Calm Behavioral Feather Picking with 3 Bird Calming Supplements
Parrots make great pets. They are smart, beautiful, and social. Parrots are loving creatures and can live for 20 to 50 years, or more. But, many pet owners have the same worry about their magnificent birds—their parrots viciously pluck their own feathers out. Behavioral feather picking can damage the underlying skin follicles of the birds. Sometimes the follicles become so damaged that feathers won’t grow back. Understanding why parrots engage in feather plucking and how to stop it will help both you and your bird live a happier, healthier life.
Why Parrots Engage in Behavioral Feather Picking
While you have heard the phrase "birdbrain" to describe someone who is not very smart, parrots are some of the most intelligent animals on the planet. Many parrots have the same level of intelligence as a human six-year old. They are also highly social creatures.
However, when you have a parrot as a pet, it does not have a flock to depend on like it would in the wild. This combination of intelligence and feeling isolated and vulnerale often makes pet parrots highly anxious. This anxiety frequently manifests itself in feather plucking. Especially with flock species
Behavioral feather picking goes way beyond your parrot grooming itself. It is a type of self-harm brought on by its anxious state. Behavioral feather picking can be dangerous to parrots and needs to be corrected as soon as possible.
Because owning a flock of parrots is not a realistic solution for pet owners, they have to look for other ways to soothe their birds. Fortunately, there are a variety of different natural solutions to help parrots relax.
Often, once parrots are treated for their anxiety they stop behavioral feather picking and become healthier and happier pets.
Your Pet Parrot is More Wild Than May Realize
We tend to think of all pets as being fully domesticated for long periods of time. However, while dogs and cats have been domesticated for thousands of years, most parrots are only two, or three generations from their wild cousins.
In the wild, parrots live in organized flocks and individuals have different roles. Some members of the flock become lookouts. They warn the flock of any incoming dangers.
While all the members of the flock are vigilant, being a member of a flock means that you can sometimes let your guard down a little to rest because other members of the flock are watching.
However, pet parrots have no flock to help. You parrot may feel a constant need to be hyper-vigilant—always scanning for potential threats. This survival instinct was essential in the jungle, but it can be overwhelming for your pet.
A parrot’s flock mentality, intelligence and keen senses have allowed it to thrive in the predator filled jungles, but hypervigeleance can also make a lone pet parrot highly stressed and anxious.
Flock behavior is a psychological need for parrots. Couple loneliness with boredom, lack of exercise and other physical stressor plus a need to watch out for danger and you've got a hot mess that is more prone to feather plucking.
Photo courtesy of BirdSupplies.com
How to Reduce Anxiety in Parrots
Behavioral feather picking is often caused by untreated anxiety. The latest research is pointing to the fact that when these highly social creatures are removed from the nest for hand feeding, they miss out on critical developmental milestones that are required for mood regulation. Flock species such as African Grey's, Cockatoo's, and Quakers are especially prone to this form of anxiety.
Even so, by creating an environment in which a parrots natural needs are met, you are reducing the daily stress that the bird experiences. Parrots need to play, chew, forage, preen, sleep, eat healthy foods, and socialize.
There are several ways to decrease the anxiety your parrot feels. Because every bird, just like every human, is different, some parrots will respond better to some treatments than others. Many parrots will need you to take several different actions to help minimize their anxiety.
As it turns out, the best ways to reduce anxiety in parrots are:
- Proper nutrition
- 10 -12 hrs. of uninterrupted sleep per nigh
- Natural nutritional supplements
- Peaceful, parrot friendly environment
- Exercise & Mental stimulation
Proper Parrot Nutrition
Avian vets often report that the root cause of behavioral feather picking is malnutrition. Just like humans, parrots feel the best when they are eating a nutritious diet. However, parrots have special dietary needs that differ from many other pets, even other birds. Many avian vets claim that malnutrition is the number one problem seen in their clinics. It is critical that you are giving your parrot the right kind and amount of food. Usually, parrots do best with specially formulated pelleted foods supplemented with a range of nutritious fruits, vegetables and grains.
Natural Bird Calming Supplements
You don’t want to have to give your bird pharmaceuticals for behavioral feather picking if you don’t have to. However, most parrots will not be able to achieve the calm they need to end behavioral feather picking without some additional calming supplement.
Fortunately, there are a variety of natural calming supplements made specifically for parrots. One of the best of these natural supplements is King’s Pluck No More Homeopathic Formula. These drops are easy to give your bird. All you need to do put a few drops in their distilled water. Owners who have given their parrots these drops have seen their birds stop feather plucking, biting, screaming, and other anxiety-driven behaviors.
Pet owners have successfully used AviCalm to calm down their birds and control aggression for years. Since this product is made from safe L-Theanine, you don’t need to worry about its contraindication with other medications or diet. In fact, owners are satisfied with the result while counteracting their birds’ destructive behavior during stressful times like hormonal periods, training new behaviors, stopping screaming behaviors, calming travel anxieties and even during fireworks celebrations.
AviCalm is not a sedative product because your bird remains alert even if it becomes calmer. AviCalm is an ideal choice for anxiety related aggression or fear related behaviors such as extreme nervousness as evidenced by flighty behavior about the cage that could damage feathers. AviCalm helps resolve screaming and even fear related biting. It works well to desensitize hormonal aggression, too.
We recommend combining Avicalm with a feather growth supplement such as Nekton-Bio. The Vitamin B in Nekton-Bio amplifies L-Theanine, which aids in sending a message to the brain to calm down. For effective results, mix this tasty bird calming formula with your bird’s food and interchange use with the other bird calming products like Herbal Relaxation Formula or Chamomile Tea on a monthly basis. Better yet, use the calming effects to your advantage and train your bird for for calm behaviors while it feels calm.
This is an alternative bird calming product that has no alcoholic content. The ingredients in Herbal Relaxation Formula help improve the quality of life of your bird by seemingly altering mood so that normal environmental stressors are not so scary. This product consists of natural ingredients from flowers of chamomile, hops, lavender and extracts from the leaf of passionflower, and stem, leaf and flower of skullcap, and valerian root mixed with vegetable glycerin and purified water base. Your bird will surely love its pleasant taste and aroma when administered orally or mixed with water. You will notice that the bird is less anxious, less prone to screaming or feather plucking and simply more content. You may interchange it with Avicalm for best results.
These three bird calming products contain natural ingredients with formulations known to be harmless to your pet. Never the less, ALWAYS follow package instructions and consult with your avian veterinarian before attempting a home remedy with your parrot. Although these natural bird calming formulas taste and smell good, and there are no sugar and additives added to enhance its flavor these products, the ingredients are known to alter a bird’s behavior and therefore warrant consultation with a medical professional.Your bird may enjoy the soothing benefits of Chamomile Tea for Birds
– Loose Flower Chamomile for Calming and Other Health Benefits
Image Credit: Chamomile Tea Tariq Almutlaq Flickr 2009
Your bird may enjoy the soothing benefits of Chamomile Tea for Birds Flower Tea has numerous health benefits from calming nerves to settling indigestion, relieving muscle spasms and safely sedating your bird. With antibacterial properties this is the ultimate brew to help feather picking birds. It’s been found to offer beneficial solutions to birds with night frights, skin disorders, feather picking, screaming and biting behaviors and more. You can offer Chamomile tea in a water dish or even spray it on the birds’ feathers for ingestion while naturally preening. We prefer sweet, tasty Egyptian Chamomile Flower buds for calming an anxious bird.
You can find a comparison chart between the Pluck No More drops and other bird-calming products by clicking here.
Also, in addition to simply trying to medicate your birds worries away, take a look at issues that may be promoting a sense of fear in your bird from environmental issues to nutritional issues to social and training issues. Calming formulas are a little like a “Band-Aid” in that the temporarily mask anxieties but don’t resolve the underlying causes of anxious or aggressive behavior.
The environment your parrot lives in can have a big effect on its anxiety level. You want to make sure your parrot has a peaceful place to live, where they do not constantly feel threatened. But, that does not mean the bird should be left alone.
Parrots are social. They need to be in a place where they can be around family and have interactions with people they are familiar with.
Parrots usually do best when they feel they are sheltered. Placing their cage against a wall can prevent them from feeling exposed. Remember, parrots are prey animals in the wild, and they have the instincts of a prey animal. Boisterous household pets or wild animals seen from a window may frighten an anxious parrot.
Other issues to consider when placing your bird’s cage include:
- Avoid cages by windows as parrots will always be looking outside for enemies have trouble resting
- Avoid placement near ceiling fans which can appear like giant predators
- Be aware of how blinking lights and shadows may affect your parrot at night
Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Parrots need to be able to move around. Just like humans, exercise helps reduce stress. Parrots also need mental stimulation to avoid becoming bored. You can address both issues by giving your parrot a toy to play with. Parrots are clever and will need toys rotated out regularly. You can also give your pet rewards that have to be earned by hiding them in the cage.
Training your parrot also helps them feel like they are part of a group and provides mental stimulation. Train your parrot to perform simple actions on command such as nodding or spreading their wings. You can also train your parrot to say some phrases.
Once you understand the cause of your parrot’s feather plucking and how dangerous it is for your pet, you will be better able to address the issues that cause our bird so much anxiety. Most parrot owners need to use all of the above methods to keep their parrots calm and happy and put an end to behavioral feather picking.
Need more help on solving behavioral feather plucking? Check out our new book The Feather Destructive Behavior Workbook available exclusively at BirdSupplies.com
- Diane Burroughs, LCSW