Green Cheek Conure Molting

The line between green cheek conure molting, and green cheek conure plucking is very fine. I've covered some of this before, but now I'll explain what the difference between plucking and molting really is. 

But if you already know what plucking is, there's a 99 percent chance you're not a bad bird owner. Sometimes, birds pluck for seemingly no reason. Some green cheeks just roll like that, so it's cool. It's not like your bird secretly hates you or anything.

Green Cheek Conure Normal Molting

 Tail Feathers: Prepare to Die

Feather, meet beak. Beak, meet feathers. This is what a green cheek conure looks like during a normal preening session. Notice the total lack of feather mutilation, and bloodied/mutilated feathers on the floor. When green cheek conures are molting verus plucking those tasty tasty feathers, the shaft comes out intact.

Don't even go there.

When green cheek conures pluck, on the other hand, the feathers come out half chewed, cut in half, or otherwise beaten up.

A molting green cheek will lose feathers gradually, and normally in pairs (ie two tail feathers, two wing feathers or two chest feathers - a noah's ark of feathers, basically.) This helps the bird not to be lopsided while flying, and accidentally crash into the fridge. 

Molting green cheeks normally don't have grey fuzzy patches of missing feathers. If you notice gray fuzzy patches of visible down feathers, bloody bare skin patches, or more bloody feathers on the floor than normal, your green cheek conure is probably plucking.

Green Cheek Conure's First Molt

When a green cheek conure reaches adult maturity, at about 8 months old, they will start their first molt. Signs they are ready for their first molt include head shaking, scratching, loose feathers, losing more feathers than normal, and increased volume of pin feathers. Pin feathers are replacement feathers for old, damaged plumage - they are encased in a white keratin casing, and they itch! Imagine being covered in quill feather points - so, so itchy. When your conure starts molting for the first time, they will get bald patches on their heads and chest, and be mean and irritable.

The bad mood symptoms and baldness will go away shortly after finishing molting. You can help your green cheek conure get through their first molt by spraying their feathers with water, which softens the pin feather casing. You can also bathe your conure during molting, if they will let you, or gently scratch/remove the pin feather lining with your finger nail.

Green Cheek Conure Plucking

Notice the overall shifty appearance of these feathers? The shifty eyes, the awkward stance? These are plucked green cheek feathers, and if one of them moves into your neighborhood, your bird's in bad trouble.
When green cheek conures pluck, they mutilate otherwise healthy feathers, or pick them clean out of their bodies. A healthy green cheek might start looking ragged, and unhealthy, with bare patches of feathers. Pluckers start out plucking chest feathers, and later move on to wing, neck or tail feathers.

What Causes Green Cheek Conure Plucking

Joking aside, plucking is a serious issue for all bird owners. Green cheeks who pluck might have problems adjusting to a new lifestyle change. Have you moved, bought a new pet, or had a child recently? You might be upsetting your bird.

Like cats, birds don't react well to change. But instead of pooping outside the box and hiding panties, birds let you know they're unhappy the only way they can: by plucking their feathers.

Besides life changes, your bird might feel lonely, or neglected. Green cheek conures need a minimum interaction time with their owners of 2 hours a day. Make sure that the cage is large enough for ample flight, and change the newspaper once a week, at least. 

And finally: make sure your green cheek conure has fun toys to play with! That one plastic toy you bought from petsmart a year ago won't cut it. Birds need mental stimulation, and lots of fun toys to play with when you aren't around. Switch toys regularly, since a bored birdy is likely to pluck.

If you've ruled out health problems, bad circumstances, and normal molting, your bird may just have a plucking personality. Like some humans chew their fingernails out of habit, some birds pluck or chew their feathers due to a habit. If your bird seems happy and playful otherwise, he or she may simply be a life-long plucker. But make sure to rule out health problems, or green cheek conure molting first.

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