Do you have a problem with scratching birds? More than seems normal? Bird’s naturally scratch themselves as a way to remove dust and dirt from their 1000's of feathers. Your bird instinctively needs each of its feathers to be clean and aligned in preparation for flight. That’s why a healthy bird can be observed preening its feathers throughout the day. But, if your bird seems to be scratching too much, you may want to check it out.
Take a closer look at your bird. Do you see bald spots? Does your bird’s skin look red or have abrasions or scratch marks? Are your bird’s feet or exposed skin around the face flakey? These are all symptoms that something is wrong.
The first thing to rule out is to determine if your bird is going through a normal molt. Birds naturally molt about once a year, sometimes twice. You can learn more about molting here. Molting may be normal, but it is still uncomfortable. New feather growth is taxing on your birds system, so offer your bird excellent nutrition and soothing spray during seasonal molts.
Next, determine whether your bird has a mite or a lice infestation. Mites and lice are pretty rare for captive parrots that are kept indoors. But it happens, and if you feel that your bird has any sort of parasite, please take it to your avian vet. Mites and lice feel like a thousand mosquito bites all over the body.
Itchy skin can also be a sign of fatty liver disease. When the liver isn'f functioning properly, it releases bile in the blood stream, accumulating under the skin to causing an itchy sensation. If your bird is on an all seed diet or is fed high energy diets without adequate exercise, it is prone to this silent killer disease. Most prevalent in cockatiels, budgies, lovebirds, and amazons, the issue of scratching birds should be taken very seriously.
Most frequently, birds scratch excessively due to dry skin. Most of our parrots are from sub-tropical, very humid climates. They have opportunities to bathe and get sprinkled with fresh rainwater throughout the day. I'll bet your home is not nearly as humid as a rainforest, nor does your bird have as frequent opportunities to bathe. North American and European climates are not as temperate as a rainforest.
Wild parrots have been taught how to use the preening gland by their parents, something that hand-reared birds have missed out on. If your bird doesn't know how to use its preening gland to coat feathers and skin with natural, protective oil, then it could be experiencing chronic dry skin and brittle feathers.
1. Bathe your in tepid tap water bird several times a week. This could be a simple misting or a soaking shower. Bathing removes dirt and dust from feathers. It washes away dry, dead skin cells that cause irritation. And, it promotes healthy preening, the re-alignment of feathers. If you opt for the soaking, make sure that your bird doesn't get chilled or exposed to drafts. Bathe your bird during the day so it has time to dry off completely before bed time. Some people blow their parrots dry in the winter. Make sure to use the lowest setting on the blow dryer and keep the device moving so that you don't burn the skin.
2. If your bird hates baths, try setting a heavy, shallow dish in the cage where it can enter at will. Small birds especially enjoy rolling around in soaked leafy greens. Curly Kale is a great option. And, if your bird gets a nibble of this vitamin rich veggie, all the better! Smokey, our African Grey, loves to dip his feet in his water dish and splash himself with water.
3. Spray your bird with Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera has many homeopathic medicinal properties, but it is a well-known analgesic and it soothes dry or irritated skin caused by low humidity levels or prickly new pin feathers. Always use a bird safe formula like Avivera that is additive-free and steam-distilled. What's better than Aloe Vera? Aloe Vera combined with natural, moisturizing preening oils, Bird Bath Spray made by NatraPet.
4. Use FeatherSoft, a finely milled herbal powder that you mix with water. and spray on your bird. It contains a rich mixture of components found in oat seed that seal in moisture and protect the skins moisture barrier. FeatherSoft can significantly relieve itching that is due to dry or irritated skin. Combine with and FeatheredUp!to supply essential nutrients needed for vibrant, healthy feather growth.
5. Consider increasing the humidity in your home or in the area that your bird lives. Bird safe plants will do the trick as will a water fountain. If you chose to use a humidifier remember to frequently refresh the water and clean the components and filter. The last thing you want to do is spew bacteria and fungus all over your bird room.
Scratching Birds are worrisome because the constant discomfort can lead to feather plucking. These tips you can offer your bird some relief. And, what's better, is that even if your bird engages in normal scratching, these tips help keep skin and feathers in top condition.
When using a treatment such as FeatherSoft, FeatheredUp! or bird bath sprays to relieve itching, it helps to monitor the frequency of the plucking to know if your bird is gaining relief. This chart will help you know whether the scratching frequency is decreasing.