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Head baldness Alexandrine Parakeet

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Head baldness Alexandrine Parakeet

Postby Shargeg » Sat May 30, 2020 2:13 pm

Hey you all,
I'm just here to ask a question and find out if my Alexandrine parakeet having head baldness is common or something to worry about? She's just a year and 3 months old now and she's has this kind of patching on her head since many months.. we just thought it's a slow growth but my other parrot has perfectly healthy feathers. Any thoughts please? :irn:
Shargeg
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 6
Number of Birds Owned: 2
Types of Birds Owned: Alexandrine Parakeets
Flight: Yes

Re: Head baldness Alexandrine Parakeet

Postby Pajarita » Sun May 31, 2020 8:11 am

Hi, Shargeg and IRNs, welcome to the forum. If the bald bird is with another bird, it's possible that the other bird is overpreening and pulling the feathers. If it's alone, it might be a matter of the bird rubbing its head against something. But, it can also be PBFD, lack of protein in the diet or a skin infection... Basically, what I am trying to say is that more information is needed as follows:
- How old is the bird and how long have you had it?
- Is the bird alone in the cage or with another one? Are they bonded to each other?
- Is the cage adequate? Meaning, a real cage or some sort of homemade something, is the bar gage the right one, size, is there anything sharp in it, etc.
- Is the bird allowed to come out of the cage or is it always in it?
- Diet?
- Was it ever tested for PBFD or gone to the avian vet for a complete physical?
- Are there any pins coming up?
- Is the bird in soft molt?

The thing about head feathers is that, usually (it depends on the species) there is only one layer of them -only contours and no real down- so, when they fall off, there is baldness. I've had two birds with bald heads. One is Sweetpea Senegal which became bald from his second mate overpreening his head and, because this went on for a while, most of the feathers never grew back (and the ones that did took a looooong time to come back). The second one is Davy Redbelly which became bald from one minute to the next when he followed Javi Caique under a piece of furniture and had all his head feathers 'scraped' off (they all grew back). But, in both cases, I knew exactly what had caused the feather loss - and that is what you need to figure out so, if you give us the replies to the questions, we might be able to help you on this.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17447
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Head baldness Alexandrine Parakeet

Postby Shargeg » Mon Jun 01, 2020 4:06 am

Hi Pajarita, thank you so much for your response and all the questions, much appreciated.

The bald bird - Bella is together with Kiwi in the same cage. We brought both the parrot babies into our home when they were about 2-3 weeks old, they grew up together and continue to. They are now 1 year and 3 months old. Their cage is big in size, i'll upload a picture of it so you can see. It doesn't have anything sharp around or anything in or around the cage as such.. the birds are allowed to come out frequently, just until a month ago they were kept out in the morning and returned back to the cage at night.. but now they've started to fly quite frequently around the house so we have limited them coming out and have started to train them slowly. Their diet mostly consists of pellets with sunflower seeds and fresh foods.. I feel this is probably where the problem might be, maybe she has some sort of a vitamin deficiency or probably an allergy. Kiwi on the other hand as healthy feathers. I've included some images of Bella's head if it helps better and a picture of both together.. Bella is the one on the left. I don't see Kiwi or Bella preening each other.. so I don't think it's that either. Bella has had an uneven hair growth towards her head compared to Kiwi since the beginning, it was mild before because her feathers were just growing in and now it's much more obvious.

We have not yet taken them to a vet for a complete physical.. I'm afraid to take them anywhere at this point given the current health situation.

I'm glad you were able to figure out exactly what happened to your bird companions, I hope I'm able to as well.
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Shargeg
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 6
Number of Birds Owned: 2
Types of Birds Owned: Alexandrine Parakeets
Flight: Yes

Re: Head baldness Alexandrine Parakeet

Postby Pajarita » Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:43 am

Thank you for the detailed reply. It's hard to tell from just pictures but it doesn't look as if she scrape her head anywhere because, when that happens, the loss of feathers is right on top of the head and she has it more to the back. Now, you say that you never see them preening each other but the spot where the feathers are missing is a spot that is usually preened in allopreening. The cage is not really very good, you know? I don't mean to be critical but I am VERY picky when it comes to cages for my birds so I'll share my thoughts with you and you decide. I like that it's white ( think that light colored cages are less oppressive than dark ones) but it's too low to the ground. I like cages that are on a stand so the actual cage goes from a height of our waists all the way up to our heads - this way, their roosting perch is at our eye level which is the ideal height for them. Flighted birds find safety in height -it's their way of avoiding predators- so, when the highest point they can reach is lower than your sight, it makes you look as if you were looming over them when you stand next to the cage - and that is stressful to them. The other thing that I do not like at all is the little 'tower' thingie higher than the rest of the cage... Birds always go to the higher perches so these 'cathedral' towers only make the space where they live much smaller than what is needed because they hardly ever go down to the ground of the cage where the only roomy space is. Funny thing is, these cages are usually more expensive that then plain, square roof ones that are much more practical and better for the birds.

Now, I think that the problem is that she got her nape preened a bit too enthusiastically by her boyfriend and, because the diet is too high in protein, she might be going into a soft molt - this is when the constantly molt feathers - not necessarily in a noticeable manner in the sense that you usually do not see 'bald' spots but you do see them replacing feathers all the time, something that is abnormal because birds do not molt all the time. There are species of birds that molt more than once a year but parrots molt only once and this usually happens right after breeding season. When you feed too much protein, the body needs to find some way of getting rid of it and it starts by producing feathers all the time which damages the plumage. My Javi Caique came to me in soft molt and he had been on it for years and years to the point that his belly was not a nice, thick, even white - it looked grayish and this was because the feathers were so thin that you could kind of see the dark skin through them. He had been free-fed a parrot seed mix for years which is waaaayyyy too much protein for a caique that is supposed to eat A LOT of produce and low protein. He has gotten much better on the right diet (his belly is now a nice, solid white with thick and healthy plumage) but it has taken years...

As to the diet... well, Alexes are mainly fruit eaters so the diet you are giving is the wrong one. They should get no sunflowers seeds or pellets. They need a lot of produce (BIG fruit portions) on a daily basis and a dish of low protein, low fat, high fiber, high moisture like gloop, for example. Free-feeding high protein, as you are doing, will not only cause terrible molts and all kinds of plumage problems, it will also result in liver and/or kidney problems. People talked about the 'mojo' molt of the psittaculas and the ekkies for years as if it was a normal thing for them but it's not. It's nothing more than a symptom of a very bad diet and, if you look at pictures of mojo molts, you will see that what your Bella has looks exactly the same (see this picture: https://www.bing.com/images/search?view ... ajaxhist=0
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17447
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Head baldness Alexandrine Parakeet

Postby Shargeg » Tue Jun 02, 2020 1:09 am

Thanks a million for your in depth response about the cage and their diet. It makes perfect sense what you're saying. I think my mum has noticed Kiwi pecking Bella sometimes, not often, when they're playing and need a toy from the other, maybe he plucks her feather at that moment.. I've just not seen anything solid to come to a conclusion it could be that.. because there is a lot of feather loss towards the nape so Kiwi would have to do it frequently enough for us to notice evidently

I've been looking to change their cage for a while now into something more square shaped and with high legs, it's also more convenient for us to manage.. but do you suggest that we keep them in two cages? Just that by the end of the night they sleep so close together all fluffed up.. :(
But if separating them would help to flourish and grow better, that would be much more ideal for them.

I'll definitely start by fixing up their diet. When you say they have to be fed big portions of fruits, wouldn't their sugar intake be too high on a regular basis? Do you have any suggestions for gloop recipes for Alexandrines?
Shargeg
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 6
Number of Birds Owned: 2
Types of Birds Owned: Alexandrine Parakeets
Flight: Yes

Re: Head baldness Alexandrine Parakeet

Postby Pajarita » Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:19 am

No, no, don't separate them! It's super stressful for them to be apart, especially aviary species like psittaculas that really need the close company of another bird. The problem is not so much that he might be overpreening (this is not really plucking, although it is another form of feather destruction behavior), it's that the plumage becomes weak and thin when it changes constantly due to the high protein diet and, when you add preening to it, you end up with feathers that have little more than just the shaft. If you change the diet and keep them at a strict solar schedule with more time out-of-cage (they need a minimum of 5 or 6 hours of out of cage), the whole thing will resolve itself without them having to suffer at all.

The regular gloop recipe is actually perfect for psittaculas (or any other parrot, for that matter) as long as you do not feed a seed mix with high protein for dinner (a good quality budgie mix would do it). Just get whole grains like wheat (better if it's soft white spring than hard red winter), kamut, hulled barley, some good whole grain rice like the red or the black one which are very nutritious and safe, oat groats (GREAT for parrots), cook them al dente (so they are a bit soft on the outside but still hard inside) and mix them with frozen veggies like corn, peas, diced carrots, diced squash (I use butternut because it 'holds' the shape better), chopped broccoli (and make sure it's chopped or they will pick the piece and throw it out) and some cooked sweet potatoes (I bake them in the skin during the winter but nuke them in a Potato Express bag in the summer), peeled and cut into small chunks. Add a tiny bit of flax seed to this and you have a nice, nutritious, low protein, high moisture, high fiber, low fat staple food for them.

And do not worry about the sugar in fruits... for one thing, the natural sugar in fruits is mostly fructose and not sucrose (which is the bad one) and, for another, fruits have so much water and fiber in them that the whole content of sucrose is not really that high. Besides, I do not know why, how or who started this notion but parrots in the wild eat a lot of fruit so, obviously, it cannot be bad for them.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17447
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Head baldness Alexandrine Parakeet

Postby Shargeg » Wed Jun 03, 2020 11:43 pm

This is all such genuinely helpful information, thank you so so much. I'll make some changes to their lifestyle and see what works. Bless you!
Shargeg
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 6
Number of Birds Owned: 2
Types of Birds Owned: Alexandrine Parakeets
Flight: Yes

Re: Head baldness Alexandrine Parakeet

Postby Pajarita » Thu Jun 04, 2020 10:02 am

Glad I could be of help. Please do come back and let us know how the birds, especially the 'baldy' :lol: , are doing. But don't get impatient looking for results in a couple of weeks - nothing with parrots is fast, NOTHING. Everything takes a long time so persevere even if you don't see any improvement. Plumage takes years to become perfect after getting 'messed up' because parrots are 'programmed' to renew half of it every year so, in order for ALL the bad plumage to be replaced, you need to patiently wait a long time. My own Codee GCC took three molts to lose her black spots - and three molts means three years! But, if they get a good diet, are kept at a strict solar schedule and allowed lots of out-of-cage time, I promise you, they will both end up with gorgeous plumage.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17447
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: Head baldness Alexandrine Parakeet

Postby Shargeg » Thu Jun 04, 2020 11:06 pm

I'll surely keep you posted. Right now I'm slowly incorporating a change in their diet and keep the old one for a slow transition. I don't want to bring in too many unusual foods all at once so it doesn't upset their stomach.

Yes, I'll just do my best and be patient, thanks for that Prajarita!

There's one more thing and you mentioned this before too, what do you mean by a solar schedule?
Shargeg
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 6
Number of Birds Owned: 2
Types of Birds Owned: Alexandrine Parakeets
Flight: Yes

Re: Head baldness Alexandrine Parakeet

Postby Pajarita » Fri Jun 05, 2020 12:21 pm

Ahhhh, yes, I am very glad you asked because the strict solar schedule is SUPER important for birds. I'll explain. All birds are photoperiodic -a long word that means that they regulate their 'periods' (seasons, as in molting, breeding, etc) by 'light' (photo means light in Greek). Birds have something like an internal clock that tells them not only what they are supposed to do during the day but also what their body needs to do at the different points in time during the year (the seasons). This is very important because birds don't produce sexual hormones all year round like mammals do (mammals simply increase/decrease production to establish the 'cycles'), they start producing them when they reach a certain amount of daylight hours during the day and stop when they reach another number. Now, the number of daylight hours is determined by twilight at dawn and dusk because it is the different kind of light that only happens when the sun is rising or setting that 'activates' or not the glands. Think of it as a stop watch that is turned on with the light of dawn and turned off with the light of dusk - and the number of hours that fell in between these two daily events is what the bird's body registers. So, when it gets to the right number, the master gland in their brain sends a signal telling the sexual organs to start producing sexual hormones so they can grow and prepare for breeding. Then, when it gets to another specified number of daylight hours (this specific number of hours is called 'the point of photo-refractoriness') , it stops producing the hormones, the organs shrink and become dormant (this 'dormant' period is called the 'resting' season) until the next time when the number of daylight hours is the right one. Different species have different points of photo-refractoriness and we know the exact ones for some species -like canaries, for examples- but we don't really know the ones for parrots. What we do know is that some of them are long day breeders (this means they breed in the spring when the days are getting longer) and some are short day breeders (and these breed in the fall) and that diet and weather are also what we call 'environmental triggers' (light always being the 'default' trigger). Now, there is nothing we can do about the weather trigger because birds are indoors and it's always a pretty perfect climate in a human house - and there is very little we can do about the diet because none of us is going to send a bird to sleep without enough food for the day (which happens in nature during the resting season - and that is why it IS the resting season) but we need to make sure that we don't feed more protein than it's needed not only because too much will damage their livers and kidneys but also because the common denominator in all the breeding diets of all species of birds is that they breed when food is rich (protein) and plentiful. So, the ONLY thing we have that will for sure prevent them from producing sexual hormones all year round, year after year, is feeding them the right amount of protein in their diet and keeping them at a strict solar schedule with full exposure (two hours) to dawn and dusk. This means that the bird needs to be kept in a room where there is natural light (windows) and cannot be exposed to any artificial lights until the sun is up in the sky and you see the sun rays coming into the room OR after the sun is hallway down to the horizon in the afternoon and throughout the entire night until dawn the next morning.

Let me know if I was clear enough in my explanation or if you need clarification on something.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 17447
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

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