Q: I have two cockateels, both female. They have been together for about three months and have been no problem until recently. One of the birds is starting to lose her feathers from her wings and legs, while the second one is OK. They eat the same seed and fruit. Do you think the first bird is sick? What medication should I give her?
A: Feather loss is common in caged birds but does not always have an easy answer. There are two major reasons for feather loss--behavioral and medical--and each has different methods of treatment.
Medical causes of feather loss include nutritional disorders, parasitic infestations such as mites, hormonal or metabolic diseases, and infections. A bird needs to be examined in order for a diagnosis to be made.
Behavioral loss can be due to stress, boredom, changes in environment, or incompatibility with other birds. The loss of feathers is generally confined to areas that can be reached by the bird, such as the feet, wings, and breast or back, which seems to be the case with your bird.