Friday, May 15, 2009

Practical Way To Save The Tail!

Broken Tail Feathers Caused By Hanging on the Cage Wire

When chicks are well weaned, they no longer are content with no or low placed cage perches and quickly learn to hang on the wire, usually high in the cage. Over time, the tail gets beaten up and many broken feathers result. Once a feather is broke, it will need to be pulled and in about a month a new slightly longer feather will replace it.

Since the new feather will be slightly longer then the rest, it is best to preserve the tail feathers and prevent damage. The best way to do this is to place perches high in the cage at as near the level where they are hanging on the wire as possible.

Once a perch is at the favorite spot, the weaned chicks will use it instead of hanging on the cage wire. In addition, make sure that any cage perch, whether that is their regular cage or even a show cage, is not so close to the cage wall or wire that the bird can not easily turn around without hitting its tail. Hitting its tail on the small show cage wire not only damages the feathers but also is a common reason for incomplete or no song at song competitions.


Anonymous said...

Won't the broken tail feathers be replaced during the molt? If not, what's the best way to pull the feathers?

Emily said...

Our canary does occasionally hang on the cage as you described, but we have had a real problem with broken wing feathers; several are broken on both wings. He is in a smaller flight cage with three perches from the back forming a V (one up, one down, one up). I thought moving the perches far enough away from the sides of the cage would help, but today he had a bleeding broken wing feather that we removed (with the help of one of your recent postings!) His cage has the uncovered seed "drawers" we use for seed and pellets and he usually hops right in them to eat. It is a bit of a close fit. Could he be breaking his feathers getting out of those drawers? What kind of dishes do you use for everday seed, pellets etc. Thanks so much! Susannah and Emily

Linda Hogan said...

The tail feathers and wing feathers are called flight feathers. They are not replaced in the first young chick molt which is why young chicks are called unflighted.

Older birds replace the flight feathers with the annual molt. The adult birds dropping a flight feather is a signal that molt is approximately one molt away unless you stall the molt by getting the birds feeding chicks.

Linda Hogan said...

The best way to pull the feather is to get a good grip on the feather fairly close to its base and slowly pull the feather straight out so that the embedded tip comes out. Should you break the feather in the process, bleeding will likely result so you will need to pull the rest of the feather. The feather comes out easily.

Sometimes when you catch a bird it will drop its tail feather or all his tail feathers. What a disaster if that is show colorbred or type bird but if it is a German roller, no problem as the bird only competes with its song! LOL