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When I adopted my conure about a year ago, many of her feathers were in poor condition: their edges were ragged and they were discolored. I had hoped that she would replace them all during her yearly molt, but she still has many of these feathers. She does have many new healthy ones, however.

Do conures only replace some of their feathers each year?

  • do you have old and current photos of her feathers? – Rebecca RVT Jun 29 '18 at 1:12
  • @RebeccaRVT Not of her feathers specifically, I will see if I can find anything that can show a difference. – jackwise Jun 29 '18 at 13:05
  • @RebeccaRVT Unfortunately none of my existing photos show the issue well bc the most problem feathers are on her back, and she won't stay still for me to take a new photo. In short, many of the feathers on her back are gray/brown and/or their edges are ragged. The feathers that I know are new are not like this, they are normally colored and have smooth edges. – jackwise Jul 3 '18 at 13:16
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It sounds like your conure is over preening. While molting will replace the damaged feather, the preening behavior patterns will make the new feather look tattered pretty quickly.

Over preening can be cause by a number of issues. Here are some of them, along with mitigation strategies.

  • Boredom: If you bird is bored, she will preen to keep herself busy. Try adding some more toys, especially ones that are 'preenable'. Getting her out of her cage to socialize can help as well. Basically, the busier she is, the less time she has to obsess over her feathers.

  • Itchiness: If her skin is dry, she may be itchy. Try giving her more frequent opportunities to bath. A lot of birds like to take showers as well.

  • Parasites: Feather mites will also cause itching and discomfort. If you suspect that she has mites, consult your vet.

  • Frustration: Some birds turn to over preening and/or self mutilation as a means of relieving frustration. Much like boredom, adding more enrichment to her environment and routine can help alleviate frustration.

When in doubt, consult an Avian Vet. It's important to go to a vet that specializes in birds. You can search for an Avian Vet near you on this site: https://www.aav.org/search/

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  • It does sound like excessive preening. Conures replace all of their feathers annually, so there shouldn't be any 'leftovers'. Definitely consult an avian vet. Also be sure that your conure has plenty of clean water in a shallow dish. Conures love bathing, and bathing helps to soothe the skin. – Tom Gaskill Jul 3 '18 at 23:07
  • Boredom/frustration seems likely, given that she is never interested in new toys and doesn't like leaving her cage to socialize. I think I may need to post another question to try to figure out a solution. – jackwise Jul 5 '18 at 13:31

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