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Plumage disorders and moult

Important note: The texts and photos offered on Birds-Online.de regarding the health and diseases of birds are meant as a source of information. Please always take your ill birds to an avian vet as fast as you can!
Many bird species show plumage disorders, some of them are caused by viral infections.
Many bird species show plumage disorders, some of which are caused by viral infections.

Disorders of the plumage or even diseases affecting the feathers can generally occur in any bird. Recognizing these problems is particularly important for the owner because the right measures should often be taken as quickly as possible to avoid further complications. To be able to do this, however, bird owners must be able to recognize this kind of problem in an early stage, if possible. Therefore, it is important to know how the plumage of a healthy bird should look. Only then can any deviations be detected.

In a healthy bird, the plumage is immaculate or, at most, temporarily a little shaggy due to a regular moult. Unless a moult is in progress, there are no patches in the plumage. The single feathers are smooth and shiny. However, it should be noted that in healthy birds individual feathers may be creased because they were exposed to mechanical strain. This can happen, for example, when the birds are forced off during flight and hit an obstacle. Thus, feathers damaged by mechanical impact do not necessarily indicate disease.

This female budgie plucks her own feathers.
This female budgie plucks her feathers.

However, there are some more or less serious plumage disorders. Every bird owner should know their causes to recognize those diseases immediately and to be able to initiate the right treatment measures. The chances of reducing the impact of those illnesses or even curing a plumage disorder are usually high if the problem is caused by nutritional factors. However, in case a bird mutilates himself or herself by plucking out the feathers, the underlying cause usually is either a psychological problem, a skin irritation, or a disease affecting the bird’s organs. The photo near this paragraph shows a bird who is affected by this: this female budgie plucks her feathers. It is not always easy to get a handle on the causes of feather plucking, but you should try in any case – preferably by having the affected bird cared for by an avian veterinarian.

In this subsection of Birds-Online.de, you can learn more about several different diseases and conditions that affect the bird’s plumage. You can also find out what to do in a specific case. However, one thing is very important: Never take a longer-lasting plumage disorder on the light shoulder! Usually, there is a profound underlying issue that needs to be addressed! Some plumage illnesses caused by viruses are unfortunately so serious and highly contagious that even certain quarantine measures should be carried out.

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