Follow us on YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest!
Sandra April 09, 2022

Molting Birds - Understanding molting season

As a bird owner or parrot parent, it's important to understand molting and hormones. Molting is an uncomfortable experience, so you will notice a few behavioural changes in your parrots. Your sweet-natured parrot may become irritable, may not want to be touched and could be less vocal.

Molting is a lot of work for your bird and takes up extra energy. Learning how to support your bird during their molting periods will be very helpful to your bird.

Did you know that parrots have thousands of feathers? For example, a parakeet has anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 feathers!


When a parrot is molting, the bird's circadian clock is saying that it's time to overhaul its plumage, replacing old feathers with sparkling new ones! The new feathers will ensure the parrot can fly effectively and stay protected from the elements. 

Birds have an internal clock in their brains that is set by natural sunlight. Molting is triggered by UVA and UVB lights existing in natural daylight or presenting high-quality artificial full-spectrum bird lights. If your bird only sees the light from modern windows or is outside only occasionally, its molt might be unusual.


The length of a molt differs between different species of birds. A complete molt can take anywhere from days to months! I've noticed with my birds that it take several weeks! The most prolonged molting period is for larger parrots. It can take up to 2 years to complete molting cycle.


Firstly, you'll start seeing feathers all over your home! They will start preening more, enjoying frequent baths, getting scritches from their hoomans, or being preened by their companion birds.

Parrots will molt between 1-2 times a year in the fall and spring.

Every time a feather is dropped, a new one will emerge through the empty follicle in their skin. These are called pin feathers. They are the prickly beginnings of a new feather making its way out. More on this soon!

Natural molting is a symmetrical process. The feathers will be shed and regrown in the same spot on either side of their bodies. How incredible is nature?1 It knows what it's doing to perfection.

It's essential to make sure your pet parrot feel comfortable as much as possible during the molting processes.

I love to collect my birds feathers during each of their molts. :) <3


Help your parrot through this period by ensuring that it gets lots of time to rest, vitamins (A, B, C, and D), minerals, nutrients, and plenty of sunshine. Your parrot will be hungrier and may eat up to 25% more than usual. 

Top tips:

  • Always have a well-balanced diet available for your bird. 
  • Have fresh water available for bathing or mist them when they are in the mood!
  • Offer to help your bird with pin feathers your bird in areas they can't reach AND won't make them hormonal. Parrots take care of the pin feathers all across their body. The only place they can't reach with the beak to open pin feathers is right on their head and immediate vicinity. The parrot would depend on its mate or flock to assist with pin feathers on the lead in the wild. But at home, the parrot relies on its owner for a bit of help with those feathers.  Helping your bird preen their pin feathers can be a great bonding experience for the both of you!
  • It's a good idea to encourage a request signal for being preened. When the shaft is still short at the beginning stages, it can be very uncomfortable when they are touched or jarred.
  • Ensure that the room you're keeping your bird in is room temperature. Keep birds away from windows or open doors, especially when it's colder out. Even though parrots are tropical birds, making the room too hot while molt can cause additional discomfort. Room temperature is perfect!
  • Don't open immature pin feathers, be rough or force this help on a parrot that doesn't want it.
  • Expose your bird to natural sunlight or purchase full-spectrum lights and set them in sync with actual daylight hours.

Stress, injury, illness and poor nutrition can interfere with or prevent your bird's molting process.  


They first appear as a thin tube straw that is pink at the bottom and white towards the top. The pink area is a live blood supply that will nourish the feather while maturing and eventually recede. The white part of the tube is a keratin casing that protects the forming feather.

They are uncomfortable to the bird if they are touched or pinched when they aren't ready. Leave this alone if you don't see a bit of feather sticking out. Not only can opening a feather prematurely damage the feather, but it will also hurt your parrot or cause it to bite. If in doubt, leave a pin feather to open later than too soon.

Pin feathers that are ready to be opened will often be sticking out just a little above normal feathers; the tip of the pin will be open with the feather slightly visible. As a result, the ready pin will have a more flaky appearance than the really streamlined immature pins.

Feathers are living tissue with their own blood source. Fresh or baby pin feathers look like little quills that are a transparent shade of purple since they are filled with blood.  The blood transports essential nutrients for optimum feather growth.

These fragile pin feathers can bleed profusely if damaged, and the blood loss from a broken pin feather can even kill a bird. That's why nature does not make a bird molt in patches but in a calculated fashion.  


Plucking happens when the parrot over-preens and forcefully removes its feathers usually caused by stress.

When a bird is plucking you'll notice:
  • Bare patches of skin, possibly irritated or bleeding
  • Over-preening that interrupts eating or other activities
  • Broken, damaged, or stripped feathers
  • Damaged quills
  • Excessive feather loss
Make sure you are supporting your bird(s) during their molting process and if you notice plucking or blood feathers visit your avian vet right away!

Check out our YouTube video on molting!