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So, I recently got a 10-month male cockatiel, which is very happy and has very healthy feathers.

He has very good relationship with me, often climbs me and lowers his head for petting and scratching. He also has normal relationship with my female cockatiel: They are just keeping a little distance from each other, but don't fight.

My cockatiels are not in a cage. They are free in their own room with lots of food, drinking water, and bathing water.

Anyway. A few days after I purchased the male cockatiel, I noticed something strange when he was preening: he has very little feathers on his body under his wings. I didn't check his body feathers when I was in the shop, as he had quite healthy feathers everywhere else.

So, I watched him carefully for over a week, to make sure that he does not pluck his feathers. I also noticed that there are no plucked feathers on the floor; at least nothing beyond what's usually left from preening.

Is there a reason to worry? Should I show my cockatiel to an avian vet?

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First, I’m no expert but have kept budgies. Other than a few "moults", they never lost feathers in large quantities and the only bald spot I’ve seen was a large tumour on an elderly budgie (under his tail). Even when they moulted, it seemed like they’d lost a whole budgies-worth of feathers but weren’t bald.

How long ago is "recently"? Long enough for feathers to regrow? Some types of parrot are know to pull out their own feathers through boredom. Brain on a par with a toddler but alone in a cage all day can do that. Given that your bird has company and a nice environment now, I don’t think he’d be bored now. Life in a pet shop, on the other hand, might have caused him enough stress to pull out some feathers, and they simply may not have grown back yet.

In your position, I’d see if I could talk with an avian vet. Check the skin if you can and if it looks healthy, and the bird is bright eyed and seems healthy (flying and moving about ok - the tumour on my bird was heavy for him), go for a phone consultation. If you have any doubts at all, take the bird in person. Cockatiels are quite long lived, so he’s still very young.

  • Thanks a lot for your answer. In my question, "recently" refers to 2-3 weeks ago. The pet shop owner said he bought the cockatiel from a boy a few days back, and sold him a cockatoo. So, he had not much time in the pet shop. Though I might add that he said the cockatiel was free at the boy's home, yet he has to endure captivity in a cage at the pet shop. This might have been quite stressful for him. – Rahab May 19 at 1:31
  • One more detail I might add: Yesterday, my cockatiel just started humping my hand, and then cheerfully whistled for quite some time. I hope he goes along with the female cockatiel I have ASAP, but it takes time and I cannot force it. – Rahab May 19 at 1:33
  • If he’s whistling and humping, he sounds healthy and happy but he’s had a fair bit of upheaval recently. I’d be inclined to let him settle in as he sounds ok, but any doubts at all, consult a vet. – Pam May 19 at 17:25
  • @Rahab: Your bird suffers from "Randy bird syndrome." Checkout these two clips: part 1 and part 2, as well as this post. – M.S. Dousti May 19 at 18:55

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