Molting is an interesting process. Bluebird nestlings have a complete molt after nesting, molting into their basic plumage. Molting occurs in response to a mixture of hormonal changes brought about by growth and seasonal changes. The entire process is very complex. A feather is a "dead" structure, somewhat like hair or nails in humans. The hardness of a feather is caused by the formation of the protein called ( Keratin. ) Since feathers cannot heal themselves when damaged, they have to be completely replaced. The replacement of all or part of the feathers is called a molt. Molts produce feathers that match the age and sex of the bird, and sometimes the season. Damaged feathers are replaced during a molt. A feather that has been lost completely is replaced immediately.
Watching junior molt and grow gives me great satisfaction, especially knowing once his kind was at the brink of extinction. The gratification comes from being a landlord and experiencing the nesting process of these beautiful birds. Though the bluebird’s nesting season here in Pennsylvania is coming to a close, we landlords still can enjoy the bluebirds in watching Junior grow.