Friday, March 11, 2011

Parrots and Stress Bars

It is raining feathers in my house. I am so excited to report that Blu Lu the Blue Throated Macaw from the Bird Endowment is molting. That may seem like a silly thing to celebrate. Let me explain why I am so happy.

Blu Lu had a rough start in life. She was rejected by her parents. This meant she likely did not get fed as frequently or as much as she needed during those critical early weeks of development. When baby parrots miss feedings, become ill or are otherwise compromised it shows. One place where it becomes very evident is in their feathers. What is often observed when conditions are poor and a feather is growing in is what is known as a stress bar. The bar is a line that is visible across the feather. This line represents a weak spot in the feather. Without adequate nutrition the feather did not development properly at that spot.

The drawback to stress bars is that the feather is very vulnerable at this line. Many feathers break at the stress bar. Tail feathers and primary feathers (wing feathers) need the support of surrounding feathers to grow successfully. Without support they too can break.

Blue Lu did break a few tail feathers close to the base of her tail due to stress bars. And it will be important to keep an eye on her new growing tail feathers. New feathers initially have a blood and nerve supply. If one of the growing feathers were to break it could bleed and be painful. In most cases a little pressure can stop the bleeding, but if you are unsure what to do when a blood feather breaks, I do highly recommend you visit your avian veterinarian. You can find an avian at The Association of Avian Veterinarians website.

Fortunately once she was rejected by her parents Blu Lu was well taken care of by caring humans and her feather growth from then on improved considerably. However this first molt is a welcomed one. It means she will soon have a brand new set of very healthy feathers. Just one single broken flight feather can dramatically effect flight skills. It is often a matter of pride for many professional bird trainers that their birds are in perfect feather. It is a reflection of excellent care.

Blu Lu is already pretty stunning. But I can’t wait for her new spring wardrobe!

Barbara Heidenreich
For quality information on parrot training visit
Copyright 2011 Good Bird Inc


Irena Schulz said...

Keeping my fingers crossed for a pretty spring wardrobe! :D

Dot Schwarz said...

But I can’t wait for her new spring wardrobe!
I ditto that. I love the blogs and watching a bird evol;ve by proxy. You7 doi the hard work we getr the spin off. Ideal Dot

Mimi, Louie & Libby said...

Hi Barbara, I love the molting times, too actually because I have saved every feather Louie, my Lutino indian ringneck leaves for me... I mean looses. LOL
I know crazy bird Mom but then aren't we all?

jody kuchar said...

Mojo (black cap conure) had this very thing on her wings when she first came to us. I had her on diet that we feed Sunkist - lots of fruit and veg, kibbles and some Laferbers. I stopped having her wings clipped.
Her feathers have been good now for a year - she has molted out those weak feathers and I've not seen a broken wing feather in ages! Thanks for this - I was worried at first, but decisions made were good and outcome great.

mamasooge said...

Glad to hear Blu Lu is sporting new duds. Tiko to is molting, she has no feathers down her keel bone. I do hope they grow in. She is starting to grow new ones under her wings yeah!

allouranimals said...

Excellent article! I wanted to let you know, Barbara, that I am thrilled to have found your site! It is truly a wealth of bird related information! I will definitely be back here often! I have just moved to Florida from Illinois and we are looking for a bird right now, so I'm sure that your site will come in very handy for us! Thank you!

Denise Blackman