What Exactly is a Pin Feather?

What Exactly is a Pin Feather?

What is a Pin Feather?

Pin feathers are simply the term used for new feathers coming in.  We call them "pin" feathers because they look like tiny spiky pins on your bird's head and neck areas.  Baby birds have loads of them, but even an adult bird who is going through a heavy molt can have that spiky look too.  

Each pin feather has a sheath (or covering) of keratin surrounding them which helps support and protect the new feather as it grows.  Depending on the type of feathers your bird is growing, they can be quite sensitive sometimes, and your bird may or may not want you to touch them.  New feathers that are just beginning to break through and grow can be quite painful when touched or bumped so it's handle with care.

Pin feathers on a bird's head are usually more itchy, however pin feathers on the neck area can be quite tender.  Eventually the protecting sheath will be removed by your bird during preening sessions, or will fall off on its own when the feather matures.  You may notice your bird scratching rather crazily during a molt, but most often it's the itchiness of the new feathers and not mites or other yuckies.

Many birds enjoy having the pin feathers on their head and cheeks gently rubbed helping the sheaths to come off and allowing the new feather to open completely.  Warm baths also sometimes help the feather sheaths soften and come off more easily as your bird preens him or her self.

If you have your bird feather-clipped for safety, it is very important to be careful and not clip these new blood feathers too short, if at all.  When feather-clipping it is important to always check under the wing before any clipping begins to make sure there is not a new blood feather hidden under the mature wing flight feathers.  

There are products sold that may help with the itching and over-preening that sometimes occurs during a molt when a water bath is just not enough.  Although giving your bird a warm bath daily during a molt helps greatly, sometimes it's just not enough.  I have found the Mango line of products do help some birds who are struggling through the molt.  You can click here to check out the Mango products.

 Happy Feathers!


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