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Causes of feather picking Feather picking shows as a loss of feathers on the body and neck with normal feathers on the head. A large number of feather-pickers do so out of boredom and inadequate housing. Making changes can eliminate the problem. If the problem is not completely correctable, the owner may have to live with a less-than-perfect bird but should continue to try to eliminate the condition.

Behavior problems are the most common cause but the bird should be seen by a vet to rule out underlying causes.An ideal workup on a bird would include a thorough physical examination, lab work, and microscopic exam of several abnormal feathers. An in-depth history including housing (seeing pictures of the cage and its placement in the house if the cage is too large to bring to the appointment), diet, and activity should also be included. If there is no underlying medical issue, the most common problems that cause plucking and destruction are:
1. Food Allergies - Food dyes are a biggie. Switch to Roudybush Rice Formula (see link below)
2. Boredom and attention getting behavior - Lack of appropriate toys, not enough time out of cage, nothing to occupy their time, cage too small
3. Stress (excess noise, wild birds and shadows they can see from a window, lack of adequate sleep, loss of a loved one, new baby, animal or bird in the house, a toy that scares them)
4. Irritation to the skin - can be caused by smokers in the house, nicotine or other substances on your hands
5. Environmental - Dry air

Treatment

Treatment includes a combination of the following (Try the items outlines in red to start!):

  1. Treatment of any underlying disease such as liver or kidney disorders, parasites, or infection.
  2. A common cause of feather picking is food allergies - First we highly recommend that you switch your bird to Roudybush Rice Formula. (Click on the link to see) Change diet to decrease the amount of seeds fed and increase the amount of pelleted food, fruits, vegetables, and other healthy human foods. Discontinue all artifically colored foods out of the birds diet. Change the way the food is fed: feed corn on the cob rather than kernels, give carrot sticks rather than small slices. Make the bird work for the food.
  3. Change the environment to increase the humidity (daily misting, humidifier), add natural sunlight, increase cage size, move the cage to increase or decrease social activity. Eliminate smoking in the house and smokers should wash hands before handling the bird to prevent the nicotine from getting on the bird. Leave a radio on 'easy listening' for the bird. Be careful about nature shows on television as they depict predatory-type actions that could increase the anxiety of the caged bird.
  4. Increase activity for the bird to take up time during the day. Increase time out of the cage, increase the number of new and innovative toys, hide food in the cage and in toys. Work hard to prevent boredom!
  5. We also highly recommend adding some Red Palm Oil to their food to help any irritation - see Avix Sunshine Factor and Harrison's Power Treats, which contain the oil
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