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Spray Shower

Plucking feathers or moulting? Can I determine the answer from feathers in my cockatoo's cage?

Spring is probably moulting time but since I have had my rescued cockatoo for only a month, I am not certain if feathers he is losing are caused by plucking or moulting. There are 5 to 10 feathers at the bottom of the cage each day; none are flight or tail feathers but are downy or small rounded like those on his chest. There are no bare spots on his body or indications of mutilation. There is no blood in the shaft of the feathers and I have never seen him pluck a feather although he does a lot of grooming, particularly when he is sitting outside of his cage. He is eating well, is very quiet and murmurs softly except when he is left behind and he hears us talking elsewhere. He gets a daily spray shower, has lots of toys and attention and his blood work, according to the vet, is perfect. He gets at least 10 hours of darkness at night in a covered cage. Any information that you can share; plucking vs. moulting, would be appreciated.

It sounds like you are taking excellent care of him!

I would say what you're seeing is exactly what it sounds like - down feathers. And in that case I would say you're OK. If there are no flights or harder feathers in the bottom of his cage and there is no blood in his cage it sounds like a moult.

'Toos do like to groom themselves - and you! They are very tactile birds and LOVE to touch their people and have their people touch them.

I would get concerned if a couple of things happened: 1 - his eating habits changed. 2 - his stools changed. (OK, neither of those is necessarily indicative of plucking, but you should always be aware of what's going in and coming out of your bird.) 3 - his behavior changed. If your little love-sponge turns in Dr. Jekyll it might be time to keep a closer eye on him. 4 - you were finding LOTS of hard feathers in and around his cage. 5 - his remaining feathers started to look frazzled as this can be a sign of over grooming. And 6 - BLOOD. If you see blood in his cage that needs to be addressed.

But all of that being said, this sounds like a very healthy, happy and loved 'Too. You're doing a good job of it.

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