How Often do Budgies Molt?

Last updated on February 5th, 2024 at 10:37 pm

Written by Isra P

How often do budgies molt? That’s a question that may pop into your head now and then. You could have noticed that your pet is losing a few feathers, and molting might be the reason. Several factors affect the frequency of molting, so knowing when a budgie molts is trickier than it seems.

Generally, budgies molt once a year. However, they may molt annually, bi-annually, or monthly due to controlled environments. Artificial light, an abundance of food, and indoor temperature settings, for example, strongly influence the molting process’s length and frequency. For that reason, budgies kept at home are more likely to have partial, shorter, or longer molts than those living outdoors.

Birds usually have a hard time during the molting process. Often, it is mistaken for feather plucking or other ailments that affect a budgie’s feathers. So it’s crucial to be able to identify it and help our pets go through the process to make it more bearable.

Molting is the process in which budgies and other birds shed their old, worn-out feathers to make room for new, colorful plumage. During molting, budgies tend to replace all their feathers. Still, not all of them are replaced at once; instead, it happens step-wise. In this way, birds can maintain their flight and the feathers that contribute to their warmth.

How Often do Budgies go Through a Molting Process?

Even baby budgies undergo molting. Usually, they start the process at 10-12 weeks old. The molting begins when budgies develop their head cap and lose their baby bars.

That first molt may last approximately three weeks. But that’s not the last time a budgie will molt. The process will continue throughout the bird’s lifetime.

how often do budgies molt
Very young bird going through the process of his first molting

The frequency of molting varies with food availability, environmental temperature, stress, and overall health. In the wild, budgies molt once a year. Still, domesticated birds may do it annually, bi-annually, or every month.

This difference is mainly due to more light, food, and comfortable temperatures accessible to budgies found at homes (source). For these birds, the process often takes between two and three weeks.

Remember that the normal molting process is not abrupt; instead, it is gradual in which systematic fall of older feathers occurs, and new ones replace them.

How do you Know if Your Budgie is Molting?

Aside from the gradual, symmetrical feather loss during molting, budgies depict some particular behaviors. For instance, they could sit in the same place for extended periods without performing any activity or even making sounds. Often, older budgies usually utilize these extra hours for sleeping.

In addition, they will also panic more than usual and jump a lot upon hearing a noise or movement. Sometimes, budgies might become angry and often try to bite you without provocation. So it’s better to give them some space.

Upon seeing these signs, some inexperienced budgie owners often become worried because the birds’ overall looks and personalities change. But it’s nothing to be concerned about.

What Triggers Budgie Molting?

There are several reasons which contribute to the birds’ molting. A healthy budgie must mold at the very least once in its life. However, there are other aspects, such as environmental, social, and health, that influence the molting process.

Seasonal Changes

Wild budgies molt during spring and at the end of summer. Why? Because both of those seasons involve warmer temperatures and plenty of food. Higher temperatures mean food is easier to find, and budgies won’t need that many feathers to keep themselves warm, so it’s much safer for them to shed their plumage at that point. On the other hand, a domesticated budgie may molt even during winter, as temperatures and food are not a problem.

Stress

Stress may trigger a molt in budgies. Nevertheless, that can lead to complications if the bird isn’t feeling well, as the process consumes a lot of resources, which may weaken it.

Illness

Sick budgies tend to have unruffled, broken feathers. When those conditions are met, their system may try molting to acquire a healthier plumage that allows them to survive longer.

Parasites

Tiny critters such as mites and fleas can cause many problems to budgies. Their presence often triggers molting in an attempt to eliminate the pests that inhabit a bird’s feathers. Sadly, parasites are stubborn and won’t let themselves be removed easily. For that reason, they must be eradicated as soon as possible.

What are the Molting Symptoms for Budgies?

Gradual feather loss is the first sign of molting in budgies. As the process begins, new feathers pop up and quickly spread to replace the older ones. When that occurs, in addition to their feathers falling off, you might notice that they become less active and spend more time resting.

Fortunately, budgies can still fly even during molting, although it requires much more effort for them to do so. Still, due to the physical strain of molting, it is normal for them to avoid it unless they need to.

Is my Budgie Molting or Plucking?

There is a slight difference between molting and feather plucking. For instance, if your budgie has excessive feather loss or uneven patchy feathers, it’s more likely plucking.

Molting is different. It is a smooth process that causes feathers to fall off and get replaced evenly and uniformly.

At What Time of the Year do Budgies Molt?

Spring and the end of summer are the main shedding times for budgies as food becomes more available and temperatures are favorable. These seasons are also ideal as they allow budgies to prepare a new coat to attract mates for breeding

In the following video, you will see examples of molting budgies:

How Long Does a Budgie Molt Last?

The molting period is variable for every budgie. Still, it takes between one and three weeks for most healthy budgies to be completed. Now, for sick birds, the molting period may take up to 10 weeks.

That time is needed as shedding the plumage consumes a lot of energy and nutrients, which is something an unwell budgie may struggle with.

The budgie will continue going through the molt cycle until the disease or parasite that caused it disappears if those conditions are the main catalyst.

What do I Feed a Molting Budgie?

Providing a well-balanced and nutritious diet to molding budgies is of utmost importance. Protein, calcium, vitamin A, and iron are often required during the molt as these nutrients are mandatory to build new feathers (info).

It can be exceedingly demanding and challenging on a bird’s body to grow a lot of new feathers at once, which is why we must help our pets by providing the best care possible.

bird food, apple, leafy greens

We must consider topping their food with a lot of minerals to get maximum benefits and positive results. For example, fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and toasted grains are all great for molting because they supply the nutrients a budgie needs for healthy feather growth.

Do Budgies get Moody When Molting?

Molting could be considered a bad hair day for birds. Although it is a part of their life, the process is difficult. In fact, molting makes budgies moody and grumpy. The process can wear them down considerably, and it doesn’t help that it makes them itchy.

Additionally, molting budgies exhibit a shift in their personality. They squawk a lot, get short-tempered, and become inactive, eating and resting more than usual. They also have less patience with people and other birds

Do Budgies Feel Unwell When Molting?

In general, molting is normal for budgies and many other birds. However, some behavioral changes might occur in them. During molting, your budgies naturally become more defensive and afraid. 

In addition, as it uses up much of their extra energy, they frequently seek a peaceful, dark location to rest.

Budgies may become unwell or experience problems only if the molting is excessive and irregular. Plucked feather loss is frequently mistaken for molting. A few potential reasons for plucking include:

⦁ Monotony or Inactivity
⦁ Insufficient or Excessive Natural Sunlight
⦁ Insufficient or Excessive Humidity
⦁ Unsuitable Nutrition
⦁ Illness

A virus known as Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) can infect different species of parrots and budgies. PBFD frequently manifests during bird molting and targets the immune system and the cells that produce feathers and beaks. So if you see an excessive feather loss or unusual beak growth on your pet, contact an avian vet immediately.

How can I Help my Budgie Molt?

There are certain things that we may do to soothe a molting budgie. When the bird is molting, there are fewer feathers on its body. This means we have to keep it in a warmer place to prevent it from getting sick. Additionally, extra care for your pet throughout its molting stage can lessen stress.

Once more, a quality diet with plentiful minerals and nutrients followed by attention and care is crucial to provide the maximum amount of comfort possible.

healthy parakeet food

So how often do budgies molt? They normally do it once a year, but it could be more often depending on their health and environmental conditions. You shouldn’t be worried when it happens. Still, you have to be ready to provide support and the necessary nutrition, so that they can feel better. Your budgies will thank you for it!

He is the leading creator of featheredbuddies.com, a website dedicated to helping bird owners. For many years, Isra P has cared for budgies and other birds to ensure their happiness and well-being. His passion and enthusiasm for them have led him to a quest to find out why birds act the way they do and how to enrich their lives.