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Bird Weights – How can you tell if your pet bird is too heavy or too thin?

Your bird’s weight can be an important indicator of its health.  Unfortunately, however, it’s difficult to access  weight by eye – feathers hide most of the useful signposts, and by puffing up or flattening its plumage a bird can give very different impressions of its size.

Gauging Your Bird’s Weight

With experience, it is possible to develop an “eye” for a bird’s weight – several older keepers I worked with at the Bronx Zoo were amazing in this regard – but a manual check is generally best.  With your bird in hand, feel along each side of the keel, or breast bone.  Even on the tiniest of finches, there should be a layer of muscle (in active, full-winged birds) or fat.  You should not be able to easily feel each side of the keel (the outer edge of the keel, which runs along the breast, will not have a fat/muscle covering).

If you are concerned about your bird’s weight, periodic checks with a gram scale are advisable.

Typical Weights

I’ve listed below some average weights for various birds (in grams).  Bear in mind that captive breeding has led to different strains of birds that vary widely in weight from what is “normal”.  Also, the weights of many species differ from population to population.  Budgerigars, for example, typically weigh between 25-70 grams, while Moluccan Cockatoos range from 650- 1,050 grams.

Zebra Finch                              10-18 Grams

Canary                                     15-30

Pionus Parrots                          200 (Blue-headed Pionus to 250)

Quaker Parrot                           100-150

Crimson Rosella                        130-160

Lovebird                                   50 (Peach-faced Lovebird to 85)

Red Lory                                   160-170

Rainbow Lorikeet                       125-140

Sun Conure                               100-130

Golden Conure                          260-280

Goffin’s Cockatoo                      230-400

Orange-winged Amazon            350-500

Reasons for Weight Gain

Cage Design, Exercise Options:

A small or poorly-designed cage leads to boredom, lack of exercise and increased weight.  This is as true for finches as for parrots.  Even when given ample out-of-cage time, birds with clipped wings tend to burn less calories than do their full-winged brethren.


Many species are notoriously picky eaters, and tend to choose the worst diets possible.  Sunflower seeds and mealworms, are common culprits.  Low Fat Pellets are an excellent option; acceptance of these can be encouraged by using LaFeber NutriBerries which integrate pellets with tasty foods.

I consider Foraging Toys to be indispensible – by forcing the bird to work for its food, they stimulate both mind and body.

Fluid Accumulation:

Liver and heart problems can cause fluid to be retained and a consequent increase in weight.

Egg Binding/Retained Eggs:

Egg-bound females will usually seem in acute distress and cease feeding.


Hepatic Lipidosis/Fatty Liver

Reasons for Weight Loss


Many diseases depress appetite or the ability to digest food.  In some cases (i.e. Avian TB), the afflicted bird may continue to feed but will lose weight none-the-less.  Weight loss is typical of Aspergillosus, PDD, Psittacosis, Candida and many other ailments.


Via airborne toxins (pesticides) or through chewing toxic materials or plants.

Digestive System Blockage:

From ingested wood chips, plastic, inappropriate grit; feces are usually retained.

Aggression from Cage Mates; Stressful Surroundings:

Check for aggression from a hidden vantage point; consider noise or lights at night as well.

Overgrown or Damaged Beak

External (mites) or Internal (roundworm) Parasites


Further Reading

Size and shape are useful earmarks for birders as well…check out this informative article from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Please also see my other Bird Health Articles.


About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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