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seasonal moulting cycles in pigeons

The moulting process of the Bare-eyed Pigeon, scientifically known as the Patagioenas corensis, is a crucial aspect of its life cycle, essential for maintaining its health and plumage quality. Moulting, the shedding and replacement of feathers, occurs regularly in pigeons, usually once or twice a year, and plays a vital role in ensuring their feathers remain functional for various purposes such as flight, insulation, and display.

During the moulting period, which typically lasts several weeks, the Bare-eyed Pigeon undergoes a systematic shedding of old feathers and the growth of new ones. This process is meticulously orchestrated by hormonal changes triggered by factors such as photoperiod (day length), temperature, and nutritional status. These internal mechanisms ensure that moulting coincides with optimal environmental conditions for feather growth and replacement.

As old feathers are shed, they are replaced by new ones growing from specialized structures called follicles embedded in the pigeon's skin. The growth of new feathers is a resource-intensive process, requiring significant amounts of energy and nutrients, particularly proteins and minerals like calcium and phosphorus.

Feathers serve various functions beyond flight, including thermoregulation, camouflage, and social signaling. Therefore, maintaining a healthy plumage is crucial for the survival and reproductive success of the Bare-eyed Pigeon.

The moulting process ensures that damaged or worn-out feathers are replaced, enabling the pigeon to retain its ability to fly efficiently and to effectively regulate its body temperature, especially important in diverse environments where these pigeons are found.

During moulting, Bare-eyed Pigeons may exhibit changes in behavior and activity levels. They may become more reclusive or less inclined to engage in activities such as mating or foraging, as the energy diverted towards feather growth leaves them with fewer resources for other pursuits. Consequently, Bare-eyed Pigeons may spend more time preening and grooming themselves during moulting, ensuring that their new feathers develop properly and remain free from debris or parasites.

The moulting process in Bare-eyed Pigeons is also influenced by external factors such as food availability and predation risk. Pigeons may alter their foraging behavior during moulting to prioritize obtaining the necessary nutrients for feather growth, focusing on protein-rich foods like seeds, grains, and insects. Additionally, they may seek out sheltered areas to minimize exposure to predators while their flight capabilities are temporarily impaired by the loss of feathers.

seasonal moulting cycles in pigeons
seasonal moulting cycles in pigeons

As moulting progresses, the Bare-eyed Pigeon's appearance may change noticeably, with patches of bare skin becoming visible amidst the growing feathers. This transitional phase can make pigeons more vulnerable to predators and environmental stressors, emphasizing the importance of selecting safe roosting sites and maintaining vigilance against potential threats.

Once the moulting process is complete, the Bare-eyed Pigeon emerges with a fresh set of feathers, revitalized and ready to resume its normal activities. The new plumage is typically vibrant in coloration, reflecting the health and vitality of the individual pigeon. With its renewed feather coat, the Bare-eyed Pigeon is better equipped to navigate its environment, withstand environmental challenges, and fulfill its ecological role as a vital component of diverse ecosystems.