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Lovebird Molting: Symptoms and Care

Updated on October 11, 2017
SakinaNasir53 profile image

Sakina loves birds. She had 2 IRN parrots and 2 budgies. Now she has 2 lovebirds, one of which is a peach-faced male hand-raised by her.

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. | Source

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. | Source

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

My Pet Lovebird Mumu Is Molting

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Picture of my pet lovebird Mumu who is undergoing a molt currently. Notice his wing which has a uniform color. Notice Mumu's wing which has a spot of olive. This has been a color change in his feathers due to molting as compared to the first picture. Notice the new feather roots on Mumu's head and back. Notice Mumu's tail which looks has new tiny leaf-like formations. I have noticed these changes in him recently. Check out Mumu's wing which looks shrunken and wrinkly. This a sure sign that your pet is molting.
Picture of my pet lovebird Mumu who is undergoing a molt currently. Notice his wing which has a uniform color.
Picture of my pet lovebird Mumu who is undergoing a molt currently. Notice his wing which has a uniform color. | Source
Notice Mumu's wing which has a spot of olive. This has been a color change in his feathers due to molting as compared to the first picture.
Notice Mumu's wing which has a spot of olive. This has been a color change in his feathers due to molting as compared to the first picture. | Source
Notice the new feather roots on Mumu's head and back.
Notice the new feather roots on Mumu's head and back. | Source
Notice Mumu's tail which looks has new tiny leaf-like formations. I have noticed these changes in him recently.
Notice Mumu's tail which looks has new tiny leaf-like formations. I have noticed these changes in him recently. | Source
Check out Mumu's wing which looks shrunken and wrinkly. This a sure sign that your pet is molting.
Check out Mumu's wing which looks shrunken and wrinkly. This a sure sign that your pet is molting. | Source

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

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My lovebird Mumu playing with a hair tie.
My lovebird Mumu playing with a hair tie.
My lovebird Mumu playing with a hair tie. | Source
Source

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!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mumu loves to be scratched when he undergoes a molt. Lovebirds love to be scratched in their cheeks too. You can scratch the base of their heads as well. You might notice your lovebird yawning a lot (at times) while you scratch him/her. Don't fret, this is normal. Mumu at times goes to sleep after I scratch him. He just closes his eyes as he loves it.
Mumu loves to be scratched when he undergoes a molt.
Mumu loves to be scratched when he undergoes a molt. | Source
Lovebirds love to be scratched in their cheeks too.
Lovebirds love to be scratched in their cheeks too. | Source
You can scratch the base of their heads as well.
You can scratch the base of their heads as well. | Source
You might notice your lovebird yawning a lot (at times) while you scratch him/her. Don't fret, this is normal.
You might notice your lovebird yawning a lot (at times) while you scratch him/her. Don't fret, this is normal. | Source
Mumu at times goes to sleep after I scratch him. He just closes his eyes as he loves it.
Mumu at times goes to sleep after I scratch him. He just closes his eyes as he loves it. | Source

What To Do If Your Lovebird Molts?

Activity
Procedure
Benefits
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
Table showing three ways to help your pet lovebird undergoing molting.

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. | Source

© 2017 Sakina Nasir

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    • Ashish Dadgaa profile image

      Ashi 4 months ago

      @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.