Ask Lafeber


August 26, 2022

Is My Bird Injured Or Not?

I have a cockatiel that is almost a year and eight months old. I’ve had him for a little less than that and whenever he moult I can always tell even though sometimes I worry he’s plucking, which I’ll get into in a second. Recently I came back from a four day trip (during which my friend had been feeding and checking up on him), and his right wing is suddenly missing all his primary feathers. I can see them all over the bottom of his cage. What’s weird is I don’t think he’s moulting and his left wing is completely normal. This is making it hard for him to fly and I he won’t let me check to see if they’ve started growing back or not. I have no idea when he lost them, how or why and I don’t know if I should be worried (even though I already am). My parents are against taking him to the vet. I’m also a bit worried that he may not be plucking but over preening as when I bathe him there is a tiny little patch in the crook of his wing where feathers have gone thin. Will he be okay? Please let me know what to do or if this is normal or anything, I just want a few answers.


Hi Mars,

It sounds like your bird probably had what is called “night frights”. Cockatiels especially will get spooked during the night for some reason, and thrash around the cage. This usually results in the loss of a lot of feathers. Cockatiels are a prey animal, and one form of defense when grabbed by a predator is for feathers to release. So when the bird thrashes around, between the cage and the fear, he can lose a lot of feathers. A nightlight can help, since they have very poor night vision. As for the place where the feathers look thin, this is probably more of a case of where the feather tracts are. They do not have feathers covering their body, as it appears. They have tracts where the feathers grow and the overlapping feathers gives the appearance of full coverage. But when wet, you can see the bare areas between the feather tracts. So it sounds normal. Unless you observe bald areas when the bird is dry, he is fine. Try a nightlight and this should help him if he gets scared again at night. Both of these things are common concerns with cockatiel owners, so it’s good you asked to ease your mind and make sure he is healthy and normal.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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