Over the last few months I have had a lot of people ask me about moulting birds, so I thought I would I put pen to paper or should I say keyboard to Microsoft word and write a few words of what I have learnt in my 40 plus years of birdkeeping. I am by no means a expert at birdkeeping and their are fanciers with better knowledge than me on these matters, that said I shall explain what I do to get my birds through the moult.
Javas are capable of moulting at any time of the year,even a sudden change in the weather can trigger the onset of a moult. Birds which are kept in a heated birdroom or a house with central heating are more likely to moult at different times of the year than those kept in a unheated birdroom or aviary.
As a general rule Javas only moult once a year usually after the breeding season and towards late july onwards but its not unusual for them to moult more than once in any given year.
This 2011 bred young silver is just a couple of months old and moulting into adult plumage.
Young birds begin moulting into adult plumage soon after leaving the nest between 5-7 weeks is the norm for mine. The process takes around 6-9 weeks for a Java to moult fully but this is not set set in stone with some Javas taking much longer for one reason or another, fitness playing a big role. I have seen birds drop a large number of feathers over a period of just a few days rendering them almost bald around the head and chest and looking really awfull to those who do not that the bird is moulting but these birds are always the first to complete their moult.
Moulting is a stressful time for Javas and they must be supplied with adequate supplies of Calcium and Proteins in order for them to grow new feathers quicky and correctly. I supply all my birds with freshly grated cuttlefish bone every day during moulting as it helps in growing healthy feathers. Fresh seed and water every day and soft food a couple of times a week, green food is for my birds in the form of cress and the occasional lettuce leaf usually once a week occasionally twice. Birds which are not correctly fed or are unfit can get stuck in the moult and this condition can prove to be detrimental for the birds resulting in poor feathering of what was a few months earlier a fine specimen. The feathers of the wings take the longest to be replaced with the Primarys being the very last to be replaced. Sometimes in caged birds the bird will throw a couple of primary feathers at the same time but as they get to the very outer primarys it will usually only be only one at a time as these affect flight dramatically when more than one is lost.
Adults tend to moult more slowly than the youngsters shown here by the streaking on this adult silvers head where feather loss has occurred and will shortly be replaced with new growth(feathers).
A tip for getting birds to moult quicker especially young birds is to reduce the amount of light they receive. This can be done very easily by putting them in the lower tier cages and blocking some of the available light with paper (ie mask off part, but not all the cage front) this can be useful for getting birds stuck in the moult going again.
A 2011 bred Fawn Cock with just a few weeks to go for a complete Moult
Plenty of baths is vital for the birds at all times of the year but even more so during the Moult it certainly helps new feathers burst from thiere quils by softing them.
I have seen people time and again selling unmoulted youngsters at various sales and indeed advertised as unmoulted young in the Cage and Aviary Birds. This in my eyes is just plain stupid how do you know that your not selling your best birds until the moult is complete ?. Many a unpromissing youngster has come up trumps when Moulted through and given time to mature properly without being moved to another location.