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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 female cockatiel is losing feathers around one of ...

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My female cockatiel is losing feathers around one of her ears. It is getting increasingly worse. There is a male cockatiel in the same cage that looks fine. The male does groom the female, but it doesn't appear that he over grooms her or is picking her feathers. What could be causing this small bald spot over her ears?

Hi Amber.

Are you positive about the gender of both birds?

Ever had any eggs or any hatchings?

Can you look under her wings to see if there are any bare spots there?

Have you seen any change in the appearance of the droppings?

Have they ever been taken outside for any reason? (Cage on the porch for fresh air, anything like that?)

What are their bathing habits?

Tell me about their normal dailey diet.

The extra information will help me to give you my best advice.

Thanks, Patricia

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Patricia's Post: I'm positive about the boy...he's about 1 year old. We're pretty sure about the girl, but not positive. She doesn't sing or try to talk like the boy and she has the coloring of a girl.

Never had any eggs or hatchings.

The droppings look normal and healthy.

They do not go outside, we moved to a new apartment about 3 weeks ago and they were outside for moments between car and house.

For bathing we used to spray with a water bottle which they love. I just last week purchased a bath for the cage that the bird who is losing feathers has used, the other (male) bird has not, that we have seen, used it. We keep the water fresh.

The birds are on a store bought cockatiel seed blend and rainbow pellets. I've tried, to no avail, to introduce fresh foods, they just won't have them.

Because of the move it's a little hard to observe behavior change. Both birds were very quiet for a week or so, and they are now back to almost normal behavior, though the girl bird in question is more vocal than she had been. It's hard to know if this is related to health or the new environment.

Okay Amber, thanks for the extra information. It's very helpful. Because you have had this relocation in the mix, for now, I'm going to suggest to not get too excited about the feather situation. It could be nerves but, it could also be something in the new place she is reacting to. I don't know if it is a new house or apt. or just new to you but in either case, many times there are irritants and maybe even some toxins from fresh paint, carpet cleaning, just general cleaning and so on. Because of that, I am going to urge you to keep a very close eye on both of them for a while. Things to stay alert for will be that change in droppings, changes in behavior, sitting with feathers fluffed, sitting on the cage floor instead of a perch and sleeping an inordinate amount of time during the day. Because birds do their best to mask all symptoms, by the time we see them, it means they have been ill for a while. So if you see even one, do not wait for another. Get them both to a good Avian vet for a check up. As for the diet, I have plenty of personal experience with picky eaters so I know what you are going through, but for their sake, you have got to continue offering, everyday, vegetables, leafy greens and much more. Do not give up. Their life depends on it. Eating with them is one good way to entice them to try new things. Fix them a plate of a variety of safe foods and bring them to the table with you to eat. They won't like everything but they will eventually give in and eat some of the people foods they need. Also, since there is a good chance you have a female, don't ever let her run out of cuttle bone. The calcium that supplies is another possible life and death situation. If she ever decides to lay eggs, without enough calcium in her reserves, she won't be able to make firm shells. Her eggs will be too soft for her to pass. She will be egg bound and without immediate, proper intervention, she will die. I'm going to give you all the same links I give to all new Tiel owners. I realize you are not a novice but there may be information in them you do not have yet and it could be vital to you and them. There will also be help with diet and with recognizing all the possible toxins to help you avoid dangerous exposures. I hope all this will be helpful for you but if you have anymore questions at all, just let me know. Patricia

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