About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Why birds molt

Just as people make seasonal wardrobe changes, many birds are beginning a transformation of their own, losing and replacing their 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 for most ducks and geese that they can't fly and will molt in seclusion to avoid predators.

Molting season varies by species and time of year. Right now 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.
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Distinguishing birds that are molting from those that are not can be difficult. Though some birds may lose patches of feathers and become bald, most birds feather loss and replacement are far less noticeable.

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

For the next few months, offer high-protein bird foods, such as Nyjer® (thistle), peanuts, suet and mealworms, to ensure that your birds have a reliable source of protein to help them with molting.

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