Do Cockatiels Molt? 9 Facts You Should Know!

Sukanya Chakraborty

Do Cockatiels Molt? 9 Facts You Should Know!

Molting is a very crucial part of every bird for its growth. Now let us know about the molting process of a cockatiel.

Cockatiels usually molt as it helps them to shed out the old feathers and grow new and fresh feathers in place of them. Molting is a continuous process for a cockatiel. A cockatiel never feels cold due to the loss of its feathers. During molting, cockatiels can be tired.

Due to this enormous loss of feathers, cockatiel can be exposed to the heavy cold weather in the wild. Hence, they use to molt continuously to be healthy as molting can use a lot of energy for the regrowth of their cluster. Let us know more interesting facts related to molting in cockatiels.

When do cockatiels molt ?

The change in temperature and seasonal hormonal change can trigger a cockatiel to molt. Now let us know when do they molt.

Cockatiels molt in the winter or in the spring and prepare themselves for the upcoming summer season. They molt for two to three times throughout the year. Warm weather can trigger the process of molting.

How long do cockatiels molt ?

Molting is a lengthy process depending on the species of the bird. Now let us discuss how long molting lasts for a cockatiel.

The complete molting process can last for a maximum of 10 weeks in case of cockatiels. The time can differ in case of different species and local climates. The minimum time required for the completion of the entire process is 7 weeks.

Loss of feathers can be completed within the first weeks but the replacement of coating and the regrowth of fully new and fluffy feathers can take different time bands in case of different cockatiel species.

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What age do cockatiels start molting ?

Cockatiels generally molt for attracting their potential mate and these newly grown feathers help them to fly long. Now let us know at what age they initiate this process.

Cockatiels generally start to molt after they are 6 months old and can molt up to 12 months of their age. It is the ideal time for molting and the timeline can be influenced by some natural calamities.

Image Credit: Cockatiel by 4028mdk09 licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

When do baby cockatiels molt ?

Molting is common for every single cockatiel. Now let us know when a baby cockatiel molts.

Baby cockatiels start their molting process after their three months of age. It is commonly seen that baby cockatiels lose their feathers but it is not part of a molting process. The loss of feathers can be caused by excessive stress and huge preening by the parent or a cage mate.

How to identify if a cockatiel is molting ?

Sometimes it is tough to identify a cockatiel that is about to molt. Let us know how to spot the individual molting cockatiel.

Below are some indications which help identify when a cockatiel molts:

  • The growth of a lot of pin feathers can be seen around the head area of a molting cockatiel.
  • An enormous number of dropped feathers also can be spotted in the bottom of the cage.
  • Cockatiels do not feel well during the molting period. It will look more tired and ragged.
  • Cockatiel also preens more often.
  • During molting, cockatiel become more vulnerable to cold as the missing feathers expose its body directly to cold.
Image Credit: A molting cockatiel by
licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Is it normal for cockatiels to shed ?

Shedding is very common for every cockatiel. A cockatiel generally shed to look more attractive to its mate. They perform this process twice in a year. They are not able to lose all their flight and tail feathers in a single molt, hence, they repeat this task.

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How to take care of a molting cockatiel ?

A molting cockatiel needs a lot of extra consideration and care. Now let us know how to take care of them.

A molting cockatiel can be cared for using the following methods:

1. Giving nutritional support

Newly grown feathers need more protein and nutrients for good and healthy growth.

An owner should include some protein and vitamin substances in the diet of the bird it will be useful for the cockatiel. Cucumbers and egg yolks are the best food option for the bird during this molting time.

2. Better Sleep

The bird needs more sleep during this time.

The owner should allow the bird to take rest in most of the time and should cover the cage with some opaque covering.

3. Hygiene Maintenance

A mist bath or a shower is very useful for the molting cockatiel.

It will help them to stay fresh and the bath will help in the preening of the new keratin layer around the newly grown feathers.

Image Credit: A male Cockatiel by Dan.wmjw licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

What is abnormal molting ?

Molting process of a cockatiel is very common but it is also common that their molting is not as usual. Let us discuss some reasons behind it.

Abnormal molting is the disordering of standard molting cycle, such as skipping molts wherein molting occurs more often. The major reasons behind abnormal molting in a cockatiel are:

1. Stress

Stress is the most common cause for a cockatiel to molt abnormally. They also can molt abnormally when they are sick and seasonally confused.

2. Feather Plucking

Feather plucking is also a cause of abnormal molting. In this process, birds will learn to pull their own feather off and expose their skin parts.

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3. Fear

Fear, especially, night frights will cause abnormal molting. If a cockatiel gets frightened during the night, this will result in the breakage of the feathers and these feathers will be dropped off.

4. Metabolic Disturbance

Metabolic imbalance and endocrine system problems all can cause an abnormal molting in the case of a cockatiel.

Major glands problem, like the thyroid gland, and pituitary gland, can send instructions to the brain to start an early molting in the case of that particular bird.


The key take outs of this article are that the molting process in the case of cockatiels is very common and often. They perform this process twice a year for 7 to 10 weeks long. Molting helps them to look brighter and helps them to fly a longer distance.

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