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African Grey Feather Plucking Behavior


Staff member
African Grey Feather Plucking And Other Feather Disorders

African Grey feather plucking is generally due to some form of stress your parrot may be suffering from. All birds molt and lose feathers. This is quite normal and not a cause for concern. It is the natural way of replacing old feathers with new ones. Feathers can however become damaged or lost for reasons that should give cause for concern. Listen to your African grey parrot talking and watch his body language closely. Doing this can give you clues as to why your bird may be plucking his own feathers.

Listen To Your African Grey Parrot Talking

Chewed feathers

When your bird shows signs of having feathers, that it cannot get to, looking like they have been chewed the cause is generally another bird. So if your parrot is sharing space with another the chances are it is the second or another, if you have more than two birds, bird that is causing the damage. These birds should be separated, particularly the one that is being chewed.

Parrots can also chew their own feathers. This is often a progressive thing and it may be a long time before you actually notice it. The first sign of this kind of damage is often the sight of what's left of the feather barbs floating in the water dish or lying on the bottom of the cage. This kind of damage is often known as over preening and comes about when the bird thinks its owner is the only fun toy available. Waiting for its owner the bird will ignore any toys placed in its cage and instead preen itself in expectation of the owner arriving to play with it.

Baby African Grey parrots may chew their feathers before the first molt. This may be because they are dirty or damaged and should not be a cause for concern. But watch it carefully in case it develops into something else.

Lost Feathers

If you wake up one morning and go to your parrots cage and find a whole lot of feathers on the floor of the cage it may be because during the night your bird has had one heck of a fright. African Grey parrots in addition to being highly intelligent are highly sensitive and sometimes become frightened in the dark.

This can result in your bird losing all his tail feathers and possibly some of the wing ones as well.

Snapped Feathers

Feather snapping is not uncommon amongst African grey parrots. Feathers are snapped off at the shaft and most frequentlt it is the tail and wing feathers that are the most affected. Being snapped off at the shaft means the skin of the bird is not injured and infection therefore is not really a risk so there is no need for alarm.

Feather Plucking

Feather plucking is much more serious because the feathers are actually pulled from the skin. Infection can quickly set in so it is important you get your bird seen by an avian vet as soon as possible. There are several possible causes for feather plucking with stress being the main one.

You need to have a look at your bird's cage. Is it big enough? Is it in the right place? Is it at the right height? Does your bird have enough toys to play with? Do you give him enough attention or is he shut away in his cage and left to his own devices - a sure recipe for disaster. What about his food, lighting etc?. There are many factors to consider and talking to your vet may help as well.

African Grey feather plucking can also be caused by certain diseases. You avian vet will be able to diagnose the problem and whilst he may find and treat the physical problem there will still be an emotional cause as well which will need to be dealt with.

If you find this thread/post informative, feel free to share it with your family or friends as it might be helpful to them.

Stay safe!