Friday, July 26, 2013

Tail feather mites


Hi V,

I think the shama in the 2 photos has tail feather mites.  These are tiny insects that eat only the feathers.  They usually starting eating the feather as it is starting to grow.  In very bad cases, the mites start to eat the feathers even before the feather emerges from the sheath. 

I try to make sure that there are no mites on my birds (especially feather mites) by applying an insecticide to my birds before they are about to moult.  The 2 brands that I use are Accurate and Frontline.  After using a particular brand for several months, the mites will become immune to that particular insecticide and it will no longer be effective.  I therefore change to the other brand.  In other words, the brands need to be rotated in their use.

Care should also be taken to keep the aviaries clean.  The droppings need to be removed every few days.  When an aviary is empty, I wash the aviary with soap and then spray an insecticide into the edges and corners of the aviary.  Wait 2 or 3 days before putting a bird inside.

For the bird in your photo, I would suggest that you clean the aviary and also apply an insecticide to the bird.  As the tails are already spoilt, you may wish to catch the bird to apply the insecticide.  Alternatively, Accurate is available in a spray bottle that shoots out a jet of insecticide.  Alan and I have sprayed our birds while they are in the aviary and no harm as resulted although the body was covered with the insecticide.  When spraying in this manner, I try to avoid the head but invariably some insecticide will get into the eyes.  It seems to cause the bird no discomfort or harm.

As regards feeding during the moult, my experience has been that solely live food my not result in the best moult.  I have had good results with offering cut live food mixed with powdered dry food.  My birds eat the food without flicking off the dry food.  Of course, the bird must like the dry food in the first place.

I hope the above helps.

Best regards,


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