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Feather plucked


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My girl flew to me yesterday and dropped a feather. I gotta say I’m a bit concerned. Looks like she chewed it off, had a bit of blood on the end. Strange because she’s always happy, singing, whistling, talking and always wants to be with me. Any ideas what to do to prevent this from happening. 
cheers, Steve

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If it's only one, I'd just keep an eye on things. She could have bent it weirdly and then chewed it off because it was bothering her. If you see more, then you'll have to delve into her diet, environmental stress, possible infection, etc. 

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I second everything greytness said. Hopefully it's just a one off because she accidentally damaged it. Alfie had a feather hanging out of his wing the other day and he just reached round and pulled it out... it was ready to go though so it was a complete feather and wasn't damaged like this one. But it clearly annoyed him that it was so out of place!

Just try and stay calm around her- I know how hard it is to worry about whether or not they are plucking but they feed off your mood and stresses- they are very empathetic. So if they pick up that you're worrying or stressing then that can make them start to stress and if she is prone to plucking then it could make her resort to that. They're sensitive little buggers underneath that sharp beak! 😂

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Thanx for the information because we’ve actually had a bit of stress going on with moving house and family stuff. Sometimes it takes a message like yours to put things back into perspective. I didn’t even realise that my stress would affect Matilda, she does get a bit grumpy and nippy if I’m stressed. Thanx again, just off to make a Chamomile tea. 🤣🦜👍

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Just agreeing with others:  the injured feather preceded the feather removal.  Chronic feather plucking is quite different and begins with your grey plucking healthy down, semiplume and contour feathers (on it's chest) -- generally not important feathers like wing feathers. 

Any time my grey gets an injured wing feather, I always just hope he will just remove it himself.  The exception is a split/broken blood feather, spurting blood -- in which case I support the wing and pull the feather's base out completely with a pliers (pulling in the direction the feather is growing).  Because such a broken blood feather can act as an open catheter causing major blood loss, it's urgent the entire feather base is pulled so coagulation can occur.  Again, we're talking only about blood feathers, not mature feathers.  Hope you never have this happen). 

My grey is smart, and if he can repair the damage himself (with feather removal), I just leave it alone for him to handle it.  Sometimes they can't fix the problem, and then it's my responsibility to pull a damaged feather myself if I see it poses a risk to him.  Usually it's just a twisted feather (no bleeding) and my guy knows to remove it.    

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Thanx for your advice. The only problem I’m having is when my girl flies then lands she starts screaming so I’m thinking the base of the feather is still there. There’s no way she will even let me pull out her wing to see what’s going on. Im thinking I may have no choice but to take her to the Vet. I’m really worried about her. She has put back on the 10 grams she lost. 

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>>Thanx for your advice. The only problem I’m having is when my girl flies then lands she starts screaming so I’m thinking the base of the feather is still there. There’s no way she will even let me pull out her wing to see what’s going on. Im thinking I may have no choice but to take her to the Vet. I’m really worried about her. She has put back on the 10 grams she lost. <<

Glad her weight is improving!  And welcome to parrot issues 101.  :) 

Yeah, I ended up taking my macaw to the vet once for a broken blood feather in her wing that she refused to let me handle.  Sometimes you just need a second pair of hands for a delicate damaged feather removal.  And if you really feel the base of the feather is still there, but it's not bleeding, then no worries: it's closed off already and can come out later.  A mature feather isn't a bleed-out risk like a blood feather is.  Since there is no bleeding, I'd let your parrot handle it... the broken base of a feather will eventually work loose and your guy can pull it out or it will moult out by itself.  (This assumes feather isn't broken beneath the skin -- and from the look of your feather pictures, this isn't a concern for you at all). 

My MOST important advice, if you ever needed to pull a blood feather out yourself, is to SUPPORT (hold firm) the wing so you don't dislocate it, and to pull out the feather in the direction the feather is growing.  Those feathers can be very tight and firmly in place while developing! Thankfully this information isn't relevant in your case!  And I get your fears, I've pulled out several broken blood feathers, without help, all the while the various parrot was biting at my hands.  Difficult to know if it was the feather was bleeding out or if I was!  Good times!  lol  The thing with a blood feather is that it acts like a catheter, er, the feather sheath is like an open straw, directly connected to a parrot's vascular system -- hence it bleeding out.  It almost like a cut artery of sorts.  Your parrot was different -- it was a mature feather.  Be GLAD! 

(23 years experience keeping parrots -- from small cockatiels to large macaws [plus 32 years experience with any birds, like zebra finches])

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So grateful for your Help LNCAG. I don’t even know what a blood feather is cause this one did have some blood on the end of it. Please let me know the difference. I feel much better after reading the information you’ve supplied me with. I know I have so much to learn about African Greys and thanx to you and other Grey owners I can always get good advice when needed. I realise there’s a lot to learn about African Greys but really enjoying the journey.  Matilda is without a doubt the best pet I’ve ever had. Thanx again, have a great day. 🦜😃👍

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All is well with your parrot, feather-wise.  A blood feather is a one that is still developing and still has a blood supply.  Once mature, the parrot's body cuts off the blood supply to the developing feather and it's just a normal mature feather.

Trust me, you'll know a blood feather; when broken. a blood feather can literally spurt blood for many feet (or even meters) helter skelter across the walls of your room.  All feathers begin with a blood supply -- so the evidence of some dried blood is normal even in a fully formed feather.  Also, just feather irritation to the skin could cause a drop or two of blood.  All is good!  No worries -- your parrot didn't break a blood feather nor become a feather picker.  Your parrot simply removed a damage feather.  This may or may not happen again.  My grey has only ever had one damaged feather in the 23 years I've had him.  Generally parrots don't injure their feathers!  :) You seriously may never have anything like this occur again. 

Best of luck with your parrot -- read the forums here -- lots of excellent information re: nutrition, health, enrichment, training, bonding, etc., is here for your parrot!

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Thanx again for your valuable help, I really appreciate it. 
cheers, Steve 🦜😃

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Matilda has now plucked another feather. This time I notice there’s a difference. There’s a bit of meat on the end where she chewed it off. I also noticed there’s a clear covering at the bottom where there are a few new feathers emerging and the small white root of the feather been plucked out at the base. Here’s a few pix, please lemme know if my observations are correct.

Cheers, Steve 🦜😃

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Not good.  One feather was just a fluke.  Like maybe the first feather got twisted and was bothering her.  But two?  It's not really normal for a parrot to chew a fresh new feather in half -- much less two.  Is your girl moulting and uncomfortable?  Are you sure it's wing wasn't caught between the cage bars and injured, or maybe your parrot flew into/bumped into something? 

How long have you had this parrot?

Your 2nd feather looks newer -- it looks like a freshly formed feather where the sheath has either fallen away (or been preened away by your bird).  Yet that pictured feather is chewed through below where a parrot might try to remove a feather sheath (which is normal to remove an old sheath once a feather is mature).  But your girl chewed below the normal exposed sheath area.  And now I feel concerned about the remaining halves of the feathers -- are they still there?  It hurts to pull a new healthy feather out, which would explain why your grey broke them in half rather than pulling out the whole feather.  But why are they bothering her?  At this point, the remaining chewed feather ends are rough and uncomfortable for her -- you may need a vet to remove them properly and safely.  Otherwise, she may keep chewing the area trying to fix it herself and get into a bad cycle of chewing, irritating the area further, chewing more to fix it, area becomes more irritated, chewing some more to fix that, etc..  You don't want this.  

Is there any swelling or lumpiness in the skin area near where these feathers came from?   I'm trying to figure out why your parrot is trying to remove good feathers early -- unless they are damaged in some way.  Moulting can be very uncomfortable, but not to the extent a bird is chewing its healthy new feathers in half.  I lean towards some trauma having occurred than just an uncomfortable moult (although either could be possible).  I'm also concerned that the next feather she chews in half might have some blood supply to it.  :(  At any rate, unless her chest and back are also bald, this doesn't fit the usual feather plucking scenario.  Just not the first feathers she'd be chewing, imo. 

I would check to see if other feathers are injured, if the skin is injured... just find out more.  I would hate this to turn into a vet visit -- but you need to know what is happening before she injures herself trying to fix the problem herself.  

 

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I’ve got my girl booked into the Avian Vets tomorrow and I’m just hopeful they will be able to help her. There was a new looking feather which seemed to be growing next to the one she chewed. She has been moulting and she did get her wing caught the other day in a ladder so I’ve now removed that ladder. She’s just over 1 year old now. I can’t even touch Matildas wings without been bitten savagely so I’m best to let the vet do all the handling. I think if I were to try to hold her wings open I would hurt her as I’m not experienced enough to know the right way to handle her especially knowing she’s in pain and stressed. 
The Vet might be able to remove whatever is left of the feathers she’s chewed off and I pray she doesn’t attack me afterwards for the trauma I gotta put her through. I’ll be sure to let you know how the visit goes tomorrow. Thanx again for all your help.

Cheers, Steve 🦜😃

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With more information this all makes more sense now.  Poor girl.  That second feather just didn't sound right to me and definitely changed my view of things.

Hope it's just a small injury the vet can sort out quickly.  I would definitely give her lots of things to chew on (toys, cardboard, paper, etc.) to distract her so she'll leave her feathers alone to heal.  Even after the vet sorts her out, the area will still be irritating/sore for her -- so she'll need lots of distractions so she'll continue to leave the area alone.  I truly believe your girl has been trying to heal herself... and making a right mess of it!

Wishing her well!

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Please do let us all know how the vet visit goes.  I am kicking myself for not getting more information from you.  This thread began like a one-off picked feather to so many other possible issues going on with her.

Be sure to let your vet know everything that has happened so he will have more information to go on!

Fingers crossed for a good vet report!!! 

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Can’t thank you enough for all your help LNCAG. Will let you know the Vet results once  I know. 🦜😃👍

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Matilda had to have surgery to remove both of her remaking feather shafts which were full of blood and a lot of swelling around the base of each one. The vets is gunna give me pain relief for her for the next few days. So glad the Vet can help her. Hate seen her suffer. I’m sure she will be back to normal soon. 🦜😃👍

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Is she home or staying at the vet's office?  Glad the vet is going to remove them and give her some comfort.  Any other feathers affected to be aware of or was it limited to 2?  Also, what does the vet think caused this to happen?

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I explained everything that was going on with Matilda to the Vet. The Vet believed it probably started with a damaged feather she tried to remove but unsuccessful. She then decided to try and remove the same one on the other side which had nothing wrong with it was just Matilda wanting her wings to be the same both sides. The Vet said that me having over 2 weeks with her then going back to work would have really stressed her and thrown her out of a routine she became very comfortable with.  Apart from that the Vet did a poop sample and all clear. The Vet also said she’s in perfect condition and I should be proud to own such a beautiful Parrot. I told the Vet I feel honoured and blessed to have her, she’s my girl. 😃🦜👍

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Forget to mention, Matilda is home with pain medication for 7 days. All is well. 🦜😃

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Thank you for the update.  I am so glad she got to come home.  It certainly sounds like a good report and that your girl is on the mend now.  Good luck with the pain meds -- but you've done so much for her, I'm sure the meds will go fine too.  Bless her little heart, and again, so glad she's home!  Sending a bunch of healing vibes and good wishes to your Matilda!

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Thanx for the good wishes, it was a very stressful time at the Vets but just having my Girl here right now and do happy makes it all worthwhile. These birds are truly beautiful creatures. 😃👌

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Here’s a few pix of what was surgically removed from Matilda. 
 

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