What to do when your cockatiel’s molting?

At least once a year, your cockatiel will lose his feathers. Don’t be alarmed, because this is a normal process called molting. Many pet birds seem to be in a perpetual molt, with feathers falling out and coming in throughout the summer.

You can consider your bird in molting season when you see a lot of whole feathers in the bottom of the cage and you notice that he seems to have broken out in a rash of stubby little aglets (they look like those plastic tips on the ends of your shoelaces). Aglets are the feather sheaths that help new pinfeathers break through the skin, and they are made of keratin (the same material that makes up our fingernails). The sheaths also help protect growing feathers from damage until the feather completes its growth cycle.

You may notice that your cockatiel is a little more irritable during the molt. This is to be expected. Think about how you would feel if you had all these itchy new feathers coming in all of a sudden. However, your bird may actively seek out more time with you during the molt because owners are handy to have around when a cockatiel has an itch on the top of his head that he can’t quite scratch!

(Scratch these new feathers gently because some of them may still be growing in and may be sensitive to the touch.) Some birds may benefit from special conditioning foods during the molt; check with your avian veterinarian to see if your bird is a candidate for these foods.

Comfort during molting

Encourage balanced nutrition.
Decrease stress by emphasizing security and rest periods.
Keep the room temperature between 75° and 80° during heavy shedding.
Promote preening activity.

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