Many of the parrots we see at rescues and sanctuaries have plucking problems. What's even worse is the many calls we get from people who no longer want their pets because they no longer are “attractive”. Feather plucking is a tough habit to break once it starts. It's like smoking or eating chocolate – very difficult to stop. The good news is, feather plucking rarely leads to self mutilation, a condition where a bird rips his own skin open. This post looks at what feather plucking is, why it happens, and what you can do to help your feather plucking friend.
What is feather plucking?
Note there are also huge differences between preening, molting, and feather plucking. Birds spend a certain amount of time every day smoothing out their feathers to make them look and feel nice. This is normal. Parrots go through molting periods, where extra feathers come out, including down feathers, to make way for new growth. This typically is seasonal in the wild, but for captive parrots in a controlled temperature environment, it often happens more frequently. Feather plucking is the ripping out, or breaking of, or fraying of feathers, a behavior that only exists in captive parrots.