Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman
Are Mites Making Making My Macaw Miserable?
Always look forward to your Sunday articles, thanks!
Madeleine is a (Blue & Gold Macaw) rescue from a home where she was malnourished, neglected, and abused.
I was able to negotiate relinquishment but it’s been a year of learning for me, we bonded and I decided to adopt her instead of fostering.
We haven’t figured out her age, but based on the discoloration of her feet one vet said maybe 40yrs old?
She has never succeeded in growing tail feathers except for one sole straggler that hangs on.
She eats Tops pellets, a raw nut mixture especially favoring pistachios, poached egg whites and some veggies fruit chop (very picky eater), a little rice cake with almond butter (no salt).
I am still figuring out what food entices her the most, maybe black beans, rice pasta.
Her beak grows deformed and every three months I take her to an avian vet about 30 miles from where I live.
He just examined her last week, trimmed her claws and shaped her beak, said all is well and did not observe the feathers thinned out around her ear.
A few days later I noticed a balding spot around her left ear and a little redness (seen in the featured image above).
She really hasn’t had excessive scratching and I’m uncertain if this is mite related or a skin issue?
I sent you one photo of the right ear to compare to two photos of the left ear.
My dogs have been scratching excessively and we are battling a few fleas, despite having all tile floors.
Besides topical pet dog treatment, I am wanting to spray with a natural Cedarcide solution along the perimeters outside (in the evening when birds are indoors) and inside along baseboards (in the morning when I put the birds in their outdoor aviary) for insect control.
If you would be so kind to please point me in the right direction? What is your opinion on the course of treatments I should follow?
Thank you very much, I just want to be a good parront to my birds, I also have two GC Conures and a rescued parakeet.
Margaret B in California
Hi Margaret, Thank you for reaching out.
We’re glad you like reading our blog.
It’s clear that you take tremendously good care of your pets.
We see abnormal beak growth from time to time.
In your case, I’m guessing it was from a poorly executed hand feeding Madeleine (great name) as a chick.
There’s a whole art/science about gripping the beak while hand feeding, especially with the larger species of birds.
Your vet may have missed the mites as they are nocturnal, but I doubt it.
Mite infestations can be treated with Ivermectin-based products which may be given orally, topically, or by injection.
Ivermectin is used for both animal and human parasites.
Alternatively, Moxidectin can be injected or poured on.
Any of these anti-bird mite choices listed above require a visit to your avian vet
You want to refrain from using old school parasiticides like
- Rotenone-orthophenylphenol (e.g. Goodwinol ointment)
- Crotamiton (Eurax cream)
As these 3 parasiticides may do more harm than good
Editorializing, we are not big fans of mites sprays.
Two things you can do to check for mites on your pet bird.
1) Hold a piece of white paper under your bird’s main perch then rap the perch hard with a pencil or smaller perch.
If you see little brown and red dots you’ve got (probably skin and feather) mites.
2) Keep the cage uncovered one night so as not to spook the bird.
Slowly approach it with a flashlight looking at its feet and perch because that’s when the mites will come out to do the most damage.
If your bird or parrot does, in fact, have mites it’s important to thoroughly clean the birdcage and the surrounding area.
Then clean yourself as some of these mites are blood agnostic.
There are actually four kinds of mites that affect birds.
Burrowing Face Mites (aka Knemidocoptiasis) – normally found on smaller birds like parakeets and canaries.
These mites can sometimes be identified by a thick crusty skin on a budgies cere (nostrils).
Sometimes they can be seen with a magnifying glass.
Skin and feather mites – may present by bare patches caused by persistent scratching and over preening.
These are bloodsuckers and can cause anemia.
Some birds will start rubbing body parts against the cage because of the itch which could be an indicator of feather mites
You can check your bird’s vent for any signs of them as well.
Air Sac mites – make a home within your bird’s complex respiratory system. Unusual for large birds like blue and gold macaws but found in smaller birds similar canaries and finches.
Rarely are they found in hookbills especially a bird like Madeleine.
She would be showing respiratory distress (most likely caught by your vet) if this were the case.
Scaly Leg Mites – Certain mites certain might burrow under the bird’s skin around the leg and foot area.
The skin will be dry and scaly looking while looking crusty.
You can find them on the legs and toes of canaries.
If mites exist they may have come from a prior home with other birds.
I somehow think that because of your avian vet’s examination, mites are not your problem.
I’m just tossing this out there but based on your location, I’d venture that your air quality because of all of the large fires that were within hundreds of miles of you could be a culprit.
Living not far from the ocean and its crazy air currents, your animals are taking in all sorts of environmental pollutants.
I would start with something simple.
Dribble some melted coconut oil (microwaved about five seconds) over Madeleine’s favorite foods.
Then apply some to the patch over her ear and see if that helps smooth things out.
In another life as a dog breeder for 25 years we kept our show dogs fur in tip-top shape by giving them a piece of white bread soaked in bacon grease a couple of times a week.
Try that and let us know what happens.