What’s the difference between feather preening, plucking & molting.

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We know why birds molt but what triggers a molt is a bit more complex. DYK – Your Bird Keeps Better Time than a Swiss Watch? Your bird operates two internal clocks: the circadian clock which keeps track of the hours and a circannual clock which acts as a perpetual calendar.

We talk alot about the importance of lighting to your bird.

One of the key reasons is a circadian clock runs best when your bird receives the wavelengths of light that nature meant it to get.

Although sunlight appears to be white, it’s actually formed by a full spectrum of light.

The circadian clock reacts to red light (about 640nm on the lighting spectrum).

Your birds get a different mixture of light and generally relys on artificial Full-spectrum lighting because the windows in our homes filter all the valuable UVA and UVB out of the sunlight before it reaches your bird.

Thus caged birds kept in a home will have a different molting cycle than birds kept in outdoor aviaries that are exposed to natural sunlight on a regular basis.

Parrots In the wild are not normally slaves to their calendar clocks because they come from equatorial regions of the planet where there’s very little difference between the length of days of summer and winter (as opposed to many other species of birds).

Many birds dovetail their molting with their reproductive cycles.

If you have a bird that is broody and molting, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on them and weigh them at least weekly.

The production of new feathers and hormonal changes divert valuable caloric resources that can put your bird at a higher risk than normal because their body is less prepared to fight bacterial infection – we learned this with our cockatiel Popcorn.

As usual, it’s hard to predict how your bird will react to a molt.

I know my reaction is to keep a small vacuum close by because it seems as though I find feathers freakin’ EVERYWHERE.

Popcorn tends to feel a bit low energy as your bird may exhibit.

Like I said before there’s a lot of energy drain on the production of the new feathers.

Some of us will let their hair (or beard) grow out.

Eventually some trimming needs to be done in order to keep ourselves not looking like bush people.

For birds the process is called preening which:

  • Removes dirt
  • Realigns a feather structure
  • Help spread the birds body oils (coming from the preening “uropygial” gland) oils help waterproof feathers
  • Provide social activity between birds when available

3 3 1 Whats the difference between feather preening, plucking & molting.

“allo preening” when one bird preens another bird

What can go wrong with feather growth?

Baby parrots who miss even a half a day with their feeding may see reduced blood level of nutrients which may create stress bars on their feathers.

Feather plucking or self-mutilation can begin as preening that develops into over preening.


Also published on Medium.

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Author:

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they would visit their monthly birdie brunch in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.