Feathers, feathers everywhere. All birds have them and more show up just after we put the vacuum away. The number of feathers a bird has depends very much on its size and where and how it lives, in general a third of a bird’s feathers are on its head. Birds have between 1,000 and 25,000 feathers, depending upon the species.
Feathers have several functions. A bird can’t fly without his flight feathers. Feathers keep a bird warm. Because a bird has a very fast metabolism and a higher body temperature then you and I do, they need those feathers for warmth. Feathers are also protection from predators. Most pet birds molt their feathers gradually. They replace a few feathers every day or so; however, a lot can depend on the species of bird, the age of the bird and the season. Feathers do not last for ever. They become worn and battered and are replaced regularly once or twice a year depending on species.
A heavy molt can make a bird down right grouchy! All those pin feathers! A molting bird can use help getting those pin feathers out of the shaft. It is a good time for extra head scratches and nice long baths. In the wild, other birds help preen the feather shafts. Companion birds love to have their heads preened by their care takers and usually will bend their head down as a signal that they’d like their head scratched.
Feathers are made of keratin, a protein which is also used to make horn and hair by different animals and beaks in birds. Feathers are 90 % protein. When your bird is molting it is good to add more protein in it’s diet as your bird is using a lot of protein to make new feathers. If your bird’s feathers aren’t growing properly or if you see bare spots it is time for a visit to your avian veterinarian.
With proper feeding and grooming your bird will keep those beautiful feathers that attracted you to it in the first place.
Just keep that vacuum handy!
Patrick & Barbara Paur
Mt. Rushmore Birds