Reasons for feather loss in birds

All birds, as well as the pets that we usually have, such as dogs and cats, always change their protective coat of skin in normal times, this is what we know as molting.

Molting is a natural process in which birds replace their old plumage with new ones. This is essential to maintain the functionality of the plumage, as feathers wear out over time due to flying, rubbing, and inclement weather.

This change can be complete or partial, and its duration and frequency vary depending on the species and the age of the bird, although it is usually at least once a year and usually in the summer months, because both the sun and the Heat affects the glands, thus increasing the hormone called thyroxine in blood levels.

The process must always begin with the wings, if it is observed that there are falls initially in other areas first or in the intervening months, this is reason for a veterinary consultation.

Another common cause is damage or wear since feathers can become damaged or worn due to various reasons, such as fights with other birds, collisions with objects or surfaces, and everyday activities. When a feather is damaged beyond repair, the bird may lose it.

Also during the reproductive cycle some birds may lose feathers from certain areas of their body to expose their skin, which fills with blood vessels and becomes more effective at transferring heat to the eggs. This is commonly seen in waterfowl.

We will agree that all of these reasons are common, normal and frequent circumstances associated with the characteristics of the animal, but there are exceptional situations that cause the fall and that may require veterinary attention:


· Stress:

Chronic or severe stress can trigger a condition known as "feather plucking." These birds may pluck their feathers due to emotional or psychological problems.

· Nutritional deficiencies:

Poor diet has a significant impact on feather health and, ultimately, the overall health of birds, causing:

Loss of shine and color: Feathers can lose their characteristic shine and color due to a lack of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids. This can make the feathers look dull and discolored.

Brittle plumage: Keratin is an essential protein for feather formation. Lack of high-quality protein in the diet can result in brittle, easily broken plumage.

Abnormal molting: As we mentioned at the beginning, molting is the natural process of replacing feathers in birds. Poor nutrition can cause abnormal molting, with feathers falling out in a disordered or unusual manner. This can make the birds look disheveled.

Sparse plumage: Severe dietary deficiencies can result in loss of feathers in specific areas or, in extreme cases, cause widespread feather loss, known as "avian alopecia." This can expose the birds' skin and make them more susceptible to injury and disease.

Problems in feather formation: Essential nutrients, such as biotin, are necessary for proper feather formation. Lack of these nutrients can result in poorly formed or deformed feathers.

Growth problems: Nutritional deficiencies during the growth of young birds can lead to underdeveloped plumage, which will affect their ability to fly and regulate body temperature.

· Diseases caused by parasites:

The loss of plumage can also be due to diseases caused by parasites, covering all types of birds, it does not have to be exotic birds. At the beginning there are no serious symptoms because what needs to be checked daily and closely controlled is the cage, which is the place where infections occur, causing:

Itching and irritation: Parasites, such as mites or fleas, cause itching and irritation of the skin and the base of feathers. This leads to birds plucking their feathers in an attempt to relieve the discomfort, resulting in obvious feather loss.

Disheveled plumage: Birds infested with parasites show disheveled plumage due to their constant discomfort.

Localized feather loss: Some parasites, such as lice, can attack specific areas of the body, such as the head or neck, causing feather loss in those areas.

Feather Damage: Feather-feeding parasites, such as feather mites, physically damage feathers by chewing or eroding them, resulting in torn or worn feathers.

Dull, unhealthy plumage: Birds infested with parasites display dull, unhealthy plumage due to the stress and malnutrition associated with the infestation.

As for birds that are exotic or have been imported and their origin is unknown, a large number of parasites can occur and even more so if the animal is already old, as it can infect other birds that are in cages such as typical canaries are.

These parasites are also the cause of scabies in canaries and parakeets, and some of them adhere to the plumage and suck the blood of all types of birds. There are some symptoms in certain varieties of birds where these parasites cause itching, and that is why if we notice that the bird nervously scratches its plumage as it loses it, we should take it to the veterinarian as we have pointed out.


Can this problem be prevented? The only prevention we can take against this fact is to observe the bird very well and inspect its cage. Another factor is to feed them well and with quality products and check if the environment where the bird is located has suffered changes such as noise, heat, cold or light.

You should take note of when the bird changed its plumage for the last time and how the process was, because it may happen that due to the type of lighting it receives, it enters a state in which its organism carries out this fall on its own. of plumage and if nothing is done about it the problem will not end.

Something that must also be controlled is the skin and the good shape of the feathers. On many occasions, as we have mentioned in cases of stress, birds suffer from neurological disorders and this leads them to remove their fur as if wanting to tear it off, as well as biting their nails or breaking them.

If there are new feathers once all the fur has fallen, it means that there are no hormonal problems. In any case, the best thing is to go to the veterinarian so that he can give us the most appropriate diet depending on the bird we have at home, and that in this way it stays healthy and does not suffer from this loss of fur.
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