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Feather picking or biting is not normal parrot behaviour, it is an indicator that something is wrong. Feather picking is a complex and common problem, as there can be many causes. Finding the exact cause is difficult, treatment is lengthy and the results are only visible after a few months at best. The commitment of the parrot’s owners is therefore crucial.

The problem of feather picking can manifest itself in many different ways, including feather picking, feather biting, self-mutilation (where the parrot picks its feathers to the point of wounds) and even excessive handling of feathers is also a problematic behaviour. For example, this parrot is not plucked, but the bite marks are clearly visible. In this case, help should also be sought.

The causes of feathering are divided into medical (e.g. illness, pain, inflammation, etc.) and social/psychological. All parrots that are biting should first be examined by a veterinarian with blood and other tests. And only then, if all testsIf the parrot is within the normal range, it can be said that the parrot is fighting over psychological problems.

Small parrots usually pick at themselves for medical reasons, medium and large parrots for social/psychological problems. But it can be all sorts of things, so research is needed.

The most common feather pickers are Gulls (as many as 40%), Cockatoos and Eclectus parrots.

The main causes of feathering are:

Poor diet

Poor diet is probably the most common cause of moulting. If a parrot that has been molting for a long time has had seeds/nuts as a major part of its diet, the first thing that needs to be done to help it is to change to a balanced diet. This is described more here.

Seeking attention

A common mistake made by owners is to react when a parrot is self-harming. If you draw attention to the bird (start shouting, move away) when it is picking at its feathers, you are encouraging the parrot’s misbehaviour. Because if the parrot gets attention every time it plucks its feathers, it will repeat.

obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) with feather picking. The most common cause of feather picking is boredom in jacob parrots, as they need to get plenty of mental activity. Parrots need to be able to make their own decisions, solve problems/challenges, learn and discover new things.

How to solve a problem?

Increase parrot occupancy. The cage should have 2 – 4 toys at all times, which should be replaced weekly. When entering, give the parrot a toy (foraging) from which it can scratch out food for a while. It turns out that parrots have an instinctive tendency to reach for food, i.e. to scratch it out, to pull it out, to find it, even if the cage is filled with easily accessible food.

This keeps the parrot physically and mentally engaged, reducing stress, boredom and aggression.Some owners leave the radio or TV on when they go out, so that the parrot is not stressed by the silence. In the wild, parrots live in noisy environments, where silence means the appearance of danger, a predator. Let the paper be torn.

Release parrots every daymore flying. Parrots are social animals, so give them more of your time. Parrots (depending on the species) are as big as three-year-olds. Therefore, parrots, especially large parrots, need frequent, quality contact with humans or other parrots. Keep the cage in the room where you spend most of your time. The slats in the cage should be of different thicknesses and arranged in different directions, vary the arrangement of the slats.

It is useful to take the parrot outside in the summer (on a leash or in a cage) as it senses its surroundings, observes changes, reacts to the weather and birds flying over, and thus receives a lot of useful mental stimulation. Mix small inedible items (which would not be dangerous to the parrot) with the food, it will take time for the parrot to remove them from the container. Change toys when the parrot gets tired of them.

Separation anxiety

A parrot will start to fight when it is left alone because it feels unsafe or angry. Separation anxiety is the most common cause of feather picking in Cockatoos, as they have strong become attached to their owners. This is why cockatoos often start fighting when their owners go on holiday or are away for long periods.

How to solve the problem? Leave the parrot alone for a short time, and gradually increase the separation. At the same time, increase the parrot’s occupancy by giving food, foraging toys and treats when you go out.

Chronic stress

In nature, the parrot’s reaction to fear is to fly away. If a parrot does not have the opportunity to fly away and avoid the stressor, it may channel its pent-up energy into feather picking. Stress can be caused by very minimal stimuli that are not disturbing to humans and are not noticed by them. For example – car noise in the street; too little light in the room during the day; too many lights from the street in the room at night; a large colony of crows living near the house; neighbours listening to loud, noisy music when you are not at home; changes in the environment – a new cage, a new toy, unfamiliar people, animals, arguments at home etc. Stress can be caused by the separation of bonded parrots or new parrot/pet/baby at home.

How to solve the problem? Find out what the parrot is afraid of. As many factors can cause stress, I recommend that owners monitor the environment and how the parrot reacts to stimuli. Only you can find the real cause of the stress, because you know your bird and its environment best. Avoid changes in the environment.

Sex hormones

Behavioural problems and moulting due to sex hormones are most common in Great Parrots. When hormones are imbalanced, the bird feels anxious, aggressive, and wants to dominate and defend its territory. This escalates into feather picking.

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