Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman
Debbie C. reached out for advice
I have a Senegal baby parrot, four months old. It is pulling its feathers out. I have had Senegal parrots before, and I never had a plucking problem with them. This bird has everything.
I don’t understand why it pulls out its own feathers? It is breaking my heart. I would appreciate Any advice, & help that you can give me.
Thank you sincerely.
Plucking feathers is usually caused by stress or boredom. Both of these issues should not already be a problem in the case of such a young bird. Weaning and moving to a new home is, of course somewhat stressful, but life is so new for such a young baby.
Since I don’t have a picture of the parrot to see, I have to ask how you know it is plucking? Have you seen it actually pull feathers out possibly making a soft squeak while plucking? Please read the Blog post on determining true plucking from over-grooming or molting by clicking on this link.
Did the pet shop give you a well parrot certificate indicating the baby had seen an avian vet and received a clean bill of health?
If not, you should locate a qualified AVIAN vet (not just an animal vet who also will see parrots) and explain the problem as well as everything about his diet and home life.
There are two benefits to this: not only will this rule out any health issues but you will also establish a relationship with a qualified avian vet who will have records and knowledge of your parrot in case he ever becomes ill, injured and for yearly well parrot check-ups. The vet will likely want to perform some blood testing to be sure everything is in balance. S/he may want to perform a mouth swab culture and tests the baby’s poop to ensure there are no parasites or bacterial/viruses indicated. S/he’ll weigh your bird to be certain it is within the normal range at this point in life. Should any problems be identified you’ll receive proper medication and treatment plan. Skin problems or allergic reactions can be identified and treated.
Should any health issues be found, proper medication and treatment can be an important part of stopping the feather plucking. If no health issues are present, you’ll rest comfortably knowing that the issue is not caused by health.
Because you got your Senegal from a pet shop, you did not get an opportunity to see the parent parrots. There are unethical breeders out there who over-breed and keep birds that are not good parent candidates in their breeding programs out of greed or lack of knowledge. While to my knowledge there has been no gene identified that passes along feather plucking, it is an accepted fact that parrots that pluck can have babies that pluck. Also, over breeding or poor selection or care of breeder birds result in babies that pluck or have less than the sweet personalities that are traits of babies produced by top quality parents.
If one of one or both of the parents were pluckers it is possible that the period of time your baby was with the parents, if any, he could have had the tiny down feathers sometimes present at birth plucked.
Plucking produces slight pain and therefore releases certain brain chemicals that cause the release of endorphin’s that actually make the bird feel good. This can cause a bird to become an endorphin “junkie”, wanting to cause this slightly euphoric feeling to recur again and again.
Be sure your baby Senegal is not being stressed by children or other pets, yet has its cage located in a central part of the home so he can see what is going on, against a wall. Don’t place the cage directly in front of a large window because he doesn’t understand the protection glass provides and can be stressed by fear, thinking that the predators outdoors such as hawks, cats, dogs, snakes and other common predators found near the home can get in.
Don’t dote on him just because he is so cute and so new. He will be part of our family for many years to come. Since he is already having a desire to pluck and when life goes on and you don’t have time to spend as much time with him, he may feel sad and pluck even more.
Be sure his cage has lots of toys, interesting food items served in interesting ways such as in hanging kabobs and treats hidden in foraging toys, plenty of perches and everything needed to keep him from being bored. Because he is so young he’ll enjoy some foot toys probably as well as a wide spectrum of other types of toys. He is young and play isn’t really an instinct so be sure you teach him how to play and have fun with toys. Have toys of different textures and materials, preening toys, swings, perches of different materials and textures.
A busy parrot has little time to pluck. Or be bored.
There are so many reasons a parrot can begin plucking that Mitch developed a wonderful questionnaire to help the Windy City Parrot team help people who have plucking parrots. If your avian vet finds nothing wrong that could cause plucking, the parrot has lots of foraging and preening opportunities to distract it from its own feathers, it isn’t near any large windows but is in the center of family activity, and no ideas are presented here help after giving it a bit of time then please fill out the questionnaire, email it to us and we will do our best to help you further.
I do hope this helps your baby Senegal and you.
Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing
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