Why is My Quail Losing Feathers? (Explained)

by Kloee Ngozi
Updated on

Feather loss is a typical occurrence in domesticated birds and can be attributed to a variety of factors.

A bird’s feathers serve as protection, insulation, flight, and visual cues.  There are different causes of feather loss, like molting (normal or atypical), stress (from a variety of sources), feather damaging behavior, excessive preening by a parent or cage mate, and viral or bacterial diseases.

However, feather loss can be detrimental to your bird’s health and may even prevent them from growing and producing eggs.

To treat feather loss, it is necessary first to identify the source of the loss and then devise a method of preventing it from occurring again.

What does it mean when your bird loses feathers?

Why is My Quail Losing Feathers

Birds lose feathers regularly. Molting is the term for this procedure. Because bird feathers cannot be restored on their own, the old ones must fall out before new ones can grow. 

The majority of birds molt seasonally, shedding their old feathers in the cold season and regrow them in the arm season.

Molting also aids in regulating the internal temperature of a bird throughout the winter months when the temperature drops.

Birds frequently feel stressed during molting, so it’s critical to keep them as comfortable as possible and ensure they continue to feed and drink properly.

Molting can continue several weeks or even several months, depending on the species.

Also, besides molting, there are other reasons birds could be losing their feathers. 

For example, when a bird is chronically stressed due to a transfer or other situations, it can lose some of its feathers.

As a result, they may lack sufficient exercise and excitement, and as a result of their lethargy, they have begun plucking their feathers.

Inadequate nourishment, a lack of sunlight, and excessive or insufficient humidity can contribute to a bird’s feather loss.

Birds are extremely sensitive creatures, and it is critical to provide them with the proper habitat at all times, including fitting room, toys, food, fresh water, natural sunlight, and the appropriate temperature.

Additionally, when quails are bullied, they can lose their feathers.

If you’ve been raising quails before, you’re probably aware that they frequently jostle and compete for positions higher in the ‘pecking order.

related: Here is an article I wrote on why quails call out at night

How do you tell if quails are molting or have mites?

There’s a big difference between when a bird is molting and experiencing a mite infestation.

For example, when feathers are on the verge of molting and the bird is fearful or anxious, feathers might fall out suddenly, leaving bare patches before new feathers have a chance to grow in.

Also, you can check for signs that show mite or lice infestation like drop inactivity, weight loss, dirty vent feathers, decreased egg production, pale combs, ragged-looking feathers, appetite changes, bald spots, and feather-pulling.

How do you treat bird feather loss?

While the causes of feather picking differ considerably, the procedure for terminating the activity is always the same. 

You can use an ELIZABETHAN COLLAR (cone-shaped collar). Put it around the bird’s neck. The bird’s adjustment to the collar may take several hours or days.

Place the perches in a lower position in the cage during this time, and food/water should also be changed to be easily accessible to the collared bird.

Frequently, at the very least, the collar is left on the bird for 1-2 months! This is important to disrupt the bird’s established habit.

There are times the feathers won’t regenerate back for several months or until the bird undergoes a regular molt.

In difficult situations, the feathers may not recover at all or may take years to regrow. 

You can also use antibiotics or antiviral drugs to treat other skin and feather infections caused by bacteria or viruses.

Or use antiphrastic drugs to eliminate parasites related to feather plucking. 

Treatment of behaviorally based feather-picking is challenging, as the underlying reason for the plucking (stress, overcrowding, sexual dissatisfaction, a new person in the family, a new cage, etc.) may be challenging to identify and correct.

Therefore, treatment for feather-picking that is behavioral may include behavior modification and, in some instances, medication therapy as a last resort. 

How do I help my bird’s feathers grow back?

When birds acquire a feather plucking problem, various circumstances contribute to the development of self-harming behaviors.

Therefore, it is critical to educate yourself on your bird’s health in order to meet their physical and emotional demands.

Preventive Health Care and Pain Management. Practicing preventive health care is important since most birds conceal their disease, injuries and discomfort as a survival technique.

Maintaining a routine of annual medical examinations for your bird will assist you in detecting a disease process early.

In addition, pain and disease are significant factors in birds developing feather plucking habits.

Enrichment. The goal of sensory enrichment is to stimulate the animals’ senses. Be it the smell and taste or sound or touch.

There are various ways to provide enrichment activities for your bird. Provide a variety of chewable and shreddable bird toys for your bird. Assure that your pet receives adequate exercise 

Behavior Training. Behavior training is instilling fundamental skills in your quail, such as how to eat veggies and forage. Additionally, it entails teaching your bird proper manners.

A quail that is taught to act like a quail and is aware of its flock mates is more content. You can start with these simple steps.

  • Allowing you to study its body by handling it
  • Wearing a harness 
  • Taking drugs
  • Getting it to love bathing and other grooming activities

Diet.  Quails have a fast metabolism that requires a balanced diet. However, what they consume is mainly dependent on you.

So if you want a healthy flock, feed your birds the required nutrient they need in order to stay healthy. 

Also check out this article I wrote on can quails eat lettuce

Can feather plucking be stopped?

If you find your bird engaging in unhealthy feather-picking behavior, it is critical to immediately book an appointment with a board-certified avian veterinarian. They can help determine whether your bird’s behavior results from an underlying medical or behavioral issue. 

Meanwhile, resist overreacting if you see feather picking in progress. Making a big fuss about the situation may help perpetuate the problem or convince your bird that your response is favorable.

Additionally, your bird may absorb your stress, causing the behavior to persist. To alleviate the problem prior to your veterinarian’s appointment or, more essential, to prevent it from occurring, concentrate on the following:

  • Maintaining a routine 

Routines are critical for your bird and should be followed to the letter. Assure that your bird obtains an adequate amount of sleep, a balanced meal rich in nutrients and vitamins, and plenty of love and engagement from you.

  • Reduce stress

If you suspect that stress is a factor in your bird’s feather plucking, try figuring out the cause of the stress. Birds are likewise sensitive to their human family members’ moods. So if you are nervous or agitated, it is probable that they are as well.

  • Provide a nutritious food

Ensure you supply your quails with a diet rich in minerals and vitamins. Also, consider the way you feed them if it is appropriate.

Do quail’s feathers carry disease?

Although not as prevalent as bird faeces, feathers can also contribute to disease transmission.

A quail’s feather, especially one from an urban setting, is frequently home to various parasites, germs, and viruses.

However, the disease-carrying feathers of a dead bird are the primary source of transmission.

Therefore, it is critical to remember that the odds of contracting an illness from quail feathers are highly remote.

How often do quails molt?

The duration varies significantly.

Occasionally, molting occurs fast and discretely enough that it is barely discernible. In some instances, the procedure may take longer than 30 days; however, molting can happen quite quickly, particularly in young and vital quail.

It usually takes longer with elderly quails.

Conclusion 

Feather loss in quail is a natural and also a big issue. Figuring out if the loss is because of molt or stress or mite is essential.

There are times when the environmental factor can trigger a premature molt. To ensure proper care for your birds to keep them healthy.

Photo of author

About the author

Kloee Ngozi

Kloee is a backyard farmer and avid gardener who enjoys tending to her garden and plants. She is so engrossed with her plants that she has pet names for all of them. She likes to relax with a bottle of wine and read a book.