My canary has stopped singing and now he is losing a lot of his feathers. Is this normal?
Your pet canary may be moulting. This is a normal process that usually takes place once to twice a year. He will replace many worn out feathers with new ones during a period of approximately three weeks. Your canary may stop singing during this time, as he requires all his energy to grow his new plumage. You might notice him scratching himself more than usual in order to open the protective keratin coating that surrounds new feathers as they grow. However, he should look alert, be eating as usual, and be passing normal stool. You can help your pet bird through his moult by reviewing his diet to be sure it is complete, and by providing him with a fresh water bath daily so he can preen his new feathers open.
A bird infested with mites will show the same initial symptoms as a moulting bird: he may stop singing and begin to scratch himself often. He will not be sleeping well, and soon may also be puffed and lethargic. Mites are potentially life threatening as they weaken your bird and make him susceptible to other infections. If your avian friend has never been checked for parasites now may be a good time to visit your veterinarian.

Since her flight feather trim, my parrot has been unable to fly. She jumps off her perch and tries to fly, but crashes on to the floor. Is this a direct result of her flight feather clip?
You are correct. A flight feather clip (also called wing clip) is designed to allow your bird to safely glide to the floor and to stop her from being able to take flight. A well-tailored cut allows your bird to slow her descent without falling too abruptly to the ground. If your bird is falling too quickly, the trim is probably too severe.
Some birds tolerate wing trims well, while young birds and certain species like African Greys can be very upset by a full feather trim. A standard trim consists of 10 feathers being cut from each wing tip (the primaries). However, it may be more appropriate to start with 4 or 7. In some cases, a feather trim will not be advised at all. Please discuss these options with your avian veterinarian.

My budgie just laid an egg. I thought it was a male. What should I do?
Of course, only females can lay eggs. But many young female budgies are mistakenly sold as males. The flesh around the nostrils, the cere, is the same white colour in juvenile males and females until they are 4-6 months old. The colour of the cere then changes to blue in males and white, or eventually brown, in females. There are exceptions: in young male albino or lutino budgies, the cere remains white-pink throughout life. To complicate matters, this is a general rule that does not apply to all.
Now for the egg:
If your budgie appears weak, call your avian veterinarian immediately. Otherwise here are a few things you should know:

  • Females can lay eggs in the absence of a male.
  • Some birds will lay their first egg very late in their life.
  • The regular laying pattern is one egg every two days, up to 3-6 eggs. If you notice a different pattern, or if en egg has blood stains on it or is deformed or soft, consult your avian veterinarian.
  • Leave the egg in the cage, even if it is on the cage bottom.
  • Egg-laying is a natural process and will go on normally as long as your bird is in a good nutritional state. Calcium and vitamin D are essential in forming eggs with nice hard shells that are easy to lay. Review your bird's diet with your veterinarian.
  • The following are typical nesting behaviours: territoriality around her cage, hiding under paper on the cage bottom, seeking out nesting areas, often in drawers if free flying.
Egg laying is discussed in greater detail on our page of avian care and should be reviewed along with the section on diet.

My African Grey has blood in her cage and a feather seems to be broken? Are these related?
There is a good chance your bird broke a 'blood' or 'pin' feather. These are new feathers that grow in during the moulting process.
New feathers grow from a follicle on the skin and are nourished by a blood supply until they are fully grown. These pin feathers are enclosed in a keratin sheath and appear somewhat thicker and darker in colour as the blood can be seen through the shaft. Once mature, the blood supply recedes, the sheath is preened off and the feather shaft becomes hollow.
If your bird accidentally damages a pin feather it may bleed. Sometimes the bird will pull the feather out or chew on it, and you may find a partial feather in the cage, along with what looks like a frightening quantity of blood. If your bird flaps her bleeding wing, there can be blood spatter outside the cage.
If blood is dripping from your bird, contact an avian veterinarian immediately. If you can safely hold your bird, apply direct pressure at the base of the feather; applying corn starch can also help stop the bleeding. If you see no fresh blood, have your Grey examined soon, as a partial feather should be safely removed so that is does not start to bleed again. A new feather will grow to replace the removed one.