It’s a fact of life that all of our feathered companions have to go through “P.M.S.” multiple times a year! For want of a better word, I’m referring to “Parrot Molting Syndrome!” It denotes mental and physical changes that might lead to behavioral issues. When Amber, my 4-year-old Blue and Gold Macaw, molts, you’d believe she was “P.M.S.ing!” She’s suddenly grumpy, angry, and cranky. Why? It is quite taxing on the body to replace every single feather! New pin feathers are irritating and, if stroked incorrectly, may be unpleasant. During this period, the body requires additional nutrients, mainly fatty acids and minerals, particularly calcium. So it’s a period of adjustment that may be made easier with your assistance.
Let’s have a look at the molting and feather production dynamics. Feather accounts for 10% to 20% of body weight. Which necessitates the consumption of particular nutrients. The majority of birds in our houses are malnourished – it is still the biggest cause of mortality among companion birds – and you may be unaware of it! The essential amino acids lysine and methionine, as well as choline and riboflavin, are particularly crucial. Long molt intervals, inability to generate new feathers, and feather defects and deformities may all be signs of nutritional inadequacies. Some birds seem to be constantly molting, whilst others go through a visible molt once or twice a year. During the frigid winter, most birds develop thicker plumage than in the summer. Softbills that are exposed to too much artificial light will undergo an additional or protracted molt. It may be beneficial to cover the cage at night. Parrots molt year round rather than seasonally, however it is more noticeable in late summer.
Heavy molts DO have an effect on personality! Along with the grouchiness, you may notice a reduction in playing or conversing. Your bird may demand more of your attention in the hopes that you will assist in preening the impending pin feathers. Bathing more often is also beneficial during molting. Expect to notice a lot more dander and “floaties” in the air, as well as a lot of feathers that have dropped.
Because protein makes up about 90% of a feather, molting is a good time to increase your protein intake. Shredded chicken, hard boiled egg whites, tofu, cottage cheese, and yogurt, as well as lentils, whole grains, and nuts, are all acceptable additions. Grain and nut fatty acids are also required for healthy skin and feathers. During molts, I normally use additional flax seed oil. Ensure that excellent pellets are provided on a regular basis, as well as plenty of vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, yams, pumpkin, maize, and swiss chard.
When trimming wings during a molt, keep an eye out for blood feathers on the wings. Clipping a feather with a live blood supply might result in continuous bleeding, necessitating the feather’s removal to halt the bleeding. If your bird’s wings are cut mid-molt, bear in mind that a touch-up trim may be required later to protect your bird from becoming overly flighted.
Remember that molting is a normal process that all birds go through in order to replace worn out feathers with sparkling new ones! It’s natural to feel irritable and cranky throughout this period. Help by preening pin feathers, bathing them often, and supplementing their nourishment.
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