Why Does My African Grey Picks His Feathers?

Why Does My African Grey Picks His Feathers?

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

Rachel C. is concerned,

My African grey picks his feathers.

He has free roam of the house with a large perch in the living room.

He doesn’t like water and doesn’t like any toy I get him.

He does like the challenge of taking the lids off old pill bottles to find a treat.

He likes very few people.He definitely does not like little people. He goes outside with me and enjoys climbing around. I put him in the cage

When my granddaughter comes, he bites her.


He plucks out his feathers even more.


I’m at a loss!


I’m home all day and we talk all to each other and he follows me from room to room.


He sits on the couch with me and watches TV.


Is he bored or what?


Dear Rachel


Your bird is out all day on a perch or with you. He has everything he wants and nothing he does not want.


When you have company of your granddaughter he can bite so he has to be locked up and self destruct. He does not sound bored he sounds spoiled.


You have become his mate and he wants nothing else but you and resents it if you are with anyone else.


How old is the bird? Have you had him since he was a baby?


Does he do any bathing at all? Does he groom himself? How does he smell?


You said he plucks his feathers if you put him in a cage when your granddaughter comes over.


Does he go into the cage at any other time?


How plucked is he? Can you send pictures of the bird, the cage, and his stand?


Do you have a strong artificial daylight lamp set up over his perch or his cage?


Full Spectrum Economy Daylight Bulb with Clamp Light & Timer



Please answer these questions and give me more information then we can further discuss.



Thank you for replying so quickly. First of all, I enjoy your letters that are on the internet.


Timothy will be six years old on April 1.


I bought him from a breeder who hand-fed him till he was three months.


He came home and I tried to let him play in the water and he has never enjoyed bathing or getting wet.


He doesn’t even like his beak to be wet.


He drinks out of the dog bowl instead of going to his cage to drink.


He sleeps in his cage at night and then either stays underneath his favorite dresser or on top of his perch.


When I’m on the couch he joins me on the couch.

When he hears me open a bag of food he is right there. He spends a lot of time on the kitchen counter while I’m cooking.


Yes, he is spoiled and when I’m not around and have to put him in his cage for a few days he plucks his feathers.


There are times when he feels lonesome and needs more attention and he will get in bed with me and sleep.


I have tried to keep him from doing that lately because I have had my grandkids often on so much.


I am afraid he will bite them.


He had this behavior when my six-year-old grandson was small and used to tease him.

Now his sister who is 2 he does the same thing with her.


He just goes outside with me and doesn’t run away. He is fine with the cats and dogs they each have a pecking order. Everyone respects the beak! I will do my best to post pictures I’m not very good at this. Thank you for replying once again.




Dear Rachel

You do have a problem situation with your bird and even though it was not intentional, you caused it. You should be able to resolve it, and but it will take time and love.


This didn’t happen overnight, but this is not a healthy setup for you or the bird or your family.


First off. You must take your bird to your local Avian Vet to rule out any underlying health issues. There are diseases that can cause feather problems and that is where you want to look first.


Your bird may have a skin infection from all the picking now, so that is another reason to go to your vet. He may need antibiotics.


Don’t freak if he messes with his feathers. If you can get the things corrected that are not right, then the feathers coming back in may just follow.


You may want to consider a fleece collar. Not a cone. But a fitted fleece fabric collar will allow him full mobility and he can even preen the collar.


Put this line into a Google search and you can see a large number of them available. “fleece parrot collar”


You need to start getting your bird used to being in a cage when it is not just a jail when your grandaughter comes over.


Start by planning a time in the day when you can be in view.


Begin by putting in fresh food and water, a nice big dish or bowl with some special foods, treats should be only given when in the cage from now on.


There should be some nice music on, a TV show he likes with sounds that are entertaining.


Then he goes in for 30 minutes to start with.


You should be nearby, talking upbeat and in sounds and words that he likes to hear.


No one else around, Then in 30 minutes, let him out and praise him. No treats.



Do this every day for a week or two. Then extend to an hour. Then 2 hours. You should be around and in ear shot. Answer when he calls out. Whistle to him, Whatever helps him to make contact, but he stays in the cage.


Over time you can then leave him in the cage and go to the store, not for long, but he won’t have you there to call out to. Be sure to leave on the TV or some music.


Bathing: Not all birds bathe, but it is great if they do as it is so very good for their feathers and skin.


You can offer baths, a larger water dish, or spray the bird while he is in the shower. Or let him sit on the shower curtain rod while you shower and you let him enjoy the warm mist and a little bounced water off your body onto him.


Our rescue Chili enjoys his sink baths


You can even take a warm, sloppy wet washcloth and run it over his body and wings, then put him in a nice warm spot and let him preen to fix his feathers.


Is that a puppy pad under the dog’s dish? If so, get it out of there. There are chemicals embedded in them and they are not safe for birds.


How is the lighting of the cage?

If you have it covered with blankets, etc. Get them off of it. There should be a strong daylight bulb shining into/onto the top of the cage.


Let me know if you require further information.




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