The first time you see your cockatiel lose so many of their feathers can be a bit shocking! Molting is a normal process, though, and a necessary part of growing up.
Cockatiels typically molt two or three times a year, starting when they are six to nine months old. If your cockatiel sheds their feathers before six months, it could be a sign that they are unwell. However, molting is a normal and healthy part of an adult bird’s life, typically taking place in the fall and the spring.
If you want to know how to take care of your bird when they are molting, this article will get you started!
It will also give you some pointers about when molting is something you should be worried about, as there are times when losing feathers is a sign of underlying health conditions.
What to Expect From the Molting Process
Cockatiels molt constantly, but they experience two or three more intense molting periods every year, each lasting for 7 to 14 days.
By molting constantly, birds can slowly let their feathers regrow as they are lost, which means they will never be left naked and cold.
It would be hard to survive in the wild if they lost all their feathers and couldn’t fly for two months while waiting for them to grow back!
A few times a year, you will see loads of feathers at the bottom of the cage.
You might also notice ‘dandruff’ flakes as your bird loses some keratin coatings. Bald patches are not a normal part of healthy molting.
So, if you notice bare areas on your bird, you should go to the vet and get this checked out.
The Effect of Molting on Your Cockatiel
Molting can be pretty overwhelming for your cockatiel.
Losing lots of feathers makes them more vulnerable to the cold, and it takes a lot of energy to regrow their plumage.
You’ll probably notice that they feel grumpy, tired, and stressed during this time. That’s normal, though, so don’t worry too much.
You need to keep them nice and warm when they don’t have their feathers, so avoid letting a draft in.
Also, consider covering their cage at night to help keep them cozy. In addition, they need a healthy diet that provides all the energy essential for regrowth.
When your cockatiel is molting, they will have particular needs for:
- Vitamin A (found in carrots, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers)
- Calcium (green leafy vegetables like kale or broccoli will do the trick)
Some people like to give scrambled eggs to their cockatiels to help them with the protein. This is fine as an occasional treat, but be sure to cook the eggs thoroughly.
If your cockatiel doesn’t have a heavy molt at least once a year, they might have underlying health issues. In that case, you should consult your vet.
You should also be concerned if your cockatiel has visible bald patches at any point in the year.
Bald patches are frequently a sign of malnutrition or stress, so you’ll need to get to the bottom of the problem.
Why Do Cockatiels Molt?
When cockatiels hatch, their plumage is quite dull. You will notice that their feathers become brighter after they first grow back, which is one of the ways they attract a mate. (You’ve got to look your best for the ladies!)
Molting regularly also helps keep their feathers in top condition so that they can fly longer distances and protect themselves from predators.
Helping Out With the Molting Process
Cockatiels find it tricky to get to the feathers around their face and neck. If you have a good relationship with your bird, they will appreciate you gently scratching around those areas when they are molting.
Cockatiels tend to feel a little cranky at this time of the year, so don’t be offended if they don’t want your help!
Does it hurt the cockatiels when they molt?
Molting isn’t a painful process for birds, but they tend to feel stressed and grumpy around molting times. As their feathers grow back, your bird will feel quite itchy.
They might enjoy a mist bath to help them shed any dry skin. (Give them a choice, though. Don’t just douse them!)
How long does it take for cockatiels to grow back their feathers?
It can take several weeks for cockatiels to grow back their feathers, but you shouldn’t notice any bald patches, as they shed different feathers at different times.
Molting is an essential part of your cockatiel’s development, and it’s typically nothing to be concerned about.
However, there are times when shedding feathers can be a sign of stress or underlying health conditions, so keep a close eye on your bird for any other indications of illness.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you found it helpful!
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.