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Beak Discoloration in a Patagonian Conure

Expert Question

Hi. Would anyone know why a bird with a naturally black beak would get a white spot on the dorsal aspect of the tip of the beak? Two of my three Patagonian Conures have this new development as of this winter. Could it be caused from lack of sunlight?



Expert Answer

Dear Cindi,  Those are likely “normal” color changes that are in those photos. a bit of rubbing and wear on the outer aspects of the keratin will expose the colors that I see, and this is not uncommon in many dark billed species such as this. It appears that the last bird photo suggests to me that the bird has no abrasive surfaces in its enclosure to enable normal self grooming of exfoliating keratin from the lateral aspects of the upper mandible gnathotheca.

[Editor’s note: Changes in beak coloration have also been noted in wild Patagonian Conures. Nestlings and fledglings until they are about 4 months old have white bills.]

Brian Speer, DVM
About Brian Speer, DVM

Avian veterinarian Dr. Brian Speer was raised in a small town on California’s coast. He received his BS in Biology from California Polytechnic State University in 1978, and his DVM degree from the University of California at Davis in 1983.

An active member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV), Dr. Speer is a much sought after guest speaker and has presented at numerous conferences in the avicultural and zoological communities both within the United States and abroad. He is well published in the AAV annual proceedings, has served as guest editor for the journal Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine, the Veterinary Clinics of North America, and authored chapters in several recent veterinary medical texts on pet bird, avicultural and ratite medical topics. In 1995 he co-authored the extensive avicultural reference, The Large Macaws, and helped to co-author Birds for Dummies in 1999.

Since 1989, Dr, Speer has run a “bird’s only” practice in the San Francisco Bay area and is the President and Director of The Medical Center for Birds. He is a consultant for The Veterinary Information Network (Avian Medical Boards) and the Maui Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. In 2003 he was the recipient of the Lafeber award for excellence in private practice of avian medicine and surgery and in 2006, was named Speaker of the Year for the North American Veterinary Conference.