Feather Plucking in Parrots

Feather plucking can be very difficult to cure and as curator of Birdworld for over 20 years, I came across many cases of this, as for a few years we took in unwanted pet parrots. Some came in almost “oven ready” for want of a better description but in nearly all the cases, other than the feathers, the birds were in good health. Many reasons are suggested for feather plucking such as stress, diet and boredom being the most common but often no exact cause can be found.

A large number of birds that came in had been fed on a mainly sunflower diet with not much else and in some cases often fed chocolate, crisps and all sorts of other things which are bad for us let alone a parrot! A pet parrot needs a quality seed mixture, fruit, vegetables and a vitamin supplement. The exact diet varies with different species and also how you keep your pets. For example, if you keep your pet in an aviary or it spends a lot of time flying in your house it will need more food for energy than a parrot that does not fly or spends a lot of time in a cage. It is also more interesting for your parrot if you vary the diet rather than always being exactly the same. For advice on a good diet please feel free to contact us for advise.

Boredom is often blamed for feather plucking and some parrots we had donated may not have had many things to do before they came to us. It is common sense to make their lives as interesting as possible and parrot toys, hemp rope to climb on, a larger cage and more time out of the cage can all help make their lives as interesting as possible which is our responsibility as pet owners.

Stress is definitely a cause of this problem and so many times I came across a situation where a Cockatoo or African Grey has been stressed by a cat jumping up to its cage or if the parrot managed to fly out of a window and only being found again a few days later or even the window cleaner suddenly appearing and scaring the parrot. You might wonder why this causes a problem but in all these cases it was about two weeks after the event that the parrot started to lose feathers and it is very difficult to stop feather plucking once it had started.

If you have this problem with your parrot please go to the vet initially to check for feather mites or in case it’s due to a medical reason but in most cases there may not be anything obvious that has caused the feather plucking. The main problem is once the parrot has this problem it becomes almost habit forming and the parrot seems to pull out the new feathers as well as the old ones and many bare patches form.

I have found over many years of treating pet parrots we can often help the problem by feeding the correct diet and creating an environment for them to live in which keeps them occupied.  However in many cases we have cured the problem only to find it comes back a few months or years later. We have however found one product called Avi-Stress that has seemed to help many parrots and we would be glad to advise you on how to use this product – just give us a call on 01420 23986.   You can also buy Avi-Stress online, just click here. 

I cannot give you one piece of advise that will definitely cure this annoying problem but there are many things we can try such as diet changes and changes in the environment which they live. In most cases I came across, the birds appearance often vastly improved but a complete cure only happened in about 30% of the birds. After changing the diets and environment of the parrots even if we could not cure the problem of the feathers, the birds themselves were very healthy and could lead full lives as pets or breeding birds with the loss of feathers causing no real problems for the parrot.

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