As we have learned in the previous article, there are many different causes of feather plucking in parrots. In order to treat your bird effectively, you need to treat the cause and not just the effect. Products such as feather pecking sprays, which have a foul taste, and feather protectors that cover or prevent your bird from reaching his feathers, will discourage or prevent plucking, but do not resolve the underlying cause of the problem and are therefore a short-term fix rather than a long-term solution to the problem. Anyone that owns a feather plucking parrot needs to initially determine whether it is a result of physical stress related to health, diet or hygiene; or whether the feather plucking is as a result of emotional stress resulting from boredom, separation anxiety, loneliness, or due to some dramatic change in your birds environment.
Treating your parrot with natural homeopathic remedies is a safe way to tackle feather plucking. Moisturising sprays that contain aloe extracts have natural soothing properties that help relieve skin irritations, and dry skin. Stress can also be treated with homeopathic solutions, such as Bach Flower remedies containing extracts of Passion Flower, Kava Kava or St John's Wort, which are natural sedatives, and have a calming effect on birds. Another natural ingredient that is useful for treating feather plucking that is caused by skin irritations is Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE), which has natural antiseptic, antibiotic, and anti-parasitic properties.
Natural dietary supplements, such as Vitapet Feather Conditioner are specially formulated and contain a range of essential vitamins to maintain a healthy feather condition. They are particularly useful for birds that are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency due to being fed an unbalanced diet, and as they will aid feather regrowth, they are beneficial for any bird that has plucked out its feathers.
Other Things to Consider
Depending on what is triggering the feather plucking behaviour, a pet owner can take a number of steps to both prevent and cure feather pulling in their pet parrot without the use of medication and drugs. These include the following:
- Ensure that your parrot gets a healthy, balanced diet to maintain healthy plumage.
- Keep you bird in a healthy environment, bearing in mind that cigarette smoke and aerosol fumes are toxic and can trigger feather pulling behaviour.
- Also make sure that your bird is kept in an area that receives adequate light, that he does not get too hot or too cold, and that the humidity is not too dry. Parrots hail from tropical rainforest, and heaters can dry the air in the room. When using heaters, it is recommended that a dehumidifier, or a water feature of sorts, is provided to prevent the air from becoming too dry and thus drying out your birds skin and feather follicles, resulting in irritation and feather plucking behaviour.
- Your bird needs eight hours of beauty sleep a night. Keep him covered in a quite corner if you plan to party all night.
- Stimulation is vital, so provide lots of interesting toys and puzzles to keep him occupied and prevent boredom.
- Social interaction is very important. Preferably let your bird out of his cage to interact with you on a daily basis. Provide other stimulation, such as music, when you are not around so that he doesn't sit alone in a quite house – very dull for a pet parrot.
- Consider get another parrot to keep your pet company if you work all day and he has to stay at home alone.
By following all the above tips, your bird should be kept happy and content, and should not resort to feather plucking due to health or psychological stress.