birding-aus Self-mutilation in wild birds

Subject: birding-aus Self-mutilation in wild birds
From: Pat Macwhirter <>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 09:08:10 +1100

Dear wise and wonderous bird watchers and banders,

The Avian Chapter of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists is
currently formulating a multi-centred study in self mutilation in
psittacines. This is a very common problem in pet birds but, to my
knowledge, uncommon in wild birds.

Have any of you working with wild psittacines encountered birds with what
appeared to be self-induced feather or skin damage? These birds will have
normal plummage in areas which they are unable to reach (eg their heads)
but chewed feathers or ulcerated skin on their wings, tail or body. Beaks
will be normal and feather structure, apart from being damaged from
mutilation, will be normal.  Self-mutilation needs to be distinguished from
feather damage caused by circovirus (Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease -
PBFD) where the feathers will grow abnormally and birds' head and beaks
will be affected. PBFD is common in wild cockatoos in some areas of

Thanks for your help.


Patricia Macwhirter BVSc, MA, FACVSc (Bird Medicine)
Highbury Veterinary Clinic, 128 Highbury Road, BURWOOD, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
Ph: (03) 9808 9011 Fax: (03) 9888 7134

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