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Medical Conditions

Details for: Integumentary > feather loss > Molting


Description: Throughout your birds’ life it will molt to replace old feathers. Molting is a gradual process and all the feathers will not be replaced at once. Birds begin molting at different times, depending on various factors.

A number of things can contribute to when and how often your bird molts including: nutritional status, thyroid hormone levels, any infections or diseases present, the amount of light and dark the bird is exposed to daily, the time of year the bird was hatched and the status of the bird’s reproductive system. As new feathers grow in, old feathers are gradually pushed out of the follicles. The style of the wing feather trim will not impact feathers falling out of follicles. During a molt, the bird should not have any bald patches. There are, however, areas on a bird’s body where feathers don’t grow normally, and this is called apteria. Normal areas of apteria should not be confused with plucked areas or areas where feathers have not regrown after a molt.

Immediate Care: Pinfeathers appear, mostly on the head or neck when a bird is molting. They are stiff, shiny feathers that are in the sheaths if they haven’t been preened yet. Birds appreciate their person gently combing their fingers through the pinfeathers to remove the sheaths if they are housed alone and do not have another bird to preen them. Pinfeathers are very sensitive to the touch, so gentleness is important when doing this. Some birds prefer to have the sheaths gently rolled between the fingers to remove the sheaths. Other birds will let you know what feathers they want preened by actually moving their heads around for your fingers to find the best spots.

Long Term Care: Birds that have not replaced their trimmed wing feathers by their first birthday should be checked out by an avian vet. You will begin to learn your bird’s schedule once it begins molting for the first time. Smaller birds typically molt twice a year and large parrots will usually molt just once a year, but regardless of size, their molting schedule depends on the factors mentioned above. Amazons, being summer breeders, will usually molt after breeding season, even if the single pet never actually goes through a breeding cycle with a mate. African birds, on the other hand, usually breed during winter months (in North America), and will usually go through their big molt in the spring, when their breeding season ends.

Click on the body part or body system where your pet bird is having problems. For example, if your pet bird is experiencing diarrhea, click on Digestion.

If you don't know what is wrong with your pet bird, search by Sign. If your pet bird has already been diagnosed, search by Ailment.

Disclaimer:’s Diagnose Your Bird tool is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the expertise and experience of a professional veterinarian. Do not use the information presented here to make decisions about your bird’s ailment. If you notice changes in your bird’s health or behavior, please take your pet to the nearest veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.
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