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Pet Bird Feather Fixes

If your pet bird has feather issues, try these feather fixes.

By Margaret A. Wissman, DVM, DABVP, Avian Practice

In the December 2009 issue of BIRD TALK Magazine, you learned 6 ways to fix your bird’s feathers. Now learn three more ways to help fix your bird’s feathers.

If your bird’s feathers are:

1) Caked with debris or dirty or greasy:
If fecal matter is caked around the vent, check with your avian veterinarian to see if your bird has an intestinal problem (usually due to parasites, such as protozoa, or bacterial infection). If your bird has accumulated dropping (from another bird, for example) or has managed to get some foreign material stuck to its feathers, contact your avian vet for advice. You might be instructed to gently wipe off the feathers with a warm, moist towel or to spray the bird with warm water. In some cases, you might be instructed to use a gentle, non-toxic dish detergent and warm water to gently clean the feathers. Spot cleaning is safer and less stressful than whole-body bathing.

2) Fluffed up or ruffled while bird is sitting:
This is usually a sign that a bird is not feeling well. A bird puffs up its feathers to increase the insulating ability of the feathers, which helps keep a sick bird warm if it is having difficulty thermoregulating. If you notice that your bird is quieter than usual and is sitting fluffed up, contact your avian veterinarian to set up an appointment to have a check up.

3) Showing too many pinfeathers.
The bird is not preening off the waxy sheaths covering newly emerging feathers during a molt. Sometimes, a bird housed alone cannot reach the pin feathers on the top of the head and might appreciate the assistance of a person to help preen off those sheaths by gently rolling the feathers through the fingers. Those newly emerging feathers are often sensitive, so follow your bird’s lead about whether or not you should assist in the preening activities. A bird might ignore the sheaths on long tail or wing feathers on occasion, and might need assistance in gently removing those sheaths, as well.

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