Feather-picking in pet birds is a symptom, not a disease. Any one or any combination of the following causes can be the problem when a bird starts picking himself bald:
Health problems. Medical conditions include allergies, parasitic infections, bacterial infections, abnormal growths in the feather follicle, internal health problems, vitamin deficiencies or hormone-associated issues.
Low humidity. Many pet bird species come from tropical environments. The dry air of most houses can be a factor in feather-picking and lead to secondary medical problems.
Boredom. Birds are active and intelligent, and they don't handle the strain of being forced to sit around in a cage all day very well. Without toys and without being able to get out of the cage and exercise, birds may direct all their energy toward self-mutilation.
Psychological problems. Obsessive-compulsive disorders or even a bad wing trim can trigger feather-picking.
Attention-seeking. Some birds learn that their owners pay attention to them when they're pulling on their feathers. So they pick for attention.
Veterinarians with experience in avian medicine will be able to diagnose any medical problems and help with behavioral ones. The sooner you take your bird for help, the better chance you have at seeing your pet full-feathered again.
• • •
Considering how much time your cat spends grooming, do you really even need to be involved in the process? Yes! Taking care of your cat's coat keeps her healthier, makes her easier to live with and strengthens the bond between you. Although many cats — typically longhaired, older or obese — must have some help with their grooming, any cat can benefit from human intervention.
— Mikkel Becker and Marty Becker
Pet Buzz: No easy answers to feather-picking