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The Ultimate Parrot Care Guide
Don’t forget your parrot needs to be groomed if it is to stay happy and healthy. The good news is that grooming a bird is a lot simpler than grooming most other pets. There is no need for brushing or using messy shampoo. But to a parrot cleanliness is very important.
A healthy parrot will preen his feathers to make sure they are clean. Preening is when a bird moves his beak through the feathers making them neat and clean. It’s not unlike when we comb our hair. Birds that fly know that it is much more difficult to fly with dirty feathers than when they are clean and well groomed. Preening should be encouraged as a normal behavior of your bird.
Your parrot’s feathers also help protect it from heat, cold and water. If its feathers are nicely preened and groomed they are better able to resist moisture - important when trying to fly. Well groomed parrot feathers also insulate it from extreme temperatures. Birds normally have high body temperature so the parrot feathers help them retain heat and stay warm. Those parrot feathers are also used to show off. Attracting a mate is important and a bird’s feathers are crucial in this process. It’s little wonder a bird spends so much time preening.
Any parrot owner should become familiar with the several different types of feathers your bird has.
- Contour feathers are the large feathers covering the parrot’s body and include the flight feathers and tail feathers.
- Flight feathers are found on the wing and consist of the 10 primary feathers at the end of the wing and 10 secondary flight feathers found closer to the body.
- Tail Feathers are pretty self-explanatory but very important.
- Semiplume feathers located underneath the contour feathers and help with the bird’s insulation.
- Filoplume feathers are thin hair like feathers with a long shaft. They are used to help feel the position of the bird’s other feathers.
- Bristles are the small, stiff feathers around the beak, nostrils and eyes.
- Down is the undercoat of fluffy feathers beneath the contour feathers that help a great deal with insulation.
- Powder Down is the closest to the skin. It crumbles during preening spreading throughout the other parrot feathers as a white powdery substance. It helps with waterproofing, insulation and keeping the feathers clean.
Parrot feathers are really a very complex structure. They made up of four parts. The quill is the hollow end of the feather. The shaft is the long stem of the feather. Emanating from the shaft are the barbs, barbules and barbicels. The barbs are the strands coming from the shaft. The barbules and barbicels are very tiny structures that zip together to hold the feather together and give it strength.
Healthy parrot feathers are generally shiny (except in cockatoos, African Greys and some Amazon parrots). Check the feathers of your parrot for stress bars. These are dark or discolored lines that appear in new feathers when a bird is ill or going through a period of stress. Other causes of these stress bars can be malnutrition of as a result of taking antibiotics. If you see these see these lines it’s best to get your bird to the veterinarian to determine the cause.
Another sign of illness or malnutrition is a significant change in the feather color that is not the result of the normal maturing process. If you can’t account for the color change it’s time to see the veterinarian.
If your're interested in learning more about parrot feathers and how to provide the very best care for your parrot, you need to get a copy of the "Ultimate Parrot Care Guide" and sign up for my FREE parrot care minicourse.