We all know that birds are covered with feathers. As part of their outer integument of body covering, feathers help protect the bird, facilitate its flight, and provide insulation or warmth. Conure parrots, which are among the most common varieties of birds popular as pets, come in a variety of colored feathers.
Here is a little background info on the feathers of conures. When birds are newborn, they are covered in down feathers, which gives them the fluffy appearance. As they grow, other types of feathers develop, and they still retain the down feathers, which are closest to their skin. Semiplumes are the types of feathers that follow the down feathers, and later on bristles and contour feathers grow.
The most visible kinds of feathers are contour feathers, which the conure used for flight. On each wing, there are feathers arranged in three tiers, the outermost feathers are the longest, and they are called primaries. You clip the ends of these primary feathers when you don't want your conure to fly.
At some stage in the life of your conure, he will need to shed off some of its feathers to make way for new ones to grow. This process is normal to all birds, and is called moulting or molting. Birds need to moult because they grow, and sometimes smaller feathers are unable to support them in flight. Also, as some feathers may become damaged, they naturally have to replace them so they can fly.
In conures, the moulting process generally begins at 8 to 10 months of age. This process occurs once a year, and the season in which they begin to moult depends on the species. Sources also say that the complete moulting process, from the shedding to the growth of new feathers, can take several months. For larger conures, moulting is longer as compared to smaller ones.
The conure does not shed all of its feathers at once. In many instances, even when the bird is moulting, the outermost feathers are still intact, and so the bird does not have a noticeable bald spot. Flight feathers are often replaced by species every other year.
What can you do for your conure when it starts to moult? First of all, know that your conure can become more irritable and less cooperative during this stage. You may need to supplement their diet with special foods, especially protein rich varieties, to help them grow their feathers back. You can provide moisture for your conure by spraying them once a day with clean water. This helps relieve the itching and irritation associated with feather growth.
Conures who moult together exhibit the behavior called preening, which is a form of grooming for them. They rub each other's bodies to help facilitate the emergence of new feathers from the quills. If your bird lives alone, you can preen him by carefully brushing its body with your hands. Be gentle when doing this because some new feathers may be painful to the conure when touched.
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