Why Do Birds Pluck Their Feathers? & How to Stop It?


Written by

Clinton Atkins



George Dukes

why do birds pluck their feathers

Having a pet bird or simply birdwatching brings joy that is unparalleled. However, there are times when we might get worried about why do birds pluck their feathers.

Well, it turns out that it’s part of their preening and grooming routine. But, if you suspect that your bird is plucking excessively, pay closer attention because this could indicate a more serious condition.

Keep reading for more details.

Why Do Birds Pick Their Feathers?

During the breeding season, wild birds frequently pluck their feathers to use for nesting. This is also another grooming method used by our feathered friends.

However, feather plucking can turn into a destructive bird behavior where their health is being compromised which could lead to a damaged and serious consequences that requires immediate attention.

Thus, we prepared here for you the top 4 reasons why birds pick their feathers, symptoms of plucking disorder, and ways to manage it.

#1 The bird is ill


The behavior of the feather picking problem can say something about their health. Bird pulling out feathers might be an attempt to soothe themselves or to get rid of irritations caused by diseases.

Possible diseases can range to but not limited to bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections, allergies, and endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism.

#2 The bird is in a poor environment


The bird’s habitat is one of the factors for plucking feathers. For instance, parrots pluck their feathers when in distress of being captured.

When these birds are caged, it is common for them to develop self-destructive behaviors such as excessive plucking of feathers to express their wild natural instincts.

Other environmental conditions that contribute to a poor environment are noisy and unpredictable homes, air pollutants, and being handled around the home without proper knowledge and care for birds.

#3 The bird is experiencing emotional stress.


Birds do have feelings too, and a physical indicator of it is their feathers. In fact, birds get a “stress bars” on their feathers that displays that they are unwell.

When stressed, birds can get aggressive, timid, and even self-mutilate. To illustrate, lovebird feather plucking can be caused by boredom, stress, and frustrations.

Further examples of what could make birds stressed out include grieving over a loss of a partner or a familiar object like a toy or cage.

#4 The bird has an improper diet


Feather plucking in birds can be a sign of malnourishment. As a matter of fact, nutritional deficiency is one of the most common causes of this behavior.

If you consistently give your bird a seed diet or any one-dimensional food groups, it is inevitable that they will grow with a lacking nutrition.

In addition, birds can be poisoned by heavy metals such as zinc, so take extra precaution to distance them from these hazards.

This is dangerous to their health especially that nutrition can affect their mental health which can further result in anxiety, depression, and OCD.

How to Treat It?

Now that we have covered various plucking feathers meaning, it is now time to be knowledgeable about bird feather plucking treatment and home remedies.

  • Medical Intervention – bird plucking feathers are best consulted with veterinarians. So, before it is too late, bring your pet to your trusted or nearest vet to be examined and treated correctly.
  • Improved Environment – a good environment includes natural light, humidity and a clean and appropriate cage size for pet birds.

You may also want to keep them entertained by placing the cage in the best view of the window. Make sure it will be away from smokes and noisy surroundings.

  • Reduce Stress – you can reduce their stress by identifying first what makes them stressed. Some ways to improve their mood are companions, toys, and your attention.
  • Healthy Balanced Diet – feed your birds with all the essential nutrients by mixing seeds with fruits and even vegetables as long as it is suitable.

You can ask your vet for the best advice. But aside from this, it is also important to consider the way you feed them. Encourage your pet bird or backyard birds to forage when feeding.

  • Aloe Vera – prepare a balanced mixture of aloe vera and water to effectively soothe and moisturize bird’s skin. You can spray or gently soak the bird with it.

For some reason, bird parents pluck their babies feathers. If you observe that it is becoming an unhealthy habit, try the methods above or separate them or apply oil to baby’s feathers to repel parents from plucking.

Lastly, whether it is cockatoos and parrots who are prone to picking feathers, or other bird species like parakeet or lovebirds, it is important to address plucking behaviors to prevent serious complications.


Is it painful to pluck a bird’s feathers?

Yes! When the feather is pulled out, it rips together with the shaft or possibly tissue around it which can cause inflammation.

But just like humans, a happy hormone will be released immediately after the plucking to soothe it. This in turn, can be an obsessive behavior.

Does plucked hair grow back?

Yes, oftentimes, when the underlying cause of plucking is corrected, the hair can grow back. One of the essential factors in this would be their diet.


You are now at the end of the article! Congrats and we hope that you learned the top four causes of why do birds pluck their feathers (disease, environment, stress, nutrition).

Along with these are your learning about feather plucking remedies such as appropriate surroundings, reduced stress aloe vera, and many more! And the most important thing to do when the budget is not restricted is visiting a veterinarian.

In the end, we look forward to your bird lover journey and anticipate a more healthy and welcome environment for our feathered friends. 

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