Why do birds pluck?
question that I am most frequently asked, whether
it be by phone, fax, or email is "why do parrots
pluck". My answer 20 years ago would have been
the same as everyone elses it could be stress,
boredom, diet, or any number of reasons. There is
not one proven reason why parrots pluck. Some parrots
pluck a lot worse than others and it would be a
great deal easier to treat if one knew the reason.
For many years I have had birds including parrots,
during this time I had ample time to observe and
study their ways.
I believe inbreeding due to their popularity in
the pet trade causes the reason a parrot plucks.
We at Parrot Island actually had a parrot pair that
plucked, and pairs where only one of the parrots
plucked, we decided to breed them. As soon as the
babies were hatched, we hand fed them so that there
was no imprinting from the parents. We gave them
all the attention they needed to have a healthy,
happy, stable life. By the time they were between
2 and 5 years old they were plucking just like their
parents. This leads me to believe that this is a
genetic problem passed from the parents to their
As far as I am concerned, if all the previously
stated reasons for plucking were true, there would
be one dominant feature that would stand out.
Birds that live in very stable, loving homes upset
their owners by plucking, and I am sure that some
feel that in some way they are to blame, which of
course is not so.
Then you have the parrots that live in very unsavory
conditions and yet they do not pluck. Therefore
I strongly believe that inbreeding is the cause.
In making this comment I am not saying that breeders
purposely inbreed, but that time is not taken to
DNA Fingerprint their male and female parrots before
Some parrots do not sexually mature until they are
between 5-8 years of age; smaller parrots mature
at an earlier age. Most parrots start plucking just
before they sexually mature.
A male parrot in the wild does not fly around asking
other parrots if they are related, they just breed.
I do believe that on occasion inbreeding does occur
in the wild, and their offspring end up plucking,
which in my opinion is natures way of preventing
them from breeding again reproducing inferior babies,
In captivity things are changed around and birds
that do pluck or are inferior, do breed and produce
birds for the pet trade.
As a nine-year-old boy in England I started breeding
canaries, budgies and European Finches. We always
color coded with up to four colors on the rings
to show where the babies were reproduced. The male
and female colors were on those rings to show when
we bred them, that way we knew where the babies
When you purchase a purebred dog or other purebred
animal, you usually get papers showing the ancestry
of the parents. When you purchase a bird you do
not receive anything. I personally do not know of
any breeder that gives papers out showing the lineage
of the parents.
I know that some people may be upset with my view
that inbreeding may be the major cause why birds
pluck, but these are only my personal views based
on the fact that I have studied birds for many,
I also feel that anyone who owns a bird that seems
to be ill should be having it checked out with a
veterinarian. If all else fails, and nothing seems
to be working you can contact me, and I will pass
on any information free of charge.