My Cockatiel Has Bald Spots

by Shelley Holden
(Fair Haven, VT, USA)

I was given a 4 yr.-old male Pied Cockatiel "Frankie" 6 months ago. His previous owner had always let him out of his cage a lot until she had a baby, then she couldn't let him out.She said he started picking his feathers off, probably due to stress so she decided to find him a new home.

I just love my "Frankie" so much. He has a big cage and he can fly around my apt. whenever he wants. (I live alone so no one is going to accidentally let me outside.) He is very happy (and very spoiled). He has a healthy diet but he still has bald spots although I have not seen him pulling his feathers out. He's not in a stressful environment. There are no other pets here and he's given a lot of love & attention. At 1st I thought it was molting, which may have been and some nice new feathers have grown in some places, yet he still has bald spots.

I had heard that once they develop the habit of pulling their feathers, they will continue to. Is there anything I can do? He does not like to bathe although I have misted him with warm water. Thank you so much!!!! Shelley in VT Nov. 24, 2013.

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Nov 26, 2013
Bird with bald spots
by: The Avian Vet

Plucking is a complicated problem, but you may have solved this one by simply letting him out for attention. You should have the bals spots looked at by an avian veterinarian to be sure there is not a medical reason for the bald spots.

Dr B

Nov 25, 2013
bald spots. . .
by: MaeganMarie

My first suggestion is LOTS of showers. If he will let you soak him to the skin every time he dries.
You could also pack his cage so full of bird-safe branches (manzanita, cholla, citrus) that he can't move. That way he has to focus on tearing apart the branches just to make room for himself. He will forget about his feathers and focus on the branches. (a human going from real cigarettes to an e-cig)
Feather-plucking becomes a habit. If not corrected it becomes a obsessive-compulsive behavior. We bite nails, smoke, drink, etc. . .amd birds feather-pluck. He needs to adopt a new behavior before he starts mutilating his skin which opens the door to infection and other horrors.
This sounds like a situation for your avian veterinarian to check out. Perhaps there are health issues. Rule out health issues first and go from there. Perhaps the woman knew about a health problem and didn't want to deal with it. That would be awful, but it happens all the time.
Good luck!

Nov 25, 2013
Thank you Traci
by: Shelley

I read the article on Feather Plucking and am going to try the suggestions listed to see if they'll help my cockatiel.
I also want to make a correction to my original post where I said "no one will let me out" LOL. It should have said, "no one will let him out". Hee hee. I am not trapped in my home. :)

Nov 25, 2013
Cockatiel with bald spots
by: Tracie

It is possible that the other feathers will grow in if the bird was plucking from stress. Yes, some develop the habit and it is difficult to stop them from doing it.

Here is a link to an article that was written by our avian vet. Feather Damaging Behavior article

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