Stress can play a large role in the overall health of both humans and companion animals. Because pet birds are naturally very sensitive creatures, they tend to not be able to deal with stress as easily as other types of pets such as cats and dogs. Being able to recognize stress in your pet bird is important to maintaining an environment that your feathered friend can mentally and physically thrive in, so it's a good idea to bird owners to learn how to monitor their birds' stress levels and make adjustments as needed to keep their pets healthy and happy. The points listed below will help you recognize common signs of a stressed bird, and offer advice as to how you can keep your feathered friend calm, confident, and content in his or her home.
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One of the most common physical indications of stress in pet birds is the appearance of stress bars on a bird's feathers. Stress bars are small lines that run horizontally across the shafts of a bird's feathers. While it can be difficult to assess stress bars in feathers that are still on a bird, examining molted feathers can give a quick indication of whether or not a bird is having issues with a stressor in its environment. Stress bars can be caused by a variety of factors, so the presence of stress bars will not indicate exactly what is stressing a bird. Rather, they are a red flag that bird owners can use to start looking for potential sources of stress that their pets may encounter.
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The sudden onset of aggression in a pet bird can also be a big indicator that the bird is experiencing stress in its environment. Aggressive behaviors such as biting, hissing, lunging, and excessive screaming can manifest almost overnight when there is an environmental stressor involved. If you notice this sort of behavioral change in your pet, it may be a good idea to schedule an appointment with an avian vet to rule out any possible health problems. If a clean bill of health is given, then you can begin to work with your bird to figure out exactly what triggers the behavior, and how you can adjust your bird's environment or routine to make him or her more comfortable.
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If a bird that is normally happy to be handled suddenly begins to act fearful of you or other family members, then it is a sure bet that there is something about the person who triggers the behavior that is causing stress to your feathered friend. It may not even be something that the person is doing directly to the bird -- something as simple as a brightly colored shirt, a hat, or a new beard or mustache can be a trigger for a bird's fearful behavior. Once you are able to identify a trigger, it is normally easy to remedy this sort of situation. However, if necessary, it is possible to condition a bird to eventually accept this sort of stressor through patience and practicing proper bonding techniques.
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Loss of Appetite
If a bird who normally has a healthy appetite suddenly begins to show less interest in eating, it can be an indicator of stress and/or health problems. A good rule to follow in this type of situation is to schedule an appointment with an avian vet to make sure that the bird is not sick or injured. If your feathered friend's health checks out, you can then begin to try and decipher possible stressors in your home that may trigger appetite loss in your bird.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Birds who begin to exhibit destructive behavior are quite possibly very stressed, and the most likely culprit in this scenario is boredom. Being the extremely intelligent creatures that they are, pet birds in captivity often do not receive a healthy amount of mental stimulation, which can lead to frustration, stress, undesirable behaviors, and even health issues. If you discover that your bird is becoming overly destructive, try a few techniques for preventing boredom in birds and see if the problems subside. If they do not, it is advisable to seek help from your veterinarian and/or a parrot behavior consultant to resolve the issue.