This is the sixth 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
Due to the emotional strain Elvis had endured because of the loss of his mate and his former family he continued the behavior of feather destruction in an attempt to cope with the stress. As he was able to more fully heal the emotional turmoil inside himself one day this self-destructive behavior would just stop. It would be replaced by healthier activities. He would start choosing how to respond to what was actually occurring around him instead of reacting as if all situations were equally traumatic to him. Elvis would also learn to tolerate change more easily because he was learning how to trust. He was discovering that he could trust me and that certain activities, like mealtime and playtime, occurred on a regular basis.
A follow up fecal exam indicated that his droppings were now normal.
Although some Green Cheek conures speak very clearly, Elvis does not. In order to interact with him when he called out to me, for months, I would repeat back mimicking his vocalizations. This produced phrases such as, “SqEEE-bul” and “SqEEE-bee-bee”.
Then one day I really heard what Elvis was saying. “SqEEE-bul” was, “Sweet bird!” and “SqEEE-bee-bee” was “Sweet baby”. I never expected my discovery to evoke the response I saw in him. As I repeated these words back to him within a day he had severely plucked himself. Not as much as when he had been in quarantine, but enough to indicate that something was upsetting him horribly. x
When I worked with Elvis this time (using my animal communication and healing skills) I sensed that because I had finally understood his words a deeper level of grief had been triggered. So we worked together to remove another layer of the proverbial emotional onion. x
Animals can have several emotional layers linked to a traumatic incident in the same way that people do. I felt that his little girl had taught him to say, “Sweet bird” and “Sweet baby”. The pain of loosing her was very difficult for him and my repeating those words back to him was more than he could bare. At this point in his healing process Elvis had been a part of my family for about 6 months.
I reformulated his personalized flower essence blend as I begin helping Elvis build new memories to accompany what, “Sweet bird” and “Sweet baby”, meant for him. I also modified the nutritional supplements he was receiving to support this phase of his physical and emotional healing. Although Elvis had not broken my skin since leaving quarantine at this time he was still expressing his stress and grief in an angry manner pinching me firmly and tearing at my clothing whenever he could. Since nutrition is directly linked to a parrot’s behavior, with my Original Sprouting Blend providing the foundational food in his diet, I knew he being well supported with the food he was eating.
Although I have been away on several business trips since Elvis joined my family, he did not pluck during any of these times. However, he has plucked himself and allowed the feathers to grow back in four or five times over his first year with me. The bouts of feather destruction I have observed seemed to be more closely related to two specific areas. Firstly, he experiences anxiety and plucks when something causes him to feel stress. For example, a schedule change, or when I discovered the true meaning of “SqEEE-bul”. Secondly, he becomes stressed and plucks when he is not allowed to exercise his right to free will. His ability to pick and choose.
A powerful component of my healing work with Elvis has been to help him process his painful emotional memories while also recognizing that there were several simple activities that had inadvertently caused him to become stressed. Allowing Elvis the right choose when he is involved in certain activities has been extremely effective in reducing the level of anxiety he feels. For example, when it is time for the birds to come out in the evening instead of me offering a perch for him to step-up on and be carried out of his cage, I now fasten the cage door wide open and he comes out by himself. This simple act has been wonderful in reducing the level of stress felt by this sweet little bird.
Elvis is also allowed to choose when he would like to come and sit with me, or remain on his play pen perch. Typically, when he wants his head scratched he will fly to me from his perch. He is an excellent flyer. x
For the final installment in this 7 part series, read how a holistic approach began helping Elvis.
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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 .
For more information on Leslie Animal Communcation and Healing Work see her article “Healing Emotional Upsets & Behavior Issues at the Source”.
Schedule a Healing and Communication Session for one of your critter kids today.
Email Leslie at email@example.com.
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