A parrot's feathers are one of its most distinctive characteristics. It provides a colorful sense of visual appeal, which in turn helps the species procreate.
When a parrot suddenly loses its feathers for no apparent reasons, owners often grow concerned that an underlying disease or illness is to blame. If you've noticed your parrot rapidly losing its feathers, keep reading to learn some of the possible causes of this condition
Like most birds on the planet, parrots typically go through molting phases where they shed their old feathers to make way for new ones This is completely normal and should cause no concern for owners. After owning a parrot for a while, you'll likely become familiar with their molting process. However, there's a difference between molting and severe feather loss.
Normally, molting should only result in small patches of lightly covered feathers on a parrot. If your parrot is completely bald on some areas, molting probably isn't to blame .
A more serious cause of feather loss is malnutrition. If a parrot isn't consuming the vitamins, minerals, protein and other key nutrients it needs, their feathers may slowly fall out as a result.
Malnutrition can trigger a wide range of symptoms, including lethargy, behavioral changes, lack of energy, weakened immune system, and of course feather loss. Vitamin A deficiency in parrots is also a concern you should know about.
Make sure your parrot is fed a well-balanced diet. It's a common assumption among first-time parrot owners that a generic bird seed mix is the best choice of food for their feathered friend, but in reality a premium pellet formula tends to hold greater nutritional value. Pellets are specially formulated with protein, vegetables, seeds and fruit, all of which are packed into convenient bite-sized pieces.
Talk to your veterinarian to address any concerns regarding your parrot's diet. Perhaps you could incorporate more fresh fruits and veggies along with a high-premium seed mix. Once your parrot's diet is back on track, their feather-plucking behavior may cease.
Note: there's nothing wrong with feeding your parrot seeds, but the bulk of its diet should consist of pellets.
We talk about the behavior of feather plucking in a previous post, but this is another common cause of sudden feather less. Parrots that are emotionally and/or physically stressed, may pluck their feathers. Over time, this can lead to bald patches or even open wounds.
In order to stop your parrot from plucking out its feathers, you must first determine why your parrot is exhibiting this behavior. Perhaps your parrot isn't receiving enough mental stimulation and/or socialization, or maybe it's suffering from a particular disease. These are just a few of the possible scenarios that may trigger feather plucking in a parrot.
How To Prevent Your Parrot From Plucking Out Their Feathers
It's estimated that as many as 50% of all parrots will exhibit some sort of feather-plucking behavior. Depending on the severity of the condition, your parrot may only pluck away a couple feathers on occasion, or they may continue to pluck their coat down to the skin.
Either way, it's important for owners to understand what's causing the problem so they can better treat it. If your parrot is still plucking their feathers, keep reading to learn some of the common causes of this behavior.
Boredom and/or Isolation
One of the most common causes of feather plucking in parrots is due to sheer boredom and isolation. Most parrot and bird species are naturally social creatures and the wild; therefore, they crave the attention of others.
Forcing your parrot to remain cooped up inside their crate alone with no mental stimulation with likely result in boredom along with a variety of other psychological disorders. When parrots are bored, they may pluck their feathers to relieve some of the built-up frustration.
The bottom line is that all parrots need to be given mental stimulation each and every day to prevent this from occurring. Take your parrot off their cage and let them sit on your shoulder. Let them do some exercise as it is crucial for their health.
Parrots love to spend time with their owner and it will help reduce the chance of them becoming bored. Train your bird the smart way to keep them entertained. You can even use a bird harness if you are worried about them flying away.
Another common cause of feather plucking is related to skin disease. Studies have shown that 40% of parrots exhibiting this behavior are suffering from some type of skin disease.
So, how can you reduce the chance of skin disease in your parrot? You have to remember that parrots are incredibly sensitive to the elements. Excessive humidity, dust and chemicals in the air can all irritate their skin. Try to get into the habit of changing your air filter at least once a month for optimal air cleanliness.
In addition, avoid using scented candles or air fresheners with artificial chemicals.
Common Reasons Why Parrots Pluck Their Feathers:
- Abuse and/or neglect
- Malnutrition (note: parrots should be fed a balanced, nutritious diet consisting primarily of pellets).
- Lack of exercise
- Not given enough "free time" outside of their cage
- Major changes to the home, such as introducing a new parrot or pet.
- Hormonal changes
- Parasitic infection
Will My Parrot's Feathers Grow Back?
Feathers plucking is a relatively common phenomenon in parrots. Parrots may pluck their feathers for a number of different reasons (see below), ranging from malnutrition to disease or illness.
Most owners assume the condition is normal, but as their parrot begins to show visible bald spots, they begin to worry of a more serious underlying problem.
If your parrot is plucking its feathers, you might be wondering whether or not they will grow back. After all, parrots look downright pitiful without their brilliant array of colorful plumage.
Yes, a Parrot's Feathers Will Grow Back
In most cases -- assuming the plucking behavior is caught and subsequently stopped early enough -- a parrot's feathers will grow back over time, just like after getting their wings clipped. It's not something that happens in 1-2 days, but over the course of several years a parrot will grow back its feathers.
The only time when a parrot's feathers won't grow back is when it suffers damage to the actual follicle. If they scratched and pecked at their body long enough, a parrot may damage the "roots" from which the feathers grow; thus, preventing its feathers from regrowing.
This is why it's important for owners to take immediate action at the first sign of feather-plucking behavior. Waiting and "hoping" your parrot's condition improves could result in permanent damage.
How To Handle a Feather-Plucking Parrot
If you notice your parrot plucking its feathers, schedule an appointment with your avian veterinarian. In most cases, this behavior will pass without causing any severe/permanent damage.
However, there's always the possibility of it being the result of a more serious underlying condition that requires proper treatment. A short visit to your local avian veterinarian will give you the peace of mind knowing that your parrot is safe and healthy.
Owners should also inspect their parrot's cage and surrounding habitat for elements that could trigger feather-plucking behavior. Scented candles, bleach, cleaning products, and even air fresheners may all contribute to this condition.