Tips to Prevent Feather Plucking in Birds
Birds make joyful pets that can keep you entertained with their funny antics and the habit of mimicking the sounds they hear. Although birds are relatively low maintenance pets as compared to cats and dogs, some problems with these little pets can get the owners worried. One such unhealthy habit is feather picking or feather plucking. It is a dangerous habit that can harm the feather follicles and may cause self-mutilation or an infection. To prevent this unhealthy behavior, we need to understand the primary reasons behind it and then figure out ways to eliminate or minimize the factors.
But before discussing the solution, it is essential to understand why do birds pick their feathers and what might be the reasons behind the habit. Feather plucking is a behavioral problem where birds cause self-destruction. There are various reasons why birds might begin to pluck feathers, the major ones are:
Deficiency of essential minerals such as calcium, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and manganese can cause itchy skin due to which the bird may pluck feathers.
Our feathered companions may seem tiny, but they require mental stimulation every day to stay healthy. When birds are made to spend most of their times confined in their cages without any activities or toys, they get bored and pick their feathers.
Stress is a critical factor that can lead to the onset of the destructive habit. There are various reasons why your bird may feel anxious or stressed. It can be either due to the presence of potentially threatening things in its surroundings. Since birds can perceive our moods, they may also get stressed if their humans are going through the same.
Birds are social creatures that live in flocks, so it is best to adopt a pair or a group of these otherwise the bird may feel lonely. Birds such as cockatiels, parakeets, African greys need considerable time outside their cages interacting with their humans otherwise they may also resort to feather plucking.
Other causes include pain, allergies, infections, environmental toxins, etc. Let us now have a look at five ways of preventing this self-destruction in our feathered companions.
Eliminate Potential Causes of Stress
If you feel your bird is stressed, either due to the presence of other pets around her cage or noisy areas, the first step is to minimize or eliminate all stress causing factors. When you notice your bird plucking feathers, try to identify the causes around her. Do not shout at her asking her to stop as that will frighten the birdie even more. Also, don’t try to correct her feather picking continuously as she may perceive it as a way of seeking attention and continue to do it.
Ensure a Healthy Diet
Like us humans, our parrots also love junk foods such as chips, French fries that can be harmful to their health. Make sure you swap these with healthier alternatives. Don’t feed your bird any toxic foods such as chocolate, avocado, onion, garlic, etc. Provide them with a diet based on fresh fruits and seeds. Add a mineral block inside your bird’s cage to fulfill her mineral requirements. Using food for mental stimulation is also an excellent idea so try incorporating a varied diet that requires effort and time to eat such as non-shelled nuts.
Find Ways to Keep Your Parrot Entertained
To keep your pet bird healthy it is imperative to give her attention and fulfill her requirement of mental stimulation. Purchase a variety of toys including chains, bells, woodblocks, ropes, and ladders that are suitable for the bird’s size and are durable. Keep rotating these to keep your bird’s attention invested in the toys. Try to provide natural objects that your bird can investigate and chew such as branches from non-toxic trees but make sure they are free from insecticides.
Make it a priority to spend time with your parrot daily. Play games such as Peekaboo, tickle your bird or you can even teach her simple tricks.
Set-Up the Perfect Cage
Your bird’s environment, the cage location, and size play a significant role in her mental well-being. Get a large-sized cage for your parrots that can accommodate various perches & toys, and your parrot has sufficient space for flying. After purchasing the appropriate cage, look for a location that doesn’t have any views that may seem potentially harmful to your feathered companion. Ideally choose an area according to your bird’s temperament, for instance, shy birds prefer being in a room away from the noise and human traffic. For birds that become feather pickers, changing the location of the cage itself or the perches inside can help treat the issue.
Consult the Veterinarian
If you have tried all remedies to prevent the destructive habit yet it persists, it is best to consult the veterinarian. If the vet thinks that the feather picking may be due to pain, they will get X-Rays done and will provide you the necessary medication. If it is due to any other skin condition, infection, or allergies than the required course of treatment will be carried out.
About the Author: Danica Boyd is a bird enthusiast and nature lover. She has been keeping pet birds for several years and now has tons of practical experience in caring for birds. She writes for the team behind https://www.birdcagesnow.com