Written by Marie Miley-Russell
©2005, all rights reserved
Healthy birds molt once per year, usually
in the summer when the length of the days is longer and temperatures are
warmer. This process generally lasts six to eight weeks and is a very
stressful time for your bird as his body is working very hard to replace
all the worn out feathers he has been wearing (and using) for the past
year. Molting generally begins on the upper body and works its way over
the body gradually so the bird is never entirely without feathers or the
ability to fly. The last place to molt is the head- so when pin feathers
(new feathers emerging from the skin which are still encased in the sheath
in which they develop which look like tiny white pins) appear on your
birds head, the molt is almost over.
Birds during this period need extra
attention regarding their nutrition- good nutrition produces good quality
Feathers are largely protein and so a
molting birdís protein needs are higher. A small amount of boiled egg is
helpful, although care should be taken to not leave egg in the cage for
longer than thirty minutes to avoid the risk of food poisoning. A high
quality dry commercial molting/nestling food such as
Witte Molen should be provided as
well. Good nutritional supplements to provide at this time are spirulena
and bee pollen, which provide a range of benefits including additional
protein and carotenoids (which are used by the body to produce coloring in
Providing a little extra fat in the diet
at this time is beneficial- oily seeds such as flax will help add luster
to the new plumage. Song food can be provided every other day during this
Carrots, sweet potatoes and beets are
excellent sources of beta carotene which will help your bird to develop
the pigmentation to provide deeper, richer feather coloration- yellow
birds will be a richer yellow and green birds will be a richer green
(within the limits of their genetics, of course).
An excellent product for providing a boost
during the molt is Feather-Up available from
Herbs' n Birds.
It contains multivitamins, amino acids, and protein.
Birds should be provided with regular cold
water baths at all times of the year, but especially during the molt.
Bathing assists in softening the feather sheaths and makes it easier for
the feathers to expand. A small amount of Listerine or apple cider vinegar
in your birdís bath water will give your birdís feathers a lustrous sheen
and assist in fighting mites. Morning baths are best- never let a bird go
to sleep wet!
Birds who molt more than once a year or
whose molt continues for longer than ten weeks may be malnourished or ill.
Make sure that your bird is not exposed to hot or cold drafts, high
temperatures or other environmental factors which can trigger a molt as