Member Login



Auto-login for future visits

Join or Renew Today!

Membership Benefits:

Close Button

Feather Question

Expert Question

Could you please help me? I have a African Grey Parrot named Charlie. We have had him for 4 weeks now he was clipped when we bought him. He is a lovely little bird I notice the other day that one of his tail feathers was on the bottom of the cage his other one looks scraggy. He is fed on Harrisons he has plenty of toys he is happy over the week end he went back to the breeders as I was going to a wedding I ask the breeder about it he said it was ok but I am very worried as I love him so much. I paid 850 pounds for Charlie and I was not given any certificates. Please tell me, could it be be feather disease? Charie is sulking with me at the moment for leaving him.

Kind Regards

Expert Answer

Hello Neka,
Thank you for your question about Charlie. I suspect the tail feather you found on the bottom of his cage is the result of a normal molt pattern.

Most birds loose and replace their feathers once a year. This process usually takes three or four months, and sometimes even longer depending on the species of bird. The feathers are molted, or replaced, a few at a time so the bird does not loose its flight ability, and each feather takes a few weeks to grow back in. You might notice that Charlie has some new feathers growing in at this time, and that there are several small body feathers around the cage as they are replaced with new feathers. You might also notice an increase in small pieces of feather shafts that are discarded as Charlie preens the excess material off the new feathers.

It is important to know that if Charlie's wing feathers were clipped he will replace those clipped feathers with new complete feathers. Soon, he will have all his flight feathers grown in and he will be capable of flight. Whether or not he has good control of that flight skill or not is partially determined by the amount of flight experience he had when he was young. If Charlie did not learn to fly when he was very young then it is likely that he will have poor control of his flight when the new feathers grow in. This may result in Charlie crashing into things when he is frightened and tries to fly. However, with time, Charlie can learn to control his flight once the new feathers have grown in. It is up to you to decide if you want to have Charlie's wings clipped again after his molt or not. But, it is important to be aware that once Charlie's wing feathers have started to grow back his flight abilities will improve to the point he can fly long distances. This is especially important for people who take their parrots outside without any confinement such as a cage or carrier.


Steve Martin & Staff
About Steve Martin & Staff

Steve Martin has lived with parrots from the time he was five years old. By the time he was 16 his bird interest expanded to falconry and he has been a Master Falconer ever since.

He began his professional animal training career when he set up the first of its kind, free-flight bird show at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in 1976. Since then he has produced educational animal programs, or consulted at, over 50 zoological facilities around the world.

Steve has produced three videos on parrot behaviour and training and lectures frequently about parrot behaviour. He has also written several articles on animal behaviour and conducts training workshops each year at his facility in Winter Haven, Florida. Over two-thirds of his year is spent on the road consulting with zoos and aquariums on animal behaviour issues or teaching staff the art and science of animal behaviour.

Steve is President of both Natural Encounters, Inc., ( a company of over 20 professional animal trainers, and Natural Encounters Conservation Fund, Inc., a company dedicated to raising funds for conservation projects.
Steve has been a long time fan, supporter, and a Trustee of the World Parrot Trust. He is also a core team member of the California Condor Recovery Team, and Past-President and founding member of IAATE, an international bird trainers’ organization.