Crows have feathers on their bodies, which help them to maintain their body temperature and control their flight. The birds cannot survive without them because they fly from one place to another to forage food and escape from predators.
Do Crows Lose Feathers? Crows can lose feathers due to annual molting, diseases, infections, attacks from predators, accidental injury, stress, aging, and lack of essential nutrients. They molt during the fall season or between the month of May and December when they are free from the breeding cycle. The molting process can take a few weeks or several months, depending on the species, age of the crow, health, and environmental conditions.
Many birds lose their feathers from specific body parts if they are going through the natural process, while accidents or injuries can cause them to have patches on different body parts.
Why do crows lose feathers?
Crows and all other Corvidae family members have wings on their bodies. Some species have pure back fur, while others have a mix of shades of black, white, and grey. These birds can lose their feathers due to the following reasons.
Crows go through the natural molting process where all members shed their old feathers and regrow the new ones. They replace damaged and old feathers with strong and glossier ones.
You often observe gaps and spaces on feathers, such as small patches due to the annual molting. All adult crow species undergo natural molting because they need better wings to fly higher and farther distances to forage food.
They help these birds to survive the winter and snowy weather because they are thicker and warmer than the old damaged ones.
The bird feels tired and lazy during the molting process because it takes more energy, and it needs a healthy diet to grow the new insulations or body covers.
Various diseases can cause the bird to lose its feathers, such as parasite infestation or infections, which affect its growth.
For example, fleas, lice, ticks, and mites can get into their wings and reach the inner skin, which causes itching, scratching, and infection if they reside on the bird’s body for a long time.
Moreover, other diseases, Psittacine beak, and feather disease, can cause crows to have patching on their skin.
Kidney, liver, and other internal diseases can cause them to lose their feathers because the severe fungal or parasitic infection affects these organs, and they show different symptoms, such as patches on their bodies.
Attack from predators
Different animals and birds can attack crows, such as hawks, eagles, raccoons, dogs, and owls, and are natural crow predators because they eat their meat or the food these birds store.
The predators can enter their territory and attack the young birds. The adult family members will protect the babies, and they can get injured during the fight.
The larger predator birds can scratch or bite the crows and remove their outer skin because crows cannot defend themselves or protect their bodies during an intense fight.
The predators can pluck some of their feathers when the birds attack them and try to keep the invaders away from their nests.
There are chances that the injured or bitten body part loses the feather. It will heal over time, but sometimes, the feathers do not grow back on the injured body part.
Accidental injury or stress
Crows can get into an accident while crossing the road or hit by a fast-moving car. They usually roost on the roadsides and street lights if there are no high trees near this place.
They can get hit by a car and get injured, which causes these birds to lose their flying wings, tails, or bruises on their bodies.
The part on the body where these birds get deep bruises appears flat, and there will form a patch on this body portion. The furry wings can grow again if the injury or accident is not severe.
Moreover, excessive stress and disturbing situations can cause these birds to lose feathers, such as habitat loss, heavy rain storms, and food shortages cause them to get stressed.
Some crows start plucking their own feathers due to stress or out of boredom, which is not safe because this feather-destructive behavior leads to many problems.
Crows get lazy and weak with age; young and adult birds are more energetic and have stronger immune systems than old members.
The old crows can lose their feathers with age, such as they do not have thick and healthy feathers during molting because the number of follicles decreases with age.
The bruises or injured body parts do not recover soon in old birds because they do not grow the same number of feathers again after recovery.
Lack of essential nutrients
Diet affects the overall health and feathers growth or loss in crows because improper diet can cause several health problems.
They need adequate protein quantity in the diet because the feathers are made from protein. The birds can lose them if they lack protein in their diet.
Moreover, other nutrients, such as minerals and vitamins, are essential for these birds to grow new fur in the molting season. Lack of essential nutrients can cause these birds to have poor and weak feathers or patches on the body.
Can crows regrow their feathers?
Crows can regrow their feathers as long as the follicles are present on their outer skin because the birds cannot regrow them if follicles are damaged on the body.
Moreover, they undergo molting when free from the breeding and nesting season, as the female crows lose many feathers when reproducing the young babies.
They gradually lose feathers and form patches, and new ones grow on these spots.
However, these birds cannot regrow them if they get deep bruises and the follicles on the skin are damaged.
Hormonal imbalance and chronic diseases can affect regrowth, such as they face difficulty regrowing the feathers if they suffer from long-term infections.
How often do crows molt their feathers?
Crows undergo the molting process once a year, such as during the fall season or between the month of May and December.
They usually molt when the breeding period or the reproductive cycle is complete because they need more energy to regrow the feathers, which is difficult during the breeding season.
The timing for molting can vary with the geographical locations, species, weather fluctuations in a specific habitat, and age or health of the bird.
The molting pattern within specific species varies, as young birds or juveniles can undergo more frequent molting because they are young and need to grow their wings.
Moreover, the female birds can experience an additional molt, such as post-breeding molting, which allows them to regrow the damaged feathers while raising babies and building nests.
How much time does it take for a crow to regrow its feathers?
The molting process consists of more than one stage, such as the shedding of old feathers and the growth of new ones.
The time required to regrow the new feathers depends on the crow species, their health, age, and the environmental conditions around their habitat.
Sometimes, it takes a few weeks to complete the molting process, while some birds take several months to molt.
On average, it takes approximately 145-185 days to complete the molting process, and the new feathers grow within 5-7 weeks if the crow is healthy and lives in a stress-free environment.
How does molting affect crows?
Crows need more energy during molting to shed the old and damaged feathers and regrow the new ones. It also affects the insulation of these birds because they provide warmth and maintain their body temperature.
Moreover, they need more energy to fly because there are fewer feathers on their back and side bodies.
They cannot take high flight during molting because they cannot control or balance their bodies due to more air pressure.
They also need a healthier and more frequent diet during the molting process because the whole body is affected by growing new feathers, and they feel lazy.