Why Is My Cockatiel Losing Weight?

Cockatiels have sleek, streamlined bodies that are optimized for flight. The problem is that because of their naturally lithe appearance and feathers, and you will never realize that your cockatiel is losing weight. Unfortunately, weight change is one of the best indicators that your cockatiel is not feeling well.

Why Is My Cockatiel Losing Weight?

Why Is My Cockatiel Losing Weight? Cockatiels lose weight primarily due to illnesses such as kidney disorders and avian tuberculosis. In addition, weight loss can occur because of malnutrition. This happens when the cockatiel diet does not meet its nutritional requirements. Sometimes cockatiels do not exercise enough, and because of that, they cannot regulate their metabolism.

Your cockatiel won’t be harmed if it loses a little weight. However, the real danger is to notice if your cockatiel suddenly loses a significant amount of weight before realizing it is getting skinny.

How To Tell If A Cockatiel Is Underweight

Cockatiels are slender creatures. Thanks to their thick feathers, they can cover their weight loss. However, there are ways to determine if your cockatiel is getting too thin. These include:

Check The Keel Bone

You can assess the weight of your cockatiel by checking its keel bone, which is located just below the breastbone. The following traits can identify it:

  • It extends to the cockatiel’s stomach with muscles attached to either side.
  • The top portion of it juts outward just underneath the clavicle.
  • Downward sloping.

To find the keel bone do the following:

  1. Place the cockatiel on its back.

2. With a few fingers, place your hand in the middle of the chest.

3. Feel around just underneath where the collarbone would be.

4. Stop when you find the top edge of the bone. It will be at the same level as the rest of the muscle.

5. Move your fingers to either side of the bone. This will be on the left and correct areas of the chest.

If you have trouble feeling the edges of the keel, then this is a positive sign. The keel should always be balanced with the chest muscles. If your cockatiel is underweight, the top of the keel bone will be prominent and feel sharp. However, be careful this test is not 100% accurate. If the keel bone is not easily found, it may be due to its unique body structure.

Weigh The Cockatiel On Scales

Feel free to weigh your cockatiel on the kitchen scalesOpens in a new tab.:

  1. Place the cockatiel’s perch on the scale and let it stand on itOpens in a new tab..

2. Next, wrap your cockatiel in a piece of cloth to hold it still.

3. Subtract the weight of these items from the final reading.

When To Be Concerned If Your Cockatiel Is Losing Weight

Most often, you should worry if your cockatiel shows signs of:

  • Low energy levels.
  • Feathers are becoming frail or thin.
  • Labored breathing.
  • A noticeably slimmer body.
  • Thinning feathers around the eyes.

For example, sudden weight changes may indicate that your cockatiel has:

  • A problem with digesting nutrients.
  • If it stops eating entirely.
  • Contracted an illness.

On the other hand, a gradual change can be the result of poor quality food or stress.

Why Your Cockatiel Is Losing Weight

If your cockatiel is losing weight, you will need to research the following causes well:


Malnutrition can, unfortunately, happen when your cockatiel isn’t:

  • Eating not enough food every day-This can cause your cockatiel metabolism to malfunction.
  • A balanced diet- The seeds can not give your cockatiel all of the nutrients it needs.
  • Given nutritious food– Excessively processed foods have deficient in vitamins and minerals.

There are other reasons why cockatiels can become malnourished, and that are:

Excessive Nutrients

If a cockatiel consumes too many nutrients, its body may not be able to process them. Unfortunately, cockatiels can get sick from ingesting too much vitamin D3 and vitamin A. This vitamin overload will throw off the digestive tract’s ability to extract the optimal amount of nutrients, leading to malnutrition and weight loss.

Food Selectivity

Cockatiels can become malnourished when their diet allows them to choose what to eat.

Consider muesli with a combination of several different types of grains. While this may seem healthy, your cockatiel can only pick its favorite pieces of grain. Unfortunately, this selective behavior can harm your cockatiel, even while keeping it well-fed. Here are some signs of malnutrition:

  • Weakness and lethargy.
  • OverweightOpens in a new tab. or underweight.
  • Compromised immune system.
  • Dull or discolored feathers.
  • Brittle feathers.
  • Cracks on the beak or feet.

You can’t always diagnose malnutrition at home. Instead, your vet may need to perform:

  • A dietary evaluation. A vet will examine the cockatiel’s diet and correlate any gaps with its health problems.
  • Bloodwork. The vet through blood tests will be able to identify mineral deficiencies.

Kidney Disorders

The kidneys are used to filter waste from the body, ready for excretion. If they no longer work efficiently, the weight of your cockatielOpens in a new tab. will start to fall. Kidney disease is common in birds, especially cockatiels. If the kidneys stop working correctly, your cockatiel will show the following symptoms:

  • Weight loss.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Depression.
  • Low energy levels.
  • Lameness.
  • Swollen abdomen.

The veterinarian will need to perform a complete blood count to assess the kidney’s functionality. X-rays may also be required to check the size and density of the kidneys. Although kidney disease may not always be resolved, the symptoms may be lessened. This can be achieved through dietary modifications, such as reduced protein intake, supplements, symptomatic therapy, and force-feeding.

Avian Tuberculosis

Avian tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that is spread by bird droppingsOpens in a new tab.. Cockatiels kept in tight flocks or together in a cage can pass it between birds, leading to weight loss. This happens when your cockatiel:

  • Interacts with an infected bird in the home.
  • Comes into contact with an object infected from outdoors.
  • Is bought from an infected pet store.

Cockatiels infected with avian tuberculosis usually manifest symptoms after three weeks of infection. Symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Increased thirst
  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness
  • Lameness or dropping of wings
  • Jaundice
  • Continued weight loss

There is no treatment for avian tuberculosis. Instead, with constant care and attention, you will improve the quality of life for the infected birds. In addition, infected cockatiels will be separated from the flock to prevent the further spread of the disease.

How To Make My Cockatiel Gain Weight

If your cockatiel is very sick or has a diseaseOpens in a new tab., it will need a diet and a treatment plan from a veterinarian. However, more calories and exercise will be incredibly beneficial for an otherwise healthy cockatiel. Here’s how to fatten up a cockatiel:

Dietary Modifications

Some dietary supplements will allow the cockatiel to regain lost weight. Provide foods that are high in calories and protein, and at the same time, very nutritious. These are crucial to:

  • Adding body fat.
  • Improving muscle growth.
  • Boosting energy levels.

High-calorie options include peanuts and sunflower seeds. Bird supplements are also recommended.

Additional Exercise

Physical activity can be crucial for your cockatiel to gain weight. Your cockatiel benefits from:

  • Metabolic optimization.
  • Added muscle mass.
  • Better digestion.
  • Mental stimulation.

To increase the activity level of your cockatiel, encourage it to:

  • Play with toys
  • Walk
  • Fly
  • Dance

If you notice that your cockatiel suddenly starts to lose weight but is not sick, then it may probably lack proper nutrition and exercise. This can be solved with 2-3 hours of daily training and pairing a balanced diet.

Cockatiel Enthusiast

My name is Bojan. I have been around Cockatiels for the past 7 years. I love writing about Cockatiels and helping people understand how these beautiful birds live, what they like, and how to provide them the best possible care.

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