Birds molt their feathers throughout the year in sequential order, so that they always have warmth, protection, but most of all, flying capabilities. When a new feather comes in, it has a soft sheath around it with a vein and nerve to aid in growth. These growing “blood feathers” are very sensitive. They also cause the bird some discomfort as they poke through the feather follicle. Once the feather matures, the sheath becomes brittle. When birds preen, they are removing the sheath to release the feather. Birds help each other in this process. Whereas solitary captive birds rely on their human companions for help on those hard to reach areas, like the top and back of the head.
Once the feather is fully grown, the vein and nerve recede, leaving a bone-like structure at the center of the feather.
This is the reason that an appropriate wing clip is like getting a haircut and doesn’t hurt the bird. A bird who has been aggressively clipped may suffer mutilation. It’s important to learn how to clip a bird’s wings appropriately, clipping only the first 8 primary flight feathers below the “primary coverts” along the same angle. This enables the secondary landing feathers to assist in gliding the bird to a safe landing in emergency situations, while preventing the bird from ascending to rain forest canopy heights and distances.
*Please note, the plucked feather is Claire’s doing. On warm hormonal days, she self-soothes by pulling out a few feathers.