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Which Birds Emit Dander?

28 14:25:55

Which Birds Emit Dander?

Which Birds Emit Dander?. Bird and feather allergies are actually reactions to bird dander. Exposure to proteins in bird dander results in allergic reactions ranging from mild hay fever symptoms to serious respiratory conditions such as pigeon fancier's lung (allergic alveolitism). People who live with or work with birds have the greatest risk of developing sensitivities to bird dander.

A large cockatoo produces significant amounts of dander.


Bird dander refers to shed skin cells, feather particles and dust from fecal matter. All birds shed dander, especially during feather molts. As the bird molts, new feathers develop. To protect new feathers, the bird's body wraps the growing feather in a protective sheath of keratin, the same substance found in human skin and hair. When the feather is fully grown, the bird sheds the keratin sheath, which crumbles into dust and quickly becomes airborne.

Powder Birds

Some birds produce more dander than others. Cockatoos, cockatiels and African Grey parrots are known collectively as "powder birds." Powder birds have special feathers that produce large quantities of fine waxy white keratin dust. The birds use this dust to help waterproof their feathers. The dust sticks to surfaces and can even cause allergic reactions in other birds.


Most people with bird allergies experience itchy eyes, water eyes and stuffy noses when exposed to bird dander. Bird dander can cause wheezing and breathing difficulties in people with asthma or allergies, and some people develop hives. Severe or chronic reactions to bird dander can impair lung function. In some cases, sensitivity to bird dander prevents people from using down-stuffed pillows or quilts.


Avoidance of birds may be necessary to prevent reactions to bird dander. Frequent bathing of pet birds, and regular mopping and sweeping reduce bird dander in the environment. If possible, people with dander allergies should ask someone else to clean bird cages. Failing this, wear a dust mask to clean the cage. Avoid keeping bird cages in rooms with carpet, which traps bird dander. High Efficiency Particulate Air filters remove small particles from the air and can help control bird dander in homes.


  • Winged Wisdom; "Feather Dust and Powder Down Birds; Carol Highfill; August 2001
  • All About Allergies: Recognizing and Dealing with Pet Bird Allergies
  • Allergies: Bird Allergy