[A male indigo bunting is perched in a tree. He is partially obscured behind some branches. He has patches of both blue and brown feathers, meaning he is in the process of molting. He looks around, then flies away.] [Explore MacaulayLibrary.org]

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Birds work hard to maintain their feathers, preening them daily. Because feathers wear out eventually, most birds replace all their feathers with a fresh coat at least yearly, a process referred to as molting. In some birds, such as the male Indigo Bunting, individuals completely change colors during a molt, from brown winter feathers to their signature blue breeding plumage.

This video accompanies Chapter 4, Feathers and Plumages, Handbook of Bird Biology, 3rd Edition, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Wiley Publishing.

Recorded by Larry R. Arbanas, Macaulay Library