Healthy birds molt once per year, usually in the summer when the length of the days is longer and temperatures are warmer. This process generally lasts six to eight weeks and is a very stressful time for your bird as his body is working very hard to replace all the worn out feathers he has been wearing (and using) for the past year. Molting generally begins on the upper body and works its way over the body gradually so the bird is never entirely without feathers or the ability to fly. The last place to molt is the head- so when pin feathers (new feathers emerging from the skin which are still encased in the sheath in which they develop which look like tiny white pins) appear on your birds head, the molt is almost over.
Birds during this period need extra attention regarding their nutrition- good nutrition produces good quality feathers!
Feathers are largely protein and so a molting bird’s protein needs are higher. A small amount of boiled egg is helpful, although care should be taken to not leave egg in the cage for longer than thirty minutes to avoid the risk of food poisoning. A high quality dry commercial molting/nestling food such as Witte Molen should be provided as well. Good nutritional supplements to provide at this time are spirulena and bee pollen, which provide a range of benefits including additional protein and carotenoids (which are used by the body to produce coloring in the feathers).
Providing a little extra fat in the diet at this time is beneficial- oily seeds such as flax will help add luster to the new plumage. Song food can be provided every other day during this time.
Carrots, sweet potatoes and beets are excellent sources of beta carotene which will help your bird to develop the pigmentation to provide deeper, richer feather coloration- yellow birds will be a richer yellow and green birds will be a richer green (within the limits of their genetics, of course).
An excellent product for providing a boost during the molt is Feather-Up available from The Birdcare Company. It contains multivitamins, amino acids, and protein.
Birds should be provided with regular cold water baths at all times of the year, but especially during the molt. Bathing assists in softening the feather sheaths and makes it easier for the feathers to expand. A small amount of Listerine or apple cider vinegar in your bird’s bath water will give your bird’s feathers a lustrous sheen and assist in fighting mites. Morning baths are best- never let a bird go to sleep wet!
Birds who molt more than once a year or whose molt continues for longer than ten weeks may be malnourished or ill. Make sure that your bird is not exposed to hot or cold drafts, high temperatures or other environmental factors which can trigger a molt as well.