If you are lucky enough to enjoy the company of a parrot or any other exotic bird, you will have observed that at certain times of the year it loses its feathers and at other times, for no apparent reason, its precious plumage is plucked.
This circumstance, in addition to producing bald patches, wounds and important infections in our pet, can lead to other more serious problems, if the origin of such behaviour is not discovered.
When feathers fall in specific periods, especially in spring and autumn, we should not be alarmed, because it is a completely normal and natural situation that occurs by the need to move their plumage to protect both the high temperatures of summer and the cold and harsh winter.
Origin of bird pecking and main causes
There are several reasons why our beloved parrot, parakeet, agaporni, cockatoo or any other exotic bird that shares its life with us intentionally plucks and acts in this compulsive way. The behavior of plucking the feathers is known as “picaje” (pecking) and if we see that it happens too often it is advisable to go to the veterinarian specialized in exotic birds as soon as possible to discover the causes that are causing it.
Stinging is a complex and generally difficult to treat behavioural disorder.
In the wild, parrots spend most of their time on daily tasks such as foraging, social interactions and preening. The balance between these 3 behaviours is fundamental to mental health.
Foraging behavior is usually absent in captivity, social interactions are altered because the bird lives in a “flock” of humans. This last alteration is even greater when the owners are away from home for hours and the parrot remains alone (which is totally unnatural).
All this alters the balance between the 3 basic behaviours: as the parrot no longer spends time searching for food and is deprived of the possibility of social interactions, it exacerbates preening behaviour to the extent of cutting or plucking its feathers or, in more serious cases, even injuring itself.
These are some of the most common reasons:
- Depression due to loneliness or lack of affection like human beings, our winged friends are tremendously social and sensitive animals who need the attention, affection and company of other birds or those who care for them so that they do not feel sad and go into depression. However, our dizzying pace of life forces us to be away from home for a long time and that can lead our pet to feel a deep sense of loneliness. One of the main reasons why they tend to ruffle their feathers.
- Situation of continuous stress and anxiety. This reason is closely linked to the sadness, feeling of loneliness and abandonment explained in the previous point. But if we also add to all this the boredom, the lack of communication with our pet, the sudden changes that may occur in their routine, such as a move, noise or the presence of family tension are more than enough reasons for our precious pet to suffer intense stress and therefore pluck compulsively.
- Nutritional and hormonal deficiencies. Sometimes, the fact that our pet has an important nutritional deficit or lack of vitamins caused by an inadequate feeding can cause, on the one hand, an important loss of weight and the loosening of its feathers and, on the other hand, dryness in its skin accompanied by an intense itching that incites it to scratch with vehemence and pluck its feathers, leaving areas uncovered.
- Environmental factors. External aspects such as excess humidity, tobacco smoke and even cooking fumes can also affect you.
- Bacterial diseases, infections or skin alterations. When our bird’s skin is affected by fungus or infection, in addition to causing annoying itching and inflammation, it leads to the feathers coming loose easily and the intense scratching aggravates the infection problems.
- External parasites. Both mites and lice have a great influence on our pet itching to try and relieve the strong itching sensation. In this case, it will be necessary, always under veterinary supervision, to apply an antiparasitic treatment.
Tips to reduce your pet’s itch
There are factors such as hormones that are more difficult to solve when it comes to preventing our pet from biting. However, there are other causes that we can improve and even avoid, following a series of guidelines or advice that will help our friend feel more relieved and therefore less tempted to get rid of their colourful plumage.
Here are some of them:
- Communicate a lot with your pet. They are mostly chatty and very sociable, so talking and playing with them is what can make them happy. Try to take him out of the cage a little bit every day, provide him with toys to enjoy and above all give him a lot of love. If they feel loved, avoid boring them, depressing them or making them feel sad and lonely. If they have to stay home alone for a long time for work or other reasons, leave the radio or television on so that they always feel accompanied.
- Place the cage in a hygienic and pleasant environment. Keeping the cage always clean and located in a bright and cheerful space is essential. Besides avoiding the proliferation of parasites we make our winged partner feel happier. In case he is already affected by mites or other species of parasites then it is recommended to go to the clinic so that the vet can proceed to apply the deworming treatment he needs as soon as possible.
- Encourage foraging behaviour, e.g. individually wrapping the pieces of food. we can make “candies” or “cones” with pieces of feed and/or a few seeds. not all “candies” should contain food.
- Spray your bird with clean water every day. Gentle spraying stimulates normal preening and improves the quality of the plumage. Offer an object to preen (that can be destroyed): for example a natural bristle brush, a tassel or a duster (not dyed). You can play with these objects and “preen” them
- Give him a healthy and balanced diet. Feed is undoubtedly one of the fundamental parts of his diet and for it to be complete it must be accompanied by certain types of seeds, fruits and vegetables. Therefore, so that our pet does not have any nutritional deficiencies and to know what specific food your exotic bird requires, it is advisable to consult your veterinarian first.
The reasons why exotic birds pluck their feathers are very diverse. So if we detect that our winged pet is stinging in a compulsive way, it is important that we go to your vet to find out what has caused this problem, with the aim of applying the appropriate treatment to relieve it and give it back its quality of life.