Do Bird Feathers Grow Back? Reasons & Preventive Measures for Feather Loss

Do Bird Feathers Grow Back

Chirp, chirp, chirp! That’s all you hear early in the morning, and it’s the sweetest melody out there. The soft morning breeze accompanying the sweet chirps of the birds can make your whole day melodious.

Having a pet bird is just as sweet as the feeling you just had thinking about the described scenario. They’re beautiful and can cheer you up with their quirky behavior. Can you tell what’s a bird’s best feature? Come on, guess. If you have guessed feathers, you’re correct!

Feathers are the most essential part of a bird. It helps them in flight, insulation, and camouflage. These feathers also come in use during courtship and communication. But what if your bird’s feathers start to fall? What would happen to them? Do bird feathers grow back, or will they be naked forever?

In this article, we answer all your questions and guide you through the process of stopping your bird from plucking its feathers. Yes, birds do that. They pluck their own feathers.

Do Bird Feathers Grow Back?

Bird owners have asked us often if their beloved pet’s feathers will grow back. Yes, your bird’s feathers will grow back in 1 to 12 months unless there’s any serious damage to the underlying skin structure.

The regrowth process occurs with the development of feather follicles, tiny sacs that produce new feathers. Slowly, the feathers will start to grow with the formation of the follicles.

Usually, birds lose their feathers due to the molting process, but there are also many more reasons for a bird to lose its feathers. As a responsible pet owner, you should know the reasons behind it and help your bird overcome the situation.

Fun Fact: Bird feathers don’t keep growing like our hair or nails. They reach a certain length and stop growing.

Why Do Birds Lose Feathers?

As we mentioned earlier, there are various reasons for your birds to lose feathers. But the possible causes are molting and plucking. Feather loss can also occur due to skin infections, internal organ damage, cancer, etc. So, it’s vital to notice the small details in your bird’s feather loss.

small featherless bird playing with a ball
Image credit: atsurkan, Shutterstock

Reasons for Feather Loss in Birds

Let’s look at the reasons for your bird’s feather loss.

  1. Mites and lice
  2. Fungal and bacterial infections
  3. Dietary deficiencies
  4. Psittacine beak and feather disease
  5. Cancer
  6. Molting
  7. Skin damage
  8. Hormonal Imbalance
  9. Plucking of feathers
  10. Injury

Although there are many reasons for feather loss, we will talk about the two most common reasons: Molting and the Plucking of feathers.

Everything About a Moulting Bird

Before we move on to the whole process of molting, let’s start small by describing it a little and knowing the reason behind molting. 

What’s Molting?

Molting is the process of birds shedding feathers. It’s actually natural, and there’s nothing to worry about if your cockatoo, parrot, love birds, etc., are showing signs of some feather loss. Birds can molt once in a year or several times even. Some birds lose almost all feathers, whereas others only a few. The feather growth time also varies for different bird species.

Why Do Birds Molt?

Birds use their feathers for warmth, flight, and many more things for which it’s under constant stress and gets damaged over time. Their daily activities like flying, brushing against trees or bushes, anting, sunbathing, dust bathing, preening, etc., causes friction leading to the damage of flight feathers. Moreover, as the feathers age, their keratin weakens, making them automatically fall off your bird.

Naturally, as the feathers weaken over time, it needs to be shed to make room for new feathers to grow. That’s when the process of molting takes place.

Birds molt in a gradual, bilateral, and symmetrical pattern, so they don’t lose all their feathers at once because losing all the feathers will lead to being defenseless and flightless.

Bird Molting Cycles

Not all birds shed feathers the same way. They go through different cycles in their lifetime. Some spend specific periods in a year experiencing various feather changes. Do you find it interesting? So, let’s know about it a little more.

Generally, there are four types of molting cycles in birds’ life.

  1. Juvenile to Adult Period: Young birds have down feathers or subadult plumage, which they shed as they mature. For larger bird species, this type of molting takes place throughout a couple of cycles to get to adult plumage.
  1. Breeding to Non-Breeding and vice-versa: Have you seen birds dancing for other birds? It’s their mating call. Some birds shed boring, dull feathers before the mating season to regrow colorful, new feathers to attract mates.

    The same happens after mating season ends. The birds again lose their bright, colorful feathers to regrow their dull feathers to camouflage themselves better from their predators.
  1. General Feather Regrowth: This regrowth cycle occurs even if the bird doesn’t change its feathers’ colors. It helps them keep their feathers healthy by replacing their worn-out feathers with new ones.

Everything About Birds Plucking Feathers

You may be thinking, “Don’t birds pluck their feathers naturally? So what’s there to worry about?” Yes, you’re right. Birds do pluck their feathers sometimes, but the worry part comes when it becomes an obsessive behavior.

Most bird owners start worrying when their birds start compulsively plucking their feathers. They should be worried because this behavior isn’t normal, and underlying health problems can be a reason.

featherless bird sitting in the balcony
Image credit: Charlotte Bleijenberg, Shutterstock

Why is My Bird Plucking Feathers?

Listen to us carefully when we say underlying health problems. These health problems can be both physical and mental. It may seem a little odd to you, but birds can have mental issues.

Let’s have a look at a few of the reasons for your bird plucking off their feathers.

  1. Feather cysts
  2. Ringworm
  3. Liver disease
  4. Cancer
  5. Skin inflammations and infections
  6. Allergies(pollen, mold, food)
  7. Heavy metal poisoning
  8. Poor nutrition or malnutrition
  9. Skin dryness
  10. Lack of natural sunlight and fresh air
  11. Excessive heat
  12. Loud noises
  13. Emotional stress
  14. Boredom
  15. Loneliness
  16. Lack of exercise or playtime
  17. Sexual frustration

Aside from these, birds can have anxiety when brought to a new environment. Any massive changes in their circadian rhythm., lack of attention, or care can lead to your bird plucking all its feathers. So, you need to keep an eye out for this abnormal behavior.

How to Differentiate Between Molting & Feather Plucking?

Sometimes, it can be hard to differentiate between molting and feather plucking as both look the same. But, if you notice carefully, there are some visible differences. If you can’t do it yourself, we’re here to help you.

  • Feather plucking won’t have a pattern like molting. Your bird can pull off feathers from their back, front, and neck because these are the most accessible parts to reach with its beak. Moreover, you’ll also notice patchiness in the case of feather plucking.
  • Your bird’s beak will damage the feather shaft in case of plucking. If your bird has been plucking their feathers, the widest part at the end of the feather will look damaged.
  • Your bird’s wing feathers will fall one by one while molting. Compare the wing feathers; if you see identical two feathers from the wings, your bird is molting.
  • You will notice your bird, such as parrots, parakeets, or cockatiels tugging hard on their healthy feathers for a long time. During molting, their feathers are already loose, so no tugging is required.
  • Shortly after molting, your birds will form delicate, pin feathers. But if it’s feather plucking, there will be no feathers for a long time.

How to Stop My Bird from Tugging Their Feathers?

If you doubt your pet bird is pulling their feathers off, take them to a veterinary clinic for a thorough checkup. Otherwise, it can become a habit.

Moreover, your vet will be able to identify what’s causing this abnormal behavior and provide treatment for it.  Even if your bird is cured, they will still instill in plucking feathers, so you must also incorporate different behavioral therapy techniques.

If you are not able to contact your bird to the vet immediately, here are four tips for you to discourage your bird from tugging its feathers.

Tip# 1: Distract with their favorite toys

Birds love attention and playtime. Make some time for your beloved pet in their time of need. Play with them with their favorite toys whenever you see them tugging on their feathers. It will help keep them distracted.

Tip# 2: Give your bird enough sunlight, fresh air, and attention

To control their unhealthy feather plucking, take them outside on a walk or in your backyard. They will enjoy the open environment and your company and get the necessary sunlight. They will slowly forget all about their bad habit.

Tip# 3: Maintain a daily routine

Birds love a good routine. Sometimes when their routine isn’t maintained, they don’t get enough sleep and can develop feather plucking habits. So, try to stick to a routine. Feed them a nutritionally balanced diet, interact with them, and give them the support they need.

Tip# 4: Make the space more comfortable

Birds are sensitive to strong, pungent smells, loud noises, and temperature changes. Keep them in a safe place away from all the chaos. You will often see owners keeping their birds free in the house. Try that! Moreover, it’s a problem if your bird cage is too small.

Hopefully, these tips will help your bird forget the unhealthy habit of feather plucking until you can get them checked by a veterinarian.

Bonus Question:

Are There Any Birds with No Feathers?

What do you think? Are there birds with no feathers?

It’s ok; you don’t have to ram your head for it. We will tell you. The answer is no; there are no featherless birds. Birds always have feathers, whether in captivity or in the wild.

But there is a naked birdie or featherless bird, though not by choice. Rhea is a lovebird with Psittacine Beak disease, causing her to lose all her beautiful feathers. But her owner loves her a lot and shares her story on social media platforms.

Related Article: Clipping Wings of Your Pet Bird

Love Your Birdies, With or Without Feathers

Just like Isabella, Rhea’s owner, we all should love our pets as they are. It shouldn’t matter to us if they have feathers or not because they will love us anyhow.

We hope to have answered your question, “do bird feathers grow back?” satisfactorily. We also hope you got to understand your birdie pal better than before through this article. You can always count on us because we want the best for you and your pets.

If you are searching for more informational content, our website has it all. Just take a stroll and find your interests! Have a fantastic day with your chirp, chirp!

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