Parrot Feather Plucking: An Alarming Sign of Malnutrition

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Feather plucking is a common but serious condition. This behavior is common among parrots. In a bird’s natural behavior, it is considered normal as they use this to groom themselves. The problem arises when it goes overboard.

Some parrots would chew their feathers to the point of getting damaged. Continuous plucking can lead to permanent follicle damage. Hence, their feathers will not grow anymore. That is not the worst-case, though. Some birds even mutilate themselves. It will result in open wounds and lesions that attract infection.

Check for signs

As a pet owner, make sure to spare time to check the birds. If you neglect them, chances are they are already showing signs that they are going through feather plucking. The sooner it can be determined, the better chance that your parrot can recover.

Untidy feathers

Birds, in general, looks good from the outside. It seems that a bad hair day phrase does not apply to them. If you are noticing that their feathers are bent or damaged, this is one indication of the bad behavior.

Skin problems

Skin problems are not easy to find. It is due to the feathers that surround the birds’ bodies. When you check them, check for their skin as it could show some symptoms. If there is a problem, expect to see some injuries and bite marks.


Be wary of your bird’s behavior. Is it in its usual self, or has it been behaving poorly? If the energy level drops and it is restless, there is a possibility of depression. An increase in irritability is another sign of this mental condition. Even in humans, depression can trigger a variety of problems.

Cause of the problem

It doesn’t matter how high your expertise is when it comes to birds. Feather plucking is an issue that can be hard to determine, let alone cure. Do you know why? It’s because the causes of this behavior can be anything from A to Z.

Before you can help your parrots, determine first if the root of the issue if on a physiological or psychological level. Check out the most common causes of feather plucking.

·         Physiological Aspect

It involves anything that they do physically. Parrots’ daily activities will fall into this category. Here are the causes of plucking behavior from a physiological perspective.

·         Malnutrition

It is the most common cause of feather plucking. If your pets are not getting the nutrients they need, it will be visible on their skin and feathers. They would feel sore, and there will be itchiness throughout their bodies. In this case, what do you think the bird will do? They will start with a little biting and eventually end up with feather plucking.

·         Allergies

It is still related to the food they eat. There is a possibility that you are giving them something that they are allergic to. Parrots cannot tell you that it starts to itch and feel uncomfortable whenever you give a specific food. It is up to you to check on them.

·         Environment

Sometimes owners get busy with work that they are not able to clean the birds’ cage. Birds always have droppings. It could even occur just a few minutes after eating due to a short digestive tract. If there will be droppings build-up on their cages, you are exposing them to bacteria and parasites.

What happens to your parrots once they get infected due to the dirty surrounding? It will reach their body and do some things to alleviate the discomfort. Hence, feather plucking will start and become an even bigger problem.

Psychological Aspect

These are the causes brought by mental and emotional distress. It is not surprising for birds to develop a bad behavior because of their mental state. This is a common ailment for birds living in captivity.


Parrots are naturally full of energy. If they are left with nothing to do, they will feel bored. In return, they will turn to themselves to ease their boredom. One perfect example of this is when they start biting themselves and start plucking their feathers.


It is not surprising if birds feel lonely. They are wild animals, and we took them from their natural habitat. Think of it this way; they are used to roam the horizons, play with their flock, and search for their organic food. One day, they are held captive and placed on a cage. Though they cannot tell you directly how they are missing these things, it will be shown through their actions.


Parrots can feel too much grief over the loss of a mate. They are monogamous creatures. If they lose their partner, they will alone. Fear will kick in, depression, stress, and anxiety. All these are perfect ingredients of a miserable life. Are parrots too intelligent that they can reach a level of hurting themselves to deal with a loss?

Prevent Feather Plucking by Treating the Root Cause

Treating this behavior is hard. Instead of thinking about how you can contain this ailment, it is better to find ways on how to prevent it. Stop it before it begins. Here are things you can do to stop feather plucking from occurring.

Treat Malnutrition – If your birds are eating right, we can put a stop to this behavioral issue. Feed them with nutritious food that can help develop healthy skin and feathers. If it is in good condition, your parrots won’t even start to think about plucking. You can also check with your vet if you can infuse supplements on the birds’ diet.

Treat Environment – Before your pets can pick up any diseases, make it a habit to clean things at home. Place them in an area that won’t expose them from pollution like smoke and fumes. Also, there are certain things that you need to ensure. Your birds need enough sunlight, humidity, and temperature. Without all these, the immune system of your little friends is vulnerable.

Treat Boredom – Parrots are very active. What you need to do is just continuously pique their curiosity. There are a variety of toys you can give to them. Keeping them happy is the key to avoid depression.

Treat Isolation – This is simple. Make time for your feathered friends. Let them out of their cage more often. This is the best way to expose them socially. If you can’t help but leave them alone because of work, there is still something you can do. You can leave the tv on. This way, they would feel that they are not alone. Also, you can try giving it a companion who works well.

Plucking Takeaway

Feather Plucking is a serious condition. At no point, you should take it lightly. Keep in mind that once your parrots develop this scary behavior, it tends to be recurring. Even if they were brought in for treatment, there are high chances of relapse.

The best thing to do is prevent it from happening. Make them feel the love and attention they deserve. Let them eat nutritious food. Malnourished birds are prone to acquiring infections, diseases, toxins, and viruses.

Remember that giving your parrots too much food does not guarantee their health. Give them a balanced diet as close as possible to what they can get from the wild. It has a diverse selection of seeds, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Keep your parrots happy, stop malnutrition, and combat feather plucking!

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