Controlling Feather Dust

Written by Deb White. Posted in Hygiene

Controlling Parrot Feather Dust with BathingIf you have a bird you will have feather dust in every nook and cranny of your home.  It takes vigilance to keep up with it.
So what is it and where does it come from.....

When a feather develops you will notice a distinct sharp protrusion from the skin.  As it grows, the feather will take on the appearance of a quill complete with a blood vein surrounded by a protective keratin sheath.   This protective sheath will dry up and fall off once the feather has fully matured.  The breaking up of the keratin sheath is the cause of feather dust.

When birds preen they are meticulously rearranging and reordering their feathers.  They are also breaking open the sheaths on new feathers.  These actions are usually followed by a fluffing and shaking action whereby they send this very fine dust floating throughout your house.  Aaaachoooo!

To make matters worse, some bird species, most notably Cockatoos, Cockatiels and African Greys, also have additional feathers that shed a very fine powder of keratin which acts to waterproof their feathers when the bird preens.   Birds with these extra feathers are called “Powder Down Birds.”    Powder down can be a hazard to one's health if you or a family member has allergies, asthma, or respiratory problems. Your other birds can also develop respiratory problems if you have a powder down bird.

There are some steps you can take to help minimize the occurrence and impact of feather dust on your home and health:

  • Give your bird regular baths to help rinse the dust directly off of them.
  • Wipe down the surface of your bird's cage with a damp cloth daily.
  • Change cage bottom daily.
  • Lightly mist the cage bottom liner before disturbing it to decrease the amount of dust you stir up when you remove it.
  • Vacuum or damp mop around the cage immediately after changing the cage bottom
  • Invest in an air purification system for your bird room.
  • Use a vacuum with a HEPA or water filter system to trap fine dust particles.
  • Replace furnace and air conditioning filters at least monthly.
  • Use commercial bird grooming sprays.

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