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Parakeet Molting

Molting is a part of the parakeet’s yearly cycle, and involves the gradual replacement of all the feathers. The process is gradual to ensure that the bird is still able to fly and keep warm as it molts. A parakeet should never have bald patches during this time - if they do this could indicate that they are either ill or stressed out. New feathers appear as white, sharp stubs known as pin-feathers. These cause an odd, spiky look.

As a parakeet molts, they gradually replace every single one of their feathers. Larger feathers will collect at the bottom of the cage and the smaller, downy feathers will drift across your furniture and floor, so slight and insubstantial that they are almost impossible to sweep up. A wet cloth will help, but a vacuum cleaner is the best way to get rid of these, as long as your birds don’t fly into a panic every time they hear or see one that is.

green parakeet holding a feather
Like all birds, parakeets have an annual molt

A molt usually takes two to three weeks to complete. With primary and tail feathers dropping out, your bird may not feel as confident flying, so don’t get worried if they seem a little perch-bound. A bird that is used to flying around your living room may opt for a quiet night in; and, again, this is totally normal. They may also take on a spiky look as the new pin feathers thirst through the depleted head and neck feathers

You can assist your parakeet during this time by making sure their food bowl is topped up and that they have access to a mineral block. As these things help promote strong, healthy feather growth.

Parakeet Molt Problems

Sometimes this molting process may stall, usually due to malnutrition or stress. The neck and head regions will look threadbare, and new pin feathers may have black or brown tips. If you happen to notice any abnormal feather growth or feather loss, you should report this to a vet, who will diagnose the problem and recommended an action to get your parakeet molting healthily again.

Some birds may develop a condition called “French Molt”, in which feathers drop out and don’t grow back. See the Parakeet Feathers French molt section, below.

Parakeet Behavior When Molting

First time parakeet keepers may worry when their birds’ first moult comes about, as their personalities often change and their energy may ebb. Molting doesn’t cause them any physical discomfort, but tends to make them more passive than usual. Molting birds will often sit for long periods without saying or doing much. Older birds usually take the opportunity to get some more sleep. In some cases, a bird may be jumpier than usual, and may panic at sudden noise or movement. Angry squawks and attempts to bite your hand will greet your attempts to pacify them, so it’s best to let nature run its course.

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Jackie, 17 November 2022

When molting, do parakeets help the feathers fall out or do they fall out on their own?

Rin, 10 December 2021

my budgie is little more puffy when moulting. is that normal?

Adnuly, 6 July 2021

Hello, I live in Europe, and it's very hot during the summer here, so my budgies usually molt in the spring.. but I've noticed that my female budgie Bella, has been acting weird lately, and that she has some tiny black spots on her head, and loss of feathers under her wings. Those spots started to appear 2-3 days ago, but today they were really black and intense. I'm not sure if she's molding because she didn't look like that last year, when she did mold. I'm afraid it might me mites, but since I'm under-age, I can't go to the vet myself. My parents think it's nothing and they don't want to take her. The male budgie seems to be fine. I don't know what to do.

Linda, 22 April 2020

I lost a beautiful parakeet to two nasty parakeets that bullied that poor bird. I blame myself for not separating it from the bullies. Now that it is gone they fight with each other.

Marilda, 8 January 2020

She just got to the little pen feathers showing up.