How Often Do Finches Molt?

Molting is a biological and periodic phase that regularly occurs in all bird species, including finches. In the process of molting, birds slowly shed their old and broken plumage and substitute them with a new set of feathers without looking bald.

All birds, domesticated or wild, molt without exception; however, the timing, length, and rate of molt vary according to the species and age of the avian companion.

So, in that context How Often Do Finches Molt?

The molting phase in Finches is around 90 to 120 days, with most species having a molting span of 100 days. But to be very precise, the molting period depends upon particular species, age, climate, and health conditions of finches.

The majority of finches, such as goldfinches and Gouldian finches, lose their feathers once a year after the mating season.  However, only the zebra finch (in the family of finches) is capable of reproducing and molting at the same time. In contrast, others begin molting near the end of their breeding cycle, either before or while nurturing their last clutch.

Enjoy This video on some sooth sounds of finches while you continue here

The Molting Process

The loss of the first primary flight feather signals the beginning of the molting phase, which is commonly overlooked since no more feathers are lost, and just a few feathers are visible on the aviary floor during this period. A single primary flying feather of each wing is gradually replaced over the course of many weeks until the 4th primary flight feather is dropped, at which point the first process of molt is complete. At this point, the secondary flying feathers begin to shed their feathers and replace them with new feathers with time.

Let us discuss the molting pattern of some of the most common finch species.

1.   Purple finches

The molting span of Purple Finches is usually from July to November. But it still depends upon the climate and age of purple finch.

2.   Zebra Finch

The zebra finch does not go through an annual molt.   However, this does not imply that they do not replace their feathers; rather, they do so throughout the year, one feather at a time, as they shed them.

It is possible that more feathers will fall than normal at one time. Keep a watch out for this since the bird may require additional protein in its food, or it may be an indication of a medical condition.

3.   American goldfinch

The American goldfinch, which molts twice a year, in the spring and at the conclusion of the mating season in the fall, exemplifies the variety in the frequency of molt. 

4.   Gouldian Finch

The molting pattern Gouldian finches occur once a year during a certain season, with a start time that varies somewhat according to the location’s climate. In Australia, pet Gouldian finches may begin to molt as early as July if they are kept in a cage. It is expected that the molt will begin in January in the Northern Hemisphere.

Signs and Symptoms of an Abnormal Molt

The most evident indicators of an atypical molt in Gouldian finches are baldness on the head, pin feathers on the head, and facial feathers that have fallen out. In order to evaluate the most likely cause of these symptoms, it is necessary to examine the wing feathers of afflicted finches and compare the main flying feathers molting sequence of affected finches with that of healthy finches. Poor nutrition coupled with a rapid cold or illness process is the primary culprit of baldness, while a compressed molt most often causes the loss of face plumage or head pin feathers.

·       Head Pin Plumage: Pin feathers crammed into the finches’ skull indicate that the molt has come to an abrupt halt due to a lack of energy or protein. The existence of head pin feathers indicates that the molt’s nutritional requirements have not been met or that a digestive ailment has hindered the proper absorption of dietary components into the body system, respectively. It is common for head pin feathers to appear during a molt to indicate that the flock is getting a marginal and inadequate supply of nourishment, as nutritional requirements peak by the time the head pin plumes are being replaced.

·       Head Baldness: This indicates that the molt has been compressed and that mating or freezing temperatures has been prolonged too close to the molting time, as evidenced by the presence of several nearby fresh developing flight feathers. Ultimately, baldness is caused by a lack of nutritional reserves due to a compressed molt cycle.

·       Missing facial and head feathers: When the wing feathers are examined, it is typically found that the process of the molt has been slowed, but there is no sign of a compressed molt. Flights from a previous year’s molt are typically apparent, which indicates long-term starvation.

What are the signs that your pet finch is molting?

It is important for finch caretakers to be aware of the following changes:

·       The presence of finch plumage/feathers in the cage

·       The presence of pin feathers on the finch’s body, particularly in the area around the head.

·       The finch spends more time preening and cleaning his feathers than normal.

·       The finch in molt seems less energetic, lively, and vocal than normal.

What should you do if your pet finch goes through a molt?

It is critical that you take the following measures right away:

·       Placing the finch in a calm and stress-free environment (it will benefit it)

·       Dietary modifications are necessary

·       Allow the finch to be exposed to natural light for some time daily.

What should you feed my finch while it is molting?

During this critical stage, finches require an increased intake of minerals, vitamins, lipids, and proteins. Maintaining a healthy diet ensures that molting takes place within normal boundaries and produces high-quality feathers. A diet low in protein, vitamins, and enzymes or feeding just seeds, results in poor feather development and quality issues in finches.

If the feathers are fragile and light in color, this indicates that the existing diet is inadequate and that it must be changed. A poor diet might also cause the molt to take longer to complete. Examples include iodine deficit resulting in aberrant feather development and a lack of protein resulting in the bird becoming “stuck in molt.” In addition, since that feathers are composed of about 90 percent protein, protein is a vital food.

Based on the type of finch you have, you may provide a broad selection of safe and healthy fruits and veggies such as bell peppers, spicy peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, and dark leafy vegetables to your companion bird. A fantastic source of micronutrients, germinated seeds are an excellent alternative for finches that primarily rely on seeds.

The use of commercial supplements during molting is recommended if you cannot sustain a naturally determined diet while molting

How to differ molting from sickness in finches?

If your finch is acting in a manner that is inconsistent with its normal behavior or that is significantly different from the other finches, then your finch is suffering from a medical condition. Molting is a major drain on the small finches’ resources since they replace not only feathers but also the lining of their bones and their immune systems along with hormones.

If you read this article you may also be curious to know more about How often do finches molt? To go to this article Click Here

Another Recent article that we have written about finches is How Often do Finches Lay Eggs? Click Here to go to this article.

Rick Matthews

Hello, I am Rick Matthews, I have helped raise 100's of pets in my life living with my Father who while we did not live on a farm, raised all sorts of animals to sell them to families. We had so many different pets we all quickly became experts intending to them and helping them stay healthy. Back then we did not have the internet to look up thing on how to take care of their kids. As my kids got older, they wanted pets and of course, I did not want to have as many as we did when I was a child, but wanted to share my experiences. Many of these articles are written to help educate families on what to expect when looking to get a new pet for their children.

Recent Posts