When you take inventory of the animal kingdom, you can find some pretty interesting furry friends who exist outside of the norm. Many animals are very different from their typical counterparts, whether it be through genetic predispositions or strange birth defects. Well one furry friend was born not so furry, and it’s all because of a strange disease that it was born with. Blondie, a lovebird from Venezuela, was born with a rare condition called PBFD — he also has a psittacine beak. Because of this condition, he was born with virtually no feathers, and cannot not fly like most birds. While this could have stopped many birds from living a full life, Blondie is making the best of his situation with the help of his human companion Bella Escobar.
Bella got Blondie as a gift from her father, who used to be a bird raiser, when the bird was just 3 weeks old. When he was very young, he still had feathers, which were a bright yellow — thus the name Blondie. He even used to love flying and had favorite places to land. “I remember his favorite place was a lamp in our house. He’s very playful, he would chase us while flying. He is also a very curious bird, he liked to fly to newly discovered places and explore,” said Bella.
Unfortunately, when Blondie was around one year old, Bella and her family began to notice that he was losing feathers on his legs, and then later turned to complete baldness. Blondie even lost his ability to fly. The family had no clue what could be wrong with their beloved bird.
“We went to the vet with Blondie, they did an exam to see if he had any parasites but it turned negative. The vets told us that it was probably stress. We didn’t believe it, though, it didn’t make any sense, because how could Blondie take the feathers off of his head? I started to do some research, and that’s when I found out that he had PBF disease,” said Bella.
This disease affects the beak and the feathers and can be transmitted from bird to bird. We suspect that the mother had the disease and it got passed to Blondie. This disease doesn’t have a cure, but there are some cases where birds recovered their feathers. Unfortunately, that is not so common.
Initially, Blondie was very sad that he could not do some of the wonderful things he loved to do. He could no longer fly, and it make him very depressed and sad. He was sleeping all the time and did not have much motivation to do anything at all. But as the family learned more about how to help Blondie, his life began to improve again.
Because he has no feathers, his tender skin is always exposed and gets very dry. To help moisturize him, Bella rubs him down regularly with coconut oil. Also, Blondie gets very cold because of no feathers, so Bella sets him up with a plushie and a heating pad in his cage to warm him up for better sleeping.
Because he cannot fly, the family takes Blondie exploring to different places, giving him the chance to see new things and have adventures. They also gave him new toys to entertain him. He has gotten his spunk back, and even developed his own ornery charm. “He’s stubborn, really funny, curious, and very loud. Whether you’re cooking, studying, etc. He will always be next to you trying to see what you’re doing and play with whatever he has in front of him.”
Bella says that while it is hard at times to care for Blondie, it is rewarding to see that he has been resilient enough to overcome his challenges. “Living and taking care of an animal with special needs can be difficult, but working along with your animal to know them fully, what they like and what they don’t like is key to understanding them and their behavior. Blondie is amazing, and I’m really proud of him.”