shaft of tail feather splitting

by Christa Riddington
(Austin Texas)

I have a blue and gold macaw, approximately 35 years old, in good health and happy. One of his longest tail feathers is splitting at the shaft. He pulled out the previous feather prematurely and the new one has grown in rather shabbily. Should I be concerned? He has plenty of fresh air and exercise. The opportunity to bath every week. A pretty good diet, Kaytee, Zoopreem and Harrisons organic pellets. Fresh veggies and fruit. Hard nuts in moderation. What do you think?

Comments for shaft of tail feather splitting

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Apr 07, 2009
B&G with feather issue
by: The Vet

All macaws should be so fortunate. You should not pluck the feather. Let it fall out naturally, or he may even pull it.

Dr B

Apr 05, 2009
shaft of tail feather splitting
by: riddington

I know that the cage size is not the issue. We built him a two story aviary complete with timed sprinkler system and oak whiskey barrel. It's strategically placed on the deck where he can see us in the yard or house, he utilizes every inch of the 30'X 40' of it too. He comes in at night to a 3X5 cage with no toys, he is ready for sleep when the sun goes down.
He has been a part of our family more than 10 years and no self mutiliation. I am inclined to think it a infected follical. I appreciate your imput about the pellets. I will take that to heart. Should the feather be plucked or should I wait for it to fall out naturally?

Apr 05, 2009
Tail feather on bird splitting
by: The Vet

This can be caused by many things. The most common ones I see are nutrition, physical damage from cage bars, and self mutilation. You are feeding mostly pellets, so that is good and makes it less likely that your bird has nutritional problems. However, I would recommend that you feed 80% Harrison's and 20% treats; and forget about those other pellets. They have lots of artificial ingredients and ZuPreem has lots of sugar. None of which are good for birds.

The second possibility is that the cage is too small. A macaw cage should be 3 x 4 feet at a minimum. If you cage is this large, it may be that it is overcrowded with toys and things.

The final most common cause is self mutilation of feather damaging behaviors. If there are no other feathers than this one feather then this differential is unlikely. But if he is chewing other feathers, then you may want to approach this from a behavioral stand point. If this is the case, let me know. I have lots of useful info on that topic.

It is possible that he is doing that to one feather because it is bothering him. So he could have an infection in that one follicle, or maybe an ingrown feather. My recommendation is to have him examined by an avian veterinarian to find out. Let me know what you find.

Dr. B

Apr 05, 2009
tail feather with split shaft
by: riddington

I am concerned with the new tail feather that replaced the one that was plucked prematurely. It has grown back inferior to all the the feathers, I wonder if the area the feather grew in from is affected with some condition that might spread or cause discomfort.

Apr 04, 2009
pulling tail feathers
by: Anonymous

The tail feathers can be removed..your vet can pull them out for you, if you are uncomfortable doing it yourself. One will grow back in its place.

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