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Lovebird Molting: Symptoms and Care

Sakina loves birds. She had two IRN parrots and two budgies. Now she has two lovebirds, one of which is a peach-faced male she hand-raised.

What Is Molting?

Molting is a process in birds in which their old feathers are replaced by new ones. This happens twice a year or more, depending on their age and the weather. Molting most commonly occurs when the weather changes.

When molting occurs, lovebirds lose their beautiful feathers.

When molting occurs, lovebirds lose their beautiful feathers.

How Does Molting Occur in Lovebirds?

The first notable change in your lovebird will be the distinct new feather "roots" that appear on their face and head. They will feel coarse under your touch. Their back may appear wrinkled, and you will also notice their base feathers (white in both of my lovebirds). When old feathers are lost, some portion of their back will appear white. Feathers are lost equally on both sides of the outer wings.

Feathers on a lovebird's back appear wrinkly along with the outer wings during molting.

Feathers on a lovebird's back appear wrinkly along with the outer wings during molting.

Symptoms of Molting In Lovebirds

A lovebird's personality changes when he/she undergoes molting. Here are the most common symptoms that your pet will display:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Unnecessary biting (even in hand-raised pets)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vigorous itching
  • Screaming
  • Irritability
  • New feather "roots" on face and head
  • Feather loss
  • Lot of preening (grooming of feathers)
  • Bird dust is blown (while preening or taking a bath)
  • Tiredness
  • Drowsiness

What to Do If Your Lovebird Molts?

For a lovebird, molting is a really tough time. It is important to understand that they will remain very moody and stubborn during this period. Imagine that you itch yourself day and night, feel irritated and lost from within, for maybe a month or more. This is what lovebirds face during a molt.

Be loving towards your pet and treat him/her with kindness and patience. They cannot tell you how they feel, but you have to understand their state and try to help them feel better and less irritated. I will now discuss some ways in which you can help your pet lovebird.

1. Give Your Pets Toys

Your pet is feeling grumpy. You can make him/her feel better by providing toys which are safe and fun. These include paper (for shredding), threaded hair ties (without plastic and metal) and cardboard. Providing toys helps by:

  • Putting your pet in a better mood
  • Distracting him/her when angry
  • Keeping your fingers safe from getting bitten
  • Releasing happy hormones in your pet, as the chewing triggers nerve endings present at the base of their beak.
  • Letting your pet to enjoy in this miserable condition

Mumu Shredding Paper for Fun

2. Give Your Pet a Bath

A bath will surely put your pet in a good mood and help him/her by reducing the itch. So, it is imperative that a bath is provided and that your pet is clean. Sometimes, pets don't want to bath. So, what should be done in that case?

  • Fill a bowl with clean, warm water.
  • Dip and splash water with your fingers.
  • Repeat words like "Wow," "Yay," "Yippee," and make a big show, making your pet believe that you're enjoying.
  • Ask your pet to join you as well, by sweet talking and calling them repeatedly.
  • He/She will step into the bowl and start bathing most probably.
  • If your pet doesn't bath even after this, you can place him/her in the cage and spray bath him/her with clean, warm water.

3. Give Your Pet Scratches

Molting induces a lot of itching in lovebirds. They will be seen scratching their heads and preening (cleaning their feathers) themselves for long periods of time. If your pet allows you to touch him/her, you can slowly scratch their heads and beak. Your bird will surely love this. It will also help your bird feel less itchy and increase your bond with them.

If your bird wants to be scratched, he/she will lay their head and rub it against your finger. Please do remember to scratch their heads softly as the developing feathers when scratched accidentally cause pain.

My lovebird Mumu loves to be scratched. I find him asleep by the time I scratch his head for more than half an hour!

What To Do If Your Lovebird Molts?

Activity ProcedureBenefits

Playing

Give your pets paper, hair ties (safe) and other toys to play with

Decreases irritability, boredom and sadness

Bathing

Let your pet bath in a bowl or spray bath him/her

Makes them less itchy

Scratching

Scratch your pet on the head, cheeks and neck

Helps them feel less itchy and increases your bond with them

Some Important Points

Lovebirds tend to be very aggressive during molting. It is up to us to take care of them and ourselves as well. A lovebird, whether hand raised or not, will tend to bite your fingers out of frustration. Please take care as the bites sting a lot and draw blood as well. If your pet bites you, gently tell him/her no and give them a toy instead.

Molting is really a tough time for your pets. Please be patient with them and love them as you do. Your pet may be aggressive and bite you at times, but that doesn't mean he/she will stay like that forever. Stay calm, help them feel better and do provide them proper nutrition as well.

Once the molting gets over, your pet will be back in their original, happy, and loving selves. Their feathers will appear brighter, healthier, and new.

Dear readers, you're welcome to share your experience or ask questions in the comments below. Happy Petting!

Notice the small bites on my thumb and forefinger. I had received them from my hand-raised lovebird Mumu. Please do take care as these bites sting and draw blood as well.

Notice the small bites on my thumb and forefinger. I had received them from my hand-raised lovebird Mumu. Please do take care as these bites sting and draw blood as well.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: My lovebird is losing feathers from her neck and chest, is this normal?

Answer: Can you see the patches of her skin? If her skin is visible, then it's not normal. Otherwise, it is okay for a bird to lose a few, old feathers.

Question: When do lovebirds molt for the first time?

Answer: They molt when they are around six months of age.

Question: How long does the molting process of lovebirds last?

Answer: It lasts from a few weeks to a month.

Question: Besides bathing, are there any ointments to help lovebirds during molting?

Answer: No, there aren't any ointments. It's good to let them play with chew toys.

Question: Can I feed my lovebird honey?

Answer: Not directly, but you can mix a bit of it with pellets (seeds, crushed dried fruits and honey rolled together and baked).

Question: My female lovebird has lost her chest and neck feathers. Her skin is visible. How can I help her?

Answer: Please give her multivitamins and make sure her diet is nutritious - include corn, banana, apple bits, spinach leaves and egg shells (once in a while).

Question: My lovebird has missing feathers on his neck portion only, is this normal? Is he molting or is he stressed and plucking the feathers?

Answer: Is the skin seen? If that is seen, then it's not normal. In molting, birds lose feathers but they grow back soon. Please give your bird some multivitamins (they'll be available in a local pet store).

Question: My lovebird's four tail feathers have molted at once. Is this normal?

Answer: How old is your lovebird? Molting is normal as long as the bird has regained all his/her lost feathers.

Question: Why is my lovebird molting a lot after she laid her infertile eggs?

Answer: This may be a weakness or that your lovebird is molting. Please give her crushed eggshells (this will replenish her calcium levels) and put 1-2 drops of multivitamins for lovebirds in her water bowl. Please give her baths regularly as they help lessen the itching.

Question: My male lovebird flew away, what should I do with the 4 chicks?

Answer: Please bring a new male lovebird home for your female lovebird. Please hand feed the chicks.

Question: My lovebird has developed a bald patch on the forehead and below the beak. It’s white in color now. Is it normal? The birdie is active and normal. Is the patch normal and will the hair grow back?

Answer: Yes, it's okay to have white feathers (these are the new growing ones). They will change color, my bird is also undergoing a similar situation with the chest feathers. This is molting and you can add 2-3 drops of multivitamins in the water bowl. This will help quicken the molting process and give the birdie shiny feathers. Don't worry.

Question: My lovebird appears to be molting. The shafts are still there. What can I do to help the process?

Answer: You can give them a bath. Give them multivitamins to help the molting process.

Question: My lovebird has an infection in his left eye. He is also itching his other eye. I also feel itchy after touching Derek. I'm from Maldives and we don't have good vets. Can you please help? Derek is two months old.

Answer: I don't think he's having an infection. He might be itchy coz he needs a bath. Place him in a bowl of warm water and bathe him. See if this changes anything. They itch near their eyes many times in a day, it's normal. My birds do this too.

Question: Do lovebirds lose feathers around their eyes when they molt for the first time?

Answer: Lovebirds can lose feathers generally, some areas more than the rest, but new feathers grow as well.

Question: My lovebird (3 years old) has lost all his tail feathers at once (we were napping and when we woke up, he had pulled them all out). Should we take our lovebird to a vet? We've never had this issue before with other lovebirds, and so far his behavior hasn't been weird.

Answer: Please take him to a vet. It must either be that he is frustrated or he must be itchy. The tail feathers will grow back but please have a vet check him up.

Question: My lovebird has been plucking since the day we got him, but it has recently gotten worse to the point where his chest is just skin and he's been taking them off his tail. Is it normal for my lovebird to pluck himself to sleep constantly?

Answer: No, this is not normal. Please take him to a vet. Feather plucking is a sign of nervousness, fear, or boredom. Please provide him nutritious food like corn kernels, apple bits, banana, spinach leaves, crushed eggshells, and add 1-2 drops of multivitamins for lovebirds in his water bowl.

Question: Why is my lovebird doing a lot of motion?

Answer: He/She must be molting.

Question: I have more than 30 lovebirds and they are scratching themselves continuously. What should I do to keep my lovebirds from scratching themselves?

Answer: Please spray bath them with lukewarm water. If they like to bath, please provide shallow vessels filled with lukewarm water. They are molting. The bath will lessen their itching.

Question: My peachfaced lovebird lost his tail feathers, because they got stood on and they were pulled out. Will they grow back?

Answer: Please check if he's okay. Is he bleeding or is there any wound? If so, apply turmeric powder as soon as possible. The feathers should grow back but please handle him with care.

Question: My lovebird has serious itching problems with the skin at the neck being visible. Would you know why and what are the solutions to help it grow back its feathers at the neck healthily?

Answer: Please give your bird multivitamins. Put a drop or two in the water bowl and monitor the drinking. Please give your bird a warm bath, that will help relax the muscles and lessen the itching. If your bird having any infection? Please visit a vet and see what's the advice.

© 2017 Sakina Nasir

Comments

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on May 16, 2020:

Hi Monica.

Please have him checked by a vet immediately. Provide nutritious food like corn kernels, apple, banana, spinach leaves, crushed egg shells and add 1-2 drops of multivitamins (for lovebirds) to his water bowl.

monica.martinez on May 15, 2020:

my lovebird has been plucking since the day we go it but recently it has gotten so much worse and he's already to the point where his chest is basically just skin, he takes his feathers off from under his wings, his back, his neck and he doesn't have a tail. it also normal for him to sleep a lot?

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on November 18, 2019:

Hello Rizwana. :)

How old are your lovebirds? If they are losing feathers, it's part of molting. Give them warm baths if they are 3 months old or above.

If the mother lovebird is not taking care of them, please shift them to a brooder and feed them yourself.

The feathers will develop slowly in newborns. Please don't worry.

Rizwana on November 17, 2019:

Hii

My lovebirds loosing their feathers...what should I do

2.some of chick come out from their nest very early the mummy lovebird not talking care of them...

3..some of chick had no feathers on their back... What should I do.. Please help I m worried about it...

Thanks

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on July 20, 2019:

@J. Cott Hi! So sorry for not seeing this comment. No, losing weight is not normal. Please up her diet by including corn kernels, spinach leaves, crushed egg shells (calcium source, twice a week), banana and apple bits. These foods help a lot. Hope your bird feels better. Please remove the dummy eggs. I think she's depressed.

J.Cott on April 13, 2019:

My female is sitting on "dummy eggs" but losing a lot of feathers and weight. Is this normal?

Md. Selim Reza on March 29, 2019:

Thank you sister

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on September 02, 2018:

@Eman Abdallah Kamel Hi! :) Thank you.

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on September 02, 2018:

A very informative article. Thanks for sharing.

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on August 06, 2018:

@Sheila Schneider Hi! :) Yes, the temperature needs to be higher. 69°F will be cold for them (if they want to bath). Until they dry off, the temperature should remain high.

The metal grid should be covered with at leasy 3 or 4 newspapers or magazine sheets. That way the lovebirds' feet won't get in between the spaces.

Sheila Schneider on August 06, 2018:

Hi,I enjoyed the articles and they are very incisive , thank you.Our new Lovebirds look oike your two lol My question is ,if I need the air on at 69 degrees,due to my COPD,will this affect the birdies bathing?Should I raise the temp wgen they bathe anc remove water bowl when they are not.Also there is metal grid in the bottom of the cage,above the paper tray,should I remove that or take up the grate? Thank you , I have to figure a way to keep cats off the cage and dogs from barking at them.I am thinking spraying the dogs and cats with a spritz of water and saying DOWN,OR NO! I hope they don't scare the new babies.

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on June 24, 2018:

@Bluey Hi! :) Thank you so much. I'm so glad I could be of help. I hope your lovebird isn't too annoyed. May he/she get through this molting stage peacefully.

Bluey on June 24, 2018:

Thank you so much for this post! It’s my first lovebird and he has all the symptoms that you’ve mentioned. I have learnt a lot from this post. Keep up the good work!! I will listen to your advice!

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on January 16, 2018:

@Isabella Rodriguez

Hi! :) Provide him/her warm water for bathing and he/she will feel less itchy. Mostly, lovebirds scratch their heads against surfaces they find suitable, but if they're pets, we can scratch their head/cheeks.

Isabella Rodriguez on January 04, 2018:

What if your parakeet does'nt let you scratch him how will he be satisfied?

Ashi on June 29, 2017:

@Sakina Nasir,

Wow, this is very nicely written hub. This information will be very useful for pet lovers. I am sure everyone going to love this hub of yours.

Excellent work :)

Bless you.