Conure parrots are popular for two main reasons – their incredible ability to mimic sounds and their beautiful feathers.
For birdkeepers, one of the most significant concerns occurs when your conure starts shedding feathers. The question that comes to mind is whether it is normal or you need to call a veterinarian.
The truth is shedding feathers is normal for parrots and other bird species. It occurs several times in a conure’s lifetime, the same way you lose hair and nails. That said, you should get worried if the feather loss is excessive.
Top Reasons Conures are Losing Feathres
Here are some of the reasons why conure parrots lose feathers.
Molting is the number one reason why parrots lose feathers, and it is entirely normal. Like other pets shed their fur, conures lose feathers multiple times in their lifetime.
Old feathers are shed to make room for new ones. The good thing about this process is that you can predict its next occurrence by assessing your parrot’s molting patterns.
Generally, birds tend to have for molting cycles, namely:
- Juvenile to adult: young birds must shed their down feathers when they mature to attain their adult coloration.
- Breeding to non-breeding: after the breeding season ends, birds shed their bright plumage and grow more feathers to insulate them from cold winter conditions.
- Non-breeding to breeding: when winter ends, birds moly and grow brighter feathers in anticipation of the breeding season.
- General feather replacement: this is when molting occurs to ensure that the bird maintains a healthy plumage.
During the molting period, birds tend to become less active. If your parrot likes singing or talking, this will reduce when it molts. This period lasts for several weeks to months and is exceptionally long among conures.
After molting, small patches with sparse and lightly-colored feathers in various parts of your pet’s body. If the patches are entirely bald, there is a reason for concern, as this does not signal molting.
Molting can be dangerous if your conure does not get enough resources to facilitate the process. For instance, the bird becomes susceptible to cold because of the reduced body cover.
Also, poor nutrition during this period can cause feathers to grow slowly, leading to complications that can last for extended periods. Experts recommend upping the protein content in the pet’s food to compensate for the ones lost in forming new feathers.
Additionally, birds tend to be defensive during molting. Give your parrot the quiet and privacy it needs to ensure it remains comfortable and stress-free. You can do this by covering its cage partially.
– Boredom or Loneliness
Like other animals, birds can suffer from emotional stress. Among domesticated parrots, the leading cause of this distress is boredom and loneliness. While the ideal solution to this is finding a partner, it is not always feasible.
However, you can improvise ways to prevent your conure from getting bored. For example, you can open their enclosure for a few hours to allow them to wander around and interact with other beings in your household, human, or animal.
You can also add a few toys inside their cages to keep them active when enclosed. You can also play with your conure bird every day, if you have some time.
Isolation makes pets feel low, and this can trigger mental issues. In response, parrots usually resort to feather plucking, which can be harmful when done continually.
Besides the occasional opening of the cages and adding toys, it is also helpful to engage your bird in training. Parrots tend to be more intelligent than other species, meaning that training sessions are fun and interactive.
– Lack of Nutrition
Another cause of feather loss in conures is malnutrition. This occurs when your bird is not getting sufficient nutrients from the foods it is consuming. Such include vitamins, minerals, protein, and carbs.
The symptoms of malnutrition in parrots are lack of energy, dullness, behavioral changes, and signs of other illnesses. All of these lead to severe feathers, and this can be dangerous if unattended for long.
When you notice the symptoms mentioned above and abnormal feather shedding, the best course of action is calling a veterinary doctor. In most cases, vets prescribe a premium pellet formula that has high nutritional value.
For optimal results, it would be best to accompany the prescribed formula with a balanced diet. Ensure that meals contain fruits and veggies like cantaloupe, spinach, carrots, sweet potato, and beetroot, as these are rich in vitamins and minerals.
– Skin Disease
Skin disease is among the leading causes of feather plucking. Regardless of how clean you keep your parrot, there are several elements in your home that make it susceptible to skin disease, including air fresheners, dust, scented candles, lack of natural light, and excess humidity.
If you suspect that any of these are making your pet have itchy skin, remove it immediately. Then, take the bird to a bet for appropriate treatment.
– Feather Plucking
Feather plucking occurs when your bird starts removing its feathers, causing bald patches and wounds on various body parts. In some cases, albeit rare, plucking might occur when pets attack each other.
Unlike molting, which is predictable, plucking occurs randomly and is often a result of physical and emotional stress.
Causes of Feather Plucking
Other causes of feather plucking in parrots include hormonal changes, allergies, some medications, new foods, home changes, etc.
Suppose your pet gets exposed to potential allergens like cleaners and other household chemicals, its skin becomes irritant, and this causes plucking. Since isolating the allergen can be challenging, it would be best to call a vet.
Hormonal imbalance can also cause baldness. This condition mostly affects Cockatiels than other parrot species, and research shows that their genetics is behind it.
In rare cases, liver disease and cancer can cause feather loss. Unfortunately, there is no remedy to this problem, unless the underlying cause is detected at an early stage.
How to Deal with Feather Plucking?
If you want a lasting solution to feather plucking, you need to start by identifying the underlying cause.
Many people often resort to installing collars, but this is not effective enough. It stops the plucking itself but does not heal the underlying cause and can worsen the disease. For this reason, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian.
Depending on the cause, the vet can recommend one or a combination of remedies, including changing the environment and varying the diet.
Will Conure’s Feathers Grow Back?
Feather loss is inevitable in birds, and its reversibility depends on the extent of the damage. If noticed early, you can treat the underlying cause, and your bird will grow a new plumage. It will take time, but after a few months, your pet will restore its natural appearance.
However, if the damage is so extensive that the parrot has bald spots on its skin, there is a high probability that feathers will never regrow.
This is because intense plucking often damages the feather follicle, mostly if done for extended periods. The only remedy to this is regularly examining your conure’s feathers and taking it to the vet when you notice any wounds.
Birds, including parrots, tend to lose feathers several times to either adapt to the new season or replace worn-out feathers. This process is called molting, and it is entirely normal.
Molting is itchy, which is why birds like scratching their necks and heads and picking their feathers during this period. This action releases feathers and makes it easier for new ones to grow. It also reduces itchiness, an effect that you can also achieve by showering the conure.
While molting is normal, excessive feather loss is not. If you notice that your bird is losing its plumage at an alarming rate and has few wounds too, consult an avian veterinarian. These are often symptoms of an underlying health condition.