Your First Looks at Fixing a Plucking Parrot

Photo by Dave Location: Bothell, WA At Zazu's House: Blue and gold macaw 

Unless your plucking parrot has a medical condition, these are the tips we give to those with plucking parrots. I thought it needed its own blog post to get those of you asking for help started with the proper links and beginner help.  

Here are the first things we recommend looking at with your bird, that could be considered quick fixes to your problem of your bird’s plucking. If it’s one of these things, it could be easily reversed. If it’s more medical based, you will need the help of an avian vet. Keep in mind “easily reversed” means it will still be quite the process of the feathers to grow back in (that takes time) but you can make changes to your bird’s habits and environments immediately so the quick part can be YOUR role in changing the situation.  

Photo by Dave Location: Bothell, WA At Zazu's House: African grey & blue and gold macaw

  • Diet and Nutrition.
Is your bird eating a healthy pellet? Colored pellets, or ones with unhealthy ingredients just aren’t as beneficial for birds. For birds with allergies, likely a plucking parrot, you can also use Roudybush’s rice formula. It’s not organic, but it’s for parrots that show allergies to foods in most other pellets, including organic ones. See what your bird reacts more positively to and buy accordingly.  Here are links to those pellets to get you started:  
  1. Feed Your Flock pellets
  2. Harrison’s Organic pellets and formulas
  3. Roudybush rice formula for allergenic parrots

Next, you’ve got your main pellet, now what else are you feeding your bird? For a complete run down on parrot nutrition, click here

Photo by Dave Location: Bothell, WA Zazu's House: Blue and gold macaw, Scarlet macaw, Green wing macaw

  • Cleanliness.

Plucking parrots usually start plucking by beginning to over-preen. Usually from feeling dirty whether you or someone in your house is a smoker, you use lots of scented things like candles and sprays, etc.   You need to be bathing your bird 5-7 times a week in the summer months and 3-5 times a week in the winter months. Or as often as your bird will bathe if it wants to do so more.   There are lots of ways to bathe your bird and entice your bird to bathe. It can be hard if water or spray bottles were ever used as “punishment” to your bird, though. And can be quite the battle but it is doable.  Bathe, bathe, bathe.  

If your bird doesn't like to take baths, train it to like it!

Photo by Dave Location: Bothell, WA Zazu's House: Blue and gold macaws, Scarlet macaws

  • Environment.

Real sunshine is super important for proper looking plumage. An outdoor aviary for your bird is necessary even if where you live you can only keep your bird outside 3 months out of the year. It’s worth it. Your bird needs it, and not just through a window.  

  • A reason.

Birds are more likely not to pluck if they have a reason to keep their feathers - for say, flying somewhere? Keeping your bird fully flighted is better overall for your bird’s health to get the proper exercise to make its body crave the healthier foods in the first place.

Flight training is an option, always, and creates an amazing bond with your bird. If he’s using his wings, he won’t want them not working, he will likely take better care of them.  

Photo by Dave Location: Bothell, WA Zazu's House: Blue and gold macaws, Scarlet macaw

  • Training.

Your bird may be plucking because it has nothing else to do. Foraging toys (check out Captive Foraging the DVD) are a great solution to this, as well as training tricks and other things. There are so many options when it comes to looking at parrot training that you literally can’t run out! From putting natural behaviors on cue for fun, training talking, trick training, flight training, socializing and more. There’s always something to do, and it can be very fun and rewarding for you and your bird.   Need more help with your plucking parrot? Check out these related articles... 

Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with. 

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