Parakeet Molting – Find out what your bird needs before it molts.

Do you have a feathery friend? Well, did you know your feathery friend might be changing? According to ornithologists, birds have thousands of feathers on their bodies. However, they are subjected to changes at a certain point in their life cycles.

Your feathery friend has to go through a yearly process in which all of the parakeet‘s feathers are gradually replaced. The procedure is slow so that the bird may continue to fly and stay warm while feather plucking. But you can help your feathery friend in this phase!

Yes! You don’t have to be an expert to know what plumage stage your feathered friend is in. To understand parakeet molting and how you can help your friend at this stage, read on.

What Is Molting In Birds?

Molting refers to the process of discharging old and worn-out feathers and replacing them with fresh feathers in birds like Budgie. Feather Plucking in birds may occur partially or completely. Though, the duration taken for this process varies from different species.

Some species might molt for weeks, while some take years for feather plucking. Moreover, some birds shed their feathers annually or several times a year.

Knowing More About The Process

Similar to our fingernails and hair, feathers are composed of keratin. They are constantly subjected to damage due to brushing against the trees, preening, etc. Moreover, all these reasons cause friction and aging of feathers that bring the onset of the molting process.

With time the damage in the plumage intensifies, which affects the aerodynamics and the insulation, which also results in the molting process. According to the life cycle and species, there are four types of feather plucking processes:

  • Juvenile to adult: Young birds have subadult feathers that are usually shed as they start to mature. Several bird species also have molt cycles they undergo to shed their young feathers.
  • Breeding to non-breeding: Some species have brightly colored breeding feathers to attract the opposite genders for mating. However, as the mating season ends, the birds may molt into more camouflaged colorations that provide better insulation and protection during the winter season.
  • Non-breeding to breeding: After the non-breeding season, birds often shed their feathers and exchange them for freshly colored plumages to attract a mate. Several types of research found out that bright feathers often have more mating success than dull ones.
  • General shedding: Even though some birds do not change the coloration of their plumages during the mating and the non-mating season, they still undergo the shedding process to keep their feathers healthy.

Now that you have a general idea, check out our comprehensive guide to parakeet molting below!

How To Know If Your Parakeet Is Molting?

Every bird undergoes molting during its life cycle. Similarly, your parakeets also lose plumage and grow new feathers to keep them healthy. Some of the noticeable signs of a feather plucking in your Budgie involve a ragged appearance, feather loss, along with some behavioral changes.

Some of the symptoms also suggest underlying problems like diseases that can be severe for your Budgie. Hence, monitoring your friend for unusual signs is a must to make sure its feather plucking is a normal process.

Your Parakeet‘s First Molt

Young budgies first molt at the age of three months. During their first molt, they usually get rid of their subadult plumages and replace them with their adult feathers with adult coloration.

Don’t know your parakeet‘s age? Check for dark stripes that start from their forehead to the colored space above their nostrils, also known as the cere. If your pet still has those lines, it is under three months and hasn’t experienced molting yet.

What Does A Parakeet Look Like When Molting?

When your parakeet starts molting, it expresses certain physical signs that help you identify the shedding.

During feather plucking, your parakeets lose only a few feathers at a time to ensure their flying capabilities are not compromised. They quickly recover and grow new feathers after the shedding procedure. It is common for all parrots to lose tail feathers when molting.

You can help your buddy by removing some of the hard pin feather shafts from the farthest corners of its body to make it feel comfortable. Be gentle while removing the shafts. It would be best if you rolled the shafts between your fingers. They fall apart very quickly.

Expect to see some small patches of bald spots here and there during the process. However, consulting the vet is the right call for you if you observe any large bald spots.

Behavioral Signs Of Molting

Sometimes molting can be a stressful experience for your fluffy friend. How will you know? Well, you can tell that by their changes in usual behavior. Parakeets often experience sadness during the process, and providing your parakeets with some company will be appreciated.

In addition, they might bat their wings often while they stand still or have longer sleep schedules.

The cycle can continue from weeks to several months. During the feather loss season, you might find your feathered friend to be quiet and not the usual troublemaker. Moreover, the plumage shedding also takes a toll on your bird‘s immune system.

Pulling the feathers out for your parakeet doesn’t help them. Rather, it might end up hurting them as they shed the feathers themselves. Molting in parakeets is delayed due to some health conditions or other factors.

Sometimes, extreme preening or overhandling of your bird might result in loss of pigments. If your pet’s feathers appear dull and dirty but aren’t molting, it is time for you to get them checked by a vet.

As a bird owner, it is your duty to remove dropped feathers from the affected birds and clean the cage. Whether it’s a young budgie or an older bird, you must care for the moulting birds.

Do Parakeets Molt In Summer?

In general, a parakeet can start feather loss at any time of the year. They mostly pluck their feathers during the summer/ spring seasons.

Are There Hormones Involved?

Molting is more than just shedding feathers. The biology behind your buddy’s shedding might fascinate you! During the feather loss cycle, elevation in metabolic rate, body protein synthesis, osteoporosis, fat loss, and suppression of the immune system is experienced by a parakeet.

The following hormones play an effective role in your bird‘s molting and replacement of new feathers:

  • Thyroxine
  • Prolactin
  • Thyroid releasing hormone (TRH)
  • The vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP)

The VIP hormone helps the visceral forebrain system (VFS) in balancing the autonomic nervous system. This is responsible for affecting the behavioral and physical changes in your parakeet.

Does Molting Make Your Parakeet Sick?

Feather plucking is a very difficult period in a parakeet‘s life. While losing all the feathers might not be an issue, there could be other factors that might be bothering your feathered friend. In this case, growing all the lost feathers is the most difficult part of the process.

It can definitely take a toll on them. They can experience some physical discomfort that includes sleeping on both feet, swelling up, loss of appetite, diarrhea, agitation, etc.

Caring For Your Parakeet

Feather loss is a healthy yet stressful phase in your feathery friend’s life cycle.

However, as it sheds, it also undergoes certain physical changes that include more calorie burn, susceptibility to cold temperatures, etc. This is why keeping your pet comfortable during the process is important.

  • Keep your room warmer than usual as it lacks insulation.
  • Mist your parakeet at least twice a day to ensure its comfort.
  • Your feathered friend burns more calories, approximately 25 percent more calories than usual, as it shed its feathers. Grooming your bird and plucking out the loose feathers is also important.
  • Check for the pin feather shafts and avoid touching them as you may hurt your parakeet.
  • Provide them some company to avoid the molting blues.

What Do You Feed Molting Parakeets?

A nutrient-rich diet, especially one that’s rich in protein, will help the growth of healthy feathers. Add vitamin supplements along with Vitamin E-rich foods into your parakeet‘s diet as their immune system doesn’t work properly during the shedding process. For more detail please check our parakeet molting food article.

When To Worry About Your Parakeet Molting?

While feather plucking is a healthy process for your birdie, sometimes it could also indicate some underlying issues. This is why paying close attention to your parakeet during feather loss is important.

Check for large bald patches that last for a longer time during your bird‘s molting cycle. If you feel skeptical, you can visit or consult your vet for further advice.

These symptoms can also be caused due to boredom, lice, poor nutrition, French molt, etc.

French molt or Budgerigar fledgling disease often affects the younger birds. Caused by the Polyomavirus, this disease is characterized by skin lesions, feather loss, etc. Other symptoms include breathing issues, diarrhea, tremors, etc.

In some cases, your bird might also have a flaky beak. Although the recovery is quick, feather loss can be very serious and, in some cases, permanent.

If your bird has abnormal feather growth, loss, signs of balding, etc., it might be infected with viruses that cause psittacine beak. Moreover, it is extremely contagious and might be caused due to its exposure to other domestic birds.

Summing Up

Every pet is a blessing. Similarly, our feathered friends are always there for us. Why don’t we stand beside them during their difficult time? feather loss is a natural process in every bird‘s life. While you might think there’s nothing you can do, we can only recommend you to help them out as much as you can.

You can start by scratching their head to remove any pin feathers, give them a comfortable bath now and then, and provide them with warmth. Arrange frequent visits to the vet to eliminate other potential risk factors.

Keep yourself relaxed and care for your parakeet. Feather plucking might be a challenging time for them, but they will get through it!