Home » Do Plucked Parrot Feathers Grow Back?
can parrots recover from plucked feathers?

Do Plucked Parrot Feathers Grow Back?

Last Updated on January 29, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

If a parrot willfully pulls out feathers, this is called Feather Destructive Behavior (FDB).

Wrenching feathers from the body by force can permanently damage the follicles. Clotting in the follicles can lead to abnormal feather growth and bald patches.

How Long It Takes for Parrot Feathers to Grow Back

If a parrot has plucked feathers without damaging the follicles and nerve endings, they’ll regrow at the next molt. Keratin production slows as parrots age, so replacement feather growth takes longer.

If you have a large parrot, like a macaw or African gray, it could be 12-18 months before the feathers regrow. Most small parrots, like budgies and cockatiels, molt once or twice yearly.

Why Parrots Pluck Their Feathers

By identifying why a parrot plucks its feathers, adjustments can be made:

how to stop feather plucking in parrots

Stress and Anxiety

Stressed parrots are prone to stereotypies. Reasons for stress include:

Parrots can also grow distressed if they lack a reliable daily routine.

Dietary Deficiency

Hypocalcaemia (calcium deficiency) is frequently linked to Feather Destructive Behavior. Failing to provide a parrot with magnesium and other essential minerals can also lead to self-mutilation.

Seed-only diets (common among budgies) are a further reason for malnutrition. All parrots need adequate vitamin A (retinol), which is lacking in seeds and nuts.

The Netherlands Journal of Veterinary Science warned that 7 out of 13 parrot seed mixes failed to provide sufficient calcium and magnesium for adult birds.

A parrot’s diet should comprise 50-70% pellets, supplemented by fruits and vegetables. Also, consider hanging a cuttlefish bone in the cage for extra calcium and to wear down the beak.

Mites

Parrots can contract ectoparasites, like feather mites (Knemidokoptes pilae). As a result, the parrot can become increasingly distressed and remove feathers with its beak and feet in a misguided attempt to ease discomfort.

Toxins

FDB can be due to airborne contaminants or droplets landing on the feathers. These include:

Also, avoid touching parrots with dirty or greasy hands.

Dry Skin

Chronically dry skin (xerosis) can become intolerable. If a parrot’s skin is overly dry, it’ll become itchy. Consequently, parrots will forcibly remove their feathers to self-soothe.

Sudden temperature changes, excessive use of artificial heat sources, and dehydration can contribute to dry skin. The ideal humidity level for most parrot species is 40-60%.

Allow a parrot to spend time outside (in its cage) and benefit from natural sunlight and vitamin D3.

If feather plucking doesn’t cease, it could have a fungal or bacterial skin infection.

Hormones

A parrot may commence feather plucking at the start of the breeding season. It’s common for parrots to remove feathers to create a warm lining (insulation) for their nests.

Also, hormonal activity can trigger negative behaviors, like hostility and feather removal.

How To Stop Feather Plucking in Parrots

Stereotypies must be resolved before the behavior causes irreversible damage to the follicles. Learning how to manage a parrot’s predilection for feather picking involves:

Follow A Routine

Ensure the parrot knows when it’ll be fed, let out of the cage, and have its cage covered to sleep.

Interact with the parrot regularly, offering training sessions (talking, playing, etc.) Never leave a parrot alone for more than 8 hours. Ask someone to spend time with the parrot if you’re not around.

Distractions

Distract the parrot with something it enjoys when it uses its beak to pull out feathers. Offering the parrot a treat or a new toy will shift attention away from FDB.

You may need to couple this approach with misting the feathers or applying an anti-plucking spray.

how long does it take for parrot feathers to grow back?

Bathing And Spraying

Keep the parrot’s feathers and skin moist to reduce the desire to remove feathers.

Find a clean spray bottle and mist the parrot. Approach the parrot with the spray bottle visible, checking for signs of fear and anxiety.

Mist yourself so the parrot realizes there’s nothing to worry about.

Maintain a safe distance from the parrot and spray it, allowing it to embrace the feeling of water on its skin. If the parrot doesn’t enjoy the experience, walk away and try another time.

Parrots that enjoy water play can bathe in the sink. Alternatively, provide a shallow tub of water.

Feather Plucking Sprays

If a parrot continues plucking its feathers, use an anti-feather plucking spray. You can find anti-plucking sprays at pet stores or buy them online for around $15 to $20.

Feather plucking sprays contain aloe vera, which has anti-inflammatory and antipruritic qualities. Parrots also dislike the taste, which will deter them from removing feathers.

If you’d prefer to make a DIY feather plucking spray, use pure aloe vera juice rather than gel. Mix the aloe vera juice in a spray bottle to a ratio of 1 part aloe to 10 parts water and apply liberally.

Parrots’ feathers can grow back after being forcibly removed. However, frequently engaging in this behavior can cause permanent feather damage.

According to Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine, feather plucking isn’t a medical concern in and of itself. If you remove the cause or trigger, FDB will eventually cease.