Date: 02/07/18
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How to prevent feather plucking


Feather plucking is a symptom, not the actual problem itself. It's when a bird starts to pick at, pull out or mutilate its feathers.
Birds may start this behaviour due to many reasons, some examples include; boredom, anxiety, nervousness, over stimulation or confusion. It's important to find the cause quickly before the problem turns into an obsessive habit.

See also - Click here for tips on bird beak care 


There are many symptoms of feather plucking, it is important to look out for the signs to catch the problem quickly:

  • Damaged feathers
  • Untidy looking feathers
  • Broken skin
  • Dry flaky skin
  • Infection
  • Depressed, irritated or stressed behaviour



There are many reasons why birds may adopt this habit. Most commonly it is down to behavioural problems, however, medical issues shouldn’t be ruled out until the owner has sought veterinary advice.

Some medical causes include:

  • Feather cyst
  • Parasites
  • Allergies
  • Infects
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Cancers

Once any medical problems have been ruled out, you can then look at behaviour and environmental reasons as to why the bird is feather plucking. 


Some examples of this include:

  • Boredom
  • Stress/anxiety
  • Jealously
  • Over-simulated
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Unsuitable diet
  • Lack of fresh air
  • Loneliness



Once the cause has been established, treatment can begin, if it is due to a medical condition the vet will prescribe medication or supplements to help treat the cause and by doing this the actual feather plucking itself should stop.

If it is due to a behaviour issue, steps should be taken to change the bird’s environment depending on why they bird is showing this behaviour.

Some helpful tips include:

  • Making sure your parrot receives a healthy balanced diet
  • Ensuring your bird has lots of toys to play with
  • Increasing the amount of human interaction
  • When the bird is alone providing soft noise or example leaving the radio on
  • Ensuring the cage is in a suitable part area, it shouldn’t be too noisily or too secluded
  • Providing the bird with the largest environment possible
  • Ensuring the bird gets enough sunlight


If none of the above work, then you can consider enlisting help from a qualified avian behaviourist. It is important to try and stop the behaviour as soon as possible because if plucking persists the damage to feather follicles may result in permanent feather loss. In most cases, if caught early enough and treated effectively the bird should make a full recovery and live a health, happy life!



British Pet Insurance Services can offer comprehensive insurance cover for your Bird.  
If you are interested, get a quote online. Or give us a call on 01444 708840.

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