Molting is a natural process for birds and can indicate that they are healthy and that everything is functioning properly. Budgies, like most other birds, often molt, shedding their old dull feathers in order for new beautiful and vibrant feathers to grow.
When a budgie first molts, it can last anywhere between 2-3 weeks. Once the molt is complete, your budgie will have lost all baby feathers, and these feathers will be replaced by their vibrant adult feathers. Your bird will transform before your eyes from that baby look to the full-grown bird look.
Molts can be a special and exhausting time for your budgie, and it is good to know how to handle them and what to expect. What can go wrong? Is there something you can do to help?
These questions weigh on our minds as pet owners, and we want to make sure our babies are healthy and comfortable as can be while molting.
How Often do Budgie Molt?
Typically, budgies molt on a semi-annual basis, but it can vary from bird to bird. Some budgies will molt every six months or so, and some may only molt once a year. It is dependent upon your bird, every bird is different, and you can’t always predict when they will molt.
Just like it is unpredictable how many times any certain budgie will molt, it is unpredictable how long it will last as well. Some lucky budgies can finish their molt is as quick as a week or so, while others on the opposite end can take up to 10 weeks! How often a budgie will molt can be caused by a myriad of different things such as:
- A change in their environment
- Change in seasons
- Parasites – both internal and external
These factors don’t always cause a molt to happen, but it definitely can increase the chances and frequency of a molt.
What Are Some of the Signs Your Budgie is Molting?
There are many signs that your budgie is starting to molt. Some of them are fairly obvious, like the piles of feathers you will see lining the floor of their cage, and others not so obvious.
When some of the smaller feathers are coming in, this can be itchy for your bird, and you may see them scratching and rubbing up against their cages to scratch their itch. They may try and itch in funny positions as well, to get all the spots they can’t normally reach. This is a normal thing, so don’t be alarmed.
Another sign maybe be some lethargy since molting can be draining on your budgie. On top of the lethargy, they can also be much less vocal due to the lack of energy. They will be back to their normal, squawking selves quickly, though.
When the new feathers, typically referred to as pin feathers start to grow, they are little white nubs when they first break the skin and grow into their beautiful adult feathers. Molting helps to replace the dull, dead feather so healthy new ones can grow, which is essential for birds to be able to fly properly.
How to Help a Molting Budgie?
One of the best things you can do to aid your budgie while they are molting is to make sure that they are comfortable!
It’s the little things like making sure that their food is always full, and offering fresh veggies snacks while they molt will help provide them with the vitamins and nutrients that they need during their molt. A nice cuttlebone or something to gnaw on may be a nice distraction as well.
Making sure that they have a small bath available will be a great help. Being able to bathe will help their feathers fall out naturally, and provide a little comfort as budgies love to bathe.
You may also want to try and regulate the temperate a little more as the loosing of the feathers will leave the bird a little chilly. Turning the thermostat up a couple of degrees or making sure there isn’t a draft or fan pointed at their cage will be a huge help for keeping them warm.
Keep their cage clean, as much as possible. Your bird will lose a LOT of feathers, and fairly quickly. It is best to keep up on the cleaning as much as possible, as it will be a twofer – keeping feathers out of your home and keeping your budgie happy by cleaning up the mess.
What Time of Year do Budgie Molt?
There isn’t a specific time of the year that budgies molt. They usually molt on a semi-annual basis, meaning twice a year, but some can molt up to three times a year. Some unlucky birds can even molt every few months, making it feel like an endless cycle of losing and growing back feathers.
Since budgies typically live indoors in a controlled climate, they can molt in any season. Even with living indoors, they can tell that the seasons are changing, but it doesn’t always affect their molting for a specific season or time of year.
It is unpredictable when a budgie molts and time doesn’t play a factor. A budgie can molt in February and turn around and molt again by April only to not molt again until November. It is not something we can put a time frame on as each bird’s internal clock is what will decide when it is time to molt again.
What Age do Budgies First Molt?
The typical age for budgies to the first molt is around 12 weeks of age, roughly at three months old. When they start their first molt, much like a child loses their baby teeth for their adult teeth to grow in, budgie similarly loses their baby feathers so that their adult ones can grow.
When your budgie starts to molt, its feathers will gradually fall out and won’t come out all at once. It is important to let the feathers fall out on their own, if you pull them out, they may not be fully ready to come out, and you may end up hurting your budgie. So please, let them fall out naturally!
When budgies go through their first molt, and any molt for that matter, they tend to be a little less lively. They are using more energy molting, so they get worn out easier form day to day life. Because of the hardship of molting and the expounding of energy, they can tend to get a little ill-tempered.
When they start their first molt, you will start to see the baby feathers gradually fall out. When the new ones grow in, they will be larger and more vibrant. And let’s face it, with the different colors and sizes of feathers, your bird may look a little silly for the few weeks it takes for them to molt.
Whether it is their first molt at 3 months or, of their 10th molt at 5 years old, your bird will go through countless molts in their lifetime. It is important to take extra special care of them while they do so.
They will shed their old dull feathers for those vibrant new ones, sometimes a few times a year, and sometimes less. Just remember to love them even when they still look funny with that mix of large and small and dull and vibrant feathers.