How does pigeon molting look like

Molting in Pigeons: A Complete Guide

Pigeon molting is a process in which they shed their old feathers and grow new feathers. Every pigeon molts several times throughout its life. While a pigeon is molting, it goes through physical and hormonal changes that stress it.

During this time of the year, taking better care of pigeons’ diet and environment is essential. But to take good care, it is essential to know what molting looks like and what your pigeons go through in molting.

How Does Pigeon Molting Looks Like?

During molting, the old feathers start falling off one by one, and new feathers emerge in their place. Although the entire body goes through molting, the wing, tail, and other feathers also fall off, but molting is most prominent on their face and neck.

Behavioral Changes in Pigeons During Molting

Besides losing feathers, pigeons show the following behaviors when they are molting.

  • Become irritable.
  • Look inactive, tired, and sleepy for most of the day.
  • Loose weight.
  • Can be often seen preening their feathers.

Why Do Pigeons Molt?

Even though molting seems stressful for pigeons, it is essential for their well-being. Molting enables pigeons to replace old, weak, and broken feathers with new, healthy ones. If they do not molt, they can catch skin diseases, struggle to fly, and easily fall to predators. As the new feathers grow before the peak winters start, it also helps pigeons to keep themselves warm.

Besides the benefit to pigeon health, molting also makes them look more beautiful. Old, broken, and less-shinny feathers make it difficult for pigeons to attract a mate. Molting prepares them to bond with a mate and breed.

When Do Pigeons Molt?

The molting period of pigeons usually occurs from August-November in the USA. However, in some other regions like Pakistan and India, it occurs around March-May too.

How Many Times a Year Do Pigeons Molt?

In the USA, pigeons usually molt once a year. But in some regions, they molt 2-3 times a year. The frequency of pigeon molting depends on climate, age, and breeding. Generally, breeding pigeons molt less often than young pigeons, especially in cold regions.

For How Long Pigeons Molt?

Over the first 2 years of a pigeon’s life, their molting lasts for as long as up to 170 days. This is when they slightly change color and develop wing bars. However, their molting period drops to 1-2 months as they age.

How to Take Care of Pigeons While They Are Molting?

Pigeons need more care while they are molting.

Water Bowl to Bath

Pigeons like to bathe more often when they are molting. Bathing helps ease stress and comforts them. Daily provide them with fresh water to bathe.

Bathing helps pigeons ease stress during molting

Protein-rich Diet

Pigeon feathers are made of keratin, a form of protein; while their new feathers are growing, they need plenty of protein. Feed them a protein-rich diet and keep the proportion of protein at least 16%. 

You can add more protein to their diet by increasing the proportion of protein-rich seeds and granules. Check this article about the pigeon diet to read which seeds and granules are protein-rich. You can also mix egg white and oils into their mixed seeds and granules diet to increase the fraction of protein.

I also recommend adding multivitamins to their drinking water and giving them grit for extra supplements. Protein, vitamins, and supplements are essential to growing healthy feathers. [1]

Keep Them Separate

As already explained, pigeons become irritable while they are molting. Oftentimes, when some pigeons in the loft have completely molted and are ready to breed, they force molting pigeons into mating and chase them. They sometimes pluck the newly emerging feathers of molting pigeons, which is painful.

This is why I recommend separating molting pigeons so their feathers are not plucked, and they are not forced to mate.


During molting, never feed medicine to your pigeons to stop or delay the molting process. It negatively affects their health.

Pigeons lose health and energy during molting; it is not good to let your pigeons race during the molting season. The gaps in their wing feathers also make it difficult for them to fly well. [2]

Final Thoughts

Molting is a part of pigeons’ life; without it, pigeons cannot live healthy lives. However, molting is also stressful for pigeons; with our little help, we can help them go through it more comfortably.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do pigeons change color after molting?

Yes, pigeons slightly change their color after each molt, especially during the first 6 months. Some pigeons also develop wing bars. However, after molting, no significant changes appear in their color.

Why does my pigeon not stop molting?

Naturally, molting does not last for any more than 170 days. However, some diseases cause the pigeons to keep molting throughout the year. I recommend taking it to a vet for diagnosis and proper treatment in such a case.
There is another possibility; some other pigeons or birds are plucking your pigeon’s feathers, which seems like molting. Try separating your pigeon and see if it stops shedding feathers.

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