This begins a new series discussing how to heal feather destruction habits in parrots.
In sharing this information with you I ask you to acknowledge along with me that parrots are intelligent, sentient and self-aware individuals capable of feeling a wide range of human-like emotions.
Improper or Imbalanced Nutrition
Avian malnutrition, undernutrition and nutritional imbalances is at the heart of ‘why’ every parrot who practices feather destruction habits has this behavior. An individual MUST be eating a balance of foods that provide all of the hundreds of nutrients they need to consume everyday. The charts in this link ‘Superior Nutrition BBFE Complete Analysis’ show you what these nutrients are. And the information here, on this website, also shows you how easy it is to feed balanced nutrition to your flock.
The only way a parrot can cope with ‘stress’ is for him or her to be eating a wholesome balance of foods that provide every single nutrient their body needs. When essential nutrients are missing from a parrot’s food plan, that causes a whole new set of malnutrition related concerns. Learn more by reading, ‘How Stress Affects a Bird‘. If you have a parrot who practices feather destruction behaviors, providing him or her a ‘Balanced Exotic Avian Maintenance Diet Food Plan’ is the only way to provide your birds with proper nutrition to aid them in overcoming feather destruction behaviors.
Learn more by getting my Free Report at this link: ‘Why Your Parrots Need Balanced Nutrition’.
Identify Emotional Stressors
Over the six years that Elvis, a Green-cheeked conure, had been with his first family there had been many changes. He seemed to be coping well until one stress pushed this precious little guy past his coping threshold. When the family was away on vacation Elvis and his companion of a few years, a Green-cheek conure hen, were being boarded. During this time the hen died unexpectedly. The very next vacation this family took Elvis was boarded and he began pulling out his feathers.
However, even after their return they noticed that even innocent daily events began effecting him. If either the Mother or the daughter had to leave for a day or changed their schedule with Elvis, he plucked. The regular vacations this family took weighed heavily on him.
Elvis had developed the habit of systematically plucking out all his feathers every time he was left alone or there was a change in the schedule he expected. This pattern occurred repeatedly for 2 years. Feather plucking or picking has now become known as feather destruction.
Cope with Stress Through Balanced Nutrition
When Elvis joined my family he had been fed only dry seeds and an occasional apple. This horrible, nutrient deficient, diet left his small body craving the nutrition he needed. And this lack of balanced nutrition is what was at the core of his feather destruction behaviors. The only way to help a parrot cope with experiences that are stressful to them is to feed a select combination of foods that provide ‘Balanced Nutrition’. This is essential for reversing feather destruction behaviors and supporting your bird’s healing process.
Why Did Elvis Develop Feather Destruction Habits?
Over the course of daily life we all have schedules to keep. Parrots like people are individuals. Some thrive on having a regular schedule while others are naturally more flexible when changes occur. Elvis had become used to the schedule his family kept with him. And, he had become emotionally bonded to his mate. After her death, Elvis could no longer depend upon her to always be there with him. After her death he came face to face with the understanding that at times, he was all by himself – alone.
After the family returned from that fateful vacation, it appeared that Elvis had fallen back into his usual routine with them. Everything was going fine for Elvis. He was at home in comfortable and familiar surroundings. The family went about their daily activities and it seemed as if Elvis easily coped with everything. He had been able to almost forget about that horrible experience the last time he was boarded.
Pushed Beyond His Ability to Cope
But the seasons changed and his family was planning another vacation. Elvis was boarded at the same place and during the entire time his family was away he became more and more anxious. He became worried, wondering if something else horrible would happen to him. During his time his stress grew day by day, and because of the nutrient deficient diet he was being fed, he could not cope. This little guy was being pushed past his coping threshold. His anxiety levels peaked and he exploded emotionally. Because Elvis had no toys in his enclosure to play with, no toys to vent his frustrations on, he turned to the only behavior he could do in an attempt to relieve some of his anxiety, fear and stress. He began pulling his feathers out.
However, when the family returned home instead of feeling relief,his feather destruction continued. By this time Elvis had become over sensitized to any change in his environment. With each unexpected change he felt threatened, helpless and was afraid of loosing someone else he loved. With these powerful emotions swirling around inside of him even the slightest unexpected change to his anticipated routine would push him past his fragile threshold and he would pluck his feathers.
Why Do Parrots Pluck ?
Parrots pluck their feathers for the same reason that Elvis developed feather destruction habits. Parrots pluck their feathers in an attempt to cope with stress. However, as with any nervous behavior, the feather destruction provides little to no emotional relief.
And as the bird continues to feel anxiety, stress, fear or anger about situations, people or events the feather destruction becomes a habit. And this habit continues overtime. Every time the parrot is pushed past his coping threshold he plucks. Unless the bird’s diet is changed to provide balanced nutrition there is little hope of seeing this situation improve.
Healing Feather Destruction
When working to heal feather destruction I have seen that the best results are achieved by using a holistic approach that first improves a parrot’s diet – providing them the most wholesome and nutritious diet possible. Second, we review and improve the living conditions and home environment. And thirdly, we identify and works towards healing the emotional aspects and stressors that so often lie at the heart of why the feather destruction habits began in the first place.
The reason each bird plucks is unique. This is the reason why a personalized consultation will give you the best results.
Read the story of Elvis’ healing process, follow this link to: “Natural Parrot Care: Healing Feather Destruction, 1 of 7”.
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