It is now winter in Australia and our cockatiels are moulting…They are shedding feathers more than usual.
The moulting process is very natural and all cockatiels will do it. If your cockatiel does not seem to go through this process or it actually moults to often then you should consider a trip to the vet for a consultation just to check that there are no signs of an underlying illness.
Why Do Cockatiels Need Feathers?
Cockatiels have feathers for a few reasons.
- They are required to keep them insulated and warm.
- They are required to enable them to fly.
- They protect them from the elements, like water and temperatures and dust.
- They are not just so they look pretty, they are used for identification purposes.
- Also the feathers show what sort of mood they are in especially the crest feathers.
- The feathers can also be used as a warning to others.
What is moulting?
This is when the cockatiel sheds some of it’s feathers allowing for the new growth to come through. Cockatiels actually shed feathers at any time during the year. It is not uncommon to find feathers in the cage at any time. But during a moulting period they will shed a considerable amount. You will know that they are moulting by the excessive amount of various feathers from all over the body including lots more dust or flakes.
It is especially necessary at this time to feed them a very healthy diet and keep a close eye on them as they will be using lots of their nutrients to grow and replace the feathers.
Depending on how tame your birds are, you might actually be able to get ‘up close and personal‘ with your cockatiel and even help remove some of the whitish looking plastic like covering, that is what makes up the covering of the feathers. This is called keratin and it is on all the feathers. It is a form of protein and helps to keep the feather protected whilst it grows. It can be seen clearly on baby cockatiels. Your cockatiels can easily reach most feathers, however the crest is a little difficult and if lucky you might just be able to lend a hand.
Extra Care For Moulting Birds
As I have already mentioned it is important to keep up a healthy diet. You also need to be aware of the extra sleep they will take. It is a stressful time for your cockatiels when they moulting, so be extra nice and attentive. They will need lots of love. Don’t be alarmed if they are less active or even moody, it is quite normal during a heavy moulting period.
Keep them calm and safe especially if they come out to fly, they might not be as strong as before. Also it is a time when they are prone to sickness so watch for any tale tale signs.
New born cockatiels will grow their first feathers and keep these for at least 6 months. Adult cockatiels will moult twice a year about 6 months apart. Remember to keep up the healthy diet. You can also supplement the calcium intake and feed them extra vegetables high in vitamin A, although this wont be necessary if you have been feeding them well regularly.
Have a safe and happy moulting season…