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Cockatiel Feathers

Cockatiels are considered to be great pets. They are also known as the Quarrion and the Weiro. They are the smallest in cockatoo family but have distinctive long tail feathers which makes up of its total length. They are popular as household pets and companion parrot.

Cockatiel distinctive characteristics

All wild cockatiel chicks and juveniles are considered female and sex is indistinguishable until their first molting or shedding. They have horizontal yellow stripes or bars on the ventral surface of their tail feathers with yellow spots on the surface of the primary flight feathers of their wings. They have gray colored chest, with a dull orange patch visible on each of their cheeks. Cockatiel distinctive erectile crest is an expression of its state of being. When it is startled or excited, the crest becomes dramatically vertical and when it relaxed and passive, it is gently oblique. When they are in extreme aggressive or defensive state, their crest gets flattened close to their head and when they are in alluring and flirtatious mood, it becomes little bit protruded.

Cockatiel Feathers

Cockatiel molting or feather shedding

Cockatiels shed their feathers around their first molting which usually occurs during the first 6-12 months from their birth. A healthy cockatiel normally sheds 2 or 3 times each year. It takes 6 to 7 days for a new feather to grow. These new emerging feathers are called blood feathers and it takes another 5 to 6 weeks for them to grow completely. During this period, it is not surprising to find small cockatiel feathers lying down in your bird’s cage and sometimes transparent flakes, which looks like dandruff gets being shed off as well. This ‘dandruff’ is a part of the keratin sheath that encases and protects each new growing feather. These new growing feathers need to be protected because they contain delicate blood vessels that bleed profusely when broken. New feathers start growing as blood feathers and pin feathers. Blood feathers can be noticed at wings and tails while those small and sharp feathers that resemble a pin are found in the bird’s head and around the neck. This entire process from loss of a feather to a new replacement can take up to 10 weeks or more depending on bird’s individual performance.

What to expect during molting

When your beloved cockatiel is undergoing the process of molting, he or she is going to be a little bit uncomfortable because pin and blood feathers are painful if they move the wrong way. Your bird may be less active and nap more often and is likely to be slightly more cranky than usual.

What to do when your Cockatiel is molting

Your bird will appreciate bathing or water misty baths that will help soften the hard keratin shaft in the growing new feathers. This will provide comfort and ease to your bird’s movements. You can also give some gentle scratches on the head, neck and crest since these areas are hard to reach to preen off that keratin shaft. Giving your bird nutritious food to boost its immune system will help during this stressing period. Giving your bird calcium supplements will nourish them with much needed calcium during this shedding period. You can also include vegetables such as parleys, broccoli leaves and stalks, mustard greens, turnips greens and beat greens for they are rich in calcium as well as they can be easily digested. Refrain from giving your bird dairy products because birds do not have enzymes to digest them.

Molting is natural process for your cockatiel and there is no need to worry about it. Cockatiel have continuous molting through out 12 months of the year whereas heavy molting usually occurs during spring, autumn, after breeding and during warm weather. Continuous heavy molting all year long and/or delayed or failure to molt at least once a year is considered as an abnormal condition for Cockatiel. Abundance or absence of cockatiel feathers can be a signal that your bird pet needs a visit and check from an avian Vet.

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