Abnormal feather growth and bald spots on 23 yr old Nanday Conure


I have owned a Nanday conure for 23 years named Larry Bird. His exact age is unknown because he was in my friend's cherry tree before he decided he had enough and flew into a cage she set out for him; she then asked me to care for him because she couldn't take his screaming. His sex has not been determined.

I changed his diet (seed mixture) gradually over a month because the brand I usually use (Sleek and Sassy) was not readily available. However, I noticed that his wing feathers were growing slightly more curved than usual and he was losing feathers on his front chest so I went back to his original diet. It's been about a month and half since he's been back on the original diet and I'm not seeing a lot of improvement. He's now bald on his chest. He's also losing feathers from the top of his wings (shoulders) and his back, which makes me think he's feather plucking when I'm not watching.

His tail feathers, flight wings and head are fine. He's as feisty as ever, eating well, with no obvious change in his feces. He's always had trouble w/pin feathers behind his neck w/the casing around the feather taking a while to disintegrate, but has never had any molting issues; his molts have always been very mild and not even noticeable at times. In addition to his seed, he gets a variety of other foods on a regular basis (fruit, rice, egg, chicken, etc.) and I use Nekton Bio vitamins in his water. When he became bald on his chest, I moved his cage to a sunnier spot and added some new toys hoping to distract him from feather plucking (if that's what he's doing - I see him preening but never plucking). His wing feathers aren't curving as much now but his feather loss is increasing. I'm reluctant to take him to a vet because of the stress and his age. Any ideas of what else I can do or what the problem might be? Thank you!

Comments for Abnormal feather growth and bald spots on 23 yr old Nanday Conure

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Oct 03, 2010
Thank you for your comments!
by: R. in Oregon

Thank you all for your comments. I did take Larry to an avian vet and everything was normal. He wasn't happy about the trip and let me know (he has a way of chirping out his complaints that I've come to recognize over the years) but it didn't stress him out as much as I was worried it would. I will try changing his diet to pellets or at least adding them to his diet. I've tried this before and he won that battle. After 20 plus years, I think he's got me figured out! Thanks so much for your concern.

Sep 27, 2010
Bald spost on nanday conure
by: The Avian Vet

This does sound like a feather damaging behavior. However, you are also describing nutritional problems, too, as well as age related changes. Most important is that you switch your bird to a pellet diet. Preferably Harrison's. This will reverse the nutritional problems. Harrison?s should be 80% of the diet. Seeds should be no more than 5-10% of the total diet. I have attached an article about Feather Damaging Behaviors that may help, but you need to take this bird in to see an avian specialist.

You should stop using vitamins in the water. These are not helping and are actually increasing the chance of a bacterial infection. You do not see plucking because they usually do it at night and when you are not around. You must take him in. The benefits of medical attention far outweigh the stress of the trip.

Dr B

Aug 05, 2010
Abnormal feather growth
by: Anonymous

Take your bird to an Avian Vet. If what you are doing is not helping his situation, there is obviously something more serious.

Aug 04, 2010
Abnormal feather growth and bald spots on 23 yr old Nanday Conure
by: Linda

Hi, and thanks for writing. Please take your bird into an Avian Vet as soon as you can get an appointment for a thorough checkup. Have vet do a test for bacterial infections by taking a throat swab and NOT an anal swab as they are useless for the most part. Have vet also do tests for viral infections and basic bloodwork to make sure his kidneys, liver, thryoid and parathyroid are working properly. All birds need to be seen by an Avian Vet at least once a year whether they are showing any symptoms or not because birds cover up their illnesses and injury, and we won't see the results until they are near death.

Once he has a clean bill of health or is on meds to correct any problems, it would be prudent to change his diet up some. We recommend high quality organic pellets, and Harrison's is one of the best on the market and is Avian Vet endorsed. Tracie carries several kinds of the organics here, so you can choose another kind if you wish.

Here is an article about how to go about changing from seeds to pellets written by Avian Vet:

Switching Birds to Pellets article

Make NO changes until he has had a thorough exam by an Avian Vet and do not take him to regular dog and cat vet as they are not licensed or trained in caring for birds and will mis-diagnose him and treat him incorrectly.

Birds who eat all seed diets for a lifetime end up dying with fatty liver disease or other nutrition related conditions. Once you start changing to the organic pellets, please discontinue the vitamins, animal protein(meat, eggs) and any people food snacks of any kind. If you use Harrisons' pellets, they recommend you feed only 10-15% fruit and veggies like organic dark green lettuce, squash (the ones high in beta-carotene), and possibly bits of apple only a few times a week(NO SPINICH). Harrisons' makes a Birdy Bread mix that our Amazons love, and get SUNSHINE FACTOR'S ORGANIC RED PALM OIL to put in it, and Tracie also carries that out here. It is a cold-pressed oil that has to be liquified by putting bottle into a glass or jar of warm water until it can be poured into a tablespoon. This will help with the changeover plus your bird will love it. It bakes up quickly and then you can slice it up, wrap in clear wrap and place in freezer bags for up to 6 months. Thawed out, it will remain good in refrigerator for up to 7 days. All the organic foods have to be taken out before mealtimes to warm to room temperature before feeding. All the organics have to be refrigerated at all times after opening, including the oil.


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