Does It Hurt When Birds Lose Their Feathers? (What You Need to Know)

Feathers are the most defining features of a bird. However, as complex and as capable feathers are, they do not last through a bird’s lifetime; after some time, they begin to come off and force the birds to replace them.

So, does it hurt when birds lose their feathers? Birds do not hurt when losing their feathers, naturally. The process is similar to dogs or cats losing fur. However, it may hurt when yanked out. There are blood vessels leading to the skin holding the feathers, which bleed and hurt even more when their feathers are pulled. Feathers are similar to hair; when they shed naturally, the process is painless for the birds.

The appearance of a bird radically changes through their molting period; they generally appear odd and patchy. It’s not uncommon for bird owners to agonize over the transition and wonder whether their bird is in pain or in general good health.

Do Birds Feel Pain in Their Wings?

It isn’t too hard to notice when a bird is in pain. When a bird is in pain, it may limp or hold its wing at a new and strange angle. However, the bird may just stare at you blankly and do nothing which may leave you to wonder, do birds feel pain in their wings?

Feathers lack nerves; therefore, birds cannot feel pain in their feathers. However, birds may feel pain if you tug on their feathers. The skin to which the feathers attach has nerve endings and muscles that manage the feathers. If the force applied to the feathers reaches the skin they are attached to, then the bird will feel pain.

Clipping the wings of a bird is painless. Provided the clipping is done in the right way, the procedure is almost the same as a human receiving a haircut. Clipping a bird’s wing involves trimming the tips of the bird’s wings at about three to six long flight feathers. The clipping of a wing is like trimming your nails and does not hurt or pain the bird.

The underlying skin on the wing of a bird is what may cause pain to a bird. If a bird appears to have an injured wing, check whether the bird has some fluffed-out feathers along the wing. Fluffed-out feathers may mean that the bird has an underlying wound.

The feather wings may not hurt but plucking out the feathers on the wing of a bird does. Feather plucking in birds is highly upsetting. Although birds with a behavioral problem also pluck their feathers, the whole ordeal is painful and hurts them.

A bird may also experience pain when new feathers start to sprout after molting. When new feathers begin to grow, they contain blood over a short period of time; they are referred to as pin feathers since they usually appear as sharp little pins. Such features contain active blood vessels which will pain the bird and bleed profusely if hurt.

Do Birds Lose Weight When Molting?

Molting is the process where birds naturally lose their feathers. The process is natural and not harmful to your bird. If you notice a weight loss in your bird during molting, is it normal or a reason for alarm?

Feathers contribute to the overall weight of a bird; therefore, a loss of the feathers will inevitably cause a weight reduction. Additionally, the visual change in a bird’s appearance after shedding feathers makes the weight loss appear more pronounced than it actually may be.

Molting takes up a lot of a bird’s energy; the energy release causes a bit of a drop in the birds’ weight. During the whole molting process, your bird will use up many of its nutrients and energy to develop all the new feathers. Birds sleep more than usual during this time and may not even have the energy to play or sing as they usually would.

Your bird is more susceptible to falling sick during molting, which may lead them to lose some weight. Molting is a stressful period for the bird and stress can impair your bird’s immune system, making it a lot easier for your bird to fall ill. The best way to counter this is to provide your bird with nutritious meals high in vitamin A to enhance their immune system.

All the bodily changes during molting cause birds to lose their appetite, which causes weight loss. Molting is an overall stressful period for most birds. It’s not uncommon for birds to lose their appetite. Birds are cranky, stressed, and even appear sad during molting.

Their stress is often a result of vulnerability since their lack of energy makes them feel helpless from any threats. It’s best to supplement your bird’s diet with some soft food mixes, mainly because they are likely to have lost their appetite already.

However, weight loss in birds should not be excessive. The weight loss is minimal and appropriate in relation to their bodily changes. Provide your bird with a healthy diet during the process and clean them regularly. If you notice that the weight loss may be a little excessive, then there isn’t any harm in seeking a vet’s input.

Do Cockatiels Lose Weight When Molting?

Cockatiels begin their adult molting when they are between six and twelve months, depending on the bird, and, at times, the weather. After the first molt, cockatiels will experience a heavy molt once or twice a year; therefore, is losing weight normal for your cockatiel during this period?

The initial loss of feathers causes a general drop in weight for cockatiels. Feathers constitute up to 10% of the total weight of a bird and they also weigh up to three times the weight of the bird’s skeleton. Although science has shown that birds have hollow bones, loss of features during molting causes a reduction in the cockatiel’s weight.

Cockatiels may lose weight during the molting period since the process takes up many of the cockatiel’s nutrients to facilitate the process. For instance, their body rapidly synthesizes their protein and calcium to facilitate the molting. In fact, to help regulate and maintain their weight, supplement your cockatiel’s diet with some dark leafy green vegetables rich in calcium, for instance, parsley and kale.

Cockatiels tend to lose weight due to the molting stress. You’re likely to notice a lot of crankiness coming from your otherwise happy bird. The crankiness and moodiness are a result of the stress involved in molting. Stress often leads many cockatiels to lose general body weight.

How To Take Care of Your Bird During Molting?

Feathers primarily consist of collagen and possess excellent flexibility and resistance with minimum weights. For your bird to undergo the entire molting process in the right way, you need to consider a couple of matters and provide your bird with all it may need.

During molting, provide your bird with an adequate diet; a healthy diet is essential in making the bird’s plumage soft, flexible, and beautiful. Remember, the protein load must be sufficient to help your bird synthesize the large amounts of collagen needed. Your bird also requires a sufficient amount of minerals, as they are responsible for developing the pen’s molecular structure and facilitating the digestion of food.

Also, maintain adequate hygiene levels and the overall health of your bird. Your bird is under stress as they shed their feathers. Therefore, you must ensure they are in good health to prevent their defenses from lowering, which causes infection. When these conditions are well maintained, your bird will successfully shed its feathers and proceed to grow a healthy new layer.

During this period, ensure that your bird is in a well-ventilated room with adequate humidity; these prevent new feathers from drying too fast. When the ventilation is lacking, the urea is eliminated via the feces ferments, and, in turn, increases your bird’s discomfort. Worse still, this reduces your bird’s appetite.

Also, wash your bird frequently to maintain the skin’s elasticity. The elasticity ensures that the feathers pluck without difficulty. Failing to clean your bird may lead your bird to develop a cyst due to the pen growing underneath the skin.

Avoid excessive sunbathing. Notwithstanding, taking your bird out in the sun for vitamin D is essential for calcium synthesis, which is essential during molting. However, when the sunbathing is in excess, the plumage may lose its luster. Sunbathe at the right time and in moderation to allow the fibers to moisten up and gain elasticity.

Wrap Up

A cockatiel experiences its first molt when it’s almost one-year-old. During this first molt, the cockatiel loses its baby feathers. After the first molt, it continues to experience heavy molting almost twice every year. The process is painless, both in the first stage and all future recurrent stages. However, it’s a challenging time for most birds, and they may remain cranky all through.

Expect the bird to feel fatigued. Molting takes up many nutrients, which drains the bird’s energy. Additionally, your cockatiel will feel very vulnerable since they are operating with depleted energy levels. Most are concerned about their inability to escape any possible dangers. Expect your cockatiel to retreat more to dark corners away from any interaction.

Cockatiels and all other birds, in general, suffer significant discomfort as a result of molting. Aside from losing features, they remain covered in keratin sheaths that are pretty itchy. Pinfeathers, on the other hand, are also incredibly itchy; the bird will attempt to use other objects for scratching itself. The key in molting is to relax, stay patient, and wait for things to go back to normal.

Bal Kang

Bal Kang is an owner of several pets including reptiles, cats and dogs. An avid writer, who loves to share her insights into caring for pets.

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