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Saturday, June 5, 2009
Picking Up Feathers

By Laura Doering
Join in on Laura's fun and experiences of bird ownership, and share in her adventures as the editor of BIRD TALK, the world’s most widely read pet bird magazine, in Wayward Feathers.

Ah, my favorite time of the year: the molt. This time around it’s Ollie the nanday conure’s turn to molt. It might mean more to sweep up, but I kind of dig it when my birds molt because they seem even more appreciative of head scratches. They turn their little cheeks and napes specifically so I can reach those hard-to-get-to pin feathers. Showers are also more interesting because this is when the flock fans out each and every feather so they can be thoroughly drenched by the water. The way they sway and shake their tail feathers brings a kind of “molt ballet” to mind.

Another nice thing about molting is that my birds drop some pretty cool feathers. When my cockatiel Gracie molts, I keep a look out for the “crown jewel” of molted feathers: the long crest feather. It looks like a miniature plume, it’s just adorable. 

One thing you might notice when your bird is molting is how the feathers molt evenly. My son thought it was so impressive when I showed him two matching pairs of Ollie’s feathers and explained that birds molt the same type of feather on each wing; the seventh flight feather on the right wing and the seventh flight feather on the left wing, for instance. Then I showed him how waterproofed parrot’s feathers are (which makes sense since many are from the rain forest) by running one of Ollie’s feathers under the kitchen faucet; beads of water just rolled off and the feather was still dry when I held it up for inspection. You would have thought I’d done a magic trick, but I suppose it is magical.

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