Permanent loss of flight feathers in cockatoo

by Caitie
(Seattle)

A friend of mine has an umbrella cockatoo that has permanently lost her flight feathers on one wing. He's had her for 4 years (she is 15 years old). Her wing was like that when he got her, and the previous owners were not forthcoming about the issue. The bird has lived in the same vicinity as a lorikeet for the last few years; both have been vet-checked and confirmed to be healthy. He wants me to bird-sit the cockatoo and lorikeet while he's on vacation, but if they are carriers of something like PBFD, I don't want to expose my conures, lovebird, and Meyers to them. I would appreciate some advice on this matter. Thanks!

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Feb 26, 2013
Permanent loss of flight feathers in cockatoo
by: Anonymous

You know how when you "declaw" a cat, they alctually cut the very tips of the toes off to prevent the nails from growing back.

Now, with this said, sort of the same thing can be done on birds wings to premanatly keep the flight feathers from growing back. Vets really dispise doing this bc of how easily a bird is traumatized.

But people do have it done. Especially places where birds preform. I believe Disneyland has bird show. Where Greys talk on queue, and other birds doing tricks. Unless of course the bird was taught to fly to it's trainer on queue. Most places would rather the birds not fly, to protect their financial intrests.

It could be, that the bird had this operation. And yes, it's an operation, where they remove apart of the wind to prevent the grow back of feathers. Your friend's vet can get a close look at the wing and see. I remember as a child, when our birds got clipped they only did one wing. Now, they do both wings. Least my bird groomers do both.

Cockatoos are also known as "velcro birds" Bc they need constant attn. If this bird at some point in it's life got neglected from a previous owner, the bird might have mutalated that wing to the point the feathers just won't grow back.

Now, you said your friend took him in for a vet exam and gave a clean bill of health? I would ask if he got the birds blood work done as well. This will give a more accurate result of his birds being healthy. So ask him. :) (also ask him when that last vet visit was!

So... hopefully I was able to touch base on a few alternate reasons as to why the bird might be missing flight feathers.

Good luck, hope everything works out, and that all the little feathered guys are nice and healthy!


Feb 26, 2013
Flight feathers missing - PBFD
by: The Avian Vet

The first question I have is how far did they go to vet-check. Before you board, you need to know the PBFD status. This viral disease is complicated and a single simple negative test is not sufficient to feel safe. Determining whether or not any of the birds are shedding the virus is important from the perspective of your birds. However, birds can harbor the virus without shedding. In either case, birds harboring the virus can develop sub-clinical and clinical disease, especially associated with stress. PBFD is also not the only disease to be concerned of.

Both of these species are known carriers of circovirus. If the cockatoo has symptoms that are consistent with PBFD, then for the sake of other birds in general, they need to be tested. Testing does not guarantee birds are disease-free, but negative test results dramatically reduces the likelihood that they are diseased and/or carriers.

If you bird-sit them in their home, then you can take precautions to reduce the risk of taking something home to your own birds. Of course not sitting means you have zero risk of contaminating your environment and your birds. But, if you go to their home, and you wear cover-alls, shoe covers, hair net, etc., remove this at the threshold when you leave, shower when you get home, and all before you go to the bird's cage, then your risk is pretty low, close to zero. The fewer precautionary steps you take, the greater your risk.

If you were to bring them into your home before proper and complete testing, then you would be taking a huge risk of course.

Dr B

Feb 26, 2013
Permanent loss of flight feathers in cockatoo
by: Linda

There is no reason for the Too's flight feathers to be lost unless bird has been subjected to butchering of her wings on a regular basis for a long time. What I mean by butchering is just that. In some countries, bird's wings are routinely chopped with a machete which means not only are feathers damaged but bones are also broken and nerves damaged. These cripples will not be able to produce healthy feathering on wings if any feathers at all.

I strongly suggest you have this person take both his birds to an Avian Vet ONLY and have xrays done of the Too's wings to make sure there are no broken or crushed bone in the wings. He needs to allow the Avian Vet to perform testing for PBFD along with testing for bacterial/viral infections. He needs to produce to you paperwork that states beyond a shadow of a doubt that both these birds are healthy. The Too's xrays will show whether or not her wings have been butchered in the past. Otherwise there is no reason why her flight feathers are not coming back in.

I caution you to make sure all of this has been done including xrays of Too's wings before allowing them anywhere near your birds. It is not recommended that people board birds unless they have a separate building to keep them in because strange birds can still bring in different bacteria which can infect your birds even though his birds have tested clean of infection. This is why birds in pet stores end up sick. Anytime you put a bunch of birds together from different environments, chances are good that one or more of the birds will become sick because of so many different varieties of bacteria being introduced.

I would strongly suggest you encourage this person to board his birds with an Avian Vet his birds go to because you are putting your birds at risk just by allowing his birds into your home.

The message here, for everyone, is do not board anyone's birds unless you have a separate building for the boarded birds. They can have no contact with your birds because of the dangers involved in passing on different bacteria your birds do not have immunity against. Birds in our homes get used to the kind and type of bacteria present in their own home and can handle some gram negative bacteria until the growth is too much and then they get sick with it. When a strange bird is introduced with new and different bacteria, it is a high probability that your own birds will become sick, and the boarding birds may also become sick from your home's different bacteria.

So, encourage this person to board his birds with Avian Vet he trusts. Have him also have the Too's wings xrayed to make sure she has not been butchered routinely in the past.

Linda

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