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Pet Birds - Feather Plucking

Feather plucking is a relatively common problem with birds. Most of the time it's due to stress. First, take your bird to a veterinarian to check for mites or any other signs of a medical condition. If your bird is well medically, then your problem may be solved at home.

Feather plucking is a sign that your bird may be having problems caused by diet, environment or its relationship with you and others in the household. Here are some things you can evaluate at home:

A bird's cage is its castle. If the cage isn't the right size or is in a poor location, your bird may begin to pluck out of frustration. It needs a cage large enough to allow it to get plenty of exercise and extend its wings. If possible, you should occasionally let it stand on a perch outside its cage.

Keep the cage at eye level or slightly above. Birds enjoy looking down on their surroundings. Is the cage in a dark, drafty area? Birds are sensitive to quick temperature changes. Be sure your bird is not near an area of the house that's too hot or cold, or open to a draft. It needs about 12 hours of light a day or it may not eat enough food or get enough exercise. If its cage is in a high traffic area, try moving it to a quieter place in the house.

Depending on how long you have owned your bird, it may be stressed by contact with everyone in your family. If it seems apprehensive when you put your hand in its cage, try to leave it alone more. It is said that one way to a bird's heart is through its mouth. So approach its cage slowly with a piece of fruit or vegetable each time as a peace offering. Birds love attention, so once it is comfortable around you, give it plenty of attention.

Birds enjoy toys as much as any pet. Many birds will pluck feathers out of boredom so offer your bird a selection of rawhide bones, egg cartons or trinkets to distract it. Birds also like to climb; a play pen and T-bar will give it a pleasant escape from boredom.

Diet can be a potential problem too. There are perils in an all-seed diet. In addition to seeds, be sure your pet gets a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as a calcium supplement. Many times a change in diet alone will stop feather plucking.

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Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association
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