It is a very significant period when a conure undergoes the molting process for the first time. Any parrot owner would feel either excitement or worry for their pet.
If you’ve never witnessed a conure molt before, you should know that molting takes place around 8 to 10 months after the birth of a conure. It depends largely on whether the bird is getting the proper nutrients it needs to develop.
What Is Molting?
Molting is a bird’s life period when it sheds feathers to grow new and healthier ones. Kind of like the phase when children lose their baby teeth to give way for the permanent ones to grow.
The molting process can be scary for clueless pet owners, but this is a natural part of a bird’s life. Many conures undergo the molting process during the shifting of seasons. One of the reasons for this is for their bodies to adapt to the changing climate.
During this time, your Parrot’s feathers will start to shed in twos or threes. You’ll notice this on your pet’s head and then on their wings.
Fun Fact About Molting
One fascinating thing about the molting process is that the feathers shed symmetrically on both wings. It means that if it clears a feather on one side, the other side will also shed one. The reason for this is for the bird not to lose its balance.
Researchers highly attribute this symmetrical shedding process to a bird’s neurological processes rather than a fixed and timing-based procedure. (Source)
Once the feathers have fallen off, you may notice small feathers already coming out of your conure’s skin. These new feathers will be coated with ‘pin feathers’ to protect the feathers as it grows through your pet’s skin.
How Often Do Conures Molt?
An average conure usually molts at least once each year. But there are also a lot of reported cases of conures molting more than once a year.
Molting, breeding, and migration are the three most crucial aspects of a bird’s life. All of these are interdependent and can significantly impact each other.
The usual molting period starts after the breeding season, which is the month of February to early March. It is an average period when most conures begin to molt. The case will always be different depending on the bird itself.
If your conure doesn’t start molting during this time of year, you should not worry. As previously mentioned, the molting process depends on the development of the bird and not solely on the time of the year.
However, if you feel that your bird should be molting already when they are not, then there are some things that you can do to help them.
What Can You Do?
The top thing on the list you can do is to ensure you meet all the basic needs of your conure. If your pet’s environment, diet, and daily activities are intact and steady, then it will surely be able to do what it has to do to grow.
Make sure to feed your conure with meals packed with fresh fruits and vegetables for their development. You can also add supplements that your veterinarian recommends.
Also, make sure that you place your pet’s cage somewhere with enough but not too much sunlight. Birds need Vitamin D to maintain their physical and mental well-being.
How Do You Help A Conure Molt?
The molting process can be stressful for birds. Growing new feathers take up most of the keratin produced and energy in a bird’s body; that is why you may see your conure get tired quickly.
To help your conure molt, you need to make sure you’re giving it healthy balanced meals. It can ensure that your pet’s body will undergo no more stress than it should during molting.
Studies show that the bigger the feathers are, the easier and faster they can grow from the bird’s skin. More often than not, conures that grow smaller tend to shed more feathers. (Source)
How Does Stress Affect Molting?
Birds that are stressed out can develop what people call ‘stress bars’. These are the lines of built-up wax in the new feathers of your pet. These ‘stress bars’ do not damage the feathers permanently. You can easily wash it with warm water.
However, too much build-up of this wax on a conure’s feathers can make your pet more uncomfortable in molting.
Your conure’s skin will start to ache once the new feathers start coming out. To relieve this, you can use a mist spray on your bird to help soothe its skin.
Place your conure where there is the least external noise and activities. It will help reduce the anxiety or emotional stress your conure could go through.
As much as possible, please keep your pet warm in a well-ventilated space to allow them to rest well.
Do Birds Feel Unwell When Molting?
When birds undergo the process of molting, their entire body’s natural clock resets. It removes the plumage by shedding out the old and used feathers with new ones that show the enhanced potential of a parrot.
This process of having to grow new feathers can be tiring for birds. During this time, parrots feel the most stressed and tired. Their entire body goes through a transition period where it can become more vulnerable to acquiring diseases.
When new feathers develop, some birds may need a little practice flying with their new weight. It’s imperative to allow your pet the safe space it needs to alleviate any stress they’re feeling.
Is Molting Stressful For Birds?
The molting process affects not only a bird’s body but also its mental and emotional health. It can be stressful for your bird if you cannot meet its other basic needs.
The molting process is affected by flight ability, migration strategy, habitat preference, and morphology. (Source)
It is why it’s most advisable that you prepare enough for when the time comes you can be a great support to your pet.
One of the signs that a bird feels stressed during molting is when it becomes aggressive towards other people and birds.
If your pet is not getting enough nutrients, its body may resort to conserving energy using sleeping and resting alone.
Birds that undergo the molting stage also begin to develop better vocal capabilities. It means that the sound of squawking and screaming may not necessarily mean discomfort but mere vocal exercise.
How Do You Comfort a Molting Bird?
The molting process can be challenging for your pet bird and yourself. You can ensure a few things to avoid further unnecessary emotional stress on your bird.
Molting also happens at around two months. During this time, your birds will develop pin-like feathers that give way to their actual feathers. These growths can be itchy for your bird. Here’s what you should do to comfort your molting bird.
Water Your Bird’s Skin
First is to make sure you’re spraying just enough amounts of water on your bird’s skin. It will relieve some of the itchiness of the ‘pin growth’.
This process can also remove the hard wax substance that birds develop whenever they are stressed. Sprays can also replicate the effects of rain for birds which can divert their attention from physical stress.
Proper Cage Placement
Place your pet’s cage in a well-lit and quiet area, at least for this time. Birds that undergo the molting process need to sleep very well.
Conures kept at home depend on their keepers to care for and provide for them. During molting, these birds shift to “survival” mode, which may cause them to be more restless than usual. (Source)
It is a time when their body produces and uses up more than it regularly does. It is why it will need ample amounts of sleep and rest.
Also, avoid petting your bird once the pin feathers emerge on its skin. Doing so will make for a very uncomfortable experience for your pet.
Molting vs. Plucking
There are times when birds get stressed; they resort to feather plucking. The effect of feather plucking is slightly similar to molting. Both processes shed feathers.
Feather plucking is one of the most common issues for house pets that fly.
Molting is a natural process that birds need to undergo to develop new feathers, while feather plucking is self-initiated by birds.
You’ll notice bald patches in your bird’s body with feather plucking. Now, bald patches don’t usually happen during the molting season, as the shedding of feathers on the latter is more symmetrical.
Molting starts to appear on the head first, then onto the wings. While in feather plucking, your pet will begin to pull out feathers it can reach through its beak. It can occur on any part of the body accessible to your bird.
A Stress-Free Conure
During the 8th to 10th month of your pet’s life, expect your conure to start undergoing the molting process. Molting happens once a year, but depending on your pet’s needs, this process can occur more than once a year.
The molting process lasts about two months but finishes once the new feathers have reached the skin’s surface.
Allowing your pet bird to live in a stress-free environment with a well-balanced diet will let them get through this process as smoothly as possible.
Make sure that whatever you do during this period is to help improve their emotional and physical health. It is a conure’s best defense in any pending disease during this time too.
Make sure to carefully examine if your bird is experiencing molting or if it’s feather plucking so you can take the most appropriate action.
- Pyle, Peter “Evolutionary Implications of Synapomorphic Wing-Molt Sequences Among Falcons (Falconiformes) and Parrots (Psittaciformes)” Accessed June 2022
- Farner, Donald S. & King, James R. “Mechanisms and Control of Molt” Accessed June 2022
- Gebhardt, Kara J., Brightsmith, Donald, Powell, George & Waits, Lisette P. “Molted Feathers From Clay Licks in Peru Provide DNA for Three Large Macaws (Ara Ararauna, A. chloropterus, and A. Macao) Accessed June 2022
- Kiat, Yosef, Pyle, Peter, Balaban, Amir & O’Connor Jingmai K. “Reinterpretation of Purpoted Molting Evidence in The Thermopolis Archaeopteryx” Accessed June 2022
- Smith, Joe “Angry Birds: Why Molting Makes Our Feathered Friends Grumpy” Accessed June 2022