Feather Plucking Behavior

How to Stop Unhealthy Feather Plucking Behavior

Although feathers are frequently the first feature of birds that we notice, there is much more to these animals than beauty and majesty. The condition of your bird’s feathers may reveal a lot about its health and happiness. Even though some feathers can naturally come out due to molting, a bird that pulls feather plucking out repeatedly might be trying to tell you something is wrong.

Your Bird is Pulling Feathers—why?

This is known scientifically as pterotillomania, and it is a harmful mental activity produced by a variety of stimuli. Birds in captivity exhibit this maladaptive behavioral condition by yanking off their feathers or chewing them till they fall out. On the breast, this frequently happens close to the tailor and is accomplished by their beak. The bird may attempt to remove all of its feathers in various circumstances, except those that are out of reach, such as the head.

feather plucking behaviour

The skin and feathers are damaged, and the practice of plucking feathers becomes habitual. About 10% of captive-bred parrots will exhibit this behavior at some time, which is most prevalent among Psittaciformes. It is typically located in an inaccessible body section, such as the ventral wing region, neck, chest, or back. Contour or down feathers are the major ones most likely to get plucked. It is comparable to feather pecking, resulting in feather loss and skin damage, but less severely.

This habit can resemble trichotillomania, also known as impulse control disorder (ICD), in people. The bird uses feather plucking as a means of mental or physical relaxation. All parrots kept in captivity are prone to acquiring this behavioral issue, and some birds even have the mental aptitude for stealing feathers from their parents from birth. Plucking is enjoyed as a feeling, and it may easily become routine.


Understanding the various elements involved is the key to spotting them before they pose a problem.

They are underlying medical causes. An unwell bird may start plucking its feathers as a kind of self-care or self-soothing or because the illness is causing it irritation. To rule out conditions like infections (bacterial, viral, and parasitic), allergies (such as pollen, mold, and certain foods, for example), hypothyroidism, and nervousness, take your pet to the doctor if you detect this behavior in them.

Environmental factors.

Humidity, sound level, stress, and natural sunshine exposure can trigger environmental elements of Feather plucking.

Lifestyle elements.

Some birds start plucking their feathers because of boredom, a lack of movement or activity, sexual dissatisfaction, loneliness, or a lack of interaction with their pet parent.


Feather plucking may also result from malnutrition.

Preening versus feather plucking in birds

feather plucking behaviour

It’s critical to distinguish between plucking and preening. Preening is a typical, healthy maintenance habit used to disperse oil, remove dirt, and change feather position to maintain the health of the feathers. A damaging habit known as plucking involves a bird deliberately pulling off its feathers. Over time, this can harm the feather follicles and prevent the creation of healthy new feathers.

1. Habitat

Your bird may engage in this activity if their habitat or cage needs to be improved to alleviate boredom and stress symptoms. People do this because they feel they have nothing else to do, and it stimulates them. This is typical if the habitat is too tiny or lacks stimulation, such as toys.

2. Pain

Because they are unable to manage pain adequately, birds will begin to pull out their feathers in the place where the pain is emanating. Since they seek to intentionally hurt the affected place to harm themselves further and focus on a different form of pain, this behavioral issue contributes to the problem.

3. Disease

Feather plucking may have a variety of underlying causes, ranging from bacterial and viral infections to malignancies, endocrine disorders, and vitamin deficiencies. Considering this, it is crucial to get your bird inspected by a veterinarian if he is plucking feathers.

4. Toxins

 Your bird may not be exposed to many foreign toxins in the wild, but the home environment contains a variety. Chewing on different objects can result in heavy metal poisoning, and your bird may also be harmed by cigarette smoke and kitchen smells.

5. Allergies

Birds in allegoric can represent several things. As a result of the allergic response, the bird may scratch or pick at its feathers until they fall out, leaving a dry, bald area on its body. Common household allergens that cause bird allergic reactions include corn, wheat, rice, and maize.

6. Diet

Birds given poor-quality food are more likely to have various health problems, including vitamin deficiencies. Their feathers may grow fragile and fall off more frequently, and their skin may be scratchy and unpleasant.

How to Cure and Avoid Feather Plucking?

Feather Plucking Behavior

To stop feather plucking, you must first determine what you believe to be the root of the damaging activity. Placing a collar on your bird won’t address the root reasons for the problem; instead, it will just halt the plucking itself and may worsen stress or illness. You can reduce the number of probable reasons by speaking with your veterinarian. Depending on what you uncover, the following therapy suggestions are provided:

Environment and Enrichment

To ensure that the size and quantity of birds in the tank can live happily, ensure the environment is enough. Toys that stimulate the mind, such as mirrors, should be included, and plenty for your bird to chew on.

To combat boredom, always maintain sociable birds in pairs or groups and make an effort to give regular interaction.

But ensure adequate circulation and keep the cage away from dry areas. To stop mold formation, periodically clean the cage and mop away any water that spills from their dish.

Toxins and allergies

 Eliminate the allergens or poisons by determining their source. Ensure your bird doesn’t eat anything with allergens and keep his cage away from smoking or the kitchen. Move your bird to a cage with non-toxic bars if you suspect heavy metal poisoning, and make sure not to offer him any metal toys.


Reduce the number of seeds you give your bird while increasing the number of veggies or other things you give him.


feather plucking behaviour

In the beginning, many individuals decide to use a bird collar to break the cycle of plucking before it develops into compulsive behavior. Most birds are reasonably adaptable to wearing a bird collar. But, we’ve discovered that birds with a serious plucking issue or those who have acquired a compulsive habit over time require considerably more help than just a collar.

Remember that a bird collar only briefly halts the cycle of plucking. In other words, when the collar is removed, most birds will eventually resume plucking feathers. A bird collar does not address the underlying issues that led to the bird’s initial behavior. As you learn how to utilize it permanently, such as optimizing for parrot wellbeing and applying behavior analysis, your bird is supported by a collar.


Many individuals are concerned that plucking their bird’s feathers may cause it to die. Indeed, a feather-picking habit usually becomes worse with time. Yet, there is no proof that merely injuring or removing feathers can cause a bird to perish.

While this is true, it is important to recognize that the bird’s unmet health demands may cause its death.

10% of birds who pick their feathers develop the severe illness known as self-mutilation. When a bird starts tearing at its skin and muscular tissue, it is engaging in self-mutilation. This tendency is quite unsettling. A bird may conceivably bleed to death, to start. Second, the likelihood of a potentially fatal infection shoots up.


Most birds can regrow their feathers if caught in the right time frame. Generally speaking, if your bird has only been plucking for less than two years, there is a big chance the feathers will regrow. They are using a quality bird vitamin, such as Feathered Up!

Yet, birds who repeatedly pluck the same region may have damaged the surrounding tissue too much for it to be able to regenerate new feathers. But it doesn’t imply better parrot well-being won’t help your bird!

Recall this. When your bird removes a feather, much skin tissue is torn off. Scar tissue forms over time, preventing the feather follicle from producing healthy feathers.


An expert avian veterinarian should handle severe feather plucking. They can also support future medical treatment by identifying the reason for the feather plucking. If your bird’s feather plucking increases to a severe behavior issue, you should speak with an avian behaviorist who can provide you with advice and techniques for successfully getting your bird to quit.

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