The probability is high that your bird will experience a broken blood feather or two in its long lifetime.
Some people freak out at the sight of blood, others do much better.
In any case
All birds have a blood feather (a.k.a. pin feather) for every feather molted out.
Blood (feathers) have blood circulating through the quill, the area closest to the base of the feather they will typically have a dark blue/purplish color in the quill (area).
The dark color is the blood. Because blood recedes as the feathers grow, the mature feathers are opaque (losing the dark blood color).
The big problem is that a bird can bleed profusely when blood feathers are broken so the feather really needs come out quickly from the skin to stop the bleeding.
Some people choose not to pull the blood feather if there is not a lot of bleeding and it clots.
If the bird is not bleeding heavily you can use household materials if a professional blood clotter is not in your bird care tool box, here’s a video that will provide answers.
Although the video is about bird toenails – the premise is the same
At the same time it’s important to keep in mind that bird’s blood does not clot well compared to other mammals.
If you choose not to pull the blood feather you really have to monitor the bird closely because if it bumps into an object, the bleeding can begin again which can cause serious illness or even death.
We feel it’s best to pull the broken blood feather out.
Once a feather has been removed, the follicle area on the skin heals up. So soon after the broken feather is gone you’ll see new feather growth.
Generally, it is not necessary to take a trip to the vet to remove the blood feather, it’s not all that difficult if you get through your own queasiness. It’s easiest for two people to pull a blood feather than trying to do it alone.
One to restrain the bird using a towel. The second person should remove the blood feather with a needle nose pliers. Tweezers don’t have the pulling strength necessary.
You want to place the tip of the needle nose pliers at the base of the quill, which is the part adjacent to the skin.
Press lightly to stabilize the feather and a single firm quick but smooth pulling action in the direction of the feather growth will remove it easily.
After the feather’s been removed the bird will likely be just fine, choosing to stop and groom its feathers.
If you need to stop bleeding, use flour, corn starch or Morning Bird blood stop powder. The benefit of the gel coagulant is that it not only stops the pain but it disinfects as well. It also has a syringe type applicator giving you more precise control of the application.
Lastly but certainly very important, make sure the entire feather shaft is removed from the follicle or the bleeding will not stop.
Before you pull a blood feather you want to make sure you know the exact spot where the feather goes directly into the skin on your bird’s wing. You’ll know that you got the entire feather out when you see a small rounded bulb at the tip of the feather.
If you’re not up to the task, by all means, see a vet.
If the accident happened outside office hours (which is usually the case) make sure you apply flour or a gel coagulant with your bird’s wings spread.
Use a sterile gauze pad to apply pressure and wait until the bleeding stops.
There are a number of reasons birds get blood feathers.
Sometimes they fall during a night fright.
Blood feathers can be broken in a flight accident, when your bird is preening or just frightened and flapping about.
When clipping flight feathers to restrict flying be sure not to cut feathers so short that they don’t offer the right amount of protection for new feathers that are just coming in.
What happens is the short trimmed feathers break on impact because the longer primary flight feathers (which are now cut) are not there to take the brunt of the impact.
Answer to what are these blood feathers was added 03/06/2018
I recently had the mobile bird trimmer come to the house and she found that my Mealy Amazon (22 yrs) and one of my Pionus (10yrs) had these at the base of what was, or was to be a feather.
What are they, what is causing them? Lack in diet?
Hi Janet, Those are emerging blood feathers. They are not fully matured blood feathers. Normally feather barbs on a bird are attached to empty shaft with no blood once they are fully mature. That is why you can trim a bird’s wing with no pain much like cutting in here or fingernails. During a molt as feathers are lost new ones come in and blood is used to supply the growth of the. Important to watch broken blood feathers as they can cause serious bleeding which birds in general don’t do well with. Your mobile crew compared to do the right thing by pulling these out to avoid the bleeding.
He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground.
Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care.
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