Bend, Oregon

Kevin & Jen Lair

Kevin & Jen Lair

We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.

Bend, Oregon

Forum Center,
2680 NE Hwy. 20, Ste. 310
Bend, OR 97701

Phone: (541) 617-8840
Fax: (541) 617-8840
Email: Send Message

Store Hours:
Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

Map This Location

Out with the Old, In with the New

Goldfinch MoltingJust as people make seasonal wardrobe changes, many birds are beginning a transformation of their own, losing and replacing their feathers in a process known as molting.

Nearly all species of birds replace some (partial molt) or all (full molt) of their feathers. Typically birds molt feathers in regular patterns or on specific parts of their bodies, and it may take weeks for them to complete their molting cycle.

Although birds spend a lot of time caring for their feathers by preening, bathing, and dusting, feathers still wear out over time. Birds also change their plumage seasonally for breeding purposes. 

The American Goldfinch completely changes its feathers twice a year with the male becoming a bright yellow in the spring in an attempt to attract a mate. In the fall following nesting season, the male will molt again into a more drab plumage that makes the bird more cryptic and less noticeable to predators. 

Many species of ducks and geese are currently molting their flight feathers. During the period while their new flight feathers are coming in they will be unable to fly for a period of two or more weeks. Once completed, the new set of feathers are in great shape and ready to carry them south on the fall migratory journey.

Species inhabiting temperate zones will increase the number of insulating body feathers in the fall in order to provide protection from colder winter temperatures. In the spring when warmer weather returns they will lose some of these body feathers.

Distinguishing birds that are molting from those that are not can be difficult. Though some birds may lose patches of feathers and appear “balding,” most birds’ feather loss and replacement are far less noticeable.

Feathers are made of more than 90% protein, primarily keratins, so every molting bird needs extra proteins to grow strong feathers for proper flight and effective insulation.

For the next few months, offer high-protein bird foods, such as oil sunflower, nyjer (thistle), peanuts, Bark Butter, Bark Butter Bits and mealworms, to ensure that your birds have a reliable source of protein to help them with molting.