Last Updated on May 7, 2022 by Ali Shahid
Lovebirds bring joy to your home with their sweet and loving nature. These birds are becoming popular among people and demand proper care. In the domains of caring and loving them, taking care of their feathers is also vital as well as necessary for lovebirds’ health.
During the moulting phase, lovebirds are continuously shedding their feathers to replace them with new ones. Recent research has shown that moulting usually occurs during weather changes. Many bird owners got confused during this period about whether their birds are shedding feathers due to moulting or due to any other feather problems.
According to a national pet owners survey, Americans love pet birds and there has been a tremendous increase in several birds owned as pets to 20.6 million. Getting proper managemental knowledge about feathers can save your time and prevent you from getting confused.
As a veterinarian, I encounter many lovebird owners asking me questions about common causes of feather loss and mechanisms of molting. To address the issue, let us dive into understanding molting and other feather loss problems.
Lovebirds Molting & Its Significance
As I’ve mentioned above how moulting is a natural phenomenon occurring twice a year in birds. During the moulting, all the feathers start shedding for making the room for new ones to grow effectively.
The extent and duration of moulting also depend upon the age and environmental conditions in which your bird is kept. Small or large fluctuations in weather & environmental temperature can trigger the process of moulting.
Molting is a natural phenomenon throughout the bird family and occurs when your lovebird is of 4 to 5 years of age. Recent research conducted on moulting suggests that this process will ease out the bird’s metabolism and replenish its body reserves.
You might be wondering why moulting is so important yet it causes significant feather loss. Well, moulting not only rejuvenates the bird’s metabolism but also helps to make it more sound in reproductive efficiency.
More emphasis has been given to the topic of moulting as it results in more energy demands due to enhanced metabolic rate. Veterinary experts did note the effects of moulting on birds’ metabolism and found that the metabolism is pumped up to 40% more than the normal during moulting.
Indications of Molting in Lovebirds
In the case of lovebirds, usually, moulting happens twice a year. With thorough knowledge, you can spot whether your bird is going through moulting process or due to any other problem. There are specific signs you must encounter during the moulting process.
The first and foremost sign you’ll notice is the aggressive behavior of your lovebirds. Your pet will do unnecessary biting even when you raise your hand against it. These little cuties start vigorous scratching and stay irritated during the initial stages of moulting.
Eventually, you may see some weight loss and extra vocalizations. Many pet owners notice screaming behavior and excessive preening of the feathers. If you look closely, you may see some new feather roots emerging from lovebirds’ skin throughout the body.
Your birds stay tired most of the time and remain inactive due to drowsiness. This is mainly due to the hormonal effects on the thyroid gland and reproductive organs. As the bird goes to an advanced stage, you should look after your bird’s moody and stubborn nature.
The new feather root buds will make the skin of your lovebird more irritable and he or she may scratch the skin. The area of feather loss will become redder which you might get confused with having an allergic reaction or infection.
Lovebird Moulting & Your Role
We know moulting is a tough time for every bird and we should do the necessary measures to lessen the stress of this process. Giving them attention and care can deliver so much support in terms of your kindness and patience.
Trying to assist them with certain measures can be fruitful and make them feel better. You can adopt certain activities such as playing, bathing, and cuddly scratched to make them feel less boredom and itchy.
Provide Bird Toys
The grumpy feeling of moulting is lessened by the provision of bird toys. Lovebirds are naturally social and have a very joyful and playful nature. They love engaging themselves with toys to put them in a better mood. Toys are helpful in controlling aggressive and biting behaviors.
Not only that, playing with toys keep them distracted and releases happy hormones. Shredding and chewing will stimulate the nerve receptors at the beak and trigger the secretions of endorphins. This in turn makes them joyful and prevents them from going into excessive stress.
Make Lovebird Enjoy a Bath
A fresh bath can relieve so much stress and put your bird in a much better mood during the moulting phase. There are times when they need to get away from the itching feelings. In that respect, bathing is proven to be fruitful and is recommended by exotic animal experts.
If your lovebird doesn’t like baths, you can still make him happy by engaging yourself with him. Your pet will eventually join you and start bathing in the bowl to have a more pleasant time. If you’re still concerned about your pet not liking the water, put him/her in the cage and spray the water gently.
The Magic of Pet Scratches
The continuous itching during moulting can be suppressed by giving gentle scratches on the head and back of your lovebirds. If your pet is in a friendly mood and gives you an opportunity to touch him/her, don’t hesitate to slowly scratch and I am sure your lovebird will love the feeling.
On the other hand, your bird may show interest in scratching when he/she slowly rubs the head and beak on your fingers and hand. One thing I must recommend you is to stay as gentle as possible to avoid any excessive irritation and pain situation.
Other Potential Feather Problems
Apart from moulting which is a natural process, there are other conditions that mess up with the feather growth. These conditions when going off-hand, lead to excessive feather loss and skin problems in lovebirds.
Malnutrition & Stress
One o the leading and most prominent cause of feather plucking in lovebirds is malnutrition which affects the overall well-being of these birds. Without the proper nutritional support, the moulting process itself will not happen precisely.
You’ll observe the skin becoming more dry than usual with the appearance of flakes and general weakness. There are many formulated feeds available commercially to deliver a balanced amount of nutrients as per requirements by these lovebirds.
Either due to lack of socialization with owners or due to false managemental practices, stress will consequently happen in these sensitive birds. The stress when coupled with boredom is a major cause of feather plucking and self-induced skin injuries in lovebirds.
Boredom & Inactivity
Lovebirds when left alone for too long may get into irregular feather plucking and barbering behavior. This is due to the boredom induced plucking when he/she feels stressed and uncomfortable. The barbering will result in bald patches of feather loss on the skin surface in non-specific areas.
The only solution to this problem is to give your bed plenty of time for socialization. You can do this by playing with him/her yourself or providing a cage mate. Bird toys are also a good way to eliminate boredom and feather plucking habits in love birds.
Bacterial & Fungal Infections
The irregular and ragged feather loss may occur due to common bacterial and fungal skin infections in lovebirds. A proper examination by a qualified veterinarian may point out the exact culprit of the underlying infection.
In case of infections, the most important sign you notice is the appearance of redness and inflammation over the affected area. The feather may be completely or partially absent and the point of infection is more irritated than the rest of the skin.
Taking care of lovebirds during the moulting phase requires patience and effort. You can make your house a better place for your lovebird by providing him/her with quality time and nutrition. Nurturing them with proper managemental practices during moulting is the key to having happier birds.
Some feather problems occurring due to reasons other than moulting may require a veterinarian visit. A thorough examination and ruling out the problem-causing agents will lead to a better treatment plan. Make sure to keep yourself aware of the latest information on lovebird moulting & potential feather losing problems.
Is it normal for my lovebird to lose full body feathers during moulting?
Moulting will cause a significant feather loss in lovebirds which can occur on a full body scale. You may find new feather buds growing on the bald patchy areas indicating the normal moulting phenomenon.
Can I use any itch-relieving ointments when my lovebird is moulting?
As a veterinarian, I suggest you not use any types of treatment such as pain and itch relieving medication on the skin. Moulting is a natural process and your bird doesn’t require any type of special supporting medications.
What should I do if my lovebird has flaky and inflamed bald skin patches?
The flakes and inflammation can be a result of fungal or bacterial infection. I advised you to pay a visit to your nearest exotic animal veterinarian for a proper evaluation of the condition. Your vet will then prescribe the medication to get rid of the underlying problem.
Ali Shahid is a veterinarian by profession and an animal lover. He loves to give expert opinions about different animals. He has worked in top organization of birds like Bigbird Feed and Poultry Research institute. He loves birds, especially parrots and has great experience in different parrot farms.