If you're dealing with parrot feather plucking, don't overlook the role of hormones. All adult birds experience parrot hormonal season and that's to be expected. It is a stressful time for the bird. But, a lot of people are unaware that they are actually inducing a chronic hormonal state in their bird that wreaks havoc on its physical and mental health. The problem of chronic hormones in parrots contributes greatly to feather plucking parrots.
In the wild, birds only mate for a short period of time each year, only when a precise set of physical and environmental conditions simultaneously come together to bring about the hormonal surges that a parrot needs to mate and rear young. After the seasonal period ends, parrot hormones resume the dormant phase.
Domestic parrots, on the other hand, have been found to be prone to chronic and debilitating hormonal states that the mind and body just can’t handle. Sadly, this disorder is often preventable with attuned parrot husbandry practices. Avian vets describe that they see case after case of chronically hormonal parrots each week. These birds are displaying significant behavioral issues such as aggression and feather plucking or dealing with life-threatening health issues related to the disorder. What can you do to prevent a chronic hormonal state in your feather plucking parrot?
Let's explore 5 sexually arousing conditions that induce chronic hormonal stress in Parrots (www.beautyofbirds.com).
Remember earlier when I mentioned that wild parrots only mate seasonally? Constant hormonal states not only damage important body structures but they can also mentally affect your pet, causing significant stress. This constant mental stress is known to induce parrot plucking.
Take a few minutes to jot down your thoughts on which of these conditions you could improve upon? How will you protect your bird?
When a parrot is hormonal, it becomes sexually driven and hyper-vigilant to create mating opportunities. Its only intention is to breed, create a nest and rear chicks. It works great in nature but not in a domestic environment. Imagine how frustrating it must feel to be all primed to mate, but nothing can happen... A parrot that can't satisfy its needs becomes full of sexual frustration. Thus, in a sexually frustrated state, one way to relieve tension is parrot plucking or act out.
Because cockatoos are so cuddly, they are especially prone to hormone-induced feather plucking. And sadly, Cockatoo's are one of the species that is highly prone to self-mutilation. Hormone-induced parrot plucking usually starts in the chest region or between the legs, but it may progress to other areas of the body as time progresses. You must be especially careful with species prone to engaging in self-mutilation behaviors.
What Does a Hormonal Parrot Look Like?
How do you know if your parrot is hormonal so that you can prevent feather plucking or other unwanted behaviors? Here are signs that your bird is experiencing hormonal surges. Make note of the behaviors that you’ve noticed in your parrot recently.
Of course, the more symptoms that you circled, the more hormonal your parrot probably is. Now, do you remember the list of conditions that arouse sexualized behavior in parrots? Reflect on the conditions that your parrot is exposed to.
Make sure to socialize your parrot with all family members. Certainly, your bird may have a preferred person, but when all family members socialize the bird, it is better adjusted and has less of a chance of sexually bonding with just one person. If you’re not sure where to start, explore Clicker Training with the family. Teach your parrot that everyone can be a pal.
Check out the Parrot Food Pyramid below. Notice that it is recommended that the bulk of the diet should consist of premium parrot pellets. Supplemental foods, should consist of about 10% of the diet. Notice that the recommended intake of fat, protein, and sugars is low. Reserve tasty goodies for training purposes.
To reduce nesting opportunities, remove bird beds or “Snugglies” from the cage. Examine whether your parrot is shredding anything in the cage, from tray liners to fluffy toys. Instead, increase foraging toys and add foraging stations, so that your parrot has to problem-solve to obtain food, just like a wild parrot. If your parrot seeks nesting sites during out of cage time, eliminate those opportunities. A lot of parrots crawl down from their play stands to hide under a sofa or in a closet. Use Clicker Training and positive reinforcement to make staying on the stand more rewarding that hovering around in a make-shift “nest.” Again, creating foraging stations on the play stand is a good option.
Since adolescent and adult parrots can become stimulated with sexually arousing petting, learn how to properly pet your bird. Even wild parrot pairs only fondle sensitive places during the short window of the breeding season. The image below shows you how to properly pet a parrot to prevent creating a chronically hormonal condition.
If you work all day, of course you want to socialize your parrot in the evenings. But, remember, parrots are from equatorial areas that have minimal seasonal variation in daylight and night hours. You can expect that your parrot needs between 10-12 hours of completely dark, uninterrupted sleep each night. Likewise, the parrot will benefit from between 10-11 hours of full-spectrum lighting during the day. The figure below shows you where your species of bird is from and how many hours of sleep and daylight are recommended. If you are unable to filter out light during much-needed sleeping hours, consider covering your birds cage with a blanket or cage cover to keep the bird away from excessive light and lack of sleep, known hormone inducing situations.
In conclusion, one cause of parrot plucking is being in a chronic hormonal state. Yse the area below to jot down an action plan to get it under control.
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