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Patricia, Parrot Consultant
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 1759
Experience:  Published author, free lance bird behaviorist, adviser to the parrots at Sarasota Jungle Gardens.
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my parakeet has been loosing the feathers on his ...

Customer Question

my parakeet has been loosing the feathers on his head...i am not sure if he is picking them off or if they are falling off...he seems to be isolating himself as well...he is eating fine and is drinking also this normal at this time of year or should I be concern and take him to the vet?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Patricia replied 10 years ago.
Hello. How long have you had him at your home? What are you feeding him? Is he actually showing any bare or bald spots? Can you see any irritated or raw skin? What do you mean by "isolating" himself, what is he doing? Look at the area above the beak where the nostrils are located and tell me what color it is. Does he seem to be losing any feathers from any other portion of his body including any of his flights or tail feathers? This extra information will help me give you my best advice. Thanks, Patricia
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
We have him for almost a year. We are feeding him the parakeet vitamin seed (food)since day one that we had him. not big spots but spots. no raw skin, not sure if irritated, i will have to recheck when I get home. Well normally when we open his cage he zooms out (wings not clipped) now he stays in and looks at us wierd, as though he has to take 2nd looks. THis morning I put my finger in his cage (as normal) and he softly bit me and flew to another area of the cage. The nostril area was the same color of his skin. my boyfriend told me that he does see some parts of his body not much by noticable.
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Relist: No answer yet.
Can you tell me a little about Moulting...I was told that this is the stage he is going through
Expert:  Patricia replied 10 years ago.

Molting is actually an ongoing process but in the wild, is heavier during the spring time and happens only once a year. Since we have brought them inside to live in our climate controlled enviornments, it can happen at any time of the year and more than once. By having them inside, we have messed with their ability to sense the change of seasons. However, no matter how heavy a normal, healthy molt may be, you will not see any bare spots or bald areas. If you are seeing any at all, it is a strong indicator that some health issue is going on. There are several that can cause excessive feather loss and/or plucking at their feathers. Obviously he cannot pluck the feathers from his own head. Something is causing him to lose them. If he is losing any or plucking any from under his wings, Giardia is a strong suspect. A yeast or protozal issue are two more. Anytime an other wise hand tame bird bites and changes any of it's behavior, it's a warning sign and we should not ignore it. He could be having a viral or a bacterial issue going on and only a true Avian vet is going to be able to give you an exact diagnosis and proper treatment advice. If you will get him in right away, it's very likely that it will not amount to more than running a test on one of his stool samples and then 10 days of an oral antibiotic. But if you let it go on, he is going to get sicker and sicker and reach a point where nothing can be done. For one thing, if he is only getting seeds and seed products to eat, he is on a terrible diet. He needs fruits, veggies and many other items. He also needs a never ending supply of cuttle bone. Calcium is important to all of them but it is a critical, possibly life or death situation, for a female bird. Which is why I asked about the color of the cere. You did not tell me so I cannot tell you for sure if you have a male or female. One of the problems we have with our parrots is their very strong instinct to mask all symptoms of illness or injury, from us. In the wild, they are prey and to show weakness is to get kicked out of the safety of the flock. By the time we see any symptoms, it's because they are too sick and too weak to keep up the pretense. A couple of the first things we will be able to notice is a change in behavior, (less playing, less or no talking, biting, etc.), any change in the appearance of the droppings that lasts more than 24 hours and cannot be accounted for by diet. For example, a lot of fruits or veggies one day can make more runny droppings but it should not last more than a day, then go back to normal. Other symptoms are sitting with feathers fluffed, giving up the perches and staying on the cage floor, and sleeping an inordinate amount of time. You are already seeing the behavior change. That along with the feather loss is cause for concern. I'm going to give you some links to proper parakeet diet, basic care and some links to help you locate your nearest Avian Vet. I'm also going to give you information about some of the toxic products and items you may be using around him because you are not aware of how dangerous they can be to a bird. Other things that can seriously affect his skin and feather condition are, humidity is too low, he doesn't get to bathe at least once a week, he is getting dangerous accumulations on his feathers of things like cigarette smoke, nicotine from the unwashed hands of a smoker, any kind of aerosol spray, any kind of air freshener, cooking fumes; the list goes on and on. Remember, anything that gets on his feathers, ends up in his system when he preens. You can review the lists to make sure you are not exposing him to any of them. But, the botXXXXX XXXXXne is, it does not sound as if he is having a normal molt because it will not cause any bare spots at all, anywhere. I hope this helps but if you have more questions, just let me know. Patricia

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