Mitred Conure losing feathers

by Jimmy
(South Pasadena, CA, USA)

I have a Mitred Conure that's almost 2 years old. Ricky is losing feathers in a quarter sized bald spot on the left side of his neck right over where his jaw and neck meet and has another small bald spot on the same side by his ear (this feather loss is a recent development, at most 2 weeks).

His cage is located next to a window in our kitchen where he gets indirect sunlight and fresh air. We also have two caged cockatiels and two ring necked turtle doves that, like him, are either caged or free roaming, but not at the same time he is out. These birds are located at least 6 feet away from his cage.

He's out of his cage for at least half a day everyday and is provided with fresh water, parrot feed, and fresh fruit. I'd like to say that's all he's getting, but other family members feed him human food along with letting him eat out of their mouths. He sometimes bites at our ears/mouths to tell us if he is hungry/thirsty while other times for unknown reasons and he rubs his head on us and surrounding objects for yet again unknown reasons.

Other than these things he is a happy, playful, and talkative. Is there is explainable reason for this feather loss or is this part of his natural molting?

Thank you for your time
-Jimmy

Comments for Mitred Conure losing feathers

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Jul 29, 2009
Molting
by: Linda

Hi Jimmy and thanks for writing! What you may be seeing is feather loss due to a molt. Look closely and see if any "pin feathers" are coming in in this area. They will stick up for a while before the end breaks off so the new feather can be seen. If you don't see these new feathers coming in shortly, there may be something else wrong. My Amazons are already starting their end of the year molt, and usually the first thing to go are the old wing and tail feathers which they have in the bottom of their cage.

I need to caution you to train people NOT TO FEED ANY FOOD TO BIRD EXCEPT WHAT A PARROT SHOULD BE EATING, AND PLEASE, PLEASE STOP THEM FROM FEEDING HIM FROM MOUTH. Birds have only gram positive bacteria in their bodies, and humans and other animals have what is called gram negative bacteria. This negative bacteria is what infections are made of in birds. The mouth feeding may be fun for the humans, and bird will take what he can get, but it is a very nasty habit that needs to be stopped for your bird's health and well-being.

It would be a great idea to take him in to an Avian vet in your area to test for infection and/or internal/external parasites. He may be rubbing his head on things a lot to help break the tips off the new feather shafts coming in as this process does itch them some and is overall uncomfortable. It could also be parasites of some sort, so err on the side of caution and take him to vet for a good checkup. Yearly checkups are recommended as these can catch an infection in its early stages before it takes too much of the bird's energy. Also, he needs to be eating a high quality pelleted diet like Harrison's. It takes some time to change them over from seeds and is well worth the effort. Our Amazons have been eating Harrisons pellets for many years and now we've added their new Birdy Bread mix which is a very good treat food. They also eat dark green lettuce, dark orange and yellow squash and a little sweet potato baked a couple times a week but no table food as this can upset a balance in their proteins and other vitamins and minerals plus usually adds fats to diet that do not need to be there. Birds are not supposed to carry any fat, and when they do, they develop some of the same problems we humans have because of it.

My suggestion is to change him over to a better food, stop feeding any table foods and especially stop feeding from the mouth. It will take a while to break this habit, so he will keep asking, just don't give in to him as this is a very unhealthy habit. Also, if he is near a window, make sure he is not in any kind of draft as even during the summer, a draft can cause upper respiratory problems. Make an appointment with Avian vet, and he can take a look at the feather loss issue and hopefully it is just an early molt. They usually molt in August, and sometimes start toward the end of July.
Linda

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