QUESTION: I know exotic birds are very social and community oriented. I was wondering if having only one bird would create loneliness and emotional issues that might lead to feather destruction. If the bird continues to be a feather destroyer even after receiving the best nutritional diet possible, could that indicate some emotional trauma as well. Your book said that even after a few generations of domestication, parrots and other exotic birds are essentially still wild at heart. Horses have been domesticated for thousands of years but if a horse is left alone a lot, he will become very depressed and will start to show signs of self-destruction also. Horses are very herd oriented, even today, so it stands to reason that exotic birds would be also.


ANSWER: Yes, it is entirely possible for an exotic bird to become lonely with no “flock” of a similar species. This has been studied actually and Cockatoos have been found to be extremely susceptible to this kind of loneliness. Of course other species of exotic birds experience this as well. To the same degree as Cockatoos, some yes and some no, but the Cockatoo species experience this kind of flock loneliness to a great degree. They tend to like large flocks.
Bottom line there is much more to the equation than diet in feather destruction. This is why I try to approach feather destruction from a holistic viewpoint (mind, body spirit). However, I am an avian nutritional consultant; I don’t believe in exercising expertise where I do not consider to one. I do believe diet is first and foremost in feather destruction and that is where it all begins. Get the diet right before any attempt is made in any other area. Once the diet is correct and the bird is on the path to physical healing then the time comes to begin addressing behavior and environment.
We have a lovely and well-experienced avian behavior consultant we work closely with who will be providing her services for those enrolled in our Mutilation Syndrome classes.