A Parrot’s Feather Can Tell A Tale-

When we first adopted Kami, our Harlequin Macaw baby, I noticed that she had stress bars. These are ‘incomplete’ parts of the feather than run across the feather, perpendicular to the feather’s quill. These undeveloped parts of the feather show stress that caused the parrot’s body to use it’s energy not develop the feather, but to deal with the stressor.

Tree’s Rings Reveal Their History

The same happens to trees and humans: if a tree suffers an injury or has a season of drought, then the ring of growth for that year will be affected, often smaller. On the contrary, when a tree has a prosperous year, the rings tend to be larger, showing more health and growth.

Parrot Feathers Indicate Health Or A Lack Of

Parrot’s feathers are similar. They are a good indicator of a parrot’s health. A luminescent, full feather shows health and normal growth. A weathered feather can show different problems – for example, Tink, our Green-cheeked Conure has nerve damage (which is why she was given to us – it was assumed that she was learning to fly and flew into a window, injuring herself). The nerve damage impedes her from being able to fly or control her feet well. Fortunately, she can eat for herself, but unfortunately she used to get seizures. To deal with her seizures we created Tink’s CBD oil, which minimized her seizures (she hasn’t had them for several months in a row now, we are fortunate and grateful for her results thus far). Parrots are not accustomed to having very much fat in their diet. In nature they would only have fat in their diet during -what I call- the ‘fat’ season, or the time of year (generally winter) when plants release seeds. In late spring and summer there is rarely a lot of fat available for most parrots. These are more lean times so that parrots mate and have their clutches (babies) in early winter and spring when their is more promise of nutrition and food available for them and for them to feed their babies.

Giving Tink, Green-cheeked Conure, CBD Oil Affects Her Feathers

This means that giving CBD to Tink increased unnatural fat in her diet – and I believe it affected her feathers. Her beautiful green feathers turned dark and her body has not molted these in a year. She is due for a molting, but my veterinarian, Dr Clubb, said that a parrot’s body can put off molting if needed. In Tink’s case, I believe her body expends a lot of energy just having her move around her cage some and eating. I don’t think she has enough energy to molt her feathers.

Stress Bars Indicate A Stressor

When we took Kami to Dr Clubb, she instantly noticed the stress bars too. She said that it looked like either something scared her or, more likely, she was sick. Based on the stress bars, Dr Clubb counted several days worth of stress, which suggests illness.

Stress Bars Tell You Everything And Nothing

When I saw the stress bars on Kami I was left feeling helpless. I knew something caused them, but I have no way of knowing what and there is nothing I can do about them. It helped Dr Clubb look closely at Kami to make sure nothing was wrong with her, and she did prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic because Kami’s white blood cell count was elevated some, which means her body was or had been fighting something. This was just to be sure and safe.

Sure enough, we had noticed that Kami had seemed a little off. Not enough to sound an alarm with me, but enough that I do think she’d had something because she is doing better now. The rest of her feathers have come in beautifully and we are doing everything we can to support her baby growth!


By Kalyn
Author, The Parrot Bliss Bond, available on Amazon Books & Kindle
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