Feathers can make or break the way a bird looks.
Molting is the normal process by which old, worn feathers are lost and subsequently replaced by new ones. Most birds drop a small number of feathers intermittently throughout the year and have 1-2 heavy molts each year. Birds do not get bald areas like some may think. It is a very gradual and settle transition period. You may see around the birds area feathers that have dropped to the floor. Sometimes they sit and preen and may have several of the downy like feathers that are ready to come out and it looks as if they may be plucking but you must not get plucking mixed up with molting.
Feather Plucking can be a big problem. Type of birds that are prone to feather plucking is Cockatoos, African Greys and many other species can have this problem. It can be due to something medically wrong with the bird, high level stress related problem, sexual, dietary, parasites and among many other reasons. If your bird is sitting there from pure boredom that can also bring on plucking. Plucking can also lead to mutilation, where the bird starts pick into the skin and make bleeding sores, this is a very serious situation and must be taken care of in the beginning otherwise it will get out of hand and then becomes a habit to the bird. Breeding birds can pluck their mate, this is normally part of the love and courtship of the pair.
Preening is grooming procedure for the bird to clean its feathers and keep them looking good. Birds preen to remove old dry sheaths. There is an oil gland just above the tail area (Pionus do not have this oil gland) and they will rub the head on it to spread the oil onto the other feathers, this helps to water proof the feathers. A bird can spend quite a long period of time to preen all of the feathers or they may do a few at a time. Giving the bird a spray bath will help promote preening. This should be normal hygiene for the bird on a daily basis. Do not use shampoo on a bird as it removes the oils from the feathers. When feathers start look drab a spray bath will help to make the feathers look better.
Broken Feathers many times feathers are broken near the base
of a blood feather and this can be serious if excess bleeding occurs.
Read on our
General Care page on how to treat a
broken blood feather. If an actual blood feather is broken then
there is not an alternative to stop the bleeding except for extracting the
broken blood feather. Other feathers that are not a blood feather
that break can just be
cut off at the break or by twisting them off.
Flight Feathers are the main feathers that help to make the bird take flight as well as the tail feathers play an important role in flying. Read on our Wing and Nail Clipping page for more info. You must remember that after a birds flight feathers are clipped they remain like that until they start molting and growing in new ones. It is gradual and as few grow in, it is possible for the bird to be able to take flight especially smaller lighter weight birds. It can be anywhere from 2 to 4 months for new feathers to start growing back in but is also based on at the time of the clipping as to when the birds time is for molting.
Updated Nov. 5, 2011