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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It appears my first time papa is starting to pluck his two babies pin feathers a bit too soon. The feathers don't look long enough to be preened yet, and some of them have a tiny amount of blood on the tips. He started doing this today and there are maybe 10 feathers on one babies head/crest that have the blood.

These are first time parents so I'm wondering if this is totally normal and harmless because the feathers aren't bleeding anymore, or if this is something I need to worry about. He has been the primary caregiver for the babies and has taken excellent care of them other wise.

I also wonder if I need to worry about the parents over feeding them. The babies are growing so fast so I know they need lots of food, but today one chick's crop was so full it was about 2/3 the size of his body. He is growing feathers very rapidly now so I assume he needs to eat more. Is there a sign of over feeding I can watch out for just in case?
 

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My birds just had their first clutch as well. Luckily, I had no problems and they were perfect about everything. :)

About the pinfeathers, I really don't think that there should be blood on them at all. If dad is plucking them, it may be due to nutritional deficiencies, namely sodium. What have you been feeding the parents? Also, if he starts to pluck them bare, he'll have to be separated from them for a period of time. I hear that plucking is a common problem among first time parents. Mom can take care of the babies by herself, depending on how many you have. You always have the option of hand feeding, but I would really only recommend this if you have experience.

Another thought about the pinfeathers, is that he may just be trying to get the sheaths off of the feathers? But I don't think this is the case. He is a first time parent, so he may not know what to do when his babies are at that stage. How old are the babies btw?

And about the overfeeding, I really don't think there's anything your birds are doing wrong. When I looked at my babies crops, they were nearly the sizes of their bodies, so it's completely normal.
Good luck!
 

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As long as the plucking isn't extreme its fine. I had a baby this last year that was completely bald (looked like a vulture) til she was fully weaned because dad was a severe plucker during breeding. The feathers came in and she was totally fine. If you aren't experienced in hand feeding, I don't recommend pulling the babies for feeding. I would leave them be. Most parents start plucking around the two week old mark because they want to start another clutch of eggs and plucking makes the babies leave the nest.

As to the overfeeding, the baby's crops are going to be that big. The parents are constantly feeding them, so the crops are going to be huge. That's totally normal.
 

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I have a male who severely plucked one of the babies right about 2 weeks old . Along with nutritional defficiencies they can pluck because they want the babies out of the nest to have at Mom again and also if they were plucked it can be a passed on behavior. When it happened to my poor Penelope it was severe....blood all over and she was squawking in terror.

I had never hand fed before but I had been planning on it...had all my supplies and had even had a lesson by a breeder just a week before not to mention watching numerous UTube videos. While it is never ideal for a first timer to do it....EVERYONE has a first time. BUT don't make yours in haste there is ALOT to know. maybe post some pics of the baby as I posted this exact same question when it happened to me and many said it was all normal or lack of salt ETC but once the pics were shown it was obvious it wasn't so simple. I just KNEW it didn't seem right. MOST cases are very simple so odds are your baby will be OK but keep and eye out and be ready to move Dad if you have to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the replies everyone!
If a deficiency is the issue, what should I be giving them? I feed them a high quality seed mixture, covered in vitamins, along with eggs and veggies.

I haven't been feeding them as many veggies as I should be in the last week so maybe that could cause this? It looks like Dad is just trying to uncover the feathers, not pluck them, but a bit impatiently. It isn't enough to keep the feathers bleeding, it is kind of like if you were to pick at a mild scab and then the bleeding immediately stops.

By the way, my babies are 20 and 18 days old. I cannot upload current pictures at the moment but I will work on that. Thanks again for the advice, it is much appreciated!
 

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Definitely offer some extra sodium to see if it helps. You can do this by offering sodium-rich vegetables like chard and celery, or by providing a small piece of whole-grain bread with a little bit of ordinary salted butter spread on it.

A third alternative is to provide one of those salt spools made for rodents. But you don't want him to eat a lot of it all at once and then regurgitate it to the babies, so it's best to reduce his salt cravings first using the veggies or butter option, then provide a salt wheel later when he's not desperate for salt.

Sodium deficiency leads to plucking because the parents can taste the sodium in the babies' blood.
 
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