Parrots and Stress Bars
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Parrots and Stress Bars

Published on Friday, 2nd August 2019
It is raining feathers in my house. I am so excited to report that Blu Lu the Blue-throated Macaw from the Bird Endowment is moulting. That may seem like a silly thing to celebrate. Let me explain why I am so happy. 

Blu Lu had a rough start in life. She was rejected by her parents. This meant she likely did not get fed as frequently or as much as she needed during those critical early weeks of development. When baby Parrots miss feedings, become ill or are otherwise compromised it shows.

One place where it becomes very evident is in their feathers. What is often observed when conditions are poor and a feather is growing in is what is known as a stress bar. The bar is a line that is visible across the feather. This line represents a weak spot in the feather. Without adequate nutrition the feather did not development properly at that spot.  

The drawback to stress bars is that the feather is very vulnerable at this line. Many feathers break at the stress bar. Tail feathers and primary feathers (wing feathers) need the support of surrounding feathers to grow successfully. Without support they too can break.

Blue Lu did break a few tail feathers close to the base of her tail due to stress bars. And it will be important to keep an eye on her new growing tail feathers. New feathers initially have a blood and nerve supply. If one of the growing feathers were to break it could bleed and be painful.

In most cases a little pressure can stop the bleeding, but if you are unsure what to do when a blood feather breaks, I do highly recommend you visit your avian veterinarian. You can find an avian at The Association of Avian Veterinarians website. 

Fortunately once she was rejected by her parents Blu Lu was well taken care of by caring humans and her feather growth from then on improved considerably. However this first moult is a welcomed one. It means she will soon have a brand-new set of very healthy feathers. Just one single broken flight feather can dramatically effect flight skills. It is often a matter of pride for many professional bird trainers that their birds are in perfect feather. It is a reflection of excellent care. 

Blu Lu is already pretty stunning. But I can’t wait for her new spring wardrobe!

Barbara Heidenreich

For quality information on Parrot training visit

Copyright 2011 Good Bird Inc

This was originally published on Barbara’s blog in 2011.

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