Is My Amazon Plucking Or Preening?


New member
May 15, 2018
New York, New York
Bingo - 5-6 year old Amazon parrot
Hey guys! It's Jesse asking a bit more about my Amazon, Bingo. I'm a first-time bird owner (as of May 5th), and it seems that everything he does scares me until I find out what it is.

Bingo takes care of himself pretty well. He does scratch a bit, most likely due to his skin being dry as we haven't made that much progress with bathing. It's not too bad, though. He also makes a habit of digging his beak under his wings and to his body to bite and pull on his feathers. I read up that birds will preen and molt older feathers to keep them in flying condition (even though he is clipped).

I'm just a bit nervous because his front body (particularly right near his legs) is starting to get a bit thin. It could be that he's dirty and his feathers are getting clumped together, but I see him digging around a lot. Does anyone know if he's just preening or if he's plucking? Just want to make sure I take care of him if I can. He only pulls on his wings and tail feathers about once a week, and so far has only shed one feather when he flapped his wings. His feet and legs, however. I see small feathers all the time in his cage and around it.

Unfortunately, he's sleeping now, so I can't do photos, but hopefully, I described it enough.

Thanks for all future advice!

- Jesse and Bingo!

Bingo is somewhere between 5-6. Since I got him, I've kept mostly everything the same. His diet is a special blend of seeds, nuts, and dried fruits. I'm thinking of adding pellets to the mix since he doesn't like eating any fresh fruit or veggies. I even got the same toys from his cage at the shop I got him from.

One thing that may be causing him to molt faster is the temperature of my room. I had heard somewhere that he needed to be kept warm, so I've been keeping my room at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Is that good or should I cool it down?
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Well-known member
Jul 12, 2012
1 BFA- Kiwi. Hatch circa 98', forever home with us Dec. 08'
I'd also say he's likely molting. Amazons generally molt 2X a year- a big one in the fall and a smaller one in the late spring, as they are loosing feathers grown over winter to keep them warmer (lots of down feathers during the spring molt, very annoying because they get EVERYWHERE:p). You'll also notice more small feathers than large ones during any molt because they simply have more of them than they do big wing/tail feathers. Currently, it seems a bird has exploded in our living room no matter how many feathers I pick up! Tis that time of year!

How old is this amazon? Also, has he had any major dietary or lifestyle changes since you took over his care? Older amazons (40+) can get a little 'thin' in certain areas during molts as they don't replace the feathers as quickly as their younger counterparts. Very young amazons can also loose a whole lot of feathers due to the fact younger birds damage feathers more easily due to inexperience. Major positive diet overhauls after years of poor diet or lifestyle changes such as going from never being bathed to regular bathing can trigger a very large molt at any time of year as well.


New member
Apr 12, 2016
Northern Illinois, USA
Bo - DYH ~ Gus - CAG ~ Twitch - Linnie ~ Apple - Pineapple GCC ~ Goliath - Quaker ~ Squish - Peach face Lovebird
I would also say molting. My young amazon ~6 months looked like he was plucking his chest and legs for a couple weeks he was molting so much, and the feathers, OMG! I swear I could look at him and little fluffies would fall off of him. His new pretty feathers are starting to fill in the ragged patches though, so I feel better now. Now I just wish he would molt out his ragged baby tail...

Edit: I also will add that since you're in New York, if your weather has been anything like ours here in the midwest, he may be molting a lot of feathers due to how quickly the weather has changed. We pretty much went from winter to summer and completely skipped over spring...again.
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Supporting Member
Parrot of the Month ๐Ÿ†
Oct 23, 2015
1 YNA (Bingo)
1 OWA (Plumas R.I.P.)
1 RLA (Pacho R.I.P.)
2 GCA(Luna,Merlin) The Twins
1 Congo AG (Bella)
5 Cockatiels
Just to offer a contrary opinion.

there is 2 other reasons an Amazon might pull out feathers.

#1 Female Amazons will sometimes pull out the down and smaller feathers to use as material to line a nest with. My Pacho did this at one time. she ended up with 3 semi-bald spots on her chest. Because it was so out of the ordinary for her to do this I took her in to the vet for a checkup and everything came back normal.

#2 If there is something wrong internally with your bird, like a liver problem that may be causing pain. This could cause picking/plucking in a specific area as if he/she is trying to get to the point of irritation.

If you see that it's one place in particular that is getting more plucking/picking activity I would take your Bingo in for a blood test to make sure there is no infection and that liver/kidney function is normal.

$250 is worth the peace of mind you will get knowing everything is A-OK.



New member
Feb 15, 2018
Trinidad and Tobago
Ravi (Orange-winged Amazon)
Silvana (Yellow-shouldered Amazon)
It may also be helpful to add some cod liver oil to the food/water. It helps keep the feathers bright and will help with flaking on the skin and feet.

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