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in the wild are yellow and green, but today in domesticated budgies
there are far more than 100 colour varieties and also birds of different size and build. Breeders in many countries of the world have tried to "improve" the wild
budgies to achieve the ideal of the English budgie or
even more spectacular colour varieties. During the last 200 years, they have bred (and regrettably also inbred) their
domesticated budgies. Thus their attempts to create a "better" and more beautiful budgie was not always the best they could do to their birds. Inbreeding and the reduction of the genetic diversity (no wild budgies have been exported from Australia since 1894)
can lead to several health problems. Some experts think that among them
is a specific genetic defect that is responsible for the so-called feather duster syndrome.
It is actually not scientifically proven that inbreeding has led to the
occurence of this syndrome, but it is very likely that the genetic impoverishment
might have something to do with it.
The term "feather duster syndrome" describes a severe disturbance of feather growth that occurs in budgies. In general, the feathers stop growing after they have reached their natural length. But in feather duster budgies, they won't stop growing. Some birds also suffer from excessive claw and beak growth. Because building feathers, claws and beak requires a large amount of minerals and other nutrients, the unnatural growth exhausts the bird's organism. Hence most feather dusters have a poor immune system and their life expectancy is terribly low: Nearly all of these birds die in the first year of their life.
Since this disturbance of feather growth is caused by a genetic defect, it is incurable. The only things one can do to help an affected bird is making his life as liveable as possible and use food supplements that contain vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients in high doses. Owners of feather duster budgies also have to trim the plumage regularly or else it will hinder the bird too much. One big problem is that the feathers on a bird's head can grow so long that they cover the eyes so that the poor animal is unable to see its surrounding. To prevent this, the feathers have to be trimmed about once a week. Please ask your avian vet about more tips and high quality food supplements to keep a feather duster budgie as healthy as possible during his or her short life!
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