Is Your Bird Pulling Out Its Own Feathers?
At our hospital we have the pleasure of seeing many species of birds. However, one of the issues most commonly seen is feather picking. Birds, no matter what species are known to preen and groom their feathers. This is a normal behavior, however it becomes a problem when they overpreen or begin to self mutilate themselves.
We are often asked why is my bird pulling out its feathers? Unfortunately, there are many cause of why this may be occurring. Here is a list of some of the causes:
- Boredom and emotional stress (their human or another bird passed away, cage was relocated)
- Sexual maturity
- Their normal light and dark cycles have been altered
- Allergies to the environment or food
- Skin conditions (parasites [internal or external], dry skin, low humidity or no baths)
- Metabolic diseases or cancer
As veterinarians it is a process of trying to figure out the cause of this disorder. However, we can do blood work and skin tests to verify there no abnormalities with these systems. We can make sure they are getting fresh air, sunlight, and have the correct light cycle. However, this is a disorder that becomes a habit to many birds. Some things that you can do at home to help would include:
- Have different toys, working for food (puzzle toys)
- Placing the cage in an area with family members
- Add omega fatty acids to the diet
- Bathing frequently to help encourage normal preening and grooming
A great resource for increasing environmental enrichment is the Parrot Enrichment Activity Book, a free PDF download.
If your bird begins to incessantly pull out its own feather, or if you have concerns about your bird please contact us so that we can help you and your feathered family member.