Sporadic feather loss

by Lou
(New Jersey)

Hello, In my flock of cockatiels (I have 19), there seems to be a feather disease that only a few (3 or so) birds exhibit. It's spordic feather loss that occurs after they've matured. There are three family lines in the flock and only one family line exhibits this problem with ONE exception of a lutino bird in the first family line who had great feather loss around her head and neck.

The albino father of the third and youngest family line has some feather loss around his neck and ears, and he is store-bought from PetSmart. All the birds who exhibit feather loss to this degree are albino, but not all the albino birds have the same problem. In the pictures attached, only within the last few weeks has this bird's feathers been particularly sparse in the tail and wing areas. The bird is only two years old and even looks disheveled around the legs. Note that yellow bump in the center of the first picture.

It is not a plucking problem because my birds do not pluck each other. Is this a cause of stress, lack of some nutrient, or just a genetic disease? They are on a seed diet but I give them vegetables and other grain foods daily. Also, I do not have the money to take my birds to an avian vet.

Any insight is much appreciated.

Comments for Sporadic feather loss

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Nov 12, 2010
Sporadic feather loss
by: The Avian Vet

First, I would recommend that you have your birds examined by an avian veterinarian.

Second, you need to improve their diet. They should be eating 80% pellets (I prefer Harrison's) and 20% treats. The diet alone may be the cause, but there could be other causes contributing to the problem, such as poor lighting, poor ventilation, over crowding, feather damaging behaviors, low humidity, and others.

Dr B

Nov 11, 2010
Sporadic feather loss
by: Linda

I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. The problem with this is that there are many reasons why this is happening and one of them is Beak and Feather Disease which is fatal for entire flocks. Take one of the birds with the most feather loss and who looks the worst to an Avian Vet in your area to be diagnosed. Since there are many possible causes for this, there is no way anyone can tell you to do anything else.

The all seed diet is killing your birds, and the fruit, veggies and grains are helping but not making the proteins any better. All seed diets have little usable proteins, vitamins and minerals, and birds end up with all kinds of long and short term physical problems like bad skin and feathers, liver problems, kidney problems and digestive difficulties. There is also a propensity for abnormal babies from these birds. All seed diets simply kill birds slowly, and none will live out their lifetimes. As they age, the literal starvation of their bodies will cause them to develop arthritis early as well as fatty liver disease which is fatal.The list is long, so just think of all seed diets as slow starvation with all that entails.

It is not too late to feed your birds correctly with an organic pelleted diet. There are price breaks for buying in larger quantities or pounds. The change from seeds to pellets takes time and cannot be done all at once. Here is a link written by Avian Vet on how to go about it safely:

Switching Birds to Pellets article.

As for what else is happening right now, you must take at least one in to be tested for Beak and Feather Disease and/or other bacterial/viral based infections that is causing the feather loss. If anyone offers you "helpful" advice about how to give home remedies or over the counter meds, trust me, they do not know what they are doing and will ensure the loss of your entire flock. Only an Avian Vet can diagnose and offer treatment plans for birds. You MUST find out what this is because if you are selling babies that have Beak and Feather Disease, this is against the law because of how quickly is spreads and how devastating it is to all kinds of bird flocks including chickens and turkeys. There is, to date, NO CURE for Beak and Feather Disease and it can remain contageous for years no matter how hard you try and clean everything up. It is devastating in that there are NO survivors and if suspected, local law enforcement shuts down the breeder, kills all the birds, and there is possiblilty of jail time and heavy fines for spreading the disease. Please take one of your birds to Avian Vet to be diagnosed just in case this is what you are seeing. I truly hope it is not, and will keep you and your birds in prayers for a good outcome.


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