Pequita, our young parakeet, has been acting strange lately. She fluffs her feathers, tears the newspapers in her cage and often bites us. This is a change from her usual cheerful and affectionate behavior. Do you have any idea what is wrong and how we can help?
I suspect that Pequita’s fluffed feathers indicate she is not feeling well or perhaps is cold and reacting to a draft she can't escape. Her feathers are like a down jacket which provides more insulation when fluffed thereby helping to maintain her temperature. Birds easily tolerate a couple degrees' variation in temperature. They do not, however, withstand constant drafts and sudden, dramatic temperature change. My first suggestion is to have a local avian veterinarian give Pequita a good physical exam. Signs of sickness include fluffed feathers, fewer droppings, decreased activity, and matted feathers around the nostrils. The bird will also sleep more. For Pequita, you may also want to set up a windbreak across two sides of her cage. This will give her a draft-free corner where she can cuddle but still observe the family's activities. A heat lamp approved for use with birds may also help. At night during the winter, cover her cage. You can continue to bathe her if she enjoys it, but do so during the warm daytime hours so she can dry before she sleeps. Her feistier disposition -- the biting, shredding and probably vocalizing -- are signs of reproductive behavior which can occur any time of the year, not just in the spring. When you take Pequita to see her veterinarian, don’t be shy about asking questions concerning her housing, feeding, and behavior changes. I am sure you will learn a lot.