Why is my bird losing feathers. Birds are like humans in that they lose their hair, or “feathers” on a daily basis. This is what allows them to maintain good health all year round.
Feathers provide insulation against extreme heat and cold; waterproofing and protecting the bird from predators.
If you think about it, birds don’t wear coats as we do, so feathers work twofold: they keep the bird warm and dry in cold weather and provide shade and cooling in hot weather.
Why is my bird losing feathers
A number of reasons can result in your pet bird losing feathers. Common problems include moulting (sometimes this is normal, and other times it isn’t), stress, feather destructive behavior, excessive preening by their parent or cage mate and the presence of a virus or bacterial infection.
There is a common misconception that feathers are formed from scales like some snakeskin.
That is not true though there are similarities to scale formation within a bird’s skin. Feathers truly start with cells called “stem cells” that form in follicles within the bird’s skin.
These “stem cells” produce keratin protein which is formed into feather filaments called barbs, and barbules with hooklets protruding from them.
Once these structures are formed, the bird’s blood vessels move into the area to provide nourishment for further development of the feathers. The barbs and barbules are then interlocked with each other to create a feather vane.
Feathers consist of a shaft, the vane, rachis, calamus, and the afterfeather. There is another part of the bird’s anatomy that consists of bristles called contour feathers. These provide coloration, markings, and aerodynamics.
The formation of feathers occurs in two different ways. First are the downy feathers that are formed from fine strands that are not true filaments.
Young birds develop these types of feathers first for camouflaging purposes while they remain vulnerable in their early development days. Later when they fledge or leave the nest, sexual identification occurs.
At that time, contour feathers are developed to aid in flight and identification purposes while still providing insulation against the elements.
Once a bird molts, the molt takes place on some parts of the body before others. Typically wings and tail feathers are replaced first with primary flight feathers being replaced last.
This is because flying requires the most energy out of all bird activities. Since the primaries are the outermost feathers that aid in flight, they receive the least amount of blood flow and therefore, receive nourishment last. This is why some birds may seem more flightless than others while molting.
Feathers are so important to the bird’s existence that it will do anything in its power to maintain them.
Birds have been known to pluck their own feathers out if they are sick or injured, and therefore, unable to fly, swim, or otherwise take care of themselves. This is the last resort for a bird that has no other means of survival left available.
Feathers once molted will not re-grow. This is why some birds may “drop” feathers on the floor beneath their perches.
A bird will typically pull out old, broken.
When you look at your pet bird, think of how much he relies on his plumage for survival purposes both in the wild and also in captivity.