Is your cockatiel looking a little scruffy? Have you noticed feathers on the bottom of the cage, and is the bird seeming irritated? Don’t be alarmed if your tiel starts to hate you all of a sudden: it’s molting. This is a recurring and natural process for your bird, but it involves a few weeks of discomfort.
Discover everything there is to know about cockatiel molting, as well as what you can do to make it feel better.
What is a molt?
Cockatiels spend a lot of time in the outdoors, and their feathers are subjected to a variety of elements on a daily basis. The only thing that will make them look really old after a year or two is if they don’t replace their feathers on a regular basis. That is precisely what molting is: a period when part of your cockatiel’s (or other parrot’s) feathers are traded for new, healthy feathers.
The first molt on a cockatiel generally happens when the bird is nearing a year old. This is when they shed their juvenile feathers, before the initial molt, all wild-type cockatiels are grey, whereas males develop a yellow face once they become adults.
After this first molt, your cockatiel will continue to go through heavy shedding about twice a year (and very light molting throughout all months). You’ll know when it happens: you’ll find lots of feathers and flakes everywhere and see the bird preening itself more often. And it definitely won’t look its best, since a feather that falls out isn’t immediately replaced with a new one.
A pinfeather is a type of keratinized, unpigmented feather. Pinfeathers are constructed similarly to developing feathers that are covered in a sheath of keratin (the substance that feathers, beaks, and nails are composed of). A fresh feather will not generate a pinfeather. The sheath protects the growing feathers, which are directly linked to the cockatiels’ blood circulation and might result in serious bleeding if injured.
The ‘pin’ falls off once the new feather is fully developed. If your cockatiel has a lot of pinfeathers during a big molt, it may appear quite wormy, but this is completely normal!
Did you know? During the spring, many birds shed their feathers. They can appear new again during the nesting months, and their lush new feather coat will attract a mate. It may also help remove excess down that species in colder climes grow for the cold season.
The Process of Molting
The outermost layer of the insect’s epidermis, known as the cuticle, separates from the rest of it during moulting. Then, while preserving itself with a protective covering and secreting chemicals to dissolve the old cuticle’s insides, the epidermis forms a new protective layer around itself. That defensive barrier becomes part
To grow, the caterpillar must fill in the defective area of its body, which comprises an old cuticle that has been shed. The result is a new cuticle that contains space for growth and needs time to form correctly. The new overcoat is softer and paler than the previous one, but after a few hours, it resembles its former self and begins to harden. The insect appears to be a somewhat larger version of itself within a few days.
What happens to your cockatiel during molting?
A bird never loses all of its feathers at once. After all, if it couldn’t fly, it would be defenseless against predators, which is the primary means of self-defense for most species. However, being a bird isn’t exactly the greatest time to do anything.
- Feeling tired. YWhen growing all those new feathers, a budgerigar’s body consumes a lot of nutrients and energy. It’ll most likely want to sleep more than usual and may not have the energy to sing or play as it normally would.
- Feeling uncomfortable. It’s not hard to believe that having your feathers lost and then being enveloped in keratin sheaths is an unpleasant experience. Pinfeathers are extremely irritating for your bird! It’ll probably be preening, scratching itself, or rubbing its head on things to get rid of the pins. It might be too uncomfortable to want anything to do
- Feeling vulnerable. Although your cockatiel will generally be able to fly, it won’t feel quite as safe during its molt. Depleting all of that energy drains its system and makes it seem like it won’t be able to escape potential threats; at least not as well as usual. It’ll go into darker nooks more frequently and perhaps try to keep
Tip: Is your cockatiel losing a lot of feathers and looking bare all the time? Has it gone through more than two molts in less than a year, or has it undergone three or more moltings in a single year? It’s possible that you’ll want to see a veterinarian just to be sure everything is OK.