232 IDEAL HOME LIFE
warm weather too cold water is not advisable. If the room, ordinarily warm, becomes cold temporarily, birds should not be allowed to bathe. With the plumage wet and bedraggled, there is increased susceptibility to cold drafts. During molt the bath should be given not more than twice each week.
Canaries renew their covering of feathers once each year. In adults this molt occurs late in summer, and the first sign of it is the presence of a wing or tail feather on the bottom of the cage. These feathers are shed in pairs, one from either wing or from either side of the tail, dropped at approximately the same time. Never in ordinary circumstances does the canary have the wing and tail entirely devoid of large feathers. This provision is of no particular significance in a cage bird, but enables wild birds to maintain their powers of flight. The bodily covering, too, is renewed piecemeal, so that except about the head there is normally no extensive area wholly devoid of feathers at any time. Some birds drop a few of the body feathers all through the year.
Old birds weak in physical vigor often fail to renew their entire feather covering, and ordinarily there is no remedy for it. A supply of nutritious, easily assimilated food, and careful protection during the next molt may result in improvement. Usually this incomplete molt is a sign of extreme age or breakdown, and the bird does not live long. In healthy birds the entire molt requires about two months.
Birds usually need no special care during molt. Though they are in an abnormal bodily state at this time, healthy individuals will come through the period in good condition. Canaries are somewhat dull and stupid when molting, and should be disturbed as little as possible. Bathing may be permitted once or twice each week, but if birds do not wish to bathe they should not be sprayed with water, as this may cause fainting. The molt follows its normal course best in rather damp weather. A great change in temperature or a sudden chill may check its progress, and occasionally cause serious