All about Feathers

Posted By: Volk

All about Feathers - 12/20/11 07:56 PM

I'm sure we all have a grasp on the fact that feathers are complex. I stumbled upon this article while researching molting and feather destruction. It goes over a lot of neat things that happen inside the bodies and minds of our feathered friends. Specifically pertaining to feathers, molts, and the "internal clock" so many of our birds demonstrate possessing.

I know a lot of us struggle with birds that pluck, chew and destroy their feathers. It can be a hard habit to break. In order to extinguish this behavior (or at least attempt to make an improvement) I believe understanding the mechanics, biology and anatomy of the birds plays a vital role in our attempts and may improve strategies to detour them from self destructive behaviors.

This is written by Ron Hines DVM PhD and I wanted to share this with anyone who may be interested in some of the more detailed complexities of our birds and what makes them so unique.. their feathers.

If this is in the wrong place I apologize, moderators please feel free make any changes necessary.

Posted By: Liisa B

Re: All about Feathers - 12/21/11 12:51 AM

A lot of info to 'digest' here. Thank you!
Posted By: MissYumYum

Re: All about Feathers - 12/21/11 04:34 PM

Great article! Thank you for posting this!

Posted By: EchosMom

Re: All about Feathers - 12/21/11 05:04 PM

Bookmarked this one - thanks!
Posted By: tonitoo

Re: All about Feathers - 12/31/11 02:15 AM

Ok, it seems like I will never get caught up on everything I have missed over the last few years living parrotless.
Hoping this will give me more insight into Birdy's issues.

And Volk, I have been meaning to ask you where you got your bird vest ? Is that one of the Avian Fashion vests ?
They don't look like they will hold up to a bird that really wants it off ? Birdy here has demolished a home made vest quickly and now does not seem keen on trying it again, but I am getting desperate.
Posted By: EchosMom

Re: All about Feathers - 12/31/11 05:07 AM

Originally Posted By: tonitoo

And Volk, I have been meaning to ask you where you got your bird vest ? Is that one of the Avian Fashion vests ?
They don't look like they will hold up to a bird that really wants it off ? Birdy here has demolished a home made vest quickly and now does not seem keen on trying it again, but I am getting desperate.

Tonitoo, in a previous post you said that you had ordered a Feather Protector - which one did you order and have you not received it yet? Looks like Volks bird is wearing a hoodie from AF which aren't much protection. The FP's are reinforced across the chest with Kevlar and are overall much more sturdy and durable than the hoodies.
Posted By: tonitoo

Re: All about Feathers - 12/31/11 05:33 AM

Wasn't me that ordered, I read that thread tho, can not recall the topic or poster that ordered recently. I opened the link to AF, guess I am still window shopping. Now that I know what they are made of I will have to give it a try. Thanks EM!
Posted By: EchosMom

Re: All about Feathers - 12/31/11 07:08 AM

My apologies, I thought it was you that had posted about ordering one....we've had a few people asking about collars/vests recently - 'Tis the season...
Posted By: PJsMom

Re: All about Feathers - 02/23/12 05:37 PM

Volk, thank you for posting this! PJ chews his feathers. We have been pulling oure hair out trying to figure out why, vet trips, diet, play time, cuddles, out time. We couldnt figure out why he would get these little sores on his thighs and legs, then they seemed to itch abominably. Vet checked for bugs and nutritional health. He seems to get worse in the fall, and spring. Hormones. (duh) Pluck no more seems to have taken the edge off, but even one little feather on the bottom of his cage upsets us! Hes getting his full on bath today. Hates the bath but loves the blow dryer and all of the attention he gets. I will read this immediately!
Posted By: Ellen W.

Re: All about Feathers - 02/23/12 08:32 PM

Some feather-damaging or mutilating birds benefit from a drug called Gabapentin. The theory is that these birds may suffer from hypersensitive skin or nerve-related pain. We are using it on Annie B. and it does seem to be helping.

I was reminded by another member recently that blow dryers may have teflon in them so you may not wish to use it around your birds.

Best of luck... it can be frustrating... believe me, I know! smile
Posted By: My baby Sunshine

Re: All about Feathers - 02/23/12 11:54 PM

Great Info- Saved it in my folder. Thanks
Posted By: PJsMom

Re: All about Feathers - 02/26/12 05:13 AM

Ellen, Thank you for the information! I had no idea about the teflon in dryers! I will have to research my dryer and maybe get a different one. We dry him on low heat with the dryer about a foot and a half away. He gets sprayed daily with no dryer but a full bath with his special shampoo every few months. Otherwise he drip dries.
We dont use Teflon in our home. (except maybe the dryer) My father worked for Kaiser Aerospace where teflon was created, he wouldnt allow it in our home when I was growing up. Said it was poison.
I honestly dont believe in drugging my bird, and the side effects of Neurontin (gabapentin) make it not reasonable to try in our situation. Our Vet believes he is one of the most well feathered and beautiful birds in his care. Neurontin caused one of my family members to try to kill herself while she was on it long term. That drug has a knee jerk negative response in me. While I am positive that it works well for some.
Im just going to continue learning, and enriching his environment and life. Hes no longer harming his skin and has fully healed and the chewing virtually nil. My own education is the key to his happiness. Thank You again VOLK!
One of these days I will actually learn my new computer and post a pic of him!
Posted By: FeatheredAngels

Re: All about Feathers - 02/27/12 07:10 PM

Great article, I am going to share a link to it in my blog.
Posted By: Volk

Re: All about Feathers - 02/27/12 11:26 PM

Here's a list of items I've found to contain PTFE in one brand or another. The only way to be positive there are no non-stick coatings on your household items is to call the manufacturer.

The List:
Popcorn popper air & oil types
Heat lamps
Portable heaters / Space heaters
Sole plates on irons
Ironing board covers
Burners on stove tops
Drip pans for burners
Broiler pans
Many cooking utensils
Waffle makers
Electric skillets
Deep fryers, crock pots,
Coffee makers
Bread makers
Non-stick rolling pins
Lollipop molds
Never-Stick-Stainless Steel
Non-stick gingerbread molds
Pizza pans
Tortilla presses
Hair Straighteners
Hair Dryers
Microwave popcorn bags

There are MANY more that I'm sure I just haven't come across yet. Just remember, when in doubt.. assume it's dangerous. It's one case where assuming will NEVER make an ass out of you or me. The only way to be certain it's safe is by calling the manufacturer.

Posted By: PJsMom

Re: All about Feathers - 02/28/12 04:03 AM

Gadzooks! Ugh. Its amazing the poison that is allowed to infiltrate our daily lives. I was wondering about self cleaning ovens. We bought one about 6 months ago, and Im wondering if I need have my husband take Peedge to the cabin when I clean it. I tend be an old fashioned cook, cast iron skillets. Stainless and copper cookware, glass and acrylic. Dont have non-stick cook or bake ware in my home.
What a list! Im going to have to go through my stuff and make sure though. I put a shout out to my hair dryer company, and Conair has some dryers that dont have PTFE so I will get one of those for occasional Peedge drying. Microwave pop corn bags?? you mean the paper kind you stick in the Micro for 3-5 minutes? NO WONDER WE ARE ALL SICK!!
Posted By: PJsMom

Re: All about Feathers - 02/28/12 05:31 AM

apparently some dental flosses as well as my hair dryer, according to Im going to have to do some housecleaning!!
Posted By: Liisa B

Re: All about Feathers - 02/28/12 03:49 PM

dental flosses?? good grief whatever for??
Posted By: PJsMom

Re: All about Feathers - 02/28/12 07:22 PM

I would guess that its for people that have no space between their teeth. Like me. (sigh)
Posted By: Volk

Re: All about Feathers - 03/05/12 07:08 PM

It's when teflon and non stick coatings are heated up that they are dangerous (or obviously if consumed) so I don't think you have to worry about the dental floss unless you're trying to start a fire between your teeth or using it as a toy that your bird has access to.. never thought of using dental floss for bird toy purposes because of the usual wax coating though.

Anyway, yes the list is extensive and also incomplete. I add new things on a regular basis. The microwave popcorn bags that are made of paper and folded twice that expand in the microwave. Yes, laminated into the paper lining of the bag is a metalized film called a susceptor, the source of PFOA in microwave popcorn bags.

I may seem excessively paranoid to most people but I have my reasons.

Posted By: PJsMom

Re: All about Feathers - 03/05/12 07:22 PM

I got a response from my hair dryer company and Im told there is no PTFE in my model. (Phew) PH Loves to grab plackers dental flossers out of the bag and destroy them. Im just glad there is no PTFE in Corderoy!! :P I dont think you are paraniod in the slightest. People have been drinking out of plastic cups for years and now the have found it in our blood. A lot of things that have been "safe" in the past has now been found to be poisonous. Ever heard of "The Beautiful Truth"?
Posted By: BabysNewMommy!

Re: All about Feathers - 09/25/12 10:12 PM

Hi everyone! Im new to the site and jsut adopted an AMAZING Goffin. She came from a home where she was left in the corner and neglected. She ended up plucking everything off her chest and back and started chewing into her leg. The people who I got her from had taken her from this home in hopes of finding her a permanent home. They found me! I am sooo happy to have her! She is an excellent and super friendly bird and loves to be with me. I have taken her to the vet because she seemed irritated by the sore, probably itchy as it was healing. She was deemed healthy and he recommended I put the oil from the vitamin E capsules on her sore since it was healing and not infected. Shes been here two days and is more than I ever asked for! She get excited when I come home and I put on a little dance for herf and she follows along and then hopes onto my shoulder and nudges me to pet her. Oh how I love her, she will live out her days with me no matter what!
Posted By: Specialist Elbru

Re: All about Feathers - 10/09/14 12:33 AM

It should also be noted that feathers do not sprout from all over the bird's body. Instead feathers are arranged in what are called feather tracks. In addition, there are areas called apteria where naturally no feathers grow. Often, when your bird is wet, the apteria will be more noticeably than normal.

Here are some pics I collected from other post on mytoos.

Feather Track1 Feather Track2

Also, if you want to see it on a living bird, you can do a Google image search for baby parrot. When the baby is at the pin feather stage of development, you can definitely see how the feathers are organized. This pattern stays with the bird his/her whole life. Once the feathers are fully in, you have a situation where you can't see the forest for the trees.

Posted By: audaerin

Re: All about Feathers - 01/19/15 08:02 AM

My poor goffin's cockatoo has an ingrown feather. He does not seem to be particularly bothered by it. Should I attempt to remove it/ leave it be? I am worried that it might become infected like a human ingrown hair. Thank you for any suggestion.

(sorry I wanted to post this in the vet forum but no one has really posted there for a long time)
Posted By: BE2Cassie

Re: All about Feathers - 01/19/15 01:20 PM

Do not attempt to remove it yourself. Bring him to a vet before it gets infected. If you break the skin you will just be adding bacteria to an already inflamed area.
You should start your own thread not add on to another. You will get more information that way from people. Adding on it just gets lost in the thread.
Posted By: CrocusBlooms

Re: All about Feathers - 05/05/15 08:59 PM

Specialist Elbru, I ALWAYS appreciate your well-researched posts!!!

I suspected something like this, and had looked over a number of documents from the cornell ornithology lab but somehow didn't find this answer.... Apteria!

When Griffin first came to me I suspected he had been a feather plucker in his previous home(s). He looks in full feather, but does overpreen, especially his wing feathers on the right side- that "anting" behavior where he stuffs small toys and bits of wood or cardboard in the feathers. The vet said he looked great considering his previous diet and containment in a tiny cage.

Because of his prior experiences he was not interested in being touched at all by humans and would lash out at any approaching hand. He had bitten everyone at his foster home who had tried. I made sure to observe his body language closely and allow HIM to choose whether or not he wanted to be touched at all by me... Over the last few months we have built a good trusting relationship and he now solicits and enjoys head scratches.
Once I was able to handle him I found those two strips of "bald" skin on either side of his neck and was a bit worried. Plucking is such a ubiquitous topic on bird message boards, and although I never see primary feathers on the bottom of his cage I do find apx 3 powder down feathers a day. ( the foster folks told me this was normal and when he came to them it was a LOT more. As I said I googled all over the place and did look at a lot of documents from the cornell ornithology lab that pointed toward my hypothesis of those "strips" being naturally feather-free but never found those two images you posted.

I know that showering can help with itchy skin and overpreening, but Griff is terrified of the spray bottle ( apparently it had been used as a punishment in at least two of his previous homes), and although he talks up a storm if I turn on the shower, he leans REALLY far away for the water stream ( pretty clear body language) and. I don't want to force him and make it a more unpleasant experience. We are working on it, and WILL get there ( as we did with handling and stepping up) but it is a slooooow process.

He is going through a molt right now and has molted out most of his head and neck feathers, and is starting to get new primaries on his left wing. The first one worried me a bit as he can be kind of "violent" with his anting behavior and seemed to bruise the shaft, but the feather seems fine now that the blood has receded. Two more new blood feathers on that side now, but so far none on the right ( which doesn't seem in line with what I read on Dr. Ron Hines' site), but he did come to me with his wings pretty badly butchered from a former caretaker's DIY home trim and I had to take him to the vet to have that sorted out back in January. So I just have been keeping an eye on it( lifting the wings every day and taking a peek, no petting or anything).

I didn't mean for this to be such an extended post, but was SO excited to finally have a word for those featherless strips on his neck ( not visible unless I move the feathers to the side with my fingers) - Apteria!!

Thanks again Specialist Elbru!
Posted By: James Johnson

Re: All about Feathers - 06/10/16 01:28 PM

Thank you so much for sharing.
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