5 Tips To Help Scratching Birds


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!

Why is my bird scratching?

Take a closer look at your bird. Here are some signs that something is wrong:

- Bald spots
- Red skin
- Abrasions or scratch marks on skin
- Exposed skin around the feet
- Flaking skin around face

The first step is to rule out whether or not your bird is having a normal molt.

About once a year, your bird will naturally go through a season of molting.

Molting may be normal, but it is still uncomfortable. 

New feather growth is taxing on your birds system, the solution is to offer your bird excellent nutrition and soothing spray during seasonal molts.

The next step is to rule out whether or not your bird has mites or 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.  
(There are natural remedies to help you remove pests from your home and your bird. Check out our article on Bird Safe Pest Control here.)

Itchy skin can also be a sign of fatty liver disease. When the liver isn't 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. 

(Our milk thistle and dandelion root product can help support fatty liver. Visit our store for more details.)

Common causes of itching in birds

The most common reason for bird scratching is 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.

You can purchase bath sprays like our Natrapet Bird Bath Spray which contains preening oil in it's ingredients to help with this issue.


bird bath spray

5 Tips To Help Scratching Birds:

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. 

(Check out our full line of bathing products for your bird here.)

2. Provide a bird bath station.

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. Mist your bird with an Aloe Vera Spray. 

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 our UnRuffledRx Aloe Vera Spray that is additive-free and steam-distilled.

4. Try using an anti-itch herbal powder.

You can try using an anti-itch herbal powder like our FeatherSoft. Our finely milled herbal powder mixes with water to create a relief 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 FeatherSoft with our FeatheredUp! to supply the essential nutrients needed for vibrant, healthy feather growth.

5. Increase your home environment's humidity levels.

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

We hope you've found these tips helpful and that you will soon find relief for you and your feathery friend.

Even if your bird engages in normal scratching behavior, these tips help keep skin and feathers in top condition.

Tracking Your Bird's Progress

This chart will help you determine whether the scratching frequency is decreasing. If your bird is plucking its feathers, you might want to invest in our Feather Plucking Workbook as well. 

Monitoring Improvement in Itching

Come Join Our Support Group
Feather Plucking Support Group

Here are some other articles you might like:

Bird Stands: Choosing A Bird Stand For Your Parrot
How To Trim Your Birds Nails: Tutorial
How To Care For A Parrot In The Winter