December 28, 2012

Vinny shakes a tail feather

Normally a Vosmaeri Eclectus has 12 tail feathers. Vinny is down to 3. That is three. That's right. Luckily, they'll grow back, and that should happen over the next half year or so, while he's going through his first major molt. He's just about 1 year old now, so if you know your Eclectus, you know what I'm talking about.

Clear view of 2 snapped tail feathers after yet another typical
Vinny-stunt. Vinny is quite wet here, just having had a shower.
Moments later, we freed him of his broken off feathers.
It's actually pitiful (read: funny) to watch, he truly looks like a handicapped bird, but in a funny way, like a pirate with a peg leg. Even though he can still fly quite nicely with just 3 tail feathers, you can tell that his maneuvering is a bit wonky. He sways a bit left and right now, and if there was something like a parrot police, he would be pulled over for drunk flying for sure.

I may have said it before: Vinny is a true stuntman from time to time, mean that he often climbs in and on his cage in ways we never thought was possible, uses his swing like a real trapeze artist, and so forth. He sometimes gets himself in trouble and has to make emergency landings. During the first 8 months or so we've had him, he's lost a few tail feathers doing just that.

left: broken off baby tail feather
middle: shedded stump of broken off tail feather
right: naturally shed flight feather
Recently, we've been on vacation and we put Vinny in a Pet Hotel at a bird-expert vet about half an hour drive away. 17 Days later he came back with yet 2 tail feathers lost. This was probably due to pacing around a very small cage. This is normally his sleeping cage. We have it in the darkest room in the house, to make sure Vinny get's at least 12 hours of rest every day. Of course the cage is still big enough for him to spread his wings at least, but other than that, it's not intended for him to stay in it for a longer period of time.

At the vet, we had no other option, because this is the only cage that will fit in our car. So he lost a few more. No big deal. But after we came back from vacation, Vinny seemed to be more fond of that cage, I guess he saw that as his comfort zone. So we let him stay in there more than normal. He even went in there by himself when we were around. And that caused him to lose 2 more, the day after we came home from vacation.

So three it is. No biggie. Not a problem. They'll grow back. Of course, because of this, we've been looking for signs of his first big molt, and last week our patience was rewarded. Two days in a row, we found two flight feathers (for those who don't know: the big long feathers on his wing) in his cage, perfectly intact as they're supposed to be.

And yesterday we found one of his stumps of a broken off tail feather as well, with a nice and intact base, a clear sign of a naturally shed feather. Perfect, perfect, perfect! He's  right on schedule and within half a year, he should have most or all of his tail feathers back.

The thing with tail feathers, and we've read this on various parrot and Eclectus expert websites, is that the first feathers a bird has, are more flexible, but at that also weaker than his adult feathers. The reason for this is that nature has figured out that baby birds are more reckless and are more prone to feather-breaking than adult birds. Makes sense, right? Imagine chicks ruffling around in a small nest, or kids doing all kinds of stunts that are actually very helpful in getting in touch with their agility and dexterity. If everything we've read is correct, he should grow back stronger feathers.

New pin feather on his left wing
And then this morning, to top it all off, we noticed two very nice pin feathers on his wings, one on each side, in the same spot. Those must be the replacements for the flight feathers he shed last week.

Remember, this is all new to us. If you're a weathered parrot-owner, you must probably be laughing at this! And if you have no interest in parrots whatsoever, you must probably be asking yourself what the big deal is.

Vinny is nowhere close to a human kid of course, but just imagine your own kid missing almost all of his front baby teeth, and then noticing the signs of his adult teeth breaking through. That's why we deem this a Kodak moment and write about it, for your pleasure!

Do you have an Eclectus or any other kind of parrot, and you have funny stories about their first molt? Please do share, that's what comments are for.

More coming up about Vinny's adventures as a young Eclectus finding his way on this great chunk of dirt we call Earth. He's about to see the big Oh-One, so time to sum up a year of new experiences, for both Vinny and his 'parronts'.