overnight feather loss

by Pirate Queen
(Central, CA)

My two year old female scarlet macaw has, overnight, plucked out most of her body feathers.

We've had her for a year and a half. We often take her out to play, but my husband has been extremely sick with kidney problems the last three weeks, including some overnight trips to the hospital. We've tried taking some time to talk to her, but her normal evening play times have been very sporadic. She's been a trooper for about three weeks now, but suddenly, overnight, she just plucked almost all of her feathers out, around her vent and on her back near the base of her tail. oO

She was fine when we had her on the bed to play Saturday. Sunday was a rough day and we let her out to play on her gym, though we didn't cuddle her much. Now, Monday morning, boom. Bald vent, bald back.

She gets a high quality, pelleted diet, supplemented by fresh fruit and produce.

My husband is has some long-term illnesses that keep him laying down often and she's in our bedroom, so she has company almost all the time and spends lots of time talking to us (among other things, she knows my name and can request "out" and her bedtime song).

The room is too dark. With this last bout of family health problems and the chilly weather lately, it's been a while since she had a bath. I've been remiss on making her new toys in the last few weeks.

What do you think? Is my little pirate girl becoming a stressed out woman or does such a sudden and extensive feather plucking mean I need to take her to a doctor? :(

Comments for overnight feather loss

Click here to add your own comments

Jun 26, 2009
Overnight feather loss
by: The Vet

This is a serious problem and not likely behavioral given its acute nature. I recently saw this in another scarlet and it turned out that the owner had changed perfumes and the bird was severely allergic. Allergies are common in macaws. Your situation may be more complicated.

If you have an avian veterinarian in your area, please go get a work up. Contact Tracie if you would like to have a phone consultation after you have blood tests run and exam.

Dr B

Jun 22, 2009
Stressed Out and Maybe Sick
by: Linda

Sexual maturity for Macaws takes place around 6-7 years old.

Part of the problem is the stress of her favorite people being unavailable for her. She feels abandoned at this point.It may be time to think of getting another bird as a companion for her. New bird does not have to be a Macaw and does need to be larger than some of the really small birds. A new cage will also be a must, so they each have their own space.

First, take her to the vet and have her thoroughly checked out.Macaws are very emotionally needy birds, and once a routine is established are less than amenable to changes.Her diet sounds excellent!

While at the vet's, have a gram stain done to rule out infection, have him look at her skin to rule out external parasites. Then have a test done for internal parasites. A CBC would be good to see if there are blood issues. A BUN test would not hurt either as it is for kidney function.Sometimes our birds and other pets try and "take on" our physical ills and become ill themselves. They are very empathetic with us. So have vet do the BUN to see what is going on there.

If vet does not find anything wrong with her, then this is emotional acting out, and she will end up with no feathers at all. Talk with vet about possibly putting her in a soft collar (not the big plastic ones, but a soft rolled one that won't keep her from eating, drinking or playing). It would just keep her from plucking until her home gets back to normal again.

If she is physically healthy, it may be time to think about a companion.Another bird would provide companionship for when you all just cannot be there for her. It could make all the difference. Also, be sure and take new bird to vet as soon as is possible as infections of all kinds are highly contageous and birds in same room will contract what the other has.

Let us know how everything goes, as your little birdy is missing you.


Click here to add your own comments