well i put together a list of FAQs regarding molting that i have seen popping up all over the site. Hopefully this will help clear some questions up
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 some 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. All baby budgies must go through a “baby molt” at around 12 weeks. This is the time when they lose their baby bars and begin to get that clear head cap. By watching your bird over an extended period of time, you can usually start taking note of their moulting schedule.
How long does a molt last for?
This is again variable from one bird to the next. Some birds’ molt last for one about a week 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 removed.
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 and this is one of the biggest indicators of a molt is 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. 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. With that said, you will begin to notice that they become grumpy, inactive, irritable and are constantly squawking. You will also notice that they will also have a short fuse towards other budgies or even you. Molting budgies should not be grabbed or handled against their will as their pin feathers are itchy and stingy.
Pin feathers on a hen (credit to birdsonline.de
What can I do to help my budgie with his/her molt?
A balanced diet (seeds/pellets with daily fruits and veggies) is the key to helping your budgies pass their molts. Molting foods are available at pet stores; however often they are unnecessary if the bird is on a nutritious diet high in protein, vitamins and minerals. 10-12 hours of sleep per day is also important for molting birds as it helps their bodies recycle and produce energy. You will notice that your budgies will want to sleep or rest more, please allow them to do so. As much as you’d like to play with them, they want to get over their molt just as much. Exercise is another important factor that will help your budgies recover from their molts quicker. Lastly, bathing/misting/spraying should be done at least once a week for molting budgies since it helps their new feathers to grow in and also to soothe the itch of their pin feathers.