"Tweet, tweety, tweet!" ...BIRD
Feather picking, as opposed to the preening process that beautifies the bird, is a feather damaging habit that some birds form. Picking can be described as when a bird pulls out, frays, breaks and damages its feathers causing its overall physical appearance and attractiveness to decline. This obsessive behavior pattern not only damages existing feathers, but obstructs the growth of new feathers.
Birds will engage in feather picking for various reasons – stress (noise, confusion, the persistent presence of predators), infections of the skin, malnutrition, bacterial and fungal diseases, loneliness (loss of a mate or cage companion), sexual frustration, and fluctuations in hormone levels. Also, as environmental conditions change, such as a new home, or new owner, birds may experience undue stress and begin picking at their feathers.
Feather picking can be treated by first identifying the causes of the stress by looking for medical and non-medical reasons why the bird is reacting this way. If the stress is caused by a non-medical problem, simply help the bird to feel more at ease – put its cage back where it was before, don’t let the cat in the room with the bird, reduce the amount of noise in the home, or revert its feeding back to its previous diet.
Distraction may also be a way to get a bird to stop picking at itself. By introducing new toys (bells, mirrors, balls, etc.), new or favorite foods, or a new companion, the bird will spend more time focused on the new activity an stop picking. Also, by lightly spraying the bird with water, the bird may begin to preen and waterproof its feathers rather than pick at them.
A visit to a veterinarian may reveal a disease or parasite that the owner was previously unaware of. Diseases and parasites can be treated by through treatment and medications.