Plucking feathers can make many bird owners frustrated and worried. It is a major issue for birds including macaws, but because of its many different causes, it is difficult to treat.
The first thing you need to do is to determine whether your bird truly shows feather plucking and does not just till, preen, or moult.
It is unusual and cause for concern when your bird has missing patches of plumage or chewing of its fathers. Feathers can be a symptom of a more severe condition or problem with behaviour.
It is important, however, that you find and fix the cause. You should talk with your veterinarian about possible treatments if you are concerned about the health of your bird.
There are several possible reasons why a macaw, or any other bird, plucks their feathers.
A visit to your veterinarian is your best bet in figuring it out, but a few of the most common reasons are boredom, change, habit, medical issue, poor feeding, and nesting.
In their natural habitats, birds spend most of their day searching for food, while birds in captivity don’t have to do that.
They enter their cage, and their food is right there for them. So most of their day, the birds become bored with nothing to do, and they resort to feather picking.
Once feather-picking starts, it is difficult to stop. It becomes a habit.
Some birds don’t like change, such as their owner going on vacation and leaving someone else to tend for them, or moving their cage to a different area.
There also can be some type of underlying medical issue that can cause feather-picking. Veterinarian testing is required in this instance.
Feeding your bird a poor diet can be one medical issue. Parrots need fresh fruit and veggies and a good pelleted diet.
Hens sometimes feather-pick to use the feathers in their nest. I’ve seen this plucking stop after the babies are raised, but I’ve also seen birds who continue to feather-pick by habit.
Why do macaws pluck their feathers
Causes: Stress is the primary cause of plucking feather. Unfortunately, a host of problems, some extremely grave and some very easy to fix, can cause this stress. The main causes here are:
Disease: Any host of diseases may be the root cause of feather plucking, from viral or bacterial to cancer, and endocrine disorders.
It is therefore important that a veterinarian examine your bird if it is plucking a feather.
Pain: If birds experience pain they are often wrong, plucking or chewing out the area where they feel the pain.
Pain: This pain could be due to nearly everything, from disease to chronic injury.
Behavioral: Federness leads usually to boredom, loneliness, or lack of attention. It might very well be a cause if your bird lives alone in his cage.
Habitat: Where your bird lives might be caused by the plucking of its feather. The lack of natural light or humidity and a cage too small or overcrowded can lead to this behaviour.
Diet: The diet of your bird is one of the most common causes of feather plucking, and has a considerable health effect. A single-dimensional diet is unhealthy and can cause plucking of feathers.
Allergies: As human beings, allergies to dry skin and plucking of feather can affect birds. Some foods that often have allergies to birds are wheat, maize and rice.
Toxins: The home environment contains an abundance of foreign substances to which your bird cannot be exposed in the wilderness.
The clothing of different matter can lead to heavy metal toxicity, and cooking fumes and cigarette smoke can also affect your bird.
Macaws are exotic birds from South America. You can purchase them if you want from a pet-store, reputed breeder or adopt them.
Treatments: You have to identify what you believe to be the cause of the destructive temperament in order to cure plucking feather.
Putting a collar on your bird only stops plucking itself and does not treat the underlying causes and might exacerbate stress or illness.
Your vet will help you reduce potential causes by consulting. Here are some treatment ideas, depending on your findings:
Your veterinarian will know best about pain and disease. Follow his orders and hope to recover quickly.
Conduct: If you suspect your bird is bored or lonely, try to put new toys on it or spend more time with it. Try to change your way of feeding him to make it more difficult. When you feed him.
Habitat: Try to move your bird cage into a light area, and consider using a moisture sensor to increase moisture content. Also consider moving your bird into a bigger cage.
Diet: try changing the diet of your bird by giving it less seed and more vegetables or other foods.
Toxins and allergies: Identify and remove the cause of allergies and toxins. Make sure you’re allergens free from the diet of your body and not close to the kitchen or cigarette smoke in your cage.
Try moving him in a cage with non-toxic bars if your bird feels it has heavy metal poisoning and make sure it doesn’t have any metal toys.
Feather plucking can have multiple causes.
The place to start is with a checkup by an avian vet to rule out health issues.
Poor hygiene, a diet lacking in variety and nutrients, disease, and environmental issues (being exposed to cigarette smoke, lack of humidity, lack of light, etc…) are a few things a vet might be able to detect.
It is extremely important to have these causes ruled out before you move on to trying to determine other reasons for the plucking.
Very often though, feather plucking is a behavioural issue.
You probably know someone who bites their fingernails habitually. Well, feather plucking in parrots can become the same type of self destructive habit. It is more common in some types of parrots than others but it can happen no matter what the species. The most common feather pluckers are: Cockatoos, African Greys, and Macaws.
Ask yourself a few questions about your parrot.
1) Does my parrot have opportunities for play and other activities to prevent boredom? Parrots are extremely active, social and intelligent creatures.
A bored and/or lonely parrot is a parrot in trouble.
Make sure that your bird has appropriately sized toys to play with and chew on and that you change them out for new ones frequently. I have a collection of toys for each of my birds and I rotate them in and out of the cage every few weeks.
I also provide cardboard boxes, crumpled up (unused) printer paper, the cardboard tube from rolls of paper towels, etc.. for my birds to play with. If you hide treats such as almonds in the paper or boxes, it encourages your bird to forage.
Foraging is a natural behaviour and keeps your bird’s mind stimulated.
2) Has something in my parrot’s life changed recently? Have you or someone the parrots is bonded to started a new job and thus have less time to spend with the bird?
Has there been some sort of unusual stress in the family?
Has the cage been moved to someplace different or has something new been added to the room where the cage is? Parrots can be very sensitive to change.
You might need to provide some extra reassurance by talking to your bird, sitting near it’s cage or by moving things it might view as scary.
3) Has my bird had the opportunity to bathe? My neighbour have 5 parrots and they each have a bathing preference.
Some like to get in the shower with my neighbour, some like to bath in a bowl or dish in their cage and others prefer to be misted. Regardless, my neighbour tries to make sure that they all bathed once every week or two weeks.
Remedies- Tips to stop Macaws Picking their feather
As for remedies, there are a lot of different opinions on that. Sometimes, just making changes in the diet or caging or providing more mental stimulation will be all that is needed.
I do know of people who have mixed up pure aloe juice in distilled water and used it to spray the birds down with the idea that the aloe promotes healing.
Again, I would suggest talking to your vet to find the cause so that you will know what the best remedy will be.
You should also know that, sometimes, birds will pluck themselves to the point that they damage the feather follicles and the feathers are unable to grow back.
While that may leave your bird looking like a plucked chicken, there is no reason to love them less. Work at learning to accept them just the way they are.
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