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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I found an orphaned and starving female feral pigeon on May 12, 2007 that was about a week old, and needless to say, after hand-raising her, she turned into our 'spoiled' baby.

Sometime around August of last year I noticed that the feathers on her back, starting right behind her neck, were deteriorating such that only the center shaft was left, giving them the appearance of a course hair with a tassel on the end, somewhat like a small paint brush. Since then I've tried everything imaginable to stop the deterioration, but nothing has made any difference.

First, when 'caged bird spray' (Pyrethrins) didn't work, I took her to the only avian veterinarian in this area who "thought" it was mites and treated her for such. (He injected something onto the skin of her back in the infected area.) After that apparently didn't do any good and rather than spend another seventy dollars, we've dusted her a total of three times with 5% Sevin Dust, sprayed the infected area with a diluted bleach solution (supposed to kill fungus, so people say), sprayed the infected area with a vinegar solution multiple times, but nothing has made any difference. She replaces feathers in that area to have them deteriorate shortly afterward.

Note that only in that one spot, starting at the base of her neck, extending toward her tail for about two inches and about one inch wide, shows any sign of deterioration. No other place on her body. Never the less, here it is over five months since I first noticed this problem and hours of research has been spent in vain.

Also note that she's energetic, playful, has a good appetite and has never shown any sign of sickness because of this. She preens a lot and sometimes stops eating to scratch at her head, but that's it. I have searched numerous times using a powerful magnifying glass and I have yet to see anything that even resembles a parasite.

Someone please advise if you can.....

Thanks.....
 

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Hi Gary,

Thank you for rehabbing this bird.

When did she have her first molt?

Can we see a picture of the effected area?

Since it is not mites or lice causing the problem, I would start the bird on some supportive measures.

A baby at a week old who suffers from starvation at such an early age , during major growth period may inevitably show signs later on in adulthood, possibly during or after the molting period.

If she is well otherwise I would supplement her diet with garlic, as it does such wonders for plumage and a nice natural wormer. If you have ever given this bird a small capsule, that is what I recommend each day. One soft gel garlic cap for a week and then every other day. If you are not used to giving it I will explain how to give a capsule down the throat. You may not see results instantaneously but in the long term, especially when she molts again. I have used it for rehab of birds with different issues and was quite pleased and surprised by the quality of the plumage on several older birds, after 8 weeks.

Make sure she gets a good pigeon seed mix and access to grit and lots of sunshine, perhaps an avian multi vitamin mineral prep. If the bird doesn't have access to sunlight, she will need a drop of cod liver oil over the seed once a month. Also be sure to add apple cider vinegar to the water, a drop per bowl, and probiotics would also provide an upsurge of nutrients in digestion.

I mention all this as I'm not sure as you didn't mention her diet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
She just recently went through a molting period but lost very few feathers in the effected area, although she put in four new feathers in that area of which have now deteriorated almost to the point of those in the attached picture. I could take a picture of the effected area, but it wouldn't show anything more than where the feathers are damaged.

Since she lives inside with us, she gets very little sunlight, so recently I've been giving her vitamin D+, which also contains calcium. I've always kept her supplied with a mixture of grain, and she also gets a bedtime snack each night of white bread. :)

Note that she was with us for over three years before I noticed this problem. At first I thought something had just gotten on her feathers until I saw they were actually damaged.

Also note that this bird is spoiled and very picky about everything. There is no chance that she's going to drink water with vinegar in it, nor eat anything that is not totally usual. So, whatever she gets will definitely have to be force-fed. I put a very small amount of vinegar in her bath water the other day (she takes baths in our bath tub) and she rejected it totally.

Anyway, I'm rather anxious for your thoughts on the attached picture.

Hey, I've been totally baffled that she has no feather problems other than in that small area.

Thanks!
 

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These look very similar to feathers I've seen on birds which have had severe malnutrition when young.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Her crop was totally empty the when I found her that day, but I can assure you that she's never been even hungry since. :)

Any idea what I can do about it Terri?
 

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* Any idea what I can do about it Terri?
*....I'm not Terri, but as already mentioned...


A baby at a week old who suffers from starvation at such an early age , during major growth period may inevitably show signs later on in adulthood, possibly during or after the molting period.

If she is well otherwise I would supplement her diet with garlic, as it does such wonders for plumage and a nice natural wormer. If you have ever given this bird a small capsule, that is what I recommend each day. One soft gel garlic cap for a week and then every other day. If you are not used to giving it I will explain how to give a capsule down the throat. You may not see results instantaneously but in the long term, especially when she molts again. I have used it for rehab of birds with different issues and was quite pleased and surprised by the quality of the plumage on several older birds, after 8 weeks.

Make sure she gets a good pigeon seed mix and access to grit and lots of sunshine, perhaps an avian multi vitamin mineral prep. If the bird doesn't have access to sunlight, she will need a drop of cod liver oil over the seed once a month. Also be sure to add apple cider vinegar to the water, a drop per bowl, and probiotics would also provide an upsurge of nutrients in digestion.

You can put a drop of ACV mixed in water down her throat.
***********************************************
 

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I have 1 bird in my loft (of about 80) that has that same problem!
When he was a young cock, I assumed he was getting picked on by older cocks, whereas it was just at the back of the neck. He's 3 yo now and no change. He goes thru a molt, the feathers come in, then shortly thereafter they thin out and break off - leaving a bald spot on the back of his neck. He never had any nutritional issues, so I just assume it is a genetic issue with him.
Just offering this info for another angle on the problem :confused:
Here is a picture of the bird to compare -



It's the bird on the left, you can see the "indent" at the back of his neck where there are no feathers. But also, the feathers on the back of his head curl upward. That's why I think it's genetic in my case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I failed to explain the 'big ordeal' since I didn't think it could be related to this current feather problem, but right now you good people have convinced me that it's probably THE cause. So in trying to be brief, this is a summary of what happened:

She was obviously infected with internal worms and protozoan parasites by her parents but showed no signs of sickness until she was two years old and went into an egg-making cycle. I didn't think a hen could/would do that without direct contact with a cock although she does see me as her mate, but never the less, she almost died.

At first we didn't know about the egg cycle, so the vet had me giving her medication for the parasites and antibiotics for the infection from them, then she became egg-bound and the vet had to remove the single egg she produced. I spent over $450.00 in vet bills and nursed her for exactly nine weeks, force-feeding her 'sick bird formula' through the last three weeks when she stopped eating entirely, but by the grace of God we didn't lose our baby.

Of course (you can imagine) I didn't want to think that she still has a problem left over from ordeal of two years ago, but it's the only logical explanation after reading these replies, combined with the fact that nothing I've done so far has changed anything.

Treesa, I gave her a drop of cod liver oil mixed with water down the throat this morning, and will gather all the other things you suggest today when we're out shopping. Thank you so much for the suggestions!

Msfreebird, you are the first to report the same type feather problem. Thanks!

I'll be checking back occasionally for any further comments.....
 

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Treesa, I gave her a drop of cod liver oil mixed with water down the throat this morning, and will gather all the other things you suggest today when we're out shopping. Thank you so much for the suggestions!
Good deal, do the same with a drop of ACV, and the garlic will help tremendously-. If she has no upset stomach issues, you can give garlic daily.

Yes, hens will site bond and fall in love with their human, I have several hens like that. Also, some hens will also respond to being pet on their backs-stimulates egg production, so my contact with my pet hens is rubbing them under their beaks or chest.
 

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I have 1 bird in my loft (of about 80) that has that same problem!
When he was a young cock, I assumed he was getting picked on by older cocks, whereas it was just at the back of the neck. He's 3 yo now and no change. He goes thru a molt, the feathers come in, then shortly thereafter they thin out and break off - leaving a bald spot on the back of his neck. He never had any nutritional issues, so I just assume it is a genetic issue with him.
It's the bird on the left, you can see the "indent" at the back of his neck where there are no feathers. But also, the feathers on the back of his head curl upward. That's why I think it's genetic in my case.
Try the garlic caps, if you haven't, you will be surprised in the long term.
 

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The only soft garlic capsules I've located in this area so far is 1000mg.

Is that too much, or what size do you suggest?
You need to check how many capsules that dose is per serving. Sometimes they will say 1500 mg. per dose, but the dose may be more then one cap.

1/4th of a human serving is best.

Here is one example of a brand I have used for the birds-one per day.

http://www.herbsmd.com/detail/garlic-oil-23850.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I'm very confused!

What I found yesterday is "Nature's Blend" brand, 500mg - serving size one or two daily.

What you linked me to is 1500mg - serving size three.

I gave her one of these yesterday and haven't notice anything unusual, but I definitely don't want to over do it.

I also bought a small bottle of medical grade cod liver oil.

Thanks!
 

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I gave her one of these yesterday and haven't notice anything unusual, but I definitely don't want to over do it.
Thanks!
That is about right, as 3 of the 1500mg serving of the Now brand , is 500mg per cap.

You won't overdo it. If you are worried about it, give her one every other day to start and then one each day when she is used to it, but I have seen nothing but positive results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You won't overdo it. If you are worried about it, give her one every other day to start and then one each day when she is used to it, but I have seen nothing but positive results.
OK, I'll take your word for it. Sorry for being so cautious....

Attached is a picture the bird we've been talking about. We were 'playing' outside one day when I took this one....

Thanks again!
 

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