Bird Brained First Aid

Bird Brained First Aid

When a bird is growing new feathers they are called blood feathers or pin feathers. Due to their active growth they need a constant supply of blood and will bleed if broken. Each feather has an artery and vein that extend up into it from the follicle and nourish the feather. A blood feather has a larger quill than a mature feather and will appear dark due to the color of the blood. Once the feather is mature, the blood supply will recede and the waxy sheath that once covered the feather to protect it during growth will be removed by the bird.

What happens if a blood feather breaks?

Sometimes a blood feather will accidentally break or be cut when the wings are trimmed causing it to bleed. If the bird is healthy, this is not at all a life threatening situation so long as the appropriate measures are taken. It is a good idea to have your bird examined by a veterinarian even if the bleeding does stop quickly. Broken blood feathers are usually removed to avoid injuring it again causing further bleeding.

What to do if a blood feather is bleeding

It is very important to stop the bleeding, especially if the bird has a condition that will affect their ability to clot blood. Restrain the bird and apply pressure with gauze or a cotton ball to the broken shaft. You will have to remove the feather if the bleeding does not stop. Call a veterinarian to have someone talk you through the process if you have never done it before.

Removing the feather

Tweezers or needle-nose pliers are a good tool to use. Grip the feather close to the skin and pull quickly and firmly in the direction the feather is growing. This will cause pain so you will need to firmly hold your bird. If you are extracting a wing feather, hold and immobilize the wing. Never jerk or twist the feather.

After care

Once you have removed the feather and all bleeding has been stopped, return the bird to its cage and monitor them for an hour for anymore bleeding. The bird needs to see a veterinarian immediately if the feather broke off below the skin line, the feather cannot be totally removed, or the pressure has not stopped the bleeding.

For more information on blood feathers and stopping bleeding feathers, visit your local Charlotte vet clinics at