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Feather Plucking and Self-Mutilation

Stress may be the cause

Feather plucking and self-mutilation (chewing the legs, feet and/or skin area to a bloody pulp) may have either psychological or pathological origins. A new environment, repetitive loud noises or activity, abuse, breeding frustration, and other stresses may cause a bird to pluck its feathers and chew on its skin out of sheer frustration. If this is the case with your bird, obviously, take measures to make your bird's life less stressful. A reduction in stress should put a gradual end to the problem. However, if your bird continues to pluck feathers at a rapid pace or chew itself to a bloody pulp, it may be falling victim to a disease.

Psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) is a deadly avian disease that attacks the immune system (like AIDS in humans). A bird may be a carrier of PBFD for years and not show outward signs (usually severe feather plucking and deformed feathers) until the immune system is compromised by another problem. Highly infectious, PBFD is most often seen in cockatoos, budgies and cockatiels; however, other species, such as Amazons and greys, have fallen victim to this horrible disease, too.

On a brighter note, feather plucking may also be a sign of a mite infestation, which can be treated easily and effectively. If you notice that your bird plucks and/or self-mutilates consistently, don't take any chances; call your avian veterinarian.


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Reader Comments
Hey, i'm haley i would like to ask some qwestoions whatdo you do to stressed bird? Beakause we have birds named freckels and sunshine sunshine got out and was breathing s hard i thought he would have a heart attake, wel, he didnot and we was ok, but i just got bitten bye freckeles she got out and came into my room, i picked her up she bit me so hard she made me bled now anof about me. About freckeles she is sooo stressed she is breathing hard this accedent happeed today, i covered there cage up with a sheet so she would not be so stressed, Was that the right thing to do?And she isa cockateel she douse not pluck her feathers, she is very happy were she is,but she is stressed beakause i had o chase her aroundthe room, she wouldget so stressed i had to sit down on my bed and have her catch her breath then go at it agen, i finally got her in her cage, and covered her up like itold you. She is very sweet, do you think what i should have done is leave her allone? or did i do the right thing? mal me back, thanks i'm worried. ~haley~
haley, pell city, AL
Posted: 3/30/2009 9:15:23 AM
Erika, though you didn't like your Husband, maybe the Bird did. And the Bird lost its home too. The Bird will adjust to its new surroundings. Be patient and dont give all this too much thought. Amazons are one track minded people. They take three days to figure out something "one thing" and sounds like alot for this Bird to figure right now. Good luck and BIGhugs to you both.
nancy, mojave, CA
Posted: 1/4/2009 7:43:52 AM
I want to tell you we have a Congo Grey, a Feather pluckin Sqwakin Bird. I told my daughter to gently spray him with his sprayer, when he sqwak's. Say nothing, just walk up and spray. Bapo; The Grey, quits sqwaking! I fixed a upside down Box with a cubby cut out. That bird goes in there and talks and chews! The Grey is now a better person to live with. I also put Cardboard on his Mobile Perch. These Birds love the Box for quiet dark , time out. Amazing, but a real breakthrough! The larger Birds, Get a really big Box, Put a Perch in it. Get creative. Hang an old Shirt with your smell. The Bird will chew, naw, and cuddle. Remember, these Birds are "complex" they "Mimic" don't handle a Mature Bird too much. I have always said, Quality is better than Quanity! YEP
Nancy, Mojave, CA
Posted: 12/31/2008 6:12:36 AM
I've been at a loss with my Moluccan Cockatoo. Although her environment has changed for the better since I left my husband (after 14 years she still does not like him, I think she knew something I didn't), she still continues to chew her feathersa and a sore on her breast. I have tried all kinds of remedies, the latest called Pluck No More at $30 a bottle. I have not yet taken her to a vet, but that's going to have to be her next trip. She's a much happier bird in her new environment, but she just won't stop chewing. She has even become nocturnal, I can hear he picking at 1:00am, but she prefers to sleep during the day. Frustrated.
Erika, La Puente, CA
Posted: 9/15/2008 12:58:23 PM
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