Feather plucking disorders rank as some of the most difficult and frustrating conditions to diagnose. Because anxieties can be triggered by so many different things, it can be challenging to pinpoint the cause of the feather plucking. Fortunately, however, feather plucking is usually quite noticeable so it can be detected early on by bird owners.
What is Feather Picking/Plucking?
Feather picking is the destructive and obsessive behavior of a bird who methodically plucks out all or a portion of its feathers, stunting normal feather growth. Healthy birds go through a natural process called molting, which is the loss of old feathers being replaced by new ones.
Feather picking can be caused by physical and emotional problems. Physical problems can include hormonal changes, parasites, poor nutrition and bacterial and fungal diseases. Birds can also suffer from past trauma, emotional and psychological stress.
Ways To Treat and Prevent Your Bird From Feather Picking
- There is no absolute solution to the problem of feather picking. There are collars made specifically for this disorder that creates a barrier between the beak and feathers. These collars are mainly for the treatment of the symptoms and to help stop a bird from causing damage and mutilation to its feathers. A collar, though, is a temporary fix. It obvious can’t either diagnose or resolve the underlying causes.
- Collars work on some birds, but it should be noted that a collar may just add more stress to others.
- If physical/medical reasons are ruled out, a bird owner may need to make some changes to their bird’s routine. They may have to allow more space for the bird, more freedom or change the location of the cage to see what happens.
- Bird owners need to make sure that their birds are getting enough rest. Moving the bird cage to a more secluded and quiet area of the house and covering the cage at night with a large dark cloth or piece of fabric can help.
- Bathing birds daily with a few mists of water can also help stop feather picking. Wetting or misting your bird also assists in the normal preening process.
- Providing a bird with a new and wide variety of foods may help if a bird is suffering from boredom. Spice up things in the house during the day. Playing some soft quiet music or spending more time chatting and singing to a bird may be helpful.
- There are some cases where many of the popular remedies may not work, including the foul smelling and tasting sprays that are on the market that are supposed to act as a deterrent for feather picking. If this is the case, the bird’s activities and behaviors may need to be watched carefully and documented to study what may be the triggers for the destructive behavior.
Still concerned about your bird’s feather plucking habit? Give me a call today for a consultation.