Ragged Feathers

by Debbie Workman
(Glen, WV)

We have a scarlet macaw that has never been stressed or had For about the last month or so, he started scratching around his neck somewhat. We haven't been finding any feathers in his cage but the feathers started disappearing. Now he is mssing some on his chest and his wing and tail feathers are really jagged looking. He is still very playful and most days his eating is normal. What do you think his problem could be?

Thank you in advance for your help.

Sincerely, Debbie and Steve Workman

Comments for Ragged Feathers

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Jun 10, 2009
Macaw with feather issues
by: The Vet

This sounds like he may be exhibiting feather damaging behaviors. Many many things can cause this. First I recommend that you find an avian veterinarian to look at you bird. The vet should do some blood work, a thorough exam, and a cloacal Gram?s stain at the very least.

Second you need to be sure that you are feeding you bird correctly. This means that you need to feed 80% pellets, 20% treats. Treats should include fresh vegetables and a few nuts (not peanuts). The best pellet to feed is Harrison's. This is and organic food with no artificial additives or preservatives. This is important because macaws have known allergies to some of these substances.

Do not feed those colored sweet pellets. This has been know to cause many problems including feather damaging behaviors and yeast infections.

Be sure too that your bird is drinking from a water bottle instead of a bowl. Bowls are a common source of bacterial infections, particularly bacteria that cause feather damaging behaviors. Cleaning a dish once or twice daily is not sufficient. If you cannot clean and disinfect every 3 ?4 hours, then a bottle is better.

Third, There are some articles on the Parrot Training page on feather damage and plucking behaviors that you may find helpful in this case.

Dr B

Jun 09, 2009
Ragged Feathers
by: Linda

Dear Debbie and Steve, firstly, if you've only had your bird for a month, he has experienced stress and probably still is. Just moving birds to a new location causes large amounts of stress. As for the neck feathers, I'm not sure. As for the chest, wing and tail feathers, bird could be pulling out its own feathers which leaves them raggedy looking and will leave the bird bare.Poor nutrition is another reason for raggedy feathers and feather loss. He needs to be on an organic pelleted diet if you are feeding only seeds and fruit.

Other problem could be some kind of parasite, so you need to take your bird to a qualified Avian Vet to get him checked over, a few tests done and get the proper treatment.

We can only suggest you take your bird to vet, and the rest is up to you. Your bird is really having problems, and they are either physical or emotional, either of which needs to be dealt with using the expertise of a qualified avian vet as your sounding board. Diet can cause problems as well as inadequate caging, lack of toys, or tension and stress in the household. Macaws are highly emotional birds, and this one needs to see a vet as I believe he is sick.

Let us know what your vet says, and we wish you all the best.


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