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Parrots have different parts than humans. Some of their parts look pretty weird to us, so if something on your parrot is tripping you up and you don't know if it's normal, this video is for you. Also, you can just watch for all the cute birds.

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Hi!  Welcome to Animal Wonders, where we all either love animals, are curious about animals, want to work with animals, have animals as pets, or all of the above.  This is Steve the cockatiel, and together with all of our bird friends, we're going to go over all the weird and unusual parts of a parrot.

(Intro)

Today, I want to not only talk about the different parts of a parrot, I want to show you what they look like.  I've gotten lots of emails from worried parrot owners who think that something is wrong with their bird because they didn't understand what's normal and what's unusual for a parrot.  Most of the time, the thing that they've discovered is a totally normal body part.  It's just different than a human so it might seem weird at first.  

By showing you, I hope it helps you become more comfortable and relaxed with any parrots in your life.  Feathers grow out of a parrot's skin, similar to the way our hair grows out of our skin.  New feathers are covered in a protective sheath and we call them pinfeathers, like you can see on the back of Sprinkles' neck.  

Pinfeathers have a blood supply to them as they grow, so they're also sometimes called bloodfeathers.  When a bird grows in their new feathers, they can sometimes look spiky.  Don't worry, the spikes will go away as the parrots grooms themselves or you can groom it for them.  

Once the feathers are grown in, there are a couple different kinds: contour, tail, and flight feathers are the main ones.  This is Zoe the red lored Amazon parrot.  Let's check out her feathrs.  The contour feathers are the ones that cover her head and body.  Tail feathers are these ones back here.  They're usually wide and some can be extremely long.  Her flight feathers are along her wing.  The first ten are her primary feathers, and the rest to her armpit are the secondary feathers, and another type of feather is the down feathers, which are typically hidden by the contour feathers, but you can see one peeking out right there.

To see the down feathers a little bit easier, you can move apart the contour feathers like that. Sometimes a parrot will itch or shake roughly, and a down feather will pop out and float around the room.  Don't worry.  That's totally normal.  Under Zoe's wing, it isn't completely covered in feathers like it is on the rest of her body.  You can see some down feathers under there and on your parrot, there might even be some bare patches.  This is totally normal, too.

Which brings us to another body part.  Come here, Zoe, touch.  Parrot skin, and if you look under Zoe's wing, you can see some bare patches.  So many people mistake the look of a parrot's armpit and think that they're plucking.  Plucking is when a parrot pulls out their feathers in an unusual way.  To demonstrate what it looks like when a bird has been plucking, let me go get Joy.

This is Joy the blue and gold macaw.  See how you can see her skin on her chest and her upper legs?  That's not normal.  If your parrot has unusual patches of visible skin, then you need to talk with your avian vet to see why your bird is plucking and what you can do to help them.  We do everything we can to make sure she's getting everything she needs to feel safe, happy, and healthy.  Sometimes our efforts help reduce her plucking for weeks, and then sometimes she'll have a bad night and she'll pull 'em all out again.

The next patch of skin you might see on a parrot that's normal is on their face.  Most macaws have bare skin on their faces and on Joy, you can see it's that white area.  Joy also has little black feathers that make this unique pattern on her face.  Other macaw species have different patterns.  Some are fully feathered and some have no feathers at all, so some bare patches are completely normal.  Macaws have bare patches on their faces and so do conures, but their bare patch is just around their eyes.

This is Loulou the half moon conure and Ecuador the jenday conure is his buddy who was being too loud, so he is in the other room, but here's a picture.  They are different species and you can see they both have bare patches around their eyes, and now, let's take a look at his legs.

The feathers go partway down, and then the skin turns into scales that cover his feet.  Now let's take a look at another parrot part--their beak.  This is Chongo, the lilac crowned Amazon parrot and you can see he has a flaky upper mandible.   This is totally normal. Parrot beaks grow in in layers and some parrots will smooth it down on their own while others don't.

Then, if you look underneath, you'll see a kind of hole under the lower mandible, This is where their beak, a hard structure, attaches to their skin, a soft structure. What looks like a hole is just where the beak has an indent to allow them to move their throat to breathe, swallow, and talk. The upper and lower mandibles should line up, with the lower fitting nicely into the upper so they can completely close their mouth comfortably. If they can't close their mouth completely or their beak doesn't line up, pay a visit to your avian vet.

The next stop on parrot body parts is going to be demonstrated by Ginger the Green-cheeked Conure.
If you're able to handle your parrot, you might end up feeling this hard bone on the front of their chest, this is called their keel. You can feel it, it sticks out! The keel is what their chest muscles attach to, which gives them the ability to flap their wings strong enough to sustain flight. You should be able to feel the keel, but it shouldn't feel sharp. If it does, it could mean your bird is underweight, but if you cant feel the keel it all, it could mean they're overweight.

If you're feeling their chest area (Come here, Ginger!) and they just had a big meal, you might discover a squishy area up here near the top. This, right here, is called their crop. The food is stored in the crop for a couple of hours before moving down through their digestive system. When the food is still in the crop, it feels soft and squishy, kind of like Play-doh wrapped in a plastic bag. Their crop can sometimes get so full that you can see the skin between their feathers. This is normal and it should get smaller over the next couple hours until its no longer visible.

And our last stop for parrot parts today is the cloaca. This is their everything hole, it's right here. Poop, urate, uric acid all come out of the cloaca. It's also used for reproduction and egg laying.

Determining if your parrot is a male or female is difficult because they both have cloacas and nothing else visible . Some parrots have distinguishing colors on males or females that make it easy to tell, but most don't.

If you wan't to know if your parrot is male or female and you can't tell by their colors, you can either get their dna tested by sending in a blood or feather sample to a lab. Or if your parrot lays an egg, you can be sure that they're a female.

The cloaca should always have clean feathers around it and you should barely be able to see it. If its red, looks inflamed or there are large patches of bare skin around it, or if there is feces stuck to it, you need to see your avian vet.

There are of course lots of other parts of parrots, but these are the most common parts that trip people up.
I hope that this information helps you be a more confident and knowledgeable parrot companion. and if you would like to go on an animal adventure with us every week, hit the subscribe button and don't forget that notification bell so you don't miss a single episode.
Thanks guys, see you next week!
(Outro)