There have been black flakes at the bottom of Ollie's cage. They aren't on his face, legs, surface feathers, etc, so it seems to be coming from underneath the surface feathers. The flakes don't move, so I don't think they are mites, unless mites are dead once they fall off. I've seen them in the past, usually towards the end of a molt and only for a day or two. This time, he only molted for a few days and then for the last two weeks, there has been a lot of the black flakes. He also seems to be more subdued & generally a little under the weather.
I don't know if it's overnight. I should try putting down new paper at night, but I do it in the morning and then notice it soon after. We get a premium seed mix from a local specialty bird shop that he has been consuming for the last eight years. & the black specs happen only a few times a year, so I don't think it's seed.
I'm with the others--I have no idea! It does sound like maybe moult-related, but I can't think what that is. The white flakes look like the casing new feathers come out in, but otherwise, I have no guesses. Have you taken him to the vet recently to rule out any health problem?
I don't know if a vet could find anything, though, since he's absolutely fine otherwise.
and Princess Mallorn!
Thank you to Deb for her wonderful Faery magic
When my birds have been molting, I sometimes see a bunch of white flakes with a few tiny black or grey specks on the bottom of the cage, particularly under the bird's favorite places to sit. I think it's from the sheaths of the new feathers coming in. Your picture has more black than what I've seen but if the specks only show up when he's been molting and he's otherwise normal, my guess is that they are just from the new feathers growing in and the specks come off as he preens and removes the sheaths.
I took a much closer look & realized that Ollie has them on his head. When I did a search online and found photos of other budgies with a similar look, they stated that it was pin feathers coming in and that the black spots are the keratin sheath that they are encased in. I glad to know that this is common. I just feel bad for Ollie that this particular moult seems to be especially irritating and long. Any other thoughts, please share. Thanks again!
The dust produced by a budgie when moulting may not be just transparent white in colour, there certainly are darker specks of dust too, they can range from white to dark grey in the colour spectrum.
And yes, in all of my years of budgie ownership I have noticed these subtleties when cleaning cages of my moulting budgies and of course by paying attention to my birds.
The darker specks of dust, just like the white ones, come from the feather sheaths and the blood feathers especially on the primary and secondary flights as well as the tail feathers. A budgie who is especially darker in colour and well marked when moulting certain feathers will have the darker specks of dust while moulting.
This is all very normal!
RIP sweet Tito (Summer 2008 - January 17th 2013).
You are missed and never will be forgotten.