Help! I just returned from camping to find my7 year old green cheeked conure is missing the feathers and skin from the top and right side of his head. I'm not talking loosing feathers, I can see his skull, a spot about the size of a quarter. My husband says he found him that way 2 days ago. He is acting like he normally does. He came right to me when I asked him to step up. My husband says he has been eating and drinking normally. What do I do about the skin loss and yes I am sure it is bone I am seeing. We have no idea how this happened, no tell tale feather chunks or anything else I can find.
Pet's Gender: Male
Pet's Age: 7
Type of Animal: Green Cheeked Conure
Name of Bird: Buddy
Nothing, just got home.
My name is XX. XX and I will do my best to help you with your questions about Buddy. I'm sure you are completely alarmed!
I am greatly relieved to hear he is eating and drinking normally and acting otherwise like he is just fine. That's a huge relief!
I also can imagine your frustration as you 've played detective and have not been able to determine how this occured.
This type of injury does happen from time to time with pet birds, and is usually the result of the feathers getting somehow trapped in something and the skin tearing off. Oftentimes, there is no blood.
Additionally, you sound quite convinced that the skin is gone and you are seeing bone. This certainly can happen and does happen rarely, but it's much more common that the skin remains behind. It is pale and tight and does not have a good blood supply, so it is not unusual for people to be fooled and think they are seeing bone when it is actually skin.
If it is skin, you should be able to slide it back and forth over the surface of the skull. If the skin is gone, there may actually be not much blood at all, and when you move the skin where he does have it on his head, it will be very clear to you that the bare tissue (bone) is not sliding back and forth. With a bird as small as a cockatiel, that can be hard to see.
If there is skin covering the bone, no medical treatment is needed. The feathers will eventually regrow, in time.
If the bone is exposed, this will require veterinary attention. I'm afraid a home remedy is not enough.
So, even though Buddy is acting fine, you will want to arrange a trip to the vet for him tomorrow.
Depending on the exact nature of the wound, your vet will be able to determine if topical medications will be sufficient, or if Buddy will need some kind of surgical procedure.
But exposed bone is not something you will want to manage without veterinary care.
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I have been a veterinarian since 1994 and am experienced with avian medicine and hand-feeding.
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Would this be emergent? I would be able to take him Monday. I leave for a 48 hour shift tomorrow morning, not to return till Saturday morning. My husband is not a fan of Buddy and would prefer not to have to take him to the vet. Also I have never had any issues with Buddy so he does not have a vet he sees. I will be looking for one tonight. Is there anything in the mean time I can do? Buddy regularly gets vitamin drops in his water. He ate some peanut butter and part of a tomato tonight as well as his food. I am wondering what to do about bathing? Normally I "give" him a bath every few days if he is in the mood. If I miss the signs he bathes in his water dish. If it is exposed bone (99% sure) is bathing ok since it will be hard to stop him. I took him to the shower with me an he showed no interest.Thanks,Erika
Hello, Erika...So sorry I was offline at the time you replied and not able to give you an immediate answer. I completely understand your concerns, wondering if this is emergent. Because it happened two days ago and Buddy is still acting absolutely fine, I would say it doesn't appear so. If the injury were immediately life-threatening, Buddy would already be in trouble.That being said, managing this type of injury will be easier the sooner it is addressed. The risk for complications grows larger every day that passes. So... of course, yes, Buddy's best chance for an easy recovery would have been if he had received immediate care two/three days ago. Unfortunately, that was out of your hands and that ship has completely sailed. So looking forward at what we CAN control, the only sound medical advice I can give you is to have this addressed as soon as possible. If there is exposed bone, it is not going to get any better with time. It will only get worse.If you would, please keep me posted on how things turn out for Buddy. I end up caring about the people and birds I encounter every day - regardless of if I contact them in person or via this medium.Thank you and best of luck!