Thursday, January 13, 2011

Plucking Parrots and Red Palm Oil

Note new feather growth across Cracker's chest

We rescued a Ruby macaw (Greenwing/Scarlet mix), named Cracker, with a serious plucking problem last Labor Day Weekend. Having read about the benefits of red palm oil, we decided to start him on a daily regimen. And while we were at it, we decided to give it to our female Greenwing macaw, Roxanne, as well. She doesn't pluck, but she has been barbering her feathers for years, and won't let her flights or tail feathers grow out. You can read our earlier blog posts about both Cracker and Roxanne for more details.

Well, the results have been dramatic.
Cracker came to us completely plucked on his legs, chest, back, and shoulders. Partly visible in the photo above, Cracker shows significant new feather growth on his legs, back, and shoulders, and well as encouraging growth on his chest. Of course his diet was problematic before we rescued him, so we can't attribute the change simply to red palm oil. He was subsisting on sunflower seeds and peanuts for probably too long. He was literally starving to death!

However, with Roxanne, the only change to her environment and diet has been the red palm oil. She has stopped barbering her feathers, her tail feathers are growing back fully, and her feathers show a luster that she hasn't exhibited in years. We don't attribute the change to Cracker's presence in the household. Roxanne was our first parrot, and she doesn't think she's a parrot. She has nothing to do with Cracker or any of the other parrots in the household.

Needless to say, we are sold on red palm oil. And for what it's worth: We do use the organic variety.

The available literature on red palm oil is very sparse, and all the evidence we've seen so far mostly anecdotal. Trying to find useful information is frustrating. If anyone has experience with red palm oil as a remedy for plucking parrots, especially macaws, we would love to hear about it. Please send us your stories, positive or negative.

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