Guide to Caring for a Gyrfalcon During Molting Season


Caring for a Gyrfalcon during the molting season is not for the faint of heart. Remember, birds will lose some feathers throughout the year, but the molting season is a natural process that requires special care and attention. Here, I’ll share some tips and tricks for successfully caring for your Gyrfalcon during this crucial time.

Understanding Molting: Explaining what molting is and why it happens to Gyrfalcons.

Molting is a natural process in birds, including Gyrfalcons, where they shed and replace their feathers. This process is crucial for maintaining the health and functionality of their plumage. Here’s an explanation of what molting is and why it happens:

What is Molting?

Molting is the periodic shedding and replacement of feathers. This process ensures that birds, including Gyrfalcons, maintain strong and effective feathers for flight, insulation, and protection.

gyrfalcon black feathered

Why Molting Happens

  1. Feather Maintenance:
    • Feathers wear out over time due to environmental factors, such as weather, friction, and UV exposure. Molting replaces old, worn-out feathers with new ones, ensuring that the bird’s plumage remains in optimal condition.
  2. Seasonal Adaptations:
    • For some birds, molting is associated with changes in seasons. For instance, Gyrfalcons may molt to develop different plumage suited to varying environmental conditions, such as thicker feathers for insulation during colder months.
  3. Reproductive Cycle:
    • Molting can be linked to the reproductive cycle. After the breeding season, birds often molt to replace feathers that may have been damaged or lost during mating and nesting activities.
  4. Health and Hygiene:
    • Regular molting helps maintain the bird’s overall health and hygiene. Fresh feathers are less likely to harbor parasites and are more efficient in insulating the bird and aiding in flight.

The Molting Process

  1. Partial vs. Complete Molt:
    • Gyrfalcons may undergo partial molts, where only some feathers are replaced, or complete molts, where all feathers are shed and replaced over a period. The latter typically happens once a year.
  2. Symmetrical Molt:
    • Molting usually occurs symmetrically, meaning feathers are shed and replaced in a balanced manner on both sides of the body. This helps maintain flight stability and efficiency.

Maintaining Comfort: Providing tips to ensure your Gyrfalcon stays comfortable during molting.

During this period, your falcon may experience some discomfort due to the shedding of feathers.

Ensuring your Gyrfalcon stays comfortable during molting is crucial for its health and well-being. Here are some tips to help you provide the best care for your bird during this period:

  1. Nutritional Support
  • Balanced Diet: Ensure your falcon’s diet is well-balanced with adequate proteins, vitamins, and minerals to support feather growth. High-quality meats, such as quail or pigeon, are excellent sources of protein.
  • Supplements: Consider adding supplements like calcium and vitamin A to the diet to support feather development and overall health.
  1. Environmental Comfort
  • Sheltered Area: Provide a sheltered area that protects the bird from harsh weather conditions, such as wind, rain, and extreme temperatures. A well-ventilated but sheltered aviary is ideal.
  • Soft Perches: Offer soft, comfortable perches to prevent feather damage and ensure the bird can rest comfortably. Natural wood perches are often preferred.
gyrfalcon eating
  1. Hygiene and Grooming
  • Regular Bathing: Allow access to clean water for bathing, as this helps the bird maintain feather condition and hygiene. Some falcons enjoy misting with water if a bath is not practical.
  • Preening Support: Ensure your falcon has enough time and space to preen. This is vital for feather maintenance and overall comfort.
  1. Stress Reduction
  • Quiet Environment: Minimize disturbances and loud noises around the aviary to reduce stress levels. A quiet, peaceful environment helps the bird focus on molting.
  • Minimal Handling: Limit handling to essential activities to avoid stressing the bird during this delicate period.
  1. Health Monitoring
  • Regular Check-Ups: Monitor the bird’s health closely and schedule regular check-ups with a veterinarian specializing in avian species to catch any potential issues early.
  • Parasite Control: Keep an eye out for parasites, such as mites, which can cause discomfort and feather damage. Use appropriate treatments as recommended by a vet.
  1. Reduced Training
  • Light Training Sessions: If you must train, keep sessions short and less intense. The bird’s energy is primarily focused on feather regrowth, so strenuous activities should be avoided.
  • Mental Stimulation: Provide mental stimulation through low-stress activities and enrichment items like puzzle feeders to keep the bird engaged without physical exertion.
gyrfalcon eating
  1. Observation and Adjustment
  • Feather Condition: Regularly inspect the feathers for signs of new growth and overall condition. Ensure that the new feathers are coming in correctly and are healthy.
  • Behavioral Changes: Watch for changes in behavior that might indicate discomfort or health issues, such as excessive scratching, lethargy, or loss of appetite. Adjust care routines as necessary based on observations.

Molting is a natural process that plays a crucial role in maintaining your Gyrfalcon’s health and well-being. Providing the right care and support during this period ensures that your falcon remains comfortable and maintains optimal feather conditions for flight, insulation, and protection.


Welcome to my falconry website! My name is Richard, and I have been practising the art of Falconry for over 15 years. My fascination with birds of prey began at a young age when I visited a falconry sanctuary as a kid. The experience was truly captivating, and from that moment on, I knew I wanted to learn more about these majestic birds. So my dad and I started to adventure towards the possibility of one-day becoming falconers, and that's how my journey in Falconry began. I find birds of prey to be remarkable at hunting prey. Their strength, speed, and intelligence are truly remarkable, and I've always been fascinated by the relationship between a falconer and their bird. The first bird I started my falconry journey with was a Harris Hawk, as I knew these were the easiest birds to start with. Unfortunately, I lost my Harris Hawk during the early days of training, which was devastating. However, this loss only made me want to try harder and do better in perfecting the art of Falconry to ensure I never lose a bird. Over the years, I have mentored many apprentice falconers and shared my knowledge and skills along the way. I have experience with a variety of birds, including different species of Hawks, Falcons, and Owls. Although my Best choice of bird to hunt with has always been my Peregrine falcon Jules. I have also worked with many experienced falconers and bird trainers, greatly expanding my knowledge and skill set while observing and learning. Unfortunately, due to a lack of information on the web, I struggled to find what I needed when I started in Falconry. Thus, I created this website to make learning about Falconry easier and faster for those interested. Now with the information and experience, I will provide throughout this site, understanding Falconry should be much easier than when I started out.

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