Why Do Birds Pluck Their Feathers?

A blue parrot cleans it's feathers. Focus is on the parrots eye with a shallow depth of field.
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Birds pluck their feathers for several reasons. In the wild, they use plucked feathers to line their nests during breeding season. Many bird feathers also come out as a bird performs its normal preening and grooming routine.

In captivity, however, a plucking bird can be a sign of veterinary or environmental problems. If you suspect that your bird has been plucking its feathers, the best advice is to get your bird to an avian vet as quickly as possible.

If the vet determines your bird to be free of PBFD or other medical problems, then your bird's plucking is most likely due to an environmental issue.

Birds that are stressed will pluck as a means of pacifying themselves, and sometimes out of boredom or lack of interaction. To determine if there is an environmental cause for the bird's behavior, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the bird eat a healthy diet? A nutritional deficiency can stress a bird to the point of plucking and other self mutilation. If you find that your bird's diet is less than spectacular, try mixing it up a bit by adding some fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
  • Is the bird's cage clean and comfortable? Birds are hygienic animals by nature, and a dirty, unkempt cage is detrimental to their mental as well as physical health. Check out your bird's cage to see if better housekeeping is in order, and if so, make a point to address it promptly.
  • Does the bird get enough attention and mental stimulation? Parrots are highly intelligent and social creatures. They crave interaction with their flock members, and will sometimes pluck if they feel neglected. Evaluate the quality time that you spend with your pet and make sure that you are providing your bird with enough socialization, interaction, and play.

    If you find that any area of your bird's environment isn't as wonderful as it should be, take immediate action to make your bird more comfortable. Once a bird starts plucking its feathers, it can be difficult to get it to stop if the condition has been allowed to go on for a time. Make sure your pet's plumage stays intact by being the most caring and attentive bird owner that you can be.