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Molting FAQS

What is molting?

Molting is a natural part of every bird's life. Molting is the process that allows birds to replace old worn out feathers with new ones similar to how cats and dogs shed their old hairs and furs to get new ones. A molt is characterized by significant losses of feathers from the tail, wings, and the body. During this time, birds do not go "naked" and thus if big bald patches of skin appear they are a sign of a "miserable molt" and possibly underlying health problems.

What causes molting?

All birds need to molt at least once a year in order to keep their feathers healthy and vibrant; it is nature's way of keeping them looking healthy an attractive for potential mates. However there are certain factors that can trigger a molt such as: change in seasons, stress, illness, change in environment, parasites (both internal and external) and lastly breeding.

How often do budgies molt?

This is variable from one bird to another. Some birds molt once a year or every six months, while others seem like they never come out of a molt thus molting around every month or so.

In most cases budgies will start their "baby" molts after reaching 3 months old (12 weeks of age).
Some can start as soon as they reach that age mark, while others can start a bit later at about 4 months old.
This is where they will usually lose the barring on the forehead area and replace some of their throat spots (and also cheek patches) as well as some normal body feathers on chest/tummy.

At about 6 - 7 months old, they go through a second molt where they will usually replace some tail feathers, flight feathers (and body feathers).

After fully completing the first two molts, budgies will then go through two major molts per year, usually during Spring and at Fall.

This doesn't mean that they will not have other minor molts throughout the year, as these can be triggered by some factors such as stress, change of diet, etc.

By watching your bird over an extended period of time, you can usually start taking note of their molting schedule.

You will note visual changes when budgies go through when molting.
Depending on color mutations, some changes can be more drastic, especially if a budgie is yellow face or golden face.
For most budgies, after the first molt is completed, you will note the body feathers have a richer and more vibrant color.


How long does a molt last?

This can vary depending on the budgie.
Some birds' molt last for a couple of weeks while others can molt up to 10 weeks.
If there is something such as an illness, parasite or another one of the aforementioned factors that is triggering the molt, the bird will become caught in the molt until that stimulus is resolved.


What can I expect during a molt?

A molting bird will begin to lose a tremendous amount of feathers (both long and short feathers).
Bird owners can usually tell when a bird is molting because cage floors, play gyms and the surround area will be covered in feathers.
In addition, pin feathers begin to appear all over the body.
Pin feathers are most apparent on the head and neck where budgies cannot reach by preening and this is where a budgie buddy comes in. Pin feathers are basically new feathers that are growing in. Pin feathers cause budgies to become very itchy and you will notice that they are constantly preening or scratching their heads on everything.

Remember that providing a nutritious and healthy diet is very important for your budgie's overall health and well-being.
You can supplement your budgie’s diet with egg food during a molt.
This helps your budgies replenish the energy lost during the time they lose and grow in the new feathers.
Additionally, egg food promotes good and healthy feather growth.

It is possible to buy ready-made egg food at any specialized pet store but just as easy to make your own by hard boiling an egg, mashing it up and mixing it with a bit of cooked quinoa and flax seed. You can also finely chop some veggies and add it to the egg food mix.

Changes in mood and temperament become evident as well.
Molting budgies begin to eat and rest more rather than play and sing as molting requires a great amount of energy from the body.
Budgies get itchy during their molt, so they'll preen and scratch more often.
Additionally, they may be sleepier and quieter as molting takes a lot of energy, and their poop could be a little runnier.
To make them more comfortable, you can offer them baths either in a shallow dish of water at the bottom of their cage or by hanging wet greens (romaine lettuce or kale works best) in their cage so they can nibble on it and rub against them.


What is a "Miserable Molt"?

Some unfortunate budgies do go through what I term a "Miserable Molt".
You can read about those and see pictures of one of my budgies that suffered through them in the link below:

Miserable Molting
 
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