Solving the Mystery of a Bald Bird
I answer this question at least once a week, so I thought I would post a little information. My answer is mainly for finches and canaries, as I don’t have (many) bigger birds.
There are several components to baldness, and they aren’t all readily apparent. So we have to do a bit of detective work to solve the problem. But don’t worry, it is all fairly straightforward.
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When a bird is bald, my first question is: What are you feeding him?
If you are
still in the dark ages feeding seed only, there’s the problem. He is deficient in certain nutrients, vitamins and minerals that help feathers to grow. Finches and canaries do need some seed, but they need vegetables, a little fruit, and protein too.
Feathers are composed of a protein, beta-keratin. The area around a feather utilizes protein too, when growing a new feather. So protein is one need. Check the pellets you’re providing for the protein content. You can also feed a little boiled egg or dry egg food (I use Higgins) for more protein.
Another component of the diet that is often missing when birds’ diets are incomplete is Vitamin A. This vitamin has said to be the #1 missing component for captive birds. This vitamin is utilized in feather production as well as eyes, skin, and respiratory health. Some foods that provide vitamin A are: parsley, broccoli, carrots, spinach, and my bird-room favorite, sweet potatoes.
In general, even if your bird is eating a lot of varied vegetables, if he’s missing feathers it is a good idea to supplement with a good multi-vitamin. I’m currently using Nekton-S with good results, although I have also used other brands as well.
The Power of the Sun
Does your bird have access to sunlight? If not, he may have a shortage of vitamin D3. I’ll give just the short explanation at this time, sunlight enables his body to produce D3 which is in turn used to metabolize calcium and phosphorus. If he’s not getting sunlight, that could well contribute to his lack of head feathers. In fact, I have had a Gouldian that became bald — not my own, but one I’d purchased as an adult — and when I took her outdoors every day for a week, her head feathers grew back! This in spite of the fact that I had artificial lighting in the bird room.
You can use artificial lights (like these) to mimic the sun’s activity. You can also supplement with a good Vitamin D3/Calcium supplement. Here’s one that is easy to use; it’s a liquid you add to the drinking water.
(to be continued)