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Dr. Taus
Dr. Taus, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
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Experience:  Veterinarian with experience in equine and small animal medicine.
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My rainbow lory lost her tail feathers about 4 months ago.

Resolved Question:

My rainbow lory lost her tail feathers about 4 months ago. At about the same time, she had a respiratory infection. The antibiotics cleared the infection. About 3 tail feathers grew back but then she lost them again. She looks healthy now but I don't understand why her tail feathers won't grow back.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Taus replied 10 months ago.
Hi there,

I'm glad to hear your bird's respiratory infection has cleared! Now if only those tail feathers would grow back normally.

Just like hair, feathers grow from a follicle, and regulation of when that follicle causes feathers to grow is complicated. Whenever there is illness or stress, the cytokines, or chemicals involved in attracting immune cells to the site of the infection, travel throughout the whole body and can have unwanted effects on the feather follicles. They can cause the follicles to go into a lengthy non-growth phase.

Ordinarily, lories and other types of parrots have follicles that don't enter their resting phase and molt all at once, but every now and then a few follicles will enter the resting phase and a feather will be lost first on one side of the bird, then the other, leaving no bald patches. However, the inflammatory mediators your bird produced when she was ill may have "turned off" the follicles in her tail, causing the feathers to age and fall out. There may be other areas with poorer feathering as well, but tail and flight feathers are the easiest to see.

For the most part, the feathers will eventually regrow, and there is no specific therapy I can give you that will cause this to happen faster. There are a few things you can do in general to support healthy feather growth:

-Feed a balanced diet, preferably a complete pelleted formula (Zupreem and Mazuri make excellent products)so that her nutrition is good and she is not picking out just the tasty parts of her food to eat.

-Keep her mentally stimulated with lots of toys and room to move around so she leaves the feathers alone and lets them grow.

-As much as is possible, try to synchronize indoor and outdoor lighting. Feather growth is closely associated with the breeding season, which is triggered by day length. Confusion of her internal clock with light at odd times can make it harder for her to grow feathers.

Although lories are tropical birds and do not normally have seasonal molting, you may find that your bird does not grow new feathers in this area until the days get longer in the spring. You may also find that these feathers are more synchronized than they used to be, tending to grow in and fall out at the same time. Some birds never regrow their feathers, but this is unusual. If you notice that the feathers that are starting to regrow are abnormal-- clubbed, oddly shaped, or do not grow in well-- you might have her tested for Psittacine beak and feather disease. This is a virus that some birds are infected with that affects feather growth. Many birds carry it and look totally normal, but after a stressful event or illness they may lose feathers or have abnormal beak growth. Unusual, but something to consider.

I hope this is helpful. If so, please rate me positively, and don't hesitate to let me know how I can help further.

Dr. Taus, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 415
Experience: Veterinarian with experience in equine and small animal medicine.
Dr. Taus and 3 other Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. Taus replied 10 months ago.
Hi Luis,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. Taus

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