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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 6 month old parakeet is molting and itching like

Customer Question

My 6 month old parakeet is molting and itching like crazy. She is eating fine and not losing weight. No other signs of an illness. Should this be cause for concern? She really is losing all her feathers
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Patricia replied 9 years ago.

HiCustomer Does she have any bare or bald spots anywhere, (check under her wings also) or is it just that she is losing more feathers than usual?

Any signs that she is plucking or picking at herself, and very important, any signs of any damaged and/or bleeding skin?

How many months old is she and how long have you had her?

Is this your first experience having a bird in your home?

Many things with our birds are diet related so please tell me all about her entire diet so I can also help you be sure she is getting what she needs and that none of this is nutritional related.

Thanks, Patricia

Customer: replied 9 years ago.

She has a few bald spots under her wings, and does not seem like she wants to be touched. This was not an issue before. There is no bleeding. She is our first bird, and have had her since October 2007. She is apprx 6 months old. Her diet consists of millet spray, normal bird seed, fresh water. Her appetite is great. Should I be giving her fresh veggies and fruit? she also has a pink cuddle bone. I do not cover her cage at night. Should I?

Thank-you for your help, we are very concerned about her. We also have a 13 year old flame point hymalayian. But there are no stress factors involved here.
Expert:  Patricia replied 9 years ago.

Okay, thanks for all the good information. It's very helpful. My first thought that was that she may only be having her first true adult molt and that can seem excessive due to the number of dropped feathers. But I think there is something more serious going on with her. Realizing that I cannot diagnose for you from long distance, and it would be unethical of me to try, I can give you some ideas and tell you what you need to do. First off is the diet issue. She is not eating as she should. Yes, for sure, she needs lots of fresh fruits, fresh or steamed veggies, leafy greens and many other "people" food items. Also make sure that what she has is truly a cuttle bone and not just a mineral block of some kind. Mineral blocks are okay but she needs a true cuttle bone also. It is an important source of calcium for both but if you definitely have a female, it may literally be life or death for her in the future. She will not need a male bird around to decide to lay eggs at some point. If and when she does, she will be putting a real strain on her calcium reserves to make firm shells for the eggs. If she runs low, the shells will be too soft for her to pass, she will get egg bound and that will be a life threatening emergency. Much better to prevent that than to have to deal with it. The ideal diet will not be more than about 30% seeds and seed products. She needs a seed mix that does not have sunflower seeds in it and she needs a good brand of pellet mixed in. She needs the other foods everyday, in a separate bowl. Expect her to be resistant for awhile, to any diet changes and additions and make the changes gradually. We cannot "starve" a bird into eating healthy foods. But you must be consistent and persistent in offering some of these choices everyday. One thing that will help is to eat with her. They are very flock oriented, you are not her flock and eating is a flock activity. Here is an article that will give more help with this issue. Click here: Introducing New Foods to Picky Pet Birds Sunflower seeds and millet are two of the items that are most high in fat and should be occasional treats only, not a high percentage of the regular diet. Rule of thumb with them is no more than 5 or 6 sunflower seeds per day, per bird and no more than one half sprig of millet, per week, per bird. A diet too high in fat leads to many health problems for any bird or parrot and for Budgies and Parakeets in particular, they are at risk of fatty liver disease, (Hepatic Lipidosis), fatty tumors and obesity. Any one of which will drastically shorten her life span and dramatically increase your avian vet bills. I'll be giving you some links below that will help you in greater detail with the diet, the consequences of poor diet and other issues. Some of those other issues will be safety precautions around the home as respects all the many toxins we all have and use but must never have anywhere near a bird. I'm covering that because, getting back to the original problem, one possible cause, if this feather loss may be coming from excessive preening and plucking, you may have been unknowingly exposing her to one or more of these toxic products. Anything that gets on her feathers that doesn't belong, will be vigorously preened off and worse, will end up in her system. If that is happening, she is slowly being poisoned. There are many and you may want to bookmark,and/or print out these sites for future reference. But just to mention a few of the things we hear most about causing bird deaths, are any kind of air freshener at all, no matter the type. Sprays, gels, plug ins and so on. Non stick cookware. Any product that sprays into the air. Cigarette smoke or nicotine from the unwashed hands of a smoker, and nearly every commercial cleaning product on the market is toxic to birds. The health related problems that can cause these symptoms may be bacterial, fungal and/or a protoza based problem. When they start plucking, particularly under the wings, one of the first suspects is Giardia. It makes them so itchy and uncomfortable, it literally gets on their last nerve. They get cranky, out of sorts, do now want to be handled and are just miserable. Only a true Avian vet can diagnose this for you and prescribe the proper treatment. More than likely a test of a dropping sample under the microscope will give the diagnosis. Then a 10 day course of a proper oral antibiotic may clear it right up. Just don't waste your money or her time with any over the counter junk from a pet store. If they had anything that would work, you would not get it without a prescription and you would never foul her drinking water with it. About the only thing you can do for her at home will be supportive and hopefully give her a little relief from the itching. That is to put some 100% pure aloe juice, straight from a plant, into her warm bath water. Cut an arm from the plant, slit it open and mix the gooey center in the water. Don't let her have access to the plant or the rind. It's not toxic but it can cause some stomach upset for some birds. The links will also have some to hopefully help you locate a proper vet if you don't already know of one you can trust for their avian expertise and experience. You do not want a dog/cat vet unless they also come highly recommended for their avian knowledge. As for covering the cage, that's entirely up to you and your bird. She should have a night light in the room where she sleeps anyway because they are not at ease in total darkness and probably won't get enough sleep. If you feel there is any chance she is in any draft at night or if she is in a location where passing headlight may come through the room, or even the cat taking an evening stroll, it may be safer to have her covered. You don't want anything to cause a "night fright". If that happens, she can seriously injure herself, flailing around inside the cage. So, I leave that decision to your judgment. I hope all this will be helpful for you but if you have any more questions at all, just let me know. If want to do anything I can to help you have the happiest, healthiest little bird possible. Patricia

Click here: Grit, Gravel and your Parakeet / Budgie

Click here: Hepatic Lipidosis

Click here: PetCareLibrary - Tumors in Parakeets (

Click here: - Budgie Nutrition

Click here: Toxic and Safe Plants/Trees for Birds - Household Poisons

Click here: Birdsnways - Safe Plants & Trees for pet birds, pet parrots &exotic birds

Click here: Diet: Safe & Toxic Foods

Obesity & Diets (budgies)

Click here: More Birds Die as a Result of Air Fresheners: That Stinks!!

Click here: Bird Proofing Your Home: Household Hazards for Birds

Click here: Bird Proofing Your Home - Avoid These Pet Bird Hazards

Click here: The Silent Killer, by Joanie Doss

Click here: Find local animal hospitals and emergency animal clinics - PETS 911

Click here: Parrots - Avian Vets Recommended - Judy Leach's Parrots - macaws, cockatoos, and african greys

Click here: Find your local Avian Veterinarian

Click here: Avian Veterinarians Recommended by Bird Breeders and Owners

Click here: World Wide Avian Vet Listing

Click here: BirdsnWays - Avian Veterinarians - Vets - Vet Services for Pet Parrots & Exotic Birds

This one looks like an advertisement for Harrison pellets but they are only sold by vets so it's another good list to check. Click here: Harrison's Bird Foods is a family of certified organic pet bird diets that were formulated to make your bird as he


Patricia and other Pet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.

This is our first experience with your website, and I must say we are very impressed. Thank-you so much for your in depth concern with our situation. We will utilize the materials suggested, and hopefully we will be on the right track again

With peace always,

Kathy, Alex and Elizabeth, and 'Angel' TOO
Expert:  Patricia replied 9 years ago.
You are so very welcome. I thought this might be your first experience and since parrots and birds are a huge love of mine, I'm all about doing all I can to help new owners as much as possible. I know first hand, pet stores don't know diddly and probably wouldn't share it if they did. They rather you have a bird get sick or die so they can make another sale. Harsh but true. The truth is, if many folks realized up front, just how labor intensive it can be to live with a bird and keep it safe, they would never leave the store with one. Folks finding out too late what is involved is why I have a flock of 9 rescues and adoptees ranging from Cockatiels to Macaws. I also know first hand the bond we have with a bird is unlike the bond with any other pet and their loss leaves a huge hole in our lives. It was my pleasure to help someone as obviously devoted to wanting to do the right things for their little feathered friend. If you ever need anything else, you know where to find me. My best to you all and especially to little Angel. Patricia