If your pet bird especially a parrot is losing feathers, you may be concerned, and rightfully so. Losing feathers could be a sign of serious medical illness or behavior problems.
Birds who are losing their feathers should be of concern, and you should call your vet immediately to determine the reason your bird is losing his or her feathers.
In the most basic sense, feather loss occurs either spontaneously or is self-induced, but each behavior can cause real medical problems.
Molting is generally normal for a bird. As long as you see new feathers growing and there are no bald spots on your bird, there is usually no reason to worry.
Your bird may pick out some feathers, but this is fine as long as your bird is generally in good health.
The main causes of Losing Feathers:
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.
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.
3–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.
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.
5-Other Reasons Your Parrot Could Be Feather Plucking
- Abuse and/or neglect
- 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 change
- Parasitic infection
How do you diagnose the basic cause of feather loss?
Because there are many causes of feather loss, your veterinarian may have to many perform many diagnostic tests to rule-out potential causes.
A good history (supplied by the owner) and a thorough physical examination are critical and may help narrow down the list of possibilities. Your veterinarian will review your bird’s diet and help correct any dietary deficiencies.
Routine diagnostic tests, including various blood tests, fecal tests for parasites, microscopic analysis and/or culture of stool, feathers, and skin to check for yeast and bacteria, and radiographs (X-rays) may be performed to achieve a diagnosis.
Sometimes, a feather and skin biopsy and culture are needed to make a definitive diagnosis.
Occasionally, tests fail to reveal a diagnosis, and your veterinarian makes a clinical judgment as to the best course of therapy for your bird.
Can Feather Loss Be Reversed?
That depends upon the cause of the disorder.
Psittacine beak and feather disease is a fatal condition caused by a virus that suppresses the immune system and that cannot be treated.
It does not cause feather-picking, but rather it causes feathers to fall out.
Other skin and feather infections caused by bacteria or viruses may respond to antibiotics or antiviral medications, respectively. Parasites associated with feather-picking can be eradicated with antiparasitic drugs.
Behaviorally-based feather-picking is difficult to treat, as the cause (stress, overcrowding, sexual frustration, a new person in the house, a new cage, etc.) of the picking may be difficult to pinpoint and change. Treatment of behaviorally-based feather-picking may be attempted with behavior modification and occasionally drug therapy, as a last resort.
Owners should be aware at the outset that even if a diagnosis is reached, it may be difficult to prevent feather-picking in a bird once it has started, especially if the cause is behavioral.
Feather loss and feather-picking are complicated problems; for specific advice, your bird should have a thorough work-up by a veterinarian familiar with birds.