Feather-picking psittacines: Histopathology and species trends

M. M. Garner, S. L. Clubb, M. A. Mitchell, L. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Histologic findings are described for 408 feather-picking or self-mutilating psittacines with the use of biopsies from clinically affected and unaffected skin. Inflammatory skin disease was diagnosed in 210 birds, and traumatic skin disease was diagnosed in 198 birds. Criteria used for the diagnosis of inflammatory skin disease included the presence of perivascular inflammation in the superficial or deep dermis of clinically affected and unaffected sites. The primary histologic criteria for the diagnosis of traumatic skin disease were superficial dermal scarring with or without inflammation in the affected sites and an absence of inflammation in the unaffected sites. The inflammatory cells associated with the lesions were typically lymphocytes and occasionally plasma cells, histiocytes, and granulocytes. A preponderance of inflammatory skin disease was seen in macaws (Ara spp.) and Amazon parrots (Amazona spp.). A preponderance of traumatic skin disease was seen in cockatoos (Cacatua spp.) and African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus). The prevalence of each was approximately equal in several other species, including conures (Aratinga and Pyrrhura spp.), eclectus parrots (Eclectus roratus), quaker parrots (Myiopsitta monachus), cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus), parakeets (Cyanorhamphus and Psittacula spp.), and caiques (Pionites spp.). No geographic or gender-based trends were identified. These findings could be helpful for identifying and treating birds with feather-picking disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-408
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Dermatitis
  • Feather picking
  • Histopathology
  • Parrot
  • Psittacine
  • Self-mutilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)

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