortunately, it eliminates many behaviors, even those that aren’t problematic, leaving a bird that is too zoned-out to enjoy the good parts of its life.
This product has been “reformulated” to address biting and screaming issues. The bird that is too stupid to pluck is also too stupid to bite or scream. Further, some of the ingredients in the formulas are considered toxic to birds. These ingredients aren’t present in large amounts, but there is no room for toxicity in any bird product – ever.
There are several of these available online. They are simply garments that are worn by the plucking parrot that cover his “areas of interest”. There are patterns, templates, out there that can teach you how to make one of your own. Some people just use tube socks with holes placed in the appropriate places. However, any self-respecting parrot could have his way with any one of these in a very short time.
People’s opinions on plucking suits vary. Some have found success with them. Some think they irritate the plucked areas thereby calling attention to the very place you would like your parrot to forget about. Others think they work great – until they come off and the parrot resumes its unwanted activities.
Both of these options fail in one key area: they solve nothing.Your bird has a plucking problem – accent on the word PROBLEM. It is the problem which needs your attention. There are no quick fixes out there. You cannot give your bird a pill or a bandaid to make this go away.
The idea of medicating a behavior away is insane to me, and covering a problem with fabric to prevent access to it won’t fix anything, The problem will still be there when the suit comes off or the drug wears off. If you need to eliminate a behavior, find the source of the behavior and eliminate IT.
**NOTE – ALWAYS have your bird vet checked for any possible medical cause for the plucking problems. There are certain illnesses and conditions that might be responsible for this behavior.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.