Feather plucking occurs when a bird chews on and pulls out its own feathers, or the feathers of a housemate. This is usually the result of either a medical or behavioral problem, such as an infection or boredom. It is important to determine the cause of feather plucking and select a natural remedy, like bathing or providing stimulation, to prevent your bird from aesthetic and physical damage.
Bathing Your Bird
Bathing is important to keep your bird's skin healthy and prevent feather plucking. If you do not already have a bathing routine, start with a gentle approach. Fill a shallow dish with room temperature water and encourage him to splash around. Or, fill a water bottle and lightly spray him. If he is uncomfortable with those methods, provide him with a bowl of rinsed greens and he may bathe himself by rubbing on the wet leaves. Avoid using shampoos and soaps on your bird unless directed to by a veterinarian.
Feather plucking is sometimes caused by a poor diet. If your bird isn't getting the proper nutrition, he becomes malnourished and stressed, which leads to feather plucking. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to start your bird on a proper diet that is full of essential vitamins, minerals and proteins. Your bird's diet should include fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Treats are appropriate for training your bird or when used as an occasional snack, but should not be given every day.
Reduce Stress and Boredom
The world going on around your bird may be causing him stress and anxiety. Whether he is stressed from a change in his living environment, such as a new bird or a newborn baby in the house, or if he is bored and isn't getting enough handling or attention, he may begin to pluck his feathers as a means of coping with the anxiety. Give your bird enough attention each day by handling him, giving him stimulating toys to play with and keeping his routine consistent to prevent unnecessary stress.
Your bird needs at least 10-12 hours of interrupted sleep each night. If your bird is not getting enough sleep, this may contribute to his feather plucking behavior. Respect your bird's need for sleep by dimming the lights and getting quiet around his bed time. If covering his cage with a breathable sheet is not enough to give him a good night's sleep, consider placing his cage in another room where there is not a lot of action at night. Like other routines such as feeding and bathing, his bed time should be consistent each night.
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