A parrot that chews its feathers either is really stressed or trying to tell you something. Ignore the problem and you'll soon have a bald bird feeling miserable. By making changes, and talking to the vet when necessary, you can make your bird healthy and happy again.
Remove the stressor. One of the main reasons parrots pluck or chew their feathers is stress. Maybe your bird hates the new kitten roaming around the rooms, or maybe the cage you bought feels more like a prison than a penthouse because of its size. Since you can't ask your bird what's stressing him out, it's all a question of trial and error. Observe him for a while and see if you can figure what triggers the chewing. Then start changing one thing at a time and give the change a few days to make a difference. If it's not working, move on to the next point on the list.
Talk to the vet. Just because you can't see anything wrong with your parrot doesn't mean there's no infection lurking underneath. Parrots are susceptible to fungal, viral and bacterial infections of the skin, as well as allergic reactions and parasites. All of these can irritate the skin or make it itchy and uncomfortable. Chewing the feathers sometimes is a sign of frustration and sometimes a desperate attempt to get to the skin under the feathers.
Provide some entertainment. Some parrots chew their feathers out of boredom or loneliness. Some birds live in large flocks in the wild and hate the idea of being at home alone all day while you go out to work or enjoy a meal with friends. While you can't quit your job, you can provide him with some mental stimulation to keep him occupied when you're out. Interactive toys are best. Pet stores sell a variety of puzzles, talking and musical toys (many of which are set up to respond to a parrot's voice or singing), swinging toys and even mirrors. You also can leave the TV or the radio on for your bird so he has some "company."
Switch to a better diet. It's not just humans who can benefit from a high-protein diet. Good quality bird food will be balanced with the right amount of protein and fat. If you feed cheap food, don't be surprised if your bird goes looking for the missing nutrients somewhere else, in this case in his own feathers. A quick blood test can determine what your parrot is missing out on and whether he needs supplements to get back on track.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.