Lovebird Molting: Symptoms and Care
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.
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.
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
- 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)
My Pet Lovebird Mumu Is MoltingClick thumbnail to view full-size
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?
Give your pets paper, hair ties (safe) and other toys to play with
Decreases irritability, boredom and sadness
Let your pet bath in a bowl or spray bath him/her
Makes them less itchy
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!
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
My lovebird is losing feathers from her neck and chest, is this normal?
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.Helpful 21
Can I feed my lovebird honey?
Not directly, but you can mix a bit of it with pellets (seeds, crushed dried fruits and honey rolled together and baked).Helpful 5
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.
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.Helpful 2
I have more than 30 lovebirds and they are scratching themselves continuously. What should I do to keep my lovebirds from scratching themselves?
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.Helpful 1
My female lovebird has lost her chest and neck feathers. Her skin is visible. How can I help her?
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).Helpful 3
© 2017 Sakina Nasir