Having your pet bird pluck its feathers is a stressful time for both you and your little companion. Knowing how to recognize plucking is important, as is how to stop the behavior disorder. In this blog we will touch on those topics and give you ways to help avoid or stop feather plucking. It is very important to always check with your veterinarian if you suspect feather plucking.
Okay…what on Earth is feather plucking? If you have not heard the term before, that’s okay you are certainly not alone, and we are here to help educate you on the behavioral disorder that both wild and captive birds can exhibit. Feather Plucking is when a bird, just like you might have suspected, picks its own feathers out. This is not good behavior because this can often lead to damaging their own skin and decreases the bird’s ability to keep itself warm and dry. Both the neck and the breast are the common area a bird plucks its feathers; however, the bird can pluck wherever its beak can access. Feather plucking which is also commonly referred to as feather-picking normally occurs in captive birds, however birds in the wild do pluck their feathers sometimes to simply line their nests. Causes of feather plucking in captive birds may include poor diet, exposure to toxins, infection, lack of sleep, and even stress/depression. Its very important to treat this behavior as its not healthy for your bird.
How can you prevent or stop your bird from plucking its feathers? There are a few things such as keeping a clean cage. A messy environment stresses your bird out which can lead to feather plucking. Much like humans, regulated sleep is vital to positive behavior. Proper diet specific to the age and breed of your bird is also important. Having the wrong diet can be a large contributor to the behavior disorder. Even upgrading the birds cage to a larger one can help eliminate feather plucking. Sometimes not having enough space is the issue which will cause mental health issues for your bird. Sometimes your bird will pluck its feathers due to poor hygiene. Its important to give regular baths or mist showers to your feathery friend. Something that may seem like common sense, but worth mentioning is avoiding yelling or screaming and instead replacing that negative dialogue with positive reinforcement.
A few products are available that can help with feather plucking. The first being the Avian Feather Protector Poncho. This poncho prevents your bird from accessing its feathers with its beak. You can also pick up the Avian DIY kit which allows you to personalize your poncho with beads and strings to pluck at instead! A less pleasant but effective solution for you and your bird may be Grannick’s Bitter Apple Deterrent Spray. This harmless spray will deter your bird from plucking and picking its feathers.
All in all, if you make an honest effort in providing a healthy environment for your bird which includes adequate space, clean cage, proper diet, regular baths, and quality time together, you should find that your bird doesn’t exhibit any feather plucking behavior. However should you take these precautions and your bird begins to pluck, you should contact your vet immediately.