Why is my Budgie Losing Feathers?

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

Written by Isra P

If you have been thinking, “why is my budgie losing feathers?” You are not alone. Having vibrant, plentiful plumage is essential for all birds, including budgies. Therefore, it’s normal to be concerned when they lose feathers.

Still, there are many factors that may affect a budgie’s feathers. Some are perfectly normal, while others may indicate a health issue.

Budgies lose their feathers due to over-preening, feather-plucking, or an illness. They may also experience the problem when they are molting or stressed. Now, there is a big difference between shedding the plumage as part of the maturing process or due to a condition that needs to be addressed. Luckily, there are certain signs that indicate whether the feather loss is benign or problematic.

Once you know the cause, you can take measures to handle the situation and help your feathered buddy. Keep reading to learn why budgies lose their feathers and what can be done about it.

Budgies’ plumage is crucial for their survival. It allows them to fly, shield their bodies from undesirable temperatures, and even attract the right mate. Unfortunately, they can lose their precious feathers under certain circumstances.

1. Molting

Molting is a process that all birds go through periodically to renew their feathers. Depending on their environment, budgies may molt once a year or more to regenerate their plumage.

They take advantage of the time between nesting season and migration to replace their feathers to be ready for the winter. The process usually happens in stages to prevent the bird from losing the ability to fly and becoming vulnerable to the elements.

A molting budgie shouldn’t have big patches of skin exposed. If that’s the case, there’s a chance something else is triggering the feather loss. Under normal circumstances, molting is harmless and shouldn’t be a reason to worry.

2. Stress

Stress is a common trigger for feather loss in budgies. If your budgie is feeling stressed, it may start to lose feathers. Many things, including a change in environment, lack of social interaction, or boredom, can cause it.

3. Feather-plucking

Feather-plucking is the leading cause of feather loss in budgies. The problem occurs when they damage or remove their feathers compulsively.

Budgies may pluck their feathers when bored, stressed, ill, and have poor diets. Sleep deprivation, lack of a mate, and even other companion pets may also contribute to bald patches.

4. Over-preening

Preening is a normal behavior for budgies and helps them to keep their feathers clean and healthy. However, sometimes, they overdo it. Over-preening can lead to feather loss.

Boredom, hormonal imbalances, lack of nutrients, a dry environment, or lack of misting may cause this behavior. Occasionally, they might not have been educated to preen correctly by another flock member, leading to the destructive behavior.

5. Budgie Feather Cyst

Budgie feather cysts are small, round growths of feather follicles under the skin that can form on the feathers. They are usually harmless but can sometimes cause feathers to fall out. A vet can surgically remove the feather cyst.

6. French Molt Virus

The French molt virus is a disease that often affects young budgies less than three weeks old. The condition produced by the Polyomavirus can cause them to develop abnormal feathers while weakening their immune system.

It isn’t fatal by itself but can make budgies vulnerable to other infections. Selective breeding is an effective way to prevent the French molt virus.

7. Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)

Psittacine beak and feather disease is caused by a virus that has no cure. The ailment is known to affect feathers from young and old birds alike.

Typical signs of the virus’s presence include fragile, deformed feathers that lack proper pigmentation. They may also break down and bleed easily. Other symptoms accompanying the problem are nail and beak deformation, scarred skin, and a weak immune system.

8. Mites

Parasitic mites can cause budgies a lot of problems, such as feather loss, lameness, and crustiness in their cere, nails, and feet. The tiny creatures hide in the bird’s plumage while they consume its blood.

They can be identified easily at night by using a flashlight while looking at the bird’s skin. You will see that they look like tiny black or red particles that move around.

9. Malnutrition

Nutritional deficiencies shouldn’t be ignored. The most common ones that may trigger the loss of feathers are vitamin A, vitamin D, and Biotin, which are essential for healthy feathers, skin, and nails.

Of course, proteins and minerals are also necessary building materials for a budgie’s feathers, making a nutritious diet one of the most crucial elements to prevent the onset of many conditions that may compromise your pet’s plumage (facts).

In the following video, you will learn why budgies sometimes lose their feathers:

Why is my Bird Going Bald?

When feathers are missing from the head of your budgie, it’s likely caused by either a nutritional deficiency, molting, stress, an illness, or a fellow winged companion. A lack of vitamin A, among many other nutrients, can cause your pet to become bald.

Under normal circumstances, molting won’t cause a noticeable lack of feathers on the head. However, if budgies experience a stressful event, such as being chased by a predator, person, or another bird while molting, it might halt the growth of new feathers or even cause them to detach from the skin.

Mites, ringworm, or infections such as PBFD may also cause baldness (resource). In extreme cases, mites may contribute to feather loss as they can wipe out the shafts on a budgie’s head without the bird being able to do anything about it.

Psittacine beak and feather disease (PFBD) and other minor bacteria and fungal infections can make a budgie bald. Featherless patches of skin may be frequent on a budgie’s head as it battles the illnesses.

It’s difficult for birds to preen their heads. Therefore, self-plucking is unlikely to make a budgie bald. The only way it can happen is if another bird, the parent, mate, or another flock member does it. It usually occurs when they are too excited or stressed.

Why is my Budgie Losing Feathers around the Beak?

There are a few reasons your budgie might lose feathers around the beak. One possibility is that the bird is experiencing stress. It can be due to changes in environment, diet, or even something as simple as a new bird in the cage. Over-preening from other companion budgies is likely to also result in bare spots.

Another possibility is Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD), a viral infection that can cause feather loss. The disease, which is usually fatal, can destroy feathers’ shafts causing the skin to be exposed all around the head and in many parts of the body.

If you suspect your budgie is suffering from stress or PBFD, you must take them to a vet for a diagnosis.

Why is my Budgie Losing Feathers under the Wings?

Budgies are prized for their vibrant feathers, so it’s understandable to be concerned if your budgie loses feathers under the wings. While there are several potential causes for that problem, the most common are feather-plucking and poor diet.

Wings are tricky areas for budgies. They like to keep them tidy as it is a vital spot that allows them to survive and move freely. So why would they pluck such important feathers? Well, too much stress, boredom, and sometimes painful wounds can affect a budgie’s well-being to the point of harming itself.

It is a compulsive behavior arising from the fact that budgies in a specific situation cannot feel comfortable no matter what they do, so they become desperate. That’s why you, as an owner, must pay attention to your pet at all times, especially when it seems distressed, to lend a helping hand.

Furthermore, wing feathers are exceptionally delicate. If the cage is too small or overcrowded, your budgie might lose a few feathers or get hurt.

Why is my Budgie Losing Feathers on the Chest?

single feather

The chest is a common spot where budgies lose feathers. Why is that? For starters, they have easy access to it, so it’s normal for them to over-preen or self-pluck when they get bored or stressed. It’s also an area prone to accidents, so budgies often experience trauma in that location leading to bald patches.

What is my Budgie Losing Feathers on the Tail?

It’s hard for budgies to pluck their tail feathers. The most likely explanation if it’s the only area with a significant feather loss is plucking by a cage mate or another bird that spends time with them.

Additionally, it could also be a natural part of molting. In such a case, there’s nothing to worry about as tail feathers eventually grow.

How do I know if my Budgie is Molting or Plucking?

budgie plucking

There are a few key differences between molting and plucking. First, molting is a process in which birds shed their old feathers and grow new ones. When the process takes place, all feathers are smoothly replaced, and you rarely see bald patches or exposed areas of the skin. Usually, molting lasts for a few weeks only.

Plucking is another story. If that’s the problem, you will likely see sore, featherless spots on the skin. Furthermore, you may notice your budgie removing its own or another budgie’s feathers if you watch them long enough. Feather-plucking shouldn’t be ignored as it is often a sign of stress or boredom.

Do Budgies' Feathers Grow Back?

Under normal conditions, budgies’ feathers can grow back if lost or damaged. After all, they are birds, and they can molt quite often. However, if they get sick or suffer severe trauma, that might not be the case.

Specific injuries and diseases can destroy the feather follicles found on a budgie’s skin. Sometimes they may heal, but the damage can be permanent in other cases.

How Long Does it Take for Budgies to Grow Their Feathers Back?

Typically, it can take up to six weeks for a budgie to grow all its feathers back. A budgie usually starts by growing new feathers on its head and back, followed by its wings and tail.

Still, suppose your pet has an illness or has suffered an accident. In that case, growing new ones might take several months or even longer, depending on the condition.

How do you Treat Feather Loss?

feather of a male parakeet

Feather loss can be a simple or complicated issue to deal with. You can treat it in different ways depending on what is triggering it. For the most part, feathers will grow back once the cause has been removed.

⦁ If your budgie is molting, just let it be. The best you can do to accelerate its recovery is to make it comfortable during the process.

⦁ You can help stressed budgies by removing the stressors from their environment. It could be other pets, excessively bright light, loud sounds, a small cage, or anything that disturbs them.

⦁ Budgies that remove their feathers or those of other pets are often stressed or bored. So provide them stimulation in the form of new toys, a larger cage, or simply play with them more often.
You may also mist them with water or provide a bathtub, so they groom their plumage, which will make them happier (reference).

⦁ In case of infections, it’s essential to determine the pathogen responsible for the feather loss before attempting to treat it. Take your budgie to an avian vet if it shows any of the usual signs of sickness.

⦁ Viruses such as the ones causing PFBD are incurable, so the best that can be done in those cases is to improve the bird’s quality of life.

⦁ Mites can be managed by using antiparasitic medications. Bacteria and fungal infections require antibiotic and antifungal approaches, depending on the microorganism causing the disease.

⦁ Nutritional deficiencies can be solved by providing a good pellet mix with fruits and vegetables. Multi-vitamins and other supplements may also be necessary if your budgie has a specific insufficiency, such as a lack of vitamins A and D.

Your budgies could be losing feathers as part of molting, illness, stress, or boredom. You may also think that a few feathers on the floor now and then could be an issue, but most likely, it isn’t. So get used to your budgies’ typical appearance and behavior, and you will learn if the loss of a feather is a sign of trouble or nothing to be worried about.

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.