Feather Lumps also known as Feather Cysts is a complaint NOT often seen in the Fife Canary and is more usual in the Gloster, Crest Bred, & Norwich breeds; where it is common to double-buff (see "Cause" for explanation of double-buff).
A lump can if left untreated creates an unsightly growth of mammoth proportions the conntents of which can be come hard and cheesy in appearance. These lumps are usually not fatal unless it is near the airways.
I have never seen feather lumps in a genuine Fife and this is one reason I love these birds.
As the Fife does not have lumps I am tempted not to cover it; however there are some breeders that are unscrupulous and breed Fife to Gloster in some mistaken belief that they will improve the breed.
Lumps should not be confused with ‘Straw feather disease’, which has no known cause and results in feathers that look like straw due to incomplete development.
The lump is made up of feather, which has been unable to break through the feather follicle and forms a cheesy yellowish lump just below the skin.
The reason for not breaking through the skin is a matter of some contention between breeders, however there is most likely a number of causes that lead to this predisposition.
It is highly likely but I believe unproven, that lumps are hereditary in some lines and exacerbated by the practice of Double-Buffing.
For those unfamiliar with the term double buffing, it is the practice of breed using both parents being Buff; that is soft feathered and NOT Yellow or Intense. Double-buffing is done to get birds that looks bulkier or chubby, by having softer bulkier feathers. This practice makes the feathers softer and the feather being unable to break through the skin causes a lump.
The only problem with the soft feather theory is that the broadest feathered canaries, that is the Mosaic, or Dimorphic Canary - is never seen with feather lumps at all!
Some breeders however believe that Lumps are due to diet, and by not feeding any of the oily seeds like Rape and Linseed etc and by feeding a high diet of dark green leafy vegetables, that they have no problem.
The stock standard answer is to see a vet, however depending on the location of the lump it can be remedied as follows:
The author accepts no responsibility for the following if it goes wrong. If you are NOT confident, go to a vet. It is unwise to do this operation if the lump is near or around the windpipe.
You cannot leave lumps untreated, as they can be painful for the bird and sometimes fatal.
A scalpel or razorblade, it needs to be very sharp.
A very fine needle which is sharp.
Cotton Buds or Cotton Ball.
Hydrogen Peroxide or Antiseptic (diluted per instructions)
If you see a feather out of place or a feather in the wrong direction, it could be a lump. Follow this feather down to the skin and if the feather is coming from the lump, gently pull it out. If it’s small it can bring the lump out with the feather.
If the Lump is hard you may find it already has a break in the skin. If it does, sterilise your needle and put the needle through the break in the skin and gently push into the lump (not the bird) lift the lump out. If the lump breaks, do the same with the broken bit and lift out. When finished use your peroxide or antiseptic and gently press into the sack that remains.
If there is no break in the skin, find a part of the skin over the lump that is tight with no blood vessels evident. Sterilise the area and razor/scalpel and gently cut the skin. Then use your needle as above to lift out the lump and antiseptic the area.
If the lump is soft, it can be much more difficult because the skin will bleed more and the contents can be harder to remove.
After doing the above the bird can be released as normal and you will find that recovery is almost immediate. Within a day it can be difficult to even locate where the lump was.
I have never seen a bird get an infection, or die for that matter, from this operation.
When a lump is detected you should determine the parents and linage and mark this line as producing lumps. It is then a conscious decision on your part to continue breeding this line or not as it is highly likely that lumps will develop in the offspring.
If your birds have lumps it is unfair and unacceptable behaviour to sell these birds to unsuspecting buyers as a pet, without first warning them that the bird could develop a lump or has had a lump previously.
Published Peter Ailwood 28/02/05