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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This issue has been going on for many weeks but I've kept hoping it would go away, it hasn't.

When my dove was still on baby formula, I would clean her beak and face off with a soft, damp paper towel when she got food all over herself, which inevitably happened every single time she ate. As she got older she started trying to avoid getting cleaned but I kinda had to anyway, and I would have to gently hold her in place with one had to keep her from running off while I cleaned her face. She got into the habit of putting her head down and quickly backing up whenever she finished eating in an attempt to avoid this. Once she went onto seed, this habit persisted. It almost always manifests itself when she is standing on a flat surface, like a table or the floor.

After about 1 minute of eating seeds on the ground, she puts her head down and back between her shoulders and then staggers backwards a foot or so into the cage wall. After trying to stagger backwards against the wall for a few seconds, she recovers and runs forward towards the food dish, and just before reaching it, staggers backwards into the wall AGAIN. After 2 or 3 times she will finally make it all the way back to her dish to continue eating for another 30-60 seconds before repeating the entire process all over again. She never eats very much this way because her behavior intensifies the more food she gets into her crop, until trying to eat becomes impossible for her and she gives up and flies back to her perch where she acts perfectly normal again.

Sometimes she will also try to stagger backwards while on a perch, and this is usually triggered if I touch the back of her neck or if the feathers on the back of her neck are wet from playing in the shower. She starts by pulling her head back between her shoulders and then raising her entire body completely vertical, then past vertical, until she has to flap her wings to keep from falling over backwards off the perch. If I feed her seed while she is on a perch, she will also start trying to fall backwards once she has ingested about a tablespoon of food. She will keep trying to fall backwards for several moments before finally getting control of herself (or until I take her off her perch and let her stand on my finger--for some reason this settles her down almost instantly).

I will try to get video next time I see her doing this.

FYI-She has no trouble flying, and as long as nothing is touching her neck (like water) and she isn't thinking of food, she also doesn't seem to have a problem standing, walking, or balancing on or off a perch. I have been monitoring her weight and she has been a stable 156-158g for the past few weeks.
 

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Hi

Doves and pigeons probably don't appreciate being cleaned up after feeding, as it's not something they would understand, but I haven't come across avoidance actions that would become so deeply embedded.

I'm wondering if there's some kind of physical or neurological issue going on here. What you describe sounds like the 'penguin posture' which can indicate crop or 'stomach' pain, particularly relevant to feeding. That could be caused, for instance, by a canker nodule though there are probably other causes.

Is she pooping OK? Does her mouth / throat seem clear?

John
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah, I know she didn't like being cleaned up.. But it didn't seem ok to just let the food dry and cake up all the feathers around her beak on her neck. Everything I read online said I should keep the bird clean after feeding.

Mouth and throat seem clear, she is pooping just fine. When on the ground, she does not go upright, her body stays parallel to the ground and she backs up shaking her head. That's what she used to do when she didn't want her beak cleaned and was trying to avoid me holding her still. Except now, she still does it even though nothing is touching her. She is fighting an invisible hand. She goes into the penguin posture on branches because she can't back up but she still tries, and it throws her body backwards. She's only 2-1/2 months old, and she went onto seeds one month ago. She has behaved this way ever since she was old enough to fly, but I've just kept hoping she would stop once she realized there is nothing there to fight against anymore.

I will let her play in the shower tomorrow and take video. She likes the water, but she also does the backing up thing if the feathers on her neck get wet. She stops once she is dry again.
 

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Well, sure is strange. We've had birds we had to clean up, as you say can't be left to cake on the feathers. Never seen their dislike of it last to that degree

John
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I feel bad, I can remember when feeding her formula she would try to get away from being cleaned up only once I started trying to clean her. Then it slowly turned into her backing up to get away as soon as she finished eating and before I even did anything. She weaned late, she hatched on April 23rd and finally went off formula completely on June 7. Roughly 6 weeks, about twice what it should have been. Not for lack of trying though...

I just pray she gets past this soon. I feel like its really interfering with her eating. Poor thing has to eat off and on constantly throughout the day because she can't hold still long enough to get a decent meal in one sitting.

I would so love to know if ANYONE else here has ever experienced anything even remotely like this before. I wish I knew some way to help her overcome this.
 

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What sort of dove is she?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
@ Feefo: Eurasian Collared dove. I seriously think this behavior is learned, because she has no issue with standing on one leg to scratch herself, no trouble preening, flying, walking, or running so long as food is not involved. But how to get her to unlearn it, is what I wish I knew. I keep telling myself that surely with time she will stop because the original instigator of this behavior is gone (getting cleaned), and it's certainly in the bird's benefit to not act like this anymore. Stay still = get more food. Move backwards = no food.

EDIT: Also, maybe it's just in my head, but it seems like she does this more often if I am nearby, like in the same room. It seems like there is usually a bit more food in her crop when she has been eating with me gone than when I am home. But at the same time she's not afraid of me at all. Of all the places in my room that she has to sit, my head is still her favorite spot, and if I leave the room she will fly out to find me and land... on my head.
 

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But at the same time she's not afraid of me at all. Of all the places in my room that she has to sit, my head is still her favorite spot, and if I leave the room she will fly out to find me and land... on my head.
Thing with many (most?) pigeons/doves is they do not seem to be able to understand that different parts of us are all connected and make up one - we have various birds who are fine with me being up close, facially, yet will attack or back away from a hand. Also, we have a collared dove who dotes on me, likes to be preened and all that - yet she really dislikes me actually picking her up and gets quite nervous about it.

John
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi all, just thought I would give an update on this situation. She still does the whole backing-up thing. There really hasn't been any change since I last posted. Here is a short video of her behavior. Just to reiterate, she can fly walk around just fine on most occasions, and she has never had any problems flying.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQsUzhMQQPs
 
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