do birds grow new feathers

Is it just like how we grow hair? Can they re-grow after falling out? If so, how long does that take? Archived post. New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast.

To birdwatchers suffering through these changes, I say embrace the molt. Like breeding and migration, it’s an amazing behavior and an essential aspect of a bird’s life. Moreover, it can provide some fascinating background information for your next birdwatching excursion.

Molting is energetically expensive—as is migration and breeding. So, birds make sure these three activities dont overlap. July and the first part of August are the sweet spots in the calendar for a lot of our North American songbirds. During this period, Townsend’s Warblers undergo a full molt after finishing their mating, nest-building, and chick-rearing activities, but before they leave for their southward migrations. To complete the process there, other birds, like Gray Flycatchers, fly down to their tropical grounds first. Tree Swallows, on the other hand, might start the transition further north, stop for migration, and then finish it once they reach their wintering grounds. In late winter or early spring, many species undergo a partial molt in which their head and body feathers are replaced but their flight feathers remain intact. This is how a male scarlet tanager can change from luminous red in the spring and summer to olive-green in the winter.

Smaller species typically replace all of their feathers once, and frequently replace some twice. But replacing a larger feather requires more effort. For this reason, large birds like eagles and pelicans regenerate their individual primaries and secondaries on their wings in a staggered fashion over several years rather than growing a new set of flight feathers every year.

Theres a small, but important difference between the two terms. Wear is the mechanical degradation brought on by flapping and external factors that makes the tips of the feathers fray. Paler plumes typically fade faster because they don’t contain melanin, a pigment that fortifies and shields cells from harm. Conversely, fading is a result of a photochemical reaction in which the structure of feathers is broken down by UV radiation from the sun. Lice and bacteria also contribute to feather loss.

The best part is that you don’t have to look for uncommon birds to study the results because molting is so common and universal. Several species exhibit drastic plumage changes, such as young Brown-headed Cowbirds in late summer and American Goldfinches that transition from yellow to brown and back again. In contrast, gulls can be difficult to identify in the summer and fall due to their variety of molts. Thus, if you’re ready to take the risk and give it your all, grab a hot chocolate (or another comforting “beverage”), head to a fast-food or lakeside parking lot, and begin training.

Can they regrow after falling out, and if so, how long does that take? Is it similar to how we grow hair? Archived post New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast.


Do bird feathers regrow?

Feathers that are molted are regrown right away, but feathers that are broken are not replaced until the broken feather is molted. While molting patterns vary depending on the species, most birds will molt only a few flight feathers at a time in order to retain their ability to fly.

How long does it take for a bird to regrow tail feathers?

Tail feathers actually come out fairly easily, often leaving the would-be predator with a mouthful of feathers. Will the tail grow back? Yes, and fairly quickly, too. Depending on the health of the bird, it may take only a few weeks for its tail feathers to regenerate.

Can a bird survive after losing feathers?

Birds cannot replace every feather at once; they’d lose their ability to fly, to maintain body temperature, and more. Instead, they replace feathers in their wings and tails just a few at a time.

How often do birds replace their feathers?

Most birds will molt once or twice a year, and each molt is classified as a partial molt or complete molt. Partial molt means that only some of the feathers are replaced in that cycle, and the others will be replaced in the next cycle that year or the following year.