"CURLY SUE" and ENGLISH BUDGIE with Feather Duster Syndrome
©Maryann Rizzo, AFA certified AviculturistWho rescues birds and Feather Dusters from Breeders as a hobby
"Feather Duster" is a rare genetic problem with inbreeding — a mutation in a recessive gene that exhibits due to over-breeding. It is sometimes referred to as a budgie with "Downs Syndrome". Breeders do not breed for a feather duster. If a "feather duster" occurs, most do not not breed that particular pair again.
It is the English show budgies that produce the feather duster. At birth, the feather duster appears normal but large. In fact, breeders feel they are going to have a really good show bird. But by 4 weeks, the feather growing speeds up. There have double the amount of feathers that curl in on themselves as they just continue to grow. Even after they molt, the new feathers have the same problem.
This causes a lot of problems for the bird as well. This constant feather growth causes a great need for nutrients. As the feathers continue growing over the eyes and cere and beak it becomes harder for the budgie to see to eat. Some owners will trim the feathers around these areas to make life more comfortable for the bird.
They have trouble perching, climbing, preening and flying and can suffer severe muscle wasting. It is said their eyes have a different shape and that they produce a different sound that a normal budgie.
The feather duster has a short life span. It usually does not live more than 2-12 months.