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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7613
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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Hi Lisa,I have a 14 year old Quaker parrot that somehow tore

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Hi Lisa, I have a 14 year old Quaker parrot that somehow tore the skin under his left wing. I found him on our living room floor walking around and when I picked him up I noticed a bunch if dries blood under his wing.. After cleaning him up I saw to skin tear. It looks like it only tore through 1 layer of skin And it had stopped bleeding when I found him on Friday night. He is eating and moving his wing and acting as healthy as ever, however the the skin tear is in a spot where it cannot get air to it to dry it out and the area is moist. Should I be worried? Should I let it go and see how he does for another few days? Or should I take him to the vet? Is there anything I can put on it that toxin non-toxic to him? Or anything else I can do? He does not appear to be distressed or in pain. But he does keep picking at the area. Does not appear to be getting worse.

Hello, I'm August, a certified avian specialist. I'm not sure if you're talking about Dr. Lisa who hasn't been here for a couple of years now, or if there's another Dr. Lisa, so if you are looking for one in particular, let me know and I'll try to find her for you.

I commend you for not trying to apply anything without being advised to. Undoing what some people do is often more complicated than dealing with the issue itself.

What you're describing sounds very much like 'wing web dermatitis' which is often the result of a bird plucking or overgrooming in that area. When a self-plucking psittacine has caused enough damage to result in bleeding like this, the use of a collar to prevent the bird from reaching the wound is an option. It’s not a popular option with the bird and going off their food, water and becoming depressed is often seen.

Administration of appropriate antibiotic therapy is also usually undertaken since gram positive bacterial infections are not uncommonly found on cultures.

There are some indications that the bacterial infections actually come first and cause the plucking; or another disease such as Chlamydia, systemic Aspergillosis or PBFD (psittacine beak and feather disease).

Some vets may miss a metal toxicosis (often zinc) as the underlying cause.

Have your vet perform a blood serum test for zinc levels (just in case your vet isn’t an avian vet, zinc levels over 2 ppm are positive for zinc toxicity). There will also likely be elevated WBC’s (white blood count).

Zinc can be ingested slowly over time when toys, clasps, chains, links or even cages are chewed on or played with. Other poisonings occur when the bird actually swallows a toy, link or piece of one. Watch out for bell clappers for instance.

X-rays should also be employed to rule out toxic ingestion like this.

Administration of a chelating agent to help bind with the zinc is one option for treatment, as well as removal of any foreign object.

More here:

Other causations could be allergies - even developed after many years (just like may happen with humans). It could be to foods, the environment or even a new detergent you might be using on your own clothes.

Keep in mind that manufacturers of just about anything, don’t need to tell us when they change their formula or their ingredients (or their source of ingredients).

Another cause might be hormonal. There have been quite a few cases where birds have responded to HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin ) which I find extremely interesting from a research standpoint; however, the botXXXXX XXXXXne is that it seems to show that at least some of these birds are plucking due to a hormonal issue.

Your vet might want to look into the “Manual of Parrot Behavior”, Kenneth M. Martin and check chapter Psittacine Behavior Pharmacotherapy (pages 267-279).

In the meantime, what’s important is keeping your companion’s food intake up. You can try offering soft foods from a spoon. Usually well received are pellets soaked a bit in all natural apple or grape juice. Human baby foods like all natural sweet potatoes/yams, squash, carrots and mixed vegetables are good. If you need to add a bit of apple juice or even applesauce, go ahead.
All natural yogurt (any fruit flavors) are many times helpful too.
Keeping this bird hydrated is important, obviously. An eye dropper with a few drops of apple juice, carrot juice, even Pedialyte, administered to the side of the beak may be accepted.

August Abbott, CAS and other Bird Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi August,
I apologize, I thought after reading a different post that I would be connect with that Dr who was Dr Lisa. No worries. Thank you for getting back to me. I never thought about him picking at his feathers as the reason for this. I assumed that he had caught his wing on his cage or something since he was on the floor when we found him. But he does pick a lot. I also found the info in zinc interesting too. He has never enjoyed having actual bird toys in his cage. He is afraid of them. However he has taken particular interest in plastic cups. He loves to flip them over, huddle next to them, etc. just recently I noticed that had been chewing off pieces if the cup... Maybe even eating it... So I threw it away. So I will definitely bring that up to the vet. Due to the Labor Day holiday I won't be able to get him in to the vet right away. Ill set something up on Tuesday. Are there any signs of an infection I should be aware of? The area now is light pink, with a small layer if white coating Round one of the edges. Not red or inflamed looking though. Thank you for your help, it is appreciated!
--I believe you were reading an old post by Dr Lisa. She was a good friend and colleague who passed away suddenly a bit more than a year ago. She'll forever be missed.

One way to gauge whether not there's an infection going on here would be to touch the area. Warm or hot often indicates an infection of some kind.

If/when the area begins to look 'angry' (red, swollen) that usually betrays an infection too.

Flushing the area with plain, clean (room temp) water can help. Even using sterile saline solution would be beneficial (what you'd buy to rinse contact lenses in)


You're right about the plastic cup having a potential danger. It may also be behind this lesion. It's possible your little one is having an allergic reaction to the plastic

Now, as for the toys -- it's perfectly normal for birds to be cautious about anything new. Here's how to fix that:

Get the toy and hang it on the outside of the cage in a safe area away from food/water (we don't want him starving rather than going near the scary new thing)

Every time you go near the cage, enthusiastically touch the toy, shake it, whatever .... and act very happy to have it.

In about 24-48 hours typically, he'll stop avoiding it and may even try to find out what all the fuss is about when you touch it.

Without any big fanfare just move it to the inside of the cage on day 3. If he's still scared, put it back outside the cage and start over.

At my rescue facility pretty much ALL the birds have this aversion to new things, but they get over it soon enough


Please let me know how the vet visit goes ok?