Why do birds lose feathers

Why do birds lose feathers

The feathers happen to be a bird’s most prized possession and do more than just providing beauty to its body. Feathers are elemental in keeping a bird warm and helping it in flight, which is why the bird stands a chance to lose more than just its beauty when its feathers start falling out.

Also called as molting, feather loss is a common occurrence in birds as long as new feathers grow in place of the old ones the fall off. If this doesn’t happen, then chances are the molting may be due to other factors. And here are some of the more common reasons why!


A poor diet can cause the skin to become dry. This would in turn cause the feathers to dry up and age quickly. A bird would most probably resort to plucking these aged feathers off faster than the body can replace it with new feathers.

Poor feather growth

A poor feather growth would lead to a bird losing more feathers than it originally needs to shed. Birds usually experience this condition if they have a damaged feather follicle, which is a result of either severe plucking or medical ailments.

Plucking the feathers severely can permanently damage the feather follicle, thereby curbing the growth of new feathers in the area. Conditions like hypothyroidism can also cause follicle degeneration in birds, resulting in the loss of feathers without subsequent growth.

Stunted or Malformed Growth

Viral conditions like PBFD (Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease) can also cause severe feather loss and stunted growth of new feathers. The virus would cause the excessive plucking as well.

Skin inflammations like dermatitis can cause excessive plucking as well. This would lead to the appearance of scabs and raw areas on the skin as the feathers fall out without proper regrowth.

In certain cases, clipping the wings short can cause sharp edges, which would poke into the skin when the bird closes its wings. The constant irritation caused by this would make the bird pick and prod this area, leading to excessive plucking which would in turn lead to the loss of feathers.

Other common conditions that can cause excessive plucking in birds, resulting in feather loss include metabolic diseases, allergies, folliculitis, internal tumors (granuloma) and zinc toxicities etc.