Umbrella Cockatoo flight feathers are coming in weird and under bite

by Clint Gabbert
(Craig, CO, USA)

Cockatoo flight feathers

Cockatoo flight feathers

Cockatoo flight feathers
Cockatoo beak

Umbrella Cockatoo flight feathers are coming in weird... She also has an under bite. I recently acquired an Umbrella Cockatoo. I have an aquarium fish and animal supply store and I had a customer come in that wanted to find a home for here Cockatoo and after meeting the bird I thought she would make a great store pet, she get plenty of attention and she has been quite the attraction.

When I first got her she had not been taken care of properly and had a severe under bite. I have been taking her to our local vet about every 3 weeks and they have been trimming her beak and it seems to be getting better, but our vet doesn't know much about birds (they actually said that there is only one other person that brings there parrot in) and the closest vet that specializes in birds in about 5 hours away. I attached a picture of her beak but that isn't the reason I am sending this.

When we first brought her into the store I had the vet trim her wings. That has been about 4 months ago and her feathers are starting to grow back in but they just look weird to me she leaves them alone as far as I know, I attached a picture if I could get your opinion that would be great.

She is on a safflower seed based diet, it is the Kaylor of Colorado brand Sweet Harvest Parrot w/out sunflower seeds. She will not eat anything else, I am really trying to get her on to Roudybush but she will not even try it. Thank you so much for your help.

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Mar 12, 2012
Vitamin A
by: Tammy

My cockatoo has the same issues with her feathers. She was also on an all seed diet. I took her to an avian vet. He told me the most important thing is to change her diet ASAP. This takes time but the first step is to buy vitamin A capsules. You can get them in your local drug store. it is like an oil inside the capsule. perce it and sprinkle it over her/his food once a day for 10 days. This will improve the birds diet right now. after that do this a few times a week.

(VERY IMPORTANT to get avian vet to approve this, as you can kill your bird by giving them vitamins. Too much Vit A will cause organ failure.)

With my Cockatoo I was trying to hand feed her everything. She now loves bananas. So now I mix small amount of other foods with them. She still has to be hand fed but I am just happy she is starting to eat anything else. It took me 2 weeks to even get her to try anything else. Agian she will only take it off my fingers.

I am trying to back off the seed and add more pellets. this is not easy because they have to eat well each day. again this takes a long time and just keep trying fresh veggie and fruits each day don't give up. My bird lived in a pet shop for 15 years on an all seed diet. What got me to work harder finding an anwser.

My avian vet said Cockatoos on an all seed diet maybe live to be 25 years old. I love this girl I told him no way she will at least make it to 70. He said get the diet changed and lets shoot for 50. It is my mission now. Start vitamin A today. get your bird into an Avian vet. It will be hard work but they are so worth it. Good luck

Jan 20, 2012
Umbrella Cockatoo
by: Anonymous

Tip: This works for me to switch my birds from seed to pellets.

Birds always eat from the highest spot in thier cages. Put a bowl of Roudybush only at a high spot in her cage. Take her normal feed, put it in a bowl at the bottom of her cage.

With her normal feed, add a bit of Roudybush to it, but have mainly the other stuff. (we don't want the bird to starve) In a quiet setting... make the bird think you're eating and enjoying the pellets. Take a piece from her bowl, pretend to eat it, then offer the same piece to her. (repeat a few times) Sometimes you can add orange juice fresh squeezed to the pellet mix... but this mean changing it out after 15 min. When you see the bird is eating pellets... you can then take her normal feed, add less, and increase pellets to the bottom bowl, this will take quite a while to do, so take your time.

If your bird has a play stand with feeder bowls, put only pellets in there. Again go over pretend to eat it. Vocalize a bit too always helps.

My birds want everything I have, especially if they think I really like it.

Far as the wings, When the feathers grow in, they are covered in a caratine coating, as the feathers break free of it, it can look a bit ragged. But then again, it's hard to say. Perhaps when everyone goes home, she's at the pet shop alone...and bored. She could very well be over preening.

I would suggest however to make that 5 hr trip, see what the avian vet specialist says. Its great that you're taking her to a vet, but you should make that 5 hr trip once in a while just to ensure your bird's over all health.

Hope this helps, and GL!

Jan 20, 2012
Umbrella Cockatoo flight feathers are coming in weird and under bite
by: Linda

Clint, thanks for writing and for taking this lovely little girl in.

When we have birds, we also have to have an Avian Vet, and you may wish to do a bit more looking around before giving up on one in a little closer area. Call the one who is 5 hours away and see what they have to say about other possibilities. The reason I'm saying this is eventually, like now, you're going to NEED an Avian Vet because your bird's feather growth is not normal and will have to be looked into by an Avian Vet ONLY. The vet you are going to now is okay for trimming beak and nails, but that's where their expertise ends, and birds have special considerations when being diagnosed and given meds.

The diet you have her on is horrible, and will need changing as quickly as is possible. You want to get her changed to an organic pellet like Harrison's found here. Below is a link about how to go about changes and it takes time and patience so you cannot be in a hurry and you cannot say "she won't do it" because she will eventually with persistence. She's been neglected as for her diet, and now you have the chance to get her on a healthy diet. Poor diet results in all the things you're seeing like the malformed beak and feathers. She needs a complete exam by an Avian Vet as soon as you can get this handled.

Switching Birds To Pellets article

The above was written by an Avian Vet, and you can get her onto a decent diet by applying the vet's suggestions. It takes time, and now is the time to start getting her healthy again. Keep us posted and please try to either find a closer Avian Vet or arrange to drop her off at the one 5 hours away for a complete and thorough going over. You would need to have someone come in and take care of your store. If the one 5 hours away is the only one, then they are who you need to see. Call them and see if they know of anyone any closer. You could arrange to drop her off and either wait for exam to be completed or come back later and get her or someone else could do this for you. An Avian Vet is the only vet you want involved with your bird.


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