A blood feather is a growing feather and because it is growing, it has a supply of blood. A normal feather that has finished growing causes no problems if broken or clipped, but a blood feather will bleed – and it may bleed a lot.
These pictures show my African Grey Parrot Jewel with a blood feather – first showing the full wing with the blood feather outlined and then a closeup of the feather itself.
In these pictures, it is easy to know when your bird is growing a feather and therefore has a blood feather. If you are clipping the wing feathers, you must never clip a feather that has a blood supply. Also – do not clip the feathers on either side of this feather. If you leave this growing feather unsupported, there is a good chance that the feather will break.
A bird can break a blood feather even if no other feathers have been clipped on the wings. He can be playfully flapping his wings in the cage and hit a toy, which is something that happens often when your bird is playing in the cage, but when he has a blood feather, that feather can break. Your bird may be flying and a wing could touch a wall as he turns and again, a blood feather can break. These feathers are very tender when growing and it does not take much for them to break. If you have a bird that gets night frights, it is quite common for the wing to bang into something in the dark and cause a broken blood feather.
Birds are constantly moulting old feathers and growing new feathers, so it is not uncommon for your bird to have a blood feather at any time. Although there are normally two times a year (spring and fall) when a lot of feathers are moulted and re-grown, I am sure that you find feathers being moulted between those times as well.
If your bird does break a blood feather, there are a few options for you to follow.
1 – do nothing. Many times, the bleeding will stop after a few minutes. If there is a lot of blood, this is not the option to use.
2 – apply flour or cornstarch along with some pressure at the break. If this step is required, the bleeding will probably stop after a few minutes. For a few days, there is the possibility that it may start bleeding again if bumped.
3 – As a last resort, if the bleeding is excessive and you can not get it to stop, you may have to pull the shaft of the blood feather. If you have never done this or seen it done, you should take your bird to an avian veterinarian. This is not a one person job. Someone must hold the bird securely and hold the wing out, while the other person grips what is left of the blood feather and holds the skin where the feather starts to grow. Firmly pull in the direction that the feather grows without twisting or turning.
Whichever method you use, please keep your bird quiet for the remainder of the day.
Accent Design Floral and Garden Accents Large Bird Parrot 4 1/2 Feather Assorted