Bird plucking, what are some of the causes?

A bird plucking it's feathers caused the owner to write our vet for answers. This is our avian vet's response to the person with a Green Cheeked Conure that has a problem with pulling out feathers. Besides her bird pulling feathers out, it also had black marks on the feathers.

Avian vet's suggestions for the bird plucking feathers

You should seek the advice of a board certified avian veterinarian. Although testing for viruses is a good start to determining the cause of feather damaging behaviors, it is only a small part of what can be an extensive list of causes. Take your bird to an avian specialist and have a complete work up, including x-rays, and maybe skin biopsies.

Black marks on feathers could be protein deficiency, too much fat in the diet, stress, organ disease, poor lighting, fungal infection, ad many more things.

Bird Plucking reasons?

The plucking is probably not behavioral, but instead may be any number of diseases or syndromes. I see it in zinc poisoning, bacterial and viral infections, fungal infections, skin disease, pancreatic disease; almost any problem will have a component of feather plucking. It could also be environment, tobacco smoke, other allergens and irritants, cage too small, pesticides on foods, ..........

Harrison's pellets recommended for feather destruction problems

I am pleased to hear that you are feeding pellets. Your bird should be eating 80% pellets and 20% treats. Some pellets are better than others. I recommend feeding Harrison's. I do not recommend feeding any of the colored pellets or ones that have sugar (sucrose) in the ingredients, for example ZuPreem and KayTee. Harrison's is organic and contains no artificial ingredients that could be contributing to this feather damaging problem.

Distract the bird plucking it's feathers with foraging for food

The next thing you want to do is to teach your bird to forage. This is the most important activity you can have your bird do on a daily basis. It will be a distraction and potentially reduce or stop the plucking. Start with the Captive Foraging DVD and foraging toys. Then move into feeding your bird only with foraging.

Plucking problems sometimes spurred by lack of humidity

Next recommendation I have is to bathe your bird every day. One day with plain water, the next day with Avi-x Bird Rain. Continue alternating days with these two baths and wet him completely on the water days. This is another distraction and often times birds are in low humidity environments and need more moisture. A bathing dish on his own is not going to do the job.

Bird plucking sometimes disappears when full spectrum light is addedI also recommend installing a full spectrum light from ZooMed. Leave it on for 2-4 hours per day. This will benefit him in many ways and may contribute to helping stop the plucking.

Bird plucking sometimes indicates a bacterial infectionYou should switch your bird to a Lixit water bottle to reduce the chance of infection by water borne bacteria. Bacteria grow in bowls within 3 hours. Bacteria do not grow in bottles until day 4. I recommend that you change the bottle once daily and monitor it for leaks and blockage twice daily.

Pluck-No-More for bird plucking problems

If after all else is tried and no positive results have been reached, you can try Pluck-No-More. This is a water additive that is homeopathic and is effective in about 30% of birds. But use it as a last resort, because there is likely a medical problem that can be treated other ways and the Pluck-No-More is not going to work in that case.

Hope this helps. Please let me know.

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