Parrot Island
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Why do birds pluck?

The 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 else’s 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 offspring.

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.

Molly 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 breeding them.

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 nature’s 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 came from.

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.

Look Who Thinks He's Boss! 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, many years.

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.