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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7557
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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My lovebird has begun pulling out feathers all around the neck

Resolved Question:

My lovebird has begun pulling out feathers all around the neck area. Nothing has changed in our household or the food. Is this serious? Is there something I should do?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 8 years ago.

My biggest concern with this symptom is that one died already. If you haven't done so, get Adam to a vet this week and have a DNA/genetic profile done.

For things to screen for: Avian Polyomavirus; PBFD/Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease; Pacheco’s Disease (and in some circumstances, Chlamydophila/Psittacosis)

You can see more about these tests here:

Avian Cholera (Pasteurellosis) is transmitted via inhalation or ingestion of infected material (food, water, discharge, dirt/droppings/dust). DNA testing can detect chronic or early infection, especially when samples are submitted from blood, choanal and cloacal swabs.

Knowing the sex of the bird is important because females need more calcium, especially if they begin egg laying. It’s also important to curb egg laying, which can and does happen without a male or any other bird around.

When you have a female bird it’s good to know so that you can quickly identify odd behaviors or symptoms of illness that may be egg binding or Dystocia. These are often life threatening conditions if not treated by a vet within a few hours.

Males might become more aggressive and territorial, but these behaviors could also be associated to a variety of other illnesses that need quick treatment to insure survival.

Find an avian vet near you and

Another very productive search site is

These days, with birds growing fast in popularity as in home companions, many DVM’s are quite experienced and able to see and treat many birds. If you have a pet store that sells birds or know of any bird breeders – ask them who they use for their bird care.

When it comes to the feather loss, while it might be related to the health issue that claimed your other lovey, it could also be nutritional:

Nutritional issues accounts for up to 90% of feather plucking problems according to some published veterinary medical studies and research. Some feather plucking that begins as the result of physical cause such as this or any one of those mentioned above, may end up a ‘habit’ – and once it’s a behavioral issue, it’s even more difficult to stop.

For more about the right nutrition for healthy feather and an overall happy bird take a look here

Sleep deprivation may also contribute to this (and sometimes increased screaming and nipping). You may want to try establishing a separate sleep cage in a room that’s quiet with dim lighting - or offer the bird an opaque cover in their present cage, keeping the sounds and activity down in the house while it’s in sleep time.

Birds need 12 hours of sleep time, preferably the same hours every day. For example, if you tend to get up at 7 a.m. every morning, try to put the bird to bed at 7 p.m. every night and make it your priority when you get up (don’t leave them covered/in sleep cages while they can hear you up and about or it will only lend to their frustration and possibly stress levels).

Regular 12 hour sleep hours also help curb mating behavior, including egg laying.

Cage bound and unchallenged birds will self-mutilate. Does it have enough real wood to chew and shred? Enough room in the cage to fully turn around, side to side and upside down without (what would be his/her) tail feathers touching any side? Does the bird have three different sized perches of different materials? Rope perch, natural wood perch and 'rough' perch for nail and beak grooming. Make sure the perch near food dishes and higher up are the most comfortable ones since they will be using it more.

We have our rope and natural wood perches on the same level with the rough perch just a tad down from them.

Does your bird get to spend at least two hours out of cage every day? The average bird owner has their companions out on average for four hours (we found this very refreshing). Ours are out for at least 7 hours.

Back to the subject of food: A rule of thumb among avian veterinarians is a predominantly pellet diet with seeds, nuts, fresh fruits/vegetables/legumes and grains supplemented daily. We give them whole multi-grain oatmeal with cut up apple and/or banana in it for breakfast every day (just add warm water to the oatmeal, no need to fully 'cook' it) and their mid-day meal of whole wheat couscous and whatever veggie in season (choose the darkest greens like kale, collards, broccoli, etc).


provide more information and professional nutrition ideas.

Cuttlebone and mineral block are also essential, not just for the calcium, but for the outlet to bite and scrape their beaks.

Keeping the bird misted every few days with warm water (out of drafts of course) is also something that may help. Many birds enjoy sharing the shower with their people :) We'd just recommend that you use only baby safe products on yourself for this shower to reduce any possibility that the bird is harmed from regular soap/shampoo.

It sounds like you care a great deal about Adam and with your staying on top of things, being observant like you are, I believe you've caught this early enough to have a quick and successful outcome. Good job with him (or her) by the way.

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