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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone. I'm knowledgable about a lot of animals but honestly, this is stumping me. This cockatiel baby will be 7 weeks tomorrow. She has all her tail feathers and what I would call "flight feathers" but the rest of her wings and body are completely bald. If this wasn't one of my own hatchlings that I have watched everyday, I would think the parents were over preening or plucking out feathers but that isn't the case. This baby is healthy as can be otherwise. Her skin looks perfect, body weight is right on schedule and is very active.

She had a beautiful sibling that recently past away that had the same issue with the lack of feathers. He had other issues that caused his death. He couldn't regulate his temperature at all!! Held no heat for any period of time. He was in my care, being hand fed and staying in a heated cage for the last 3 weeks. He was actually doing quite well and starting to hold heat pretty well for 30 minutes at a time, so I put him in with mom and dad to feed every once in a while. Unfortunately, the last time I left him in there, it was only for 15 minutes but when I went back for him, he was almost dead and cold cold cold. I got him warmed up but it was just to late! I was heartbroken!

I'm sorry for telling you The sad story but wanted to explain that both babies had the same feather problem but the other died from something unrelated. The girl is very healthy but is basically almost bald. Does anyone have any ideas, suggestions as to what I can do or what could be the problem. I would be very appreciative.

Thank you in advance!!!
 

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Can you post a picture?

Are you sure the parents aren't plucking her? Because the usual plucking pattern is to leave the long feathers alone and pluck everything else, which is exactly the pattern your chicks are showing.

PBFD needs to be considered with any kind of abnormal feather development, however this doesn't really sound like it: http://www.avianbiotech.com/Diseases/PBFD.htm

Genetic abnormality is another possibility, especially if the parent birds are related to each other. Is it possible that they're siblings? Birds that are for sale in the same place frequently are.

Edit to add another question: did these chicks hatch with a normal amount of down or were they born naked?
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I am sure the parents are siblings :-/ I know the possible ramifications of that but honestly, we weren't sure of sexes until it was too late. As irresponsible as that sounds, we are generally very intuned with all our animals. Once we realized my guess was correct about sex, they had already bred and bonded. I spoke to some repretable breeders who said breeding siblings isn't ideal BUT many time, there is no problems or concerns. I thought about it quite a bit and decided we would keep them together. I was just feeling guilty because they are so bonded together, I didn't want to cause them emotional pain.

I know there was a small amount of plucking BUT nowhere near this and it was only a couple of times. To further prove that point, the boy that past was in my care for nearly 3 weeks and only grew in the longer feather and never any others. I would love to post a picture but haven't the foggiest idea how :-/ I'm sorry.

They were hatched with normal amount of down I believe. These were my first cockatiel babies but from what I have read and pictures I've seen, they looked normal.

Here is a link to a video I have on YouTube of the baby when she was first hatched.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXgBP8217do
 

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I still suspect plucking. The pictures aren't big enough to see the fine details well, but it looks like there are tiny pinfeathers trying to grow in on various parts of the body. I'm assuming that you aren't handfeeding. But at seven weeks she should be close to weaning, and you should soon be able to separate her from the parents. If you can teach her to eat baby formula from a spoon you can separate her right now. It doesn't have to be in a separate room or anything, just in a place where the parents can't pick at her. If it's plucking her feathers will start to grow in, although it's possible that some feather follicles are so damaged that she'll always have bald spots. If it's a genetic issue she'll stay bald all over.

It's best not to let this pair breed again. There's either some bad genes or severe plucking going on here and either way it's not fair to the babies. You can discourage them using hormone reduction techniques (see http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=2678 ) and if that doesn't work you can prevent the eggs from hatching by boiling them and returning them, or replacing the real eggs with fake eggs (realistic fakes are available at http://theeggshop.com/ )
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I still suspect plucking. The pictures aren't big enough to see the fine details well, but it looks like there are tiny pinfeathers trying to grow in on various parts of the body. I'm assuming that you aren't handfeeding. But at seven weeks she should be close to weaning, and you should soon be able to separate her from the parents. If you can teach her to eat baby formula from a spoon you can separate her right now. It doesn't have to be in a separate room or anything, just in a place where the parents can't pick at her. If it's plucking her feathers will start to grow in, although it's possible that some feather follicles are so damaged that she'll always have bald spots. If it's a genetic issue she'll stay bald all over.

It's best not to let this pair breed again. There's either some bad genes or severe plucking going on here and either way it's not fair to the babies. You can discourage them using hormone reduction techniques (see http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=2678 ) and if that doesn't work you can prevent the eggs from hatching by boiling them and returning them, or replacing the real eggs with fake eggs (realistic fakes are available at http://theeggshop.com/ )
I honestly am sure its not plucking!! I am in no way arguing your absolute superior knowledge about birds over mine but I am very consious of all of my animals. I know daddy did a bit of over preening a couple of time and even plucking but only a couple of times. And with the smaller of the 2 having the same problems even though I was taking care of him myself much of the time, I would lean more toward a genetic problem. She does have some feathers coming in sporadically so I'm hopeful she will end up with at least some feathers. Momma has already laid another clutch but I won't boil them! One is due to hatch next week. But they won't have the opportunity to breed again. Thank you so much for your help!!! I really appreciate it very much!
 

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It might be a health issue or maybe its a genetic problem. The only way for sure to know is to go to a avian vet.
 

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I agree with tielfan. Unless you have them under constant watch, there is no way for you to be 100% positive they are not plucking. The likelihood of parents plucking is also way more common than a genetic problem.
 

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In this case the parents are siblings so that increases the probability of genetic problems by a lot. One chick was handfed for three weeks and mostly kept separate from the parents, but the parents did have access sometimes so there was some opportunity for plucking.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
What happens to the feathers that come in sporadically - do they fall out?
Well, they aren't actually out of the skin yet, I can see development under the skin. When I said they are coming in sporadically, I mean I see them but it's only a few here and there developing. There are some actually starting to sprout out on the wings though.
 
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