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Rectricectomy With Pygostylectomy for Resolution of Feather Trauma in an Umbrella Cockatoo (Cacatua alba)

Welle, Kenneth R.
Journal of avian medicine and surgery 2019 v.33 no.2 pp. 193-197
Cacatua, Circovirus, adults, biopsy, birds, blood, diagnostic techniques, feathers, males, pain, pets, radiography, regrowth, tail
Feather trauma is a common problem among pet birds, especially those with trimmed wing feathers, and often affects remiges and rectrices. Damage can become chronic if new feathers remain unprotected by fully formed adjacent feathers. The follicles can become damaged and poorly functional over time. A 6-month-old male umbrella cockatoo (Cacatua alba) was presented for examination because of feather damage that occurred shortly after receiving a wing trim by the owner. Over the next 18 months, various medical, behavioral, and husbandry methods failed to allow normal regrowth of the tail feathers. The bird presented 25 times over the 18-month period for problems associated with broken blood feathers in the tail. Feather imping was ruled out because of the lack of hollow adult shafts to serve as a base. Diagnostic tests included hematologic testing and biochemical analysis, circovirus testing, feather biopsy, and radiographs, results of which were unremarkable. Because of the chronic pain associated with the frequent rectrix damage, a complete rectricectomy was performed. All of the rectrical follicles as well as the pygostyle were surgically removed. Healing was uneventful and the bird has been clinically normal with no further blood feather injury for 24 months after surgery.