"Parrot Blood Feathers:
All Secrets Revealed!"
Have you ever looked at your parrots' new feathers when they are growing in? Do you wonder what that waxy-looking sheath in which the new feather is contained is all about? The whole process is rather amazing.
Today, I'd like to share with you how feathers grow in and something about feathers that, if you aren't aware of these facts, could cause your parrot to die!
When your parrot loses feathers, usually about twice per year, you see feathers in the cage bottom and around the house. This process is called molting.
Just as you and I shed hair and replace (in most cases, anyway) the missing hair with a brand new hair, our parrots create a brand new coat of feathers through molting and new feathers growing in.
When a parrot's feathers are growing in, they are covered in a waxy-looking sheath that is made of keratin. Keratin is the same substance that your own fingernails are made of. The sheath that contains the new feather is a very, very thin sheath of keratin. Bones, themselves, are primarily made up of calcium.
A mature feather has no nerve or blood supply contained inside - just as your hair has no nerves or blood supply inside each individual hair. However, when a feather is growing in, unlike our hair, there IS a blood supply inside the feather. The feather that is still growing is called a "blood feather" because of the fact that is has a blood supply!
Blood feathers can be easily spotted because they are encased in keratin and often look like little straws. If you pet your parrot while a blood feather is still growing in, sometimes disturbing the immature feather will result in a short squawk or a nip.
The feathers are a bit sensitive during the growing in process. They do not have nerves inside, but they are not as flexible as a mature, uncased feather with no blood supply.
When the feathers are ready to be released from their keratin sheath, some birds love for their humans to groom them and gently remove the casing. Other parrots will not allow their new feathers to be touched.
Clipping your parrots' wings is important to avoid loss and to maintain the ability to take your parrot outdoors. It is also
very helpful in the training process.
But, what happens if you clipped a parrot's blood feather accidentally while clipping the wings? What if your parrot accidentally breaks a blood feather somewhere on its body?
The answer is:
- Your parrot could bleed to DEATH quickly if you are not prepared and act to provide first aid immediately!!
FIVE Tips You Can Learn In The Next 5 Minutes About Your Parrot's Blood Feathers And Emergencies!
Bleeding blood feathers are serious...
The reason is that the vein inside the growing feather can act like a straw and allow blood to flow freely out of the feather shaft resulting in the very rapid loss of a great deal of blood.
Parrots, being so much smaller than humans, only have - at most - a few ounces of blood. The smaller parrots have less than one ounce of blood. So, what can you do to save your beloved feathered friend should this situation arise? I'll share some tips so you can provide life-saving first aid to your parrot pal if a blood feather is broken.
=> TIP #1: PREPARE IN ADVANCE BY HAVING TWO THINGS ON HAND!
These should be components of your parrot first aid kit (that will be a topic for another article soon). These two items are hemostats or tweezers and a styptic powder such as "Quik Stop".
In the event you happen to be unable to locate a styptic powder, you can use cornstarch or flour in a pinch. Styptic powder is what men use when they cut themselves when shaving; it helps to cause blood to clot and stop flowing.
Hemostats are tweezer-like devices which clamp firmly closed and lock shut when in place. Surgeons and doctors use them. A pair of hemostats is shown so you can see exactly what this tool looks like. A pair of tweezers for a small to medium sized parrot or, for a large parrot, a pair of pliers can work if you don't have any hemostats.
Hemostats can be purchased from a medical equipment supplier and you'll often see them at flea markets. Whatever you use, be sure it is clean to avoid potential infection.
=> TIP #2: ONCE YOU REALIZE A BLOOD FEATHER IS BLEEDING, GRAB A CLEAN TOWEL TO RESTRAIN THE PARROT!
Grasp the parrot firmly but not too tightly because parrots have to move their sternums to breathe. Hold the parrot by the sides. In an upcoming article, proper toweling will be demonstrated.
If your parrot has panicked or your parrot is untamed or large, you may need someone to assist you with the process of restraining the parrot. In a pinch, you can do it alone in order to prevent your parrot bleeding to death.
=> TIP #3: LOCATE THE FEATHER THAT IS BLEEDING|
Locate the feather that is bleeding. Using the hemostats, tweezers or pliers, grasp the damaged feather firmly - this is why hemostats are nice; they clamp down and don't slip. Using a firm, quick action, remove the offending feather. Simply pull sharply on the feather in the direction in which it is growing.
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