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Urgent Old cockatiel can't preen any longer

dmoore210

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My cockatiel, Zoe, is 20 years old now. She has been progressively getting worse, starting 2 or so years ago with some feathers right above her tail on her lower back that she was unable to preen, resulting in permanent pin feathers. Attached two photos, where you can see the many pin feathers under the surface, and also of a lump that I describe later. It's been getting much worse in the past few months where she has a considerable amount of pin feathers. Her tail feathers are at least half covered, most of her back now, under her wings. I try to help her as much as possible but the feathers especially on her lower back are a type of feather that doesn't have a sheath, instead it's like a solid pin feather that doesn't seem to fluff out if scratched. Either way it's getting worse and I'm getting more worried about her.

I took her to the vet when this all started, he said that he believes it's just due to her age and keep her comfortable, try changing some diet, etc. I am really hoping that there is an actual solution that can be done to fix it. A little bit about her: Her diet consists mostly of seed, and some human food like egg, cereals, grains, bread. She has always refused to eat any pellets or vegetables. I've had other animals and birds and have gotten them to eat better but Zoe would starve. I just am unable to change her diet. Therefore she's a bit overweight. I try to give her weekly baths but again she doesn't seem as interested as she was in her younger years. She only actively baths once a month.

Lastly, today I was inspecting her and trying to help with some pin feathers and I found, what looks like to me, an ingrown hair. It was a considerable lump, right in/above her tail feathers. It had a few pieces of loose feather inside of it that I removed. I will take her to a vet to get cleaned out and taken care of. Either way this is all due to her inability to properly clean herself. Has anyone else had anything similar to their cockatiels/birds? Any solutions?
 

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enigma731

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I think that's her preen gland that you're seeing above her tail, but it does look irritated so I'd get it looked at. As far as the pin feathers, they suggest to me that she may be having some pain impacting her mobility. Have you ever tried her on a pain med like metacam? It's very commonly prescribed by vets and may help.
 

Shezbug

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I think you have removed the feathers that are supposed to be there on the preening gland. I am currently searching my photos for the pic I have of my birds preening gland. If you did remove them it would not have been a very nice experience for your baby and she may be a bit sore and irritated in the area.
 

Shezbug

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finchly

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I was about to say the same @Shezbug . There’s a tuft of feathers on the end. Usually.

Anyway, YES my elderly cockatiel that passed about 2 months ago had the “chronic “ pin feathers like yours. The vet said those would not become regular feathers and he was right. So maybe it’s not lack of self care, but rather the feathers have a change? Sort of like our hair going gray?
 
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