Plucking is a heart breaking behaviour to watch in parrots. Did you know it only occurs in captivity? So it must be us ?? Are we caring for them correctly? Lets be honest with ourselves. When we have found the cause, nutritional, boredom, emotional, we need to set to work to fix the cause and be patient during the healing process. I have seen parrots take up to a year to heal and refeather so we need to be positive, patient and persistent, for however long it takes. It is no good screaming and shouting at the parrot, not only is that likely to make the problem worse, but he is trying to tell us to fix something that is wrong. He wants our help and is plucking to get it.
Always look at the parrots diet first, then his housing arrangement, then his emotional state, then check he is being stimulated enough, check the amount of time you are giving him, many behaviour consultants have an indepth list of questions that they can go through with you. Always be honest with your consultant, she cant help fix the problem if she is only being given half the information. I have chosen 4 causes for plucking that you may not have thought about.
- Metal poisoning: Is the cage rusty? is he playing with toxic toys?
- Environmental changes: Have you moved the furniture where his cage is situated? Have you moved in plants? Have you moved house?
- Improper wing clipping: Have your birds wings been clipped too short? unevenly? Has the whole procedure been too much for your bird?
- Guardian changes: Have you changed the colour of your hair? Have you started wearing glasses? Have you put on or lost weight?
African Greys, Cockatoos, and Amazons are most prone to plucking, but any bird can pluck if it is not getting the right care.
Always be swift to act if your bird starts plucking.
Start with the vet, then head for a parrot behaviour consultant.
In brief I want to give you a few pointers:
- Diet, fruit, nuts, vegetables, seeds sprouts and cereal every day! Start feeding right and make it fun. Cook for your parrot, there are recipes on this web site.
- Housing, A good quality cage, with enough room to spread the wings, lots of home cut perches, kept clean all the time. Cleaning regularly is important!
- Emotional state, Is your parrot grieving, Is he being abused, is he being forgotten.
- Boredom, Lots of coloured toys, in and out the cage, a playstand? time in the garden, outings,
- Time, Parrots need a lot of your time, they need to interact with you daily, check out my articles on cage-top-toys, and side-by-side activities.
I am a firm believer in music therapy, I have seen it stop a plucking bird, try this! soft, mood music, at my boarding facility I play music nearly all the time.
Think of yourself for a moment, dont you get grouchy if you dont eat right ?live right? and are bored? Chances are you fix yourself quite quickly. Do the same for your bird, act fast!
Remember it is never too late to make changes to stop the plucking. And it is generally not that hard.
Habitual plucking is a problem, the very best you can do for a habitual plucker is learn to love him that way. It’s not hard, I have seen it done.