About Feather Plucking and Dry Skin

By Diane Burroughs

Parrot feather plucking has many causes from changes that the bird perceives as dramatic and scary, such moving it’s cage or getting a dog or being near a window where it sees hawks or other predators, to lack of sleep and even dry skin.

When you’re starting to unravel potential causes of feather plucking in your parrot, best practice is to have a good evaluation done by an avian veterinarian first, to rule out any health issues.  Once the feather plucking has been determined to not be a medical issue, consider what has changed in your bird’s environment and routine.  Feather plucking that starts in dry winter months may very well be due to dry skin.  After all, parrots are from very humid climates that get about 100 inches of rain a year.  It’s doubtful that we keep our homes as humid as the parrots’ natural habitat.

So, how can you help your parrot if you determine that feather plucking is due to dry skin? Some people

Two Military Macaws at Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfords...

Two Military Macaws at Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire, England. The macaw on the left has damaged feathers on its chest and abdomen probably because of a feather plucking habit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

a humidifier.  This may be a good choice if you commit to routine and thorough cleanings, otherwise a humidifier may be much more dangerous than helpful.  Humidifiers are a breeding ground for mold, bacteria and germs.  Dirty humidifiers can be particularly problematic for parrots since our pets have extremely sensitive respiratory systems. A dirty humidifier may cause deadly lung-infections for our parrots.  It’s important to take the time to thoroughly clean your humidifier so it doesn’t make your parrot sick.  Keep in mind that if you fresh foods and water need to be even more strictly monitored in warm, humid conditions.  Plan to remove any fresh food within a maximum of two hours and change the water in the cage a minimum of twice daily to prevent deadly avian Aspergillus.

A second method for dealing with dry skin is to increase the frequency of misting and bird baths.  Routinely misting your parrot will wash away skin drying dust and dander and promote healthy preening.  It will allow your birds natural preening oils to work more effectively.  Natra Pet Bird Bath is a unique product designed especially for parrots.  This bird bath spray contains both Alovera and natural preening oils.  While one may think that the bath makes birds’ feathers “greasy” this is not the case.  The preening oils are a small yet appropriate ratio of the bird bath resulting in a proportion that soothes dry skin and enhances feather health.  Plain Alovera Spray helps relieve skin irritations.

Thirdly, you may relieve dry skin in parrots by feeding your bird more foods with high water content.  This method actually solves two common pet bird problems at once.  Not only will your bird enjoy healthier skin, but it will obtain improved nutrition as well.  Consider feeding your bird juicy fruits and high-moisture vegetables including melons, especially cantaloupe, nuts and seeds.  Flax seed sprinkled on moist food provides essential fatty acids and oils that are beneficial in relieving parrot dry skin.  A large bird may benefit from half a teaspoon for larger birds, while a smaller parrot may benefit from comparatively less.

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About Diane Burroughs

Diane Burroughs, founded BirdSupplies.com in 1998. A bird lover who is owned by African Grey's, a Moluccan, a Parrotlet and a Red-Bellied Parrot, Diane is dedicated to improving the lives of pet birds with vet-approved parrot tested supplies and expert bird care articles.

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