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Molting… What an Adventure!

Eclectus Parrots molt to replace their worn plumage with new beautiful feathers, usually in the spring and fall of the year.  The new pin feathers pierce the skin and create absolute havoc in the lives, health and emotions of our feathered companions.

Most baby parrots between the ages of six months and one-year look as if they have actually outgrown their feathers.  The adult may lose a few feathers at a time over different parts of their body replacing some but not all.  Flight feathers are lost alternately, so the bird can still fly even during an extensive molt.  Some parrots molt only spring and fall, while others like the Eclectus Parrot do a perpetual molt losing a few worn feathers occasionally all year.  However, they do molt heaviest in the spring and fall when their plumage can look moth-eaten and some develop bald spots over areas of their bodies.  Molting is an ongoing process and can take several weeks or even months before the parrot returns to its beautifully feathered self.

During this time, the attitude and actions of parrots can change drastically and become quite irritable, itchy, less talkative and overall just a bit ticked off at the world.  Who can blame them?  You would react much the same if you had hundreds of pin feathers poking through your skin.  Then several times a day you had to clean them, peel the outer coating off a bit at a time until the feathers grow completely out and are comfortable again.

What can you do to ease the stress of your feathered companion during a molt?

  1. Ease the itching by soaking baths several times a week.
  2. Earlier bed times, they need more sleep than usual during this time.
  3. If you live in a dry climate, bring up the humidity in your home by using a humidifier near their cage or boiling water on the stove.  Remember, if you use a humidifier; clean it regularly to avoid air-borne bacteria.
  4. Provide especially nutritious meals including lots of food high in protein.
  5. Most of all be patient with your feathered one, this is not an easy time for anyone.  Eventually, your well-mannered bird will emerge again.

While you may not notice a change in your bird’s behavior during a mild molt, during a difficult molt you will see all the above behaviors and more.  Molting can be difficult, but the results are spectacular with bright shiny plumage produced by the right diet, exercise, sunshine and proper rest.


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