Stress Bars: What’s That?

One year ago this 26 yr old Gold-capped Conure came to us for an evaluation. The primary abnormal physical exam finding was black pigmentation of his feathers, it was also noted that he was in a near-constant state of molting.

Sometimes called “stress bars”; these are lines that run crosswise through a feather shaft illustrating that inadequate diet, high stress, or illness was present during the time that the feather was being formed. In adult birds stress bars should be taken very seriously.

Illustrating stress bars on feathers Illustrating stress bars on feathers

He was already on a balanced pelleted diet which indicated that malnutrition was not the cause of his feather abnormalities.

We did a Complete Blood Count to evaluate underlying infection or inflammation, other blood tests to evaluate organ function, an ultrasound and x-rays to get a better feel for what is going on internally. All diagnostics indicated that he had liver and kidney disease. A liver and kidney biopsy would have given us a better understanding of the specific cause of his disease but due to his age his owner opted against it.

We immediately started therapy to treat for both issues and slightly modified his diet. His liver seems to have improved and his kidney function seems to be maintaining for now. A year later he is feeling much better and went through a great molt. The images below show just how much of an improvement was made!

New healthy feathers without stress bars Beautiful healthy feathers with no stress bars

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