Escape mechanism?

Subject: Escape mechanism?
Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2005 18:54:33 +1100
Birds in captivity that are getting stressed out when in your hand will 
sometimes lose their tail feathers. Sometimes also breast feathers. This is 
more common around the time of moult (if they have a yearly moult) and is very 
common in birds bought from pet shops because these usually are kept in warm 
yet variable temperatures and are in continual soft moult. Losing feathers also 
depends on the species, some lose their feathers more than others. You can 
usually judge whether a bird will lose feathers by its heartrate and body 
temperature and you can learn to let the bird go or calm it down if it is 
getting too stressed.

I have always suspected it was a defense mechanism as was suggested earlier. If 
the predator gets a mouthful of feathers and the bird gets away then the bird 
may live to breed another day. Most finches and parrots can fly OK without a 
tail, although a little awkward mainly with steering and landing.

Benj Whitworth

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