How to Stop Unhealthy Feather Plucking Behavior

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A frequent problem with domestic or pet birds is feather plucking. Avian doctors claim to encounter this problematic issue frequently. But it’s crucial to understand that feather plucking may be controlled or even totally stopped if it’s discovered early enough before it develops into a habit. The severity of the issue is another aspect that affects how well a feather plucking therapy will work.

Many people use what I refer to as a “one-and-done” approach to convincing their feather-plucking birds to quit. They will haphazardly do one item to curb this complicated behavior, like purchasing a bird light.

Sadly, this method rarely succeeds. I’ll go through how to encourage feather plucking in birds using a more thorough strategy that, in many circumstances, will provide better results. is here to assist with all aspects of parrot wellbeing.


I’ll cover several topics connected to bird feather plucking in this blog post:

What is the definition of feather plucking?

This destructive mental behavior—known medically as pterotillomania—is brought on by various stimuli. Birds in captivity exhibit this maladaptive behavior 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 sometimes attempt to pluck all its feathers except those on their head and other inaccessible areas.


Damage is done to the skin and feathers, and the feather-plucking behavior becomes ingrained. Around 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. A similar habit, feather pecking, also results in feather loss and skin injury, but less severely.



Feather plucking is typically a complicated issue. In other words, several stresses contribute to a bird being driven to lose its most valuable asset, the feathers that enable it to fly or serve as a mate-attracting tool.

Your pet requires the following items, as shown on the hierarchy of parrot needs:


bodily requirements

Behavioral needs

necessities of society

Needs for behavioral training

As you may expect, your bird experiences stress when its requirements aren’t addressed, just like you, and I do.


The bird’s stress reactions are greater the more stressors it is exposed to. It makes sense now that we understand the complicated mix of unmet health demands that lead to the strong reaction of feather plucking and other problematic behaviors.



feather plucking


Follow the research to get your bird to quit picking off feathers. Applied behavior analysis behavior scientists have identified the most efficient methods for dealing with problematic behavior in our pet birds, such as feather plucking. These are listed below in order of effectiveness:

  • Preparing for the welfare of birds
  • Earlier rearrangement
  • boosting encouragement
  • varying reinforcement
  • Let’s address these in the order of their usefulness.


Prioritize the tactics that are most likely to be successful before focusing on the others.


Please make a schedule for how you want to handle these remedial actions. Without a strategy, it is simple to become depressed about the circumstance.


An expert in bird behavior can guide you through the entire procedure.


Prepare for the special life stage that your bird is in to meet its physical and emotional demands for both pediatric and elderly care. Your veterinarian can advise you on life-stage care techniques if you keep up with your veterinary wellness checks.


Prevention and treatment of pain: Birds frequently conceal wounds, ailments, and discomfort. This is another incentive to keep up with your yearly physicals. When a bird is in discomfort, it will exhibit mood swings and behavioral issues.


As they age, birds can develop chronic discomforts like animals or people. In addition, a bird that is not provided with healthy food may experience certain health problems. If your bird has been rehomed, you likely have no clue what circumstances could have led to persistent suffering.

Behavior: Establish reliable “parenting” routines. Like any good parent, it’s crucial to understand what constitutes appropriate conduct in addition to developing new abilities and teaching etiquette.

Also, developing efficient methods for changing problematic behavior will be crucial.

Nutrition: To avoid malnutrition symptoms, giving your pet bird an ideal, species-specific diet is important. Your bird should consume a high-quality, premium bird pellet, such as Harrison’s, Roudybush, or TOPS pellets, along with various uncooked, fresh plant foods, including vegetables, low-sugar fruits, herbs, grains, tree nuts, and more.

: aims to identify disease processes as early as possible, when they are most readily treated, by having yearly wellness checkups. Your avian veterinarian is an expert at identifying the first warning indications of nutritional deficiencies, typical avian infections, and bird pain.


These health screenings are crucial! Your pet bird is programmed to conceal any disease, discomfort, or damage symptoms. Your bird is quite unwell by the time you realize something is amiss.


Have a wellness assessment and follow your veterinarian’s instructions when you realize your bird is struggling. If you disagree with your veterinarian’s recommendations


Use a bird collar, please.

feather plucking


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 fundamental 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.

Do feathers on birds regrow?

A bird that loses feathers will often grow them back at its subsequent molt, which occurs in around 12 months. Yet, if the underlying skin structure is harmed, it cannot regenerate.

Although determining the reason for feather plucking behavior is frequently simple, it is always a good idea to see a qualified veterinarian educated in avian health and stresses.



Make a lasting change by stopping feather-plucking early. Finally, when you combine the complete spectrum of parrot wellness treatments with intense behavioral support, you’ll notice huge changes over time.

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