Molting In Birds – When The Feathers Fall

The moult not only poses challenges for the birds, but also for the keepers. Because the exchange of plumage is exhausting for the animals. Above all, it costs them strength and minerals. As a result, the birds are knocked off during the moult and can be susceptible to infections.

That’s what happens with the Mauser

The word Mauser is of Latin origin and means something like change or exchange. And that’s exactly what the birds have to do with their feathers. This is because feathers also wear out and lose their ability to make the bird fly or isolate it. So they have to be renewed regularly. The old ones fall out and new ones sprout. At certain points – for example on the head or the wings – you can clearly see the new quills being pushed along.

That’s how it goes

In the wild, the length of the day, temperature, and food supply determine the start of the hormonally controlled molt. This is basically the same for our pets, but factors such as exercise options or stress can also play a role. The individual species also differ in frequency and type of feather change. The budgerigar changes part of the feathers almost all year round. So you can usually find a few down feathers every day. Major parts of the plumage are renewed two to four times a year, including the coverts and flight feathers. Canaries and other songbirds often only molt once a year.

Optimize nutrition

During the moult, the bird’s organism is even more dependent on a healthy diet and an adequate supply of nutrients. The formation of new feathers is mainly supported by food containing silicic acid. Vitamins help the immune system to remain stable during this time. These substances can be supplied to the birds with herbs, pecking stones, and additional food.

Prevention and care

Stress is particularly harmful to birds during the moult. Because in many cases they are already irritated – towards humans as well as towards other dogs. You can help them by maintaining their daily routines.

Of course, the animals should have sufficient opportunity to fly freely, even if they may not use it as usual. Ensure cleanliness – especially with sand and bathing water. Because feathers lying around could attract parasites. But the birds themselves are also more vulnerable during this time.

Normal or alarm signal?

It is normal for the animals to be calmer and sleep more during the feather change. As a rule, however, there are no bald spots during the moult. These are either signs of disease, parasites, or an indication that the birds are calling themselves or being plucked by a fellow bird.

However, increased scratching with the feet or the beak during moulting alone is not a sign of parasite infestation: when the regrowing feathers push through the skin, it is simply itchy. On the other hand, it is not normal if the feather change takes several months or if the ability to fly is lost. This can happen in older or sick animals. Keep a close eye on your birds and make a note of when they start moulting.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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