Do Hummingbirds Molt?

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Do hummingbirds molt? The answer to this question is yes – hummingbirds do undergo a molting process.

In this blog post, we will discuss the molting process in detail and explain why it’s important for hummingbirds.

We will also provide tips on how you can help your hummingbird through the molting process.

What Is Molting In Birds?

Molting is a natural part of a bird’s life cycle that occurs every year when old feathers are replaced by new ones.

During this process, the bird goes through a complete change in its plumage. Birds need to have bright and healthy feathers to stay warm, waterproof, and aerodynamic during flight.

This is accomplished with regular molting cycles where dead and damaged feathers are periodically replaced with new ones.

Do Hummingbirds Molt?

Although many hummingbirds may appear to have a single coat of bright feathers all year long, the truth is that these tiny birds do indeed molt.

A hummingbird goes through multiple molting stages throughout its life, but it’s important to note that this process isn’t like most animals’ molting process.

Unlike other animals where the entire coat may be renewed, a hummingbird instead goes through a partial molt. This means they replace only certain areas at once (usually wings and tail).

Is There A Molting Season For Hummingbirds?

While hummingbirds may molt throughout the year, most species tend to molt right at the end of their breeding season and also during preparatory migration for winter.

This is when they are visiting their summer or winter habitats, respectively.

It’s believed that this could be advantageous for them since during the molting period they have fewer physical needs but still require a nutritional boost from nectar to fuel the heavier metabolic activity associated with feather growth.

When Do Baby Hummingbirds First Molt?

Baby hummingbirds typically grow their initial set of feathers within two weeks of being born.

However, the first molt isn’t expected until they turn four to six weeks old. When molting does occur, it usually happens gradually over weeks or even months.

All baby hummingbirds go through this two-part process of replacing their flight and contour feathers so that they learn how to fly and look like adult birds.

How Often Do Hummingbirds Molt?

It may surprise you to learn that hummingbirds molt multiple times per year!

Unlike other species of birds, which molts just once each year, hummingbirds (of both the Old World and New World species) molt two or three times.

This process is known as “partial molt” and happens at the end of each breeding season – from late spring to early fall.

The molting period is when they replace their feathers and grow new ones; this helps them stay aerodynamic and facilitates a more efficient way of flight.

As hummingbirds migrate short distances often, a healthy feather coat helps them save energy on their travels.

Do Hummingbirds’ Tail Feathers Molt?

Hummingbirds are some of the most beloved visitors to many yards and gardens, bringing delight with their colorful feathers and metronomic flight patterns.

do hummingbirds molt

There is good news for hummingbird lovers when it comes to feather molt: due to their small size, hummingbirds typically don’t experience the same complex feather molt that larger birds do.

The two main types of wing feathers, remiges, and rectrices may change color slightly as they age on a hummingbird.

However, hummingbirds don’t experience the complete replacement of these feathers like other birds experience.

This means that your yard hummingbird’s beautiful tail will stay relatively intact year after year.

Do All Hummingbird Species Molt?

The answer to whether all hummingbird species molt is yes.

All feathered creatures experience a process called molting, where they discard pin feathers and grow new ones, and hummingbirds are, of course, no exception.

do hummingbirds molt

Rufous hummingbird tends to molt twice a year – once in the spring and again in early autumn – but they may also molt after recovering from an illness.

As with any other process associated with birds, molting involves a certain amount of energy expenditure for them, so it pays for hummingbirds to time their moltings to correspond with times when food is plentiful.

Like many other animals, hummingbirds have evolved specialized behaviors that help ensure their survival; seasonal molting certainly falls into that category.

Do Hummingbirds Molt In A Hummingbird Nest?

Many hummingbird enthusiasts have wondered if a hummingbird molts in its nest, and the answer is yes!

During the breeding season, hummingbirds molt their feathers even while they are nesting. This molting process usually happens during late summer or early fall, right before they fly south for the winter.

As they molt, the parents continuously build up the nest by adding down and small twigs to help keep the feathery chicks warm.

do hummingbirds molt

Molting allows hummingbirds to maintain their plumage and stay healthy throughout their migratory journey.

Hummingbird Diet & Molting

Hummingbirds have unique diets and frequently change their feathers.

They eat nectar, insects, and occasionally pollen. To obtain these food sources, they utilize their long bill and tongues adapted to extract nectar from flowers and capture insects like gnats, flies, mosquitoes, and spiders from the air.

Hummingbirds also molt twice a year to keep their feathers in top shape for long migrations as well as warmer weather.

During this process, they replace every feather on their body and must go through a brief time where flight is limited due to their new plumage.

To remain strong during the molting season, hummingbirds still require plenty of nourishment so they can develop healthy new feathers in no time.

Do Adult Male Hummingbirds Molt More?

Many people don’t realize that male hummingbirds molt annually, just like their female counterparts.

Adult males, however, may experience a molting pattern that differs from that of females.

In adult males, there is an additional layer of feathers known as the ‘Gorget’ which goes through extended color changes during the year- usually appearing significantly more colorful than the other feathers.

With careful observation over several weeks or months, we can observe dramatic changes in the hue and hue combinations within these gorgeous plumage colors.

Either way, it provides an immense amount of enjoyment for those with a watchful eye!

How Do Young Female Hummingbirds Breed, Mate, And Molt?

Breeding and mating season for young female hummingbirds is an exciting time of year.

During breeding, each hummingbird will actively try to attract mates using courtship rituals. This usually involves wing flapping, flicking the tail up and down, or dive-bombing the intended mate.

Then a female hummingbird will build her perch in an area where she can be safe from predators to protect her eggs.

Once she finds a suitable mate, they pair bond by engaging in mutual courtship displays throughout the mating season.

Afterward, the female hummingbird enters molting season where she sheds old feathers and grows new ones for travel and protection from the elements.

By going through this cycle of mating, breeding, and molting yearly, female hummingbirds can ensure their survival and keep their populations healthy.


Yes, hummingbirds molt. The process of molting helps the birds replace worn-down feathers with new ones and regain their strength for the upcoming migration season. During this period, they will replace every feather on their body to look and feel their best.

Dawn Caffrey

Dawn Caffrey

Hummingbirds just make me happy - in fact, I read somewhere that they represent happiness in Native American totems.
Let me tell you what I found about feeders from treating the hummingbirds in my back yard.

About Me

Hummingbirds just make me happy – in fact, I read somewhere that they represent happiness in Native American totems.
Let me tell you what I found about feeders from treating the hummingbirds in my back yard.

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