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My Bird Has a Feather-Plucking Habit

November 15, 2014

Your pet bird Lulu has always been an avian beauty queen, preening herself daily and plucking out occasional stray feathers that dared to get out of line. Lately, though, Lulu spends most of her day systematically removing all the feathers she can reach. She has scattered feathers around her cage floor, and you wonder if Lulu will stop before she gets them all. Since Lulu’s unusual antics present a red flag, you’ll ask your Black Hills veterinarian to diagnose Lulu’s strange behavior and figure out a solution.

Causes of Your Bird’s Obsessive Plucking

First, your vet will look for a medical problem. Perhaps Lulu is battling an internal or external parasite; or she might have developed a skin condition, metabolic disorder, or liver disease. Lulu might suffer from a nutrient deficiency that results in skin and feather abnormalities. She could even be allergic to some component in her bird food.

Moving on to Lulu’s environment, she might not receive enough fresh air daily; or maybe she has experienced a shakeup in her normal day/night body rhythms. Perhaps Lulu’s environment itself has changed, as you’ve moved her cage to another room that has different furnishings, along with more traffic and higher noise levels. Looking at a behavioral cause, Lulu might be really bored; or she might be mentally overstimulated or anxious, and she plucks her feathers to cope with her distress.

Multi-pronged Treatment Program

Since Lulu’s feather plucking behavior likely has multiple causes, your Black Hills vet will probably use a menu of treatment tools to resolve Lulu’s problem. He’ll first treat her underlying medical problem or nutrient deficiency. After that, he’ll focus on changing her behavior. He’ll likely recommend that you occupy Lulu with interactive toys and perform other vet-recommended behavioral treatment. You might even need to change your bird’s living environment.

After Lulu loses her motivation to obsessively pluck her feathers, she’ll likely stop this undesirable behavior, giving her feathers a chance to grow back over time.

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