Why is Our Sun Conure Suddenly Losing All His Feathers?

Why is Our Sun Conure Suddenly Losing All His Feathers?

Carol T. is concerned about her Sun,

We just noticed that our bird, Rajah, a Sun Conure has lost his covering of feathers, under his wings and on his back. He is 15 years old. Is this concerning? He seems fine.

Thank you for your help. Carol

Dear Carol

A bird, a parrot, does not just lose its feathers overnight. However, if you are not watching your bird’s daily behaviors then it can seem like it did.

Many years ago I went through a divorce so I relied on a friend to care for my parrot while I went on road trips. I often worked 5-day weekends so I sometimes left him with my friend for 2-3 weeks at a time.

I felt he was safe with her. Well, he was safe. But he was alone. I found that she suffered from depression and tended to sit in the dark a lot, so then did my parrot with her. So he started to pick at his down feathers, when they were gone, it was not so obvious. Until he started to pick at the outer feathers, well, one day I picked him up and he was almost bald. I was floored and had to change everything.

He had to be with me, no longer could he stay with my friend for any real period of time. He now also went to and from my shows with me and he did regain some new feathers, but he still picked at them some up until he passed years later.

Most birds, even if they have nutritional issues, won’t suddenly have bare spots. It sounds like your bird is unhappy about something, Did his cage get put in an area where he feels exposed?

Is he alone more? Are there other animals stressing him out? Please look into your bird’s environment and see what could be causing anything that could make him internalize himself.

Please let me know.

Catherine, thank you. 

Rajah has a large standing cage. It’s the same one he’s been in for years now. He gets up every day at 7 a.m. and I feed him and change his water.

black birdcage with birdcage cover on top

We have a comfortable back porch that he is on all day. We keep the temperature at 79 degrees.

My husband and I are on the porch most of the day with him. He especially loves my husband. They take naps together throughout the day.

He even makes a bed on top of my husband’s hair! And then takes his nap!

We do have a medium size dog – Trixie, a Jack Russel Terrier. She is a very nice gentle dog.

Rajah pretty much ignores him. Two weeks ago we took care of our daughter’s puppy for 3 days. Puppies are a challenge! We did leave the 3 of them together on the porch to go grocery shopping.

All was quiet when we got home. Rajah was still on his stand. We did move his cage to a warmer section of the living room – by the heat run – when the weather got colder. As far as I can figure out, everything has been pretty much the same same.

Should I try giving him vitamins? And what about millet?

My cockatiel loved it but I have never tried it with Rajah.

What are your suggestions?

I can’t think of anything else that has changed I’ll try whatever you think. Thank you, Catherine. I appreciate your help. Carol

Dear Carol

Looks like a playtop cage with the play top removed. Is the tray still in there? If so, I recommend it be removed.

I recommend a light over his cage. The cover does not have to be there until bedtime.

Too much darkness can trigger hormonal behavior and frustration that can result in plucking.

A light over the cage (close as possible) set on a timer for 10 to 12 hours on a daily basis.
The clamp can be removed and hung from a hook from the ceiling as a swag like this.
double full spectrum l;ighting over cockatiels playtop birdcage

LIGHTING SECTION

This might help.

Love the pictures of your bird with your husband. They look very happy together. Answering your last question sent first.

“I was wondering…. when we leave would it be helpful if we turned on the TV so it would seem like someone was home and Rajah was not alone? Just a thought. Thanks! Carol Turner.”

Yes, having sounds, radio, and TV on when you are gone will help your bird feel more comfortable.

Your reply sounds all well and good. If nothing has changed to cause your bird to start internalizing and picking then you should take your bird to your avian vet for a check-up.

As far as vitamins, yes, we use a bird multivitamin in their water daily. We make up a quart bottle of pre-mixed vitamin water in the fridge and that makes it easier to keep it up.

Find Windy City Parrot Selection of Avian Vitamins Here

And spray millet is a yummy snack. A whole sprig would be too much. We cut it up into 2-inch chunks and our cockatiel gets one before bedtime nightly.

Higgins Spray Millet 12-count bag

I hope your little one regrows his feathers soon.

Hi Catherine, After I talked with you last week or so ago about what could be causing Rajah, our Sun Conure, to pull out the feathers on his back, my husband mentioned that when the weather last summer turned warmer, he moved Rajah closer to the back porch windows. I had forgotten that. ‘

I mentioned to him what you had said about how our tame birds can be frightened by other birds outside.

So he moved Rajah back to his original spot. Well, that was a week to 10 days ago and already Rajah’s feathers are coming back!

That must have been the problem. Thank you so much for helping us solve Rajah’s problem. He is looking so much better now! Sincerely, Carol.

Proper Bird and Parrot Cage Placement

Dear Carol

Wonderful to hear this good news. Poor Rajah must have been stressing about his view.

Sometimes it takes an outsider’s view to help and I am so thankful you asked.

Thank you so much for letting me know.

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