A blood feather is a new feather that is growing. When a bird molts, each feather is replaced by a blood feather that grows to maturity until it molts and so on as the process continues.
The quill of the blood feather contains a vein and artery that supplies blood, giving it the necessary nutrients for growth. As the feather grows, the blood supply gradually decreases and stops when the feather is mature.
If a blood feather is broken, it will bleed, often profusely. Quick action on your part can help slow down and stop the bleeding until the feather can be removed. Styptic powder, corn starch, corn or other flour can be applied to stop the flow of blood. There is a product called Kwik Stop available. It may sting when first applied, using a damp Q-tip, but it contains a topical anesthetic to stop pain. Whichever flours you try, you can just put handfuls on the area.
The feather needs to be pulled out because even though bleeding may have stopped, it can begin again as birds do not have the ability to clot as well as do other animals. Sometimes when a blood feather is pulled, the follicle is permanently damaged.
If you are able to pluck the feather out yourself, here’s what you’ll need – pliers, tweezers, forceps and the styptic powder. These items should always be in your bird’s emergency kit.
Be aware that pulling out the feather can cause your bird a lot of pain as well as renewed bleeding. It’s best to have 2 people, one to hold the bird carefully and the other to pull the feather.
The best situation is to take your bird as quickly as possible to a veterinarian, preferably one who is familiar with treatment of birds and have the feather removed under anesthesia.
If you pull the feather out yourself, your bird should still be checked by a veterinarian.