Why is my cockatiel losing feathers?

If you’re an animal lover, then you know that there’s nothing quite like coming home to a furry or feathered friend. It can be especially worrisome if your beloved pet starts losing feathers since it can be a sign of potential health problems.

Cockatiels are generally considered to be low-maintenance pets, but like any other living creature, they can sometimes experience health problems. One of the most common health issues cockatiels face is losing their feathers.

Causes of cockatiel feather loss

There can be a number of reasons why your cockatiel feathers begin to lose. Here are some of the most common causes:

Poor diet

The natural bird’s diet consists mainly of seeds, grains, and other types of vegetation that they find in the wild. If you’re feeding your bird store-bought bird food, it may lack the nutrients it needs to lead a healthy life. An unbalanced and nutrient-deficient diet can cause your bird to lose its feathers.

Pellets are an invaluable bird food to cockatiels because they make sure that the bird gets all the nutrients it needs. By combining different fruit seeds, pellets can provide your bird with a balanced and healthy diet.

Lack of sunlight

Just like humans, pet birds need sunlight to stay healthy. A bird’s body is not able to produce vitamin D without the help of UV light from the sun. Vitamin D helps birds absorb calcium. And since our pet bird’s bones are very fragile, it requires all the calcium it can get, especially if it’s losing its feathers.

Metallic poisoning

If your cockatiel has been exposed to lead or other metallic atoms for a long time, it may suffer from periodic feather loss. Birds lick and chew at new feathers because new feathers are pointy and sharp. If your bird is constantly licking new feathers, it may swallow some metals that can cause poisoning that leads to periods of new feather loss. Metallic poisoning can also be caused by new cage accessories like new perches.

Feather plucking

Feather plucking is a common behavior in new cockatiels, especially female new cockatiels. In the wild, new females have to lighten their body weight before they can mate with a new male. So new birds go through a process of feather-plucking called “preening,” the removal of body feathers that contain pigments.

If your pet birds begin plucking new feathers, the new feathers will become bald spots. This behavior can also be caused by overcrowding or new bird encounters.

A cockatiel is usually born with its genetic-potential number of new feathers. When new male cockatiels are about to enter puberty, new body feathers are about to start growing in new areas on their body. This new growth is usually accompanied by new body feather loss. But new feathers grow back after new male cockatiels become sexually mature.

However, new cockatiels that are not new to breeding may also pluck feathers for a variety of reasons. For example, new birds can pluck new feathers as a result of loneliness, stress, and boredom. Thus, you should pay attention to your new cockatiel’s life changes before it starts to lose feathers. Excessive preening is also a sign that your new cockatiel is under stress, so new bird owners should pay attention to new signs of new feather loss as well as new plucking behaviors.

Lack of exercise

Birds that don’t get enough exercise won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of a healthy cardiovascular system. A bird’s heart is very small, and it can easily fail from lack of use. It’s important for a bird to have a lot of space where it can fly around and expend pent-up energy during its active hours.

Allergic reaction to something in the environment

It’s always possible that your bird is suffering from an allergic reaction to something in its environment. If it’s been around the house recently, check for any new products that may have been brought into the bird’s habitat.

Infection or parasites

It’s possible that your bird is suffering from a condition caused by infection or parasites. Parasites such as mites and ticks can cause itchy skin. Your veterinarian may need to prescribe some medication before it starts growing new feathers again.

Injuries

If your bird has suffered a recent injury, then it will try to self-medicate by getting rid of the damaged feathers. It’s just a bird’s way of minimizing blood loss and preventing infection from entering its body. If your bird does lose a lot of feathers in one go, then it might have been involved in a fight with another bird or was attacked by another animal while it was out of its cage.

Feather shafts stuck together

Sometimes it’s possible for two or more feather shafts to get stuck together during the molting process. This means that it can’t produce new feathers, and it will lose some of its other ones in order to compensate.

Stress

Losing feathers could be a result of stress. If it’s a new bird that has been brought into a household where it feels threatened, it might try to get rid of its feathers in order to make itself appear less appetizing to an aggressor.

Reproductive behaviors

This type of feather loss is usually seen in male cockatiels. The males will drop their feathers in order to make themselves look less aggressive during the breeding season.

Cockatiels molt new feathers annually

To maintain their beautiful colors and patterns, cockatiels go through a natural annual molting process. During this time new feathers grow in to replace the old ones, so your bird’s appearance may change temporarily. However, losing new feathers isn’t necessarily a sign of illness or injury. Since new feathers are grown at different stages during the molt, your cockatiel may have new feathers that are shorter or longer than previous new feathers.

Feathers don’t grow all at once, so new feathers will come in at different times during the molting process. By watching new feather regrowth, you can get an idea of how long it takes for new feathers to grow back fully after molting.

New body feathers sometimes fall out during new feather growth. Since new body feathers develop at the same time as new tail feathers, new body feathers will sometimes fall out during new feather growth. However, this is not a cause for concern because new body feathers grow back quickly and your cockatiel’s appearance won’t change much.

If you’re worried about new feathers coming in looking short or other new feathers coming in looking strange, you can help new feathers grow back by providing your cockatiel with nutritious food and plenty of love.

How can you help your cockatiel get its feathers back?

If your bird is losing new feathers, then it’s already started the molting process. You need to provide your new featherless pet with a healthy environment and nutritious food, so it can start regrowing new feathers as soon as possible.

1. Groom your pet cockatiel to remove all the loose, broken, and dead feathers that don’t match its new look.

2. Check your pet bird for signs of mites or other parasites like lice.

3. Bathe your new featherless pet if it’s too stressed to preen itself, even with its new look. Make sure there are no contaminants in the water that can damage your new pet.

4. Prepare a new environment for your bird, but keep its old habitat intact, so it won’t get confused and stressed out by the new environment.

5. If your cockatiel is new in the household, then try to make it feel at home with lots of love and attention.

6. Check for new products in your bird’s habitat that could be causing an allergic reaction.

7. Give vitamins to your new pet if it seems weak or lethargic, even after you’ve created a new environment for it.

8. Remove any new objects from your new bird’s cage so it won’t have anything to worry about when preening itself.

9. Always keep the food and water dishes clean, and provide new toys for your new pet to pass time better instead of stressing out about its new look.

10. Make sure the new cage is the right size and has plenty of perches, food dishes, and toys for your new pet to play with and preen itself without any problems or worries.

When to seek an avian veterinary help for cockatiels that are losing feathers

If you’re not sure what’s causing your cockatiel to lose its feathers, it’s best to take it to an avian veterinarian for a diagnosis. The avian vet can thoroughly examine your new featherless pet and run some tests that will determine the cause of the new feathers falling out. Your avian vet may also recommend new vaccines, new vitamin supplements, new blood tests, new x-rays, new ultrasounds, or new lab work to get to the bottom of why your cockatiel is losing new feathers.

Summary

Feather loss in cockatiels can be caused by a variety of things, including diet, genetics, and health problems. If your cockatiel is losing feathers, it’s important to take your pet birds to an avian vet to determine the cause and get started on treatment. With a little TLC, most feather-loss cases can be resolved fairly easily.

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