Last Updated on May 7, 2022 by Ali Shahid
Budgies are wonderful birds to keep and are great mood enlighteners. If you’re a parakeet owner, you know the importance of flight for them. In this regard, feathers are undeniably the most crucial and valuable part of budgies. Feathers help them to move around and have a jumpy & joyful life.
A fortified diet combined with nurturing care is all they need for luscious and shiny feathers. No one can deny the beauty of a healthy & well-distributed set of soft feathers. A functional set of wings is not only ideal but also ensures the welfare of your budgie.
It is quite cumbersome to know everything about their feathers & I am not telling you to cram the info. Taking care of your budgies wherever and whenever necessary is vital for their well-being and happiness.
I am here to let you go through all the information regarding budgie feathers & how to look after them. You can inculcate yourself with the knowledge and make your budgies have the power to fly again.
Significance of Budgie Feathers
We’ll only be able to appreciate the things we know or be aware of their usefulness & a bird’s feathers are no different. Veterinary experts recommend looking after the feathers as they add much more worth and value to a budgie’s beauty.
You may have a question in mind about is there any importance of these feathers apart from the flight. Well, feathers are not only designated for budgies’ flight operations. In fact, they play a very primary role in regulating body temperature.
The feathers can act as an air blanket during the winters to trap heat inside and let the birds stay warm. Likewise, they also help to prevent the birds from overheating. Your budgie is a very sensitive little devil who is easily prone to heat & cold stress.
The feathers have a natural layer of waxy coating on the surface. This coating naturally acts as a hydrophobic material to repel water effectively. This in turn makes your budgie skin literally waterproof under certain conditions when necessary.
Among the numerous feathers of budgie feathers, it is noteworthy that these feathers also act as a physical barrier. Humans & other animals have specialized thick skin to act as a protective barrier but budgies have very thin and delicate skin.
The feathers are an excellent cushion and prevent excessive damage and trauma to the skin.
The feather of budgies not only provides them with self-care benefits but also helps in a successful and stress-free courtship during the mating season. The male has naturally vibrant feathers that he uses to attract female companions.
From looking at the significance of feathers for these joyful cuties, you and I can understand how much feathers mean to a bird. With that being said, exotic bird experts & ornithologists do believe to support the feather or birds as much as you can.
The Basic Feather Structure of Budgies
You always got mesmerized by the colors of feathers a budgie portrays. This is quite interesting as these birds have about 2 to 3000 feathers throughout the body. The basic structural unit of the feather is keratin which is also found in many other body parts such as the beak and nails.
However, the feathers also have some pondering facts as they are arranged in vaned and down feather patterns. Down feathers are smaller and present over the entire body whereas vaned ones are rather distributed on the upper side and are larger in size.
Vaned feathers are quite important and play a crucial role in initiating and regulating flight functions. In my opinion, they also provide them with a more aerodynamic look and are pleasing to look at. These feathers lack any special or organized pattern and have a variety of color patterns.
Reasons Behind Budgie Feather Loss
Special and utmost attention must be paid to the health of your budgie feathers. Certain problems and health conditions take away the beauty of their luscious feathers. You must know the possible causes to be able to better identify the condition as soon as possible.
Feather Associated Diseases
Among the very reason for losing feathers in budgies, health-related issues are more prominent in mismanagement. You might see some bald patches over the skin with a very abnormal distribution of feathers.
Noticing such a change indicates something is terribly wrong with the health of your budgie. Talking about a specific problem, it can be anything ranging from parasitic infestation to behavioral problems.
Your bird will also start shedding feathers if there is a severe deficiency of vitamins and minerals in the diet. You may require an exotic bird’s expert to properly sort out the cause of feather loss in budgies.
Budgie Beak & Feather Disease (PBFD)
PBFD is also known as Psittacine Coronavirus Disease is a viral disease leading to misshapen toenails and beaks along with falling feathers. There is no pattern of diseases and it may cause complete nakedness in birds.
The virus has no cure and yet can only be prevented by separating the affected birds from the healthy ones. Research has shown that the viral load is prominent in fecal droppings and its transmission happens very quickly in contrast to other viruses.
Boredom & Lethargy
Budgerigars are very social birds that need constant attention and care. If you are a parakeet owner and don’t have time to spend with your budgie, you must do something about it. These birds can quickly be prone to self-plucking and lethargy.
As a veterinarian, I have seen cases of budgies being so much into plucking the feathers; he becomes habitual to it. It is therefore mandatory to take some steps for letting your budgie have a good time at home. The best way to execute this idea is via providing good-quality toys in the cage.
Sometimes, budgies get used to what’s been inside the cage for ages. This must be looked after by changing the already available toys in the cage. I recommend you place some other things to perch and nibble on.
Feather Plucking Issue
Just like in boredom, a budgie plucking its feathers can either be blamed on itself or the keeper. When the underlying health problem goes undiagnosed, it starts affecting the health of your budgie. The stress will eventually lead to extreme feather plucking and self-injuries in a very short period of time.
Many parrots including budgies have specie specific parasites that are the main culprit of such a deadly plucking habit. Moreover, any bacterial or fungal skin infection will do the same effect along with ventilation and air circulation problems.
One thing every budgie owner must ensure is that the plucking is not normal in these birds. The longer it will stay undiagnosed, the more it will deteriorate the health of your budgerigar. You can make things favorable for yourself by adopting measures such as adjusting meal programs and close monitoring.
Molting Vs Feather Plucking – What’s the Difference?
As a veterinarian, I have seen cases of many concerned budgie owners worrying about the feather loss in birds. Not knowing whether the feather loss is due to molting or plucking, you cannot comprehend the aspects of necessary management in these cases.
Molting is a natural process through which a bird shed its feathers. This is like a rejuvenation phase for your bird and your budgie may start experiencing it at the age of twelve weeks. Some molts do occur every six months or may go on throughout the year at a consistent rate.
You can differentiate whether your budgie is going through molting or a serious feather plucking issue by seeing the pattern of bald patches. There will be no separate bald areas of feather loss in case of molting but a rather uniform feather loss throughout the body of budgies along with a bit of feather bleeding.
Diagnosing Feather Problems & Your Role
The most important sign of feather problem is the irregular shedding and appearance of bald patches over it. However, you can minimize the chances of feather loss problems using some general tips and guidelines.
In case of abrupt feather loss, consider changing the diet quality and offer a more refined and clean feed. Mostly the problems get corrected by maintaining the new and improved feeding methodologies.
Keeping your budgie clean is another great way of keeping parasitic and bacterial diseases away from your budgie. You can try making a bathing routine to remove all the dirt and debris built up on the feathers. This dust and oily grime can cause irritated skin and feather plucking in budgies.
You must pay keen attention and monitor closely the possible effects of health problems on the feathers. Provide your budgie with good humidity and ventilation to avoid the problem of heat stress and abnormal feather plucking.
Sometimes, budgie owners try to handle their birds too harshly leading to excessive struggle and accidental feather plucking. Don’t try to stroke the budgie’s belly or back while handling it will start the itching and irritated plucking on these areas.
How much time do baby budgie feathers need to grow?
As babies, budgies have a negligible number of feathers. The feather starts growing at an age of 7 days and your cute bird will be fully feathered in almost 5 weeks. At the age of 12 weeks, a partial molting phase started after which the regrowing will happen at a faster pace.
What are the harmful effects of dirt on budgie feathers?
Uncleanliness of any kind must be a potential health risk in the case of budgies. The dirt will lead to dandruff and flaky skin which will severely irritate your bird. This can lead to a variety of bacterial and fungal skin infections that aren’t easy to treat in my opinion.
Feathers are the most precious and valuable part of every bird throughout the age. You can strive and contribute to making your budgie’s feathers healthier and shinier by adopting certain health measures.
Providing them with a top-notch quality diet and following experts’ recommended guidelines will make your budgie livelier and happier once again. He or she will be able to express the natural behavior and joyful nature which is a blessing to observe every day.
Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.