If you have noticed small pin-like feathers on your budgie, it is likely about to go through a molt. Molting can be a stressful time for a bird, so you will need to provide all the support you can give.
In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about budgie pin feathers and how to get your bird through this stressful time.
What are budgie pin feathers?
Pin feathers are small pin-like structures that come out of your bird’s skin. Each of these feathers is enclosed in a coating of keratin, which is what our fingernails are made of. The keratin protects this new feather from damage as it grows.
When looking at your bird’s pin feathers, you can see a vein of blood running through them. As the feather grows, the blood starts to recede until it is no longer in the feather.
Due to the presence of blood, many people refer to pin feathers as blood feathers.
How long do pin feathers last?
If your budgie is suffering through a molt, you both probably want it to be over as quickly as possible. Thankfully, pin feathers will usually last only a few days and the entire molt should last only 2-3 weeks.
While some birds’ molts do last a little longer, don’t be concerned unless your bird seems to be struggling with its pin feathers after about a month.
Budgies molt 1-3 times a year. In the wild, they normally molt in the spring, but in captivity, it can happen any time of year. Molting is an important process for birds because it rids them of their old feathers and lets them grow bright, shiny, new feathers.
In captivity, new feathers aren’t as important, but in the wild, budgies need perfect feathers to fly and attract mates.
Do pin feathers itch or hurt?
You may have noticed that your bird is a little more cranky than normal while preparing for and going through its molt. This is due to your bird’s pin feathers.
While pin feathers themselves aren’t painful, they are very fragile and sensitive. When things touch your bird’s pin feathers, the bird can experience discomfort or even pain.
Damage to the feathers can also be dangerous because so much blood is flowing into the feathers. It can be hard to get them to stop bleeding.
Should you remove budgie pin feathers?
While it may be tempting to remove your pet’s pin feathers and alleviate their discomfort, this can be extremely dangerous. Never remove a bird’s pin feathers unless it is medically necessary and then it should be done only by a vet.
Due to the amount of blood flowing to the feather, removing one could result in a large amount of blood loss and even death if veterinary intervention isn’t obtained in time.
Why does your budgie have so many pin feathers on its head?
In the wild, budgies are very social animals that often live in large groups. One of the advantages of having a flock around you is that there is always a friendly face to help you preen when you’re molting.
If you have only one budgie, it cannot preen the pin feathers on its head to remove the keratin. As your bird’s flock, you will have to help here. Once the feathers are ready to be preened, gently rub them with your fingers to remove the keratin.
You will know that the feathers are ready, as the keratin will be rather crumbly. Never try to preen your bird if its pin feathers are newer than 2 days old or if you have multiple birds.
If you attempt to help your bird with preening and it seems to be in pain or tries to get away from you, its feathers likely aren’t ready yet. Give your bird another day before you try again.
How to help your budgie
While your bird may be cranky and uncomfortable during a molt, you can do lots of things to help it cope.
Here are a few things you can give your bird to distract it and help it feel better:
Providing your bird with new toys is a great way to occupy it and keep its mind off its new feathers.
My bird’s favorites are toys it can shred, like hanging paper and cardboard toys, and ones it can climb, like plastic chains and woven mats.
Adding a new perch and some new hanging toys is sure to keep your bird happy and distracted while it molts.
While you don’t want to give your bird too many treats, offering some of its favorite fruits and vegetables can be a great way to strengthen your bond with your bird.
It can also cheer it up if the bird is gloomy from the discomfort of molting. If your bird loves nuts, like mine does, this is also a great time to give it as a treat.
To make the treats extra distracting, you can try feeding them with a foraging toy. There are lots of foraging toys designed for birds, and my birds love all of them.
This keeps the bird from eating its treats too fast and also gives it lots of mental and physical stimulation to keep the bird engaged and happy.
Offering your bird extra opportunities to bathe can be a great distraction. It can also help soothe the bird’s itchy skin and promote preening.
Because your bird will need to preen frequently to remove the keratin from its pin feathers, this stimulation will be helpful.
If you really want your bird to feel like royalty, you can offer two different baths: one with warm water and one with cold water and a few ice cubes.
Different birds like different water temperatures, so offering both to your bird will allow it to select the temperature it needs at the moment.
If your bird selects warm today, still offer both while it’s molting, as tomorrow it could feel like a nice cold bath.
What to do if a pin feather is bleeding
If your bird has broken one of its pin feathers and is bleeding, you need to act fast. Apply either styptic powder, flour, or corn starch to your bird’s bleeding feather and wait.
These should stop the bleeding and give the feather time to heal. If your bird is still bleeding after a few minutes, you will need to get it to the vet as soon as possible.
At the veterinarian’s office, your vet can examine your bird and decide if the feather needs to be removed.
Removing a feather should always be the last option, as this can damage the bird’s follicle and result in issues with molting in the future.
Because broken pin feathers are also very painful, your vet will be able to provide your bird with pain medication. If your bird has lost a lot of blood, the vet can give IV fluids to aid in recovery.
More to read:
- Reasons Why Budgies Puff Up
- Why Is My budgie’s Tail Bobbing? Tail Bobbing Treatment
- Budgie Swollen Bottom: Why And What to Do – (Explained)
My name is Niels Joensen, and I’m the creator of Wings and Beaks. I got my first two budgies at the age of 13, and right away, I fell in love with these beautiful tiny birds. Wings and Beaks is where I share my knowledge and passion for budgies with other bird owners.