Help Birds in Molting Season


Being Seasonally Savvy: Help Birds During Molting Season

People make seasonal wardrobe changes, and many birds are also replacing their old, worn feathers in a process known as molting.

Molting is when a bird replaces some (partial molt) or all (full molt) of its feathers.

This complicated process requires a lot of energy and may take up to eight weeks to complete. Molting is so physically demanding that most ducks and geese can't fly during molt due to losing many of their flight feathers, and they are very secretive during molt since they need to avoid predators. A customer just told us about the ducks in his neighborhood running at break-neck speed across open grounds; they can't fly during their molt, so they're more vulnerable.

Molting season varies by species and time of year. In August, many birds are beginning their main molt of the year. However, American Goldfinches are one of the last to molt. Due to their late nesting period, they won't start their molt until late August.

Distinguishing birds that are molting from those that are not can be difficult. Though some birds may lose patches of feathers and appear "balding" or "blotchy", most birds' feather loss and replacement are far less noticeable.

Above are photos of a molting Bluejay (from the East) and an American various stages of a summer molt.

Feathers are made of more than 90% protein, primarily keratins, so every molting bird needs extra protein to grow strong feathers for proper flight and effective insulation.

Research shows that a consistent and reliable source of food actually helps birds grow higher quality feathers. Keep your feeders filled and also offer high-protein foods such as one of our No Mess Blends with peanuts, Nyjer® (thistle), peanuts, Jim’s Birdacious® Bark Butter® and mealworms, to ensure that your birds have the reliable source of protein and fats to help them with molting.

Visit us soon for all of the high-protein foods that will meet your birds’ needs. We have everything you need to help your birds keep going (and re-growing feathers) during this critical time.