Is he plucking?
Those of you who have seen me here will know that a friend and I had a budgie each that we kept in one cage, Lawrence and Julie, and that a few days before Christmas Julie left us for the Rainbow Bridge suddenly and unexpectedly.
Due to several circumstances (one being that Julie's owner lost her mother the day before Julie passed and I've been helping the family, plus shenanigans due to living near the Olympic stadium) I have not been able to spend as much time as I'd like with Lawrence. The times I've had to be gone for several days, a friend who used to own budgies takes him in to stop him getting lonely while I'm away. As this friend is where I'll quarantine Lawrence's new companion (when I get TIME to do so) I have to wait till I'm sticking about for 6 weeks or so - or finding another place to quarantine the new bird.
The weather here has been atrocious, going from cold to warm to cold to humid to wet and warm, changing almost every week, so Lawrence seems to be moulting almost constantly lately.
He HAS gotten somewhat withdrawn, singing less, turning his back to us and taking a greater (but not obsessional) interest in his mirror, all of which I ascribe to grief and a need for a new friend ASAP. Thing is, I noticed him today preening under a wing, fairly aggressively, which I generally assume means he's itchy. However, I noticed that the feathers under the wing, only visible when he flies or preens, appear much sparser than the feathers on his chest. As I have never inspected this area closely, I do not know if less feathers under the folded wing is normal.
I haven't noticed him preening more, and can't tell friom the amount of feathers, as I say he's been moulting on-off for 3 months or so. I will be booking his second well-bird check up of the year next weeks (I take him up twice a year for a check on top of any other visits he needs, - though so far he's been enjoying rude health - even if he seems healthy, better safe than sorry!) and will ask him, but value your opinions.
The glimpse I got didn't look red or painful but I could see some pink skin amongst the white-blue downy soft feathers, but as I have just trained him to transfer between cages WITHOUT me having to catch him to do so, I am loathe to risk breaking down the newfound trust I believe he now has that I won't grab him in my hand. (It takes about 10 minutes transferring him on my finger as he still doesn't LIKE transferring from his roomy home cage to the less roomy holiday cage, but he will now go in if I persevere, and that is REAL progress compared to last year.)
So is there a possibility he's plucking, or is it the moulting, or am I just being a paranoid mum? What can I do to reduce the risk/incidence of plucking? he has lots of toys in his cage but maybe I should mix them up, change some out for new ones maybe (though I've been reluctant to add another uphreaval to his life)?
Your suggestions, observations (of your own bird's under-wing down) and opinions would be welcomed.
I was sane once, but I got better.
My baby boy, Lawrence.
Re: Is he plucking?
Hi! Gail, Budgies do tend to molt throughout the year. They are not like cockatiels who, when they are mature at about a year old, have a hard molt, and then molt about every six months. I don't think it is uncommon for Lawrence to be molting like he is right now. However, molting does make their skin dry and itchy, thus, they are constantly picking around on their little bodies trying to dislodge old feathers. I just read a couple of days ago, that molting also causes them to fly around much more in and outside of the cage because it makes their little wings feel better.
There is a possibility that Lawrence is "mourning" for Julie, and he could indeed be feather plucking. It is difficult to stop a bird from plucking, but I do believe that once you get Lawrence a little friend, he just might stop the plucking if that is what is causing the feather loss. I also have found that changing cages, or as you say, different weather conditions, from cold to hot, humid, etc. can make them molt. I like to put some wheat germ oil or ground wheat germ in with my budgie's seed/pellet mixture, when he is molting. It seems to help the dryness of their skin.
Personally, I would say, unless you begin to see some blood on his little body, or anything very unusual, such as a change in his poops, or him getting lethargic, or not eating, you wouldn't have to take him to the Vet right now. If some of these problems surface, then I would suggest you definitely would need to contact a vet.
Birds grieve just like humans when they lose a partner. And the time varies from bird to bird, just as it does to humans. When the weather gets cold and/or damp, I would suggest you put a cover over the three sides of his cage, leaving the front side open. It could be that the dampness could be causing the feather loss too.
Wishing you the best as you move forward with little Lawrence. Be sure and let us know how the molting goes, and when you get Lawrence a new friend. And of course, we LOVE pics too!
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