Cockatiel Losing Feathers Alias Moulting: When, Why, How?

Cockatiels are a fantastic bird. They are friendly and very pleasant. They are gentle and the kind of bird that you can introduce to your friends or to children. 

You will not worry about it being aggressive or anything. It is a perfect kind of bird to have as a pet. There are some things that we worry about with our birds. 

One of them is what we call “molting.” It is the process of the cockatiel losing its feathers. But do not worry! 

When a cockatiel loses its feathers, it is a natural process for them. It is not dangerous to your bird; you have nothing to worry about it. While we are on it, though, let us discuss the reasons why these birds lose their feathers. 

Your bird might also be losing feathers more than the normal. We are going to learn about that today. Let us take a closer look.

Why Is My Cockatiel Losing Feathers?

As mentioned, molting of feathers by the cockatiels is a normal thing to happen. It is part of a natural change for them. So what is the reason for this “molting”?

Like human fingernails, the main reason why cockatiels lose their feathers is because they will be considered as dead organic parts. When our fingernails grow, we cut them so that they will be replaced by new ones. Like the bird, their natural process is to shed the feathers and replace them with new ones. 

When the feathers need changing, these cockatiels will shed their feathers. This transition is more usual when there is a change of season. This is the natural course. 

However, there is a molting that is severe. When a cockatiel is ill, has malnutrition, and is depressed, they will be more likely to lose their feathers heavier than the usual. 

You will notice bald patches and some parts in your bird’s body that you can almost see the skin inside. If you will experience this with your bird, it is time to call your vet. Have your bird looked at.

Is It Normal For Cockatiels To Lose Tail Feathers?

If your bird is really molting, then losing its tail feathers might be expected. Other bird owners reported that when their cockatiel is molting, they lose their feathers in their tail as the last one. But losing tail feathers might not be because of molting. 

Other birds lose their feathers because they break them. This could be because of your bird being so young and is just clumsy. They could fall and break their tail feathers. But this can also be a cause of heavy molting.

Cockatiel Losing Feathers Around The Neck – Is It Normal?

As mentioned, if the bird is ongoing molting, losing feathers are normal. Observe the heaviness of the molting. If the loss of feathers is severe enough, consult your vet. 

First to do is identify if the loss of feathers is due to molting, but if not, then it would be better to consult a vet right away. Losing feathers around the head or neck might be a reason for a fungal infection. This is the worst-case scenario, though.

Cockatiel Losing Feathers Under His Wings – Is It Normal?

You have nothing to worry about if it is caused by molting. Find out if it is not. A bald spot under the cockatiel’s wings can also be the cause of feather mutilation. 

Though this is normal, it is crucial to observe your bird closely for any different behavior. Remember that a heavy molting can also make your cockatiel lose their feathers under their wings.

Cockatiel Losing Feathers On The Chest – Is It Normal?

Birds do bite off their feathers. Check if these feathers losing in its chest are caused by biting. Feather issues can be the cause of many things. 

It could be from bacteria, virus, or fungal infection. If taken to the worse, it can probably be a cause of skin cancer for the birds. Check and monitor always. Approach your vet if needed to.

Cockatiel Losing Feathers Around Ears – Is It Normal?

Your cockatiel might be having an irritation to its ear. This can lead to your bird excessively scratching their feathers and could just be the cause of molting. 

Again, cockatiels losing their feathers can be the cause of many things. The first thing to look at is if it is the cause of molting. This is a normal process, and you can calm your nerves. 

Observe your bird so that you will know when to get the help of your local veterinarian.

Cockatiel Losing Feathers Around Eyes – Is It Normal?

Losing feathers around the eyes of your bird can be a cause of molting. Though it can also be because of a lot of reasons, eliminate first the possibility of molting. 

After this, check for possible reasons aside from molting. It can be a cause of bacteria or viruses.

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What Happens When A Cockatiel Molts?

We now know that molting is just the natural process of shedding old feathers so it can be replaced by new feathers. The feathers of the birds have so many functions. 

They have essential uses, and it must be ensured that the feathers are excellent and new. Cockatiels feathers are used as protection to their natural predators. 

Feathers are also part of the natural mating of these birds because they attract a mate through their feathers. Feathers also protect your birds from the water seeping into their skin, and most importantly, they insulate your cockatiel to keep their temperature regular. 

Knowing these, we will be aware of how vital molting is. If your bird is experiencing a heavy molting, they will lose a large part of their feathers. This includes the part of their wings and tails.

cockatiel losing feathers

When Do Cockatiels Molt?

Your cockatiel will have their first molt, usually between 6 to 12 months of age. This is only just the beginning. This is their first molting. 

After that, they will molt all year round. If a season changes, they will also molt. Molting will be usual for these birds. Heavy molting happens only once or twice a year.

How Often Do Cockatiels Molt?

Cockatiels molt at least once a year. The heavy molting happens only once or twice a year.

How Do I Know If My Cockatiel Is Molting?

If your cockatiel is molting, you will notice that in an instant. You will see feathers everywhere. You will see feathers at the bottom of the bird’s cage or outside. They might even be all over your house. 

Did you lose your cockatiel? Learn what you can do.

How Long Does A Cockatiel Molt Last?

There are a few things you should know about the duration of this molting. If your bird is molting, it will take nine weeks for a new feather to grow out. 

They will not mature right away, and it will take about nine weeks for them to grow and mature. In the span of these nine weeks, pay closer attention to your bird. 

Since you know the importance of their feathers, this time, with them not having feathers might be a little distressing for them. 

Make sure they do not get bumped into toys that can actually scratch them. Place protection all over the cage so as to ensure they will not get hurt by anything.

Is Molting Painful For Birds?

Bird owners that developed an attachment to their bird might also be in distress. You might be asking yourself if your molting bird might be in pain. The answer is no. 

Though a bird molting might exhibit odd behavior, something they do not usually do but molting is not painful. They can be uncomfortable to some birds but not painful. 

Let us remember that the reason why these feathers are shedding is because they are dead and will be replaced. Just like our fingernails, we do not feel pain at all.

Do Cockatiels Lose Weight When Molting?

Some bird owners have reported their cockatiel’s losing weight after molting. Though no scientific study that says a bird can lose weight after molting, if you feel your bird is losing weight, it can be the cause of the weight of the feathers. 

After all, you can observe if your bird has stopped eating or has been eating less. 

If there are no changes to their diet and behavior, losing weight can just be the cause of the feathers. Feathers weigh a lot and can contribute to the full weight of the bird.

How Can I Help My Bird Molt?

Seeing our bird molting might make us uneasy and make us worried, but there are things we can actually do during the molting of our bird. Here is the list that can guide your bird during their molting stage.

  1. Pay closer attention to the diet of your cockatiel. Feed them with vegetables like carrots and potatoes that are rich in vitamin A.
  2. Serve your cockatiel with food that is also rich in protein. Feed your birds with scrambled eggs without the salt. This will help boost its protein level.
  3. Calcium must also be added to your bird’s diet. Feed your bird food rich in calcium like kale, parsley, and broccoli.

Do Birds Sleep More When Molting?

Yes. This is not general to all birds, but some birds look tired and fall asleep more than usual. They might also exhibit aggressive behaviors. 

They might bite you or some other people. Your bird might also be irritable. The worst also is that your bird might not want to eat. They might have no appetite during the molting stage.

It is vital at this point that you remain present for your bird’s comfort. Molting might be a very tough time for them. You have to be patient and be empathic in terms of what they are feeling. 

You can play with them gently. Hand them their toys to play with. You can give them a nice, warm bath. Be very careful not to give them scratches.

Death and cockatiels – check our article about that right here.

Why Are My Cockatiels Tail Feathers Breaking?

Feathers breaking in the tail part of the bird can be just the cause of clumsiness. When a young bird has been breaking its tail feathers, it can be the cause of a bad landing. 

They can fall and break their tail feathers.

How Long Does It Take A Cockatiel To Grow Back Tail Feathers?

Feathers of the cockatiel can grow back in approximately twelve months. This is the standard answer. 

They might grow earlier than twelve months but just take a few months more or less. Some also take three to six months.


In summary, if a cockatiel loses its feathers, the first cause is that they are molting. This is entirely normal and not chronic. It is a part of their natural process as cockatiels.

They molt at least once a year. Molting is about shedding the old feathers and replacing them with new ones. Birds are like humans. Our hairs and nails continue to grow. 

This is the same with birds. Dead organic parts will be replaced. This is to ensure that they deliver their best functions.


Image credits – Canva

[1] Cockatiel – Wikipedia

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