By Diane Burroughs

Revised 5/02/2024 

Keeping a bird weight chart is like regularly checking your car's tire pressure. Just as tire pressure affects your vehicle's performance, a monitoring your birds weight can help you stay on top of its overall health. In this blog post, we'll delve into why weight monitoring is crucial, the best times to weigh your bird, and how to do it effectively. Whether you're a seasoned bird owner or new to avian care, grasping these fundamentals is vital for optimizing your bird's well-being.

Why do we weigh birds?

Monitoring your bird’s weight allows you to observe subtle changes and catch health problems early. Birds often hide signs that they aren't feeling well as a survival mechanism, meaning that they frequently don’t display any outward signs when they are sick or injured.

Keeping an eye on your bird's weight is crucial for adult pet owners. It's usually the first sign that something might be wrong if they start losing weight. So, making it a habit to weigh them regularly can help catch any issues early on before they become major concerns.

Adult birds typically maintain a fairly steady weight overtime, but minor fluctuations, like during molting, are normal. However, if your bird's weight changes by 5-10% or more, whether gaining or losing, it's a signal to consult with your vet for further evaluation.

Birds are naturally lean, which helps them fly really well. When you add their fast metabolism, even a small weight drop can be a big problem. For example, if a 125-gram cockatiel loses 10% of its weight, that's only 12 grams. It's hard to notice this small change without using a bird scale that measures in grams.

This is why it is so important to frequently monitor your birds weight.

How often should I weigh my bird? 

Regularly monitoring your bird's weight is crucial for its well-being. For a healthy bird that's active and displaying normal behaviors, checking its weight once a week is generally sufficient. However, if you notice changes in your bird's activity levels, such as reduced movement or if it appears fluffed up frequently, it's important to monitor its weight more frequently, perhaps weekly or even daily, depending on the severity of the changes.

During certain times, such as molting or changes in routine, such a going on vacation, keeping a closer eye on your bird's weight can help catch any issues early on. This is because these periods can sometimes affect a bird's metabolism or nutrient intake, leading to potential weight fluctuations. By monitoring weight more frequently during such times, you can ensure that your bird maintains a healthy weight and overall well-being.

Additionally, if your bird is undergoing a diet change - say switching from seeds to pellets, more frequent weight monitoring will be necessary. This is to track its progress and ensure that any changes in weight are within normal ranges. By staying proactive and regularly monitoring your bird's weight, you can help identify any potential health concerns early and take appropriate action to keep your feathered friend happy and healthy.

When should you weigh your bird?

Choose a day of the week that you’ll weigh your bird each week. As long as it’s consistent, any day will do. Weighing your bird will let you keep track of its progress and ensure that it remains healthy and happy. 

Next, choose a time frame to weigh your bird. A bird’s weight can fluctuate based on when its last eaten or the amount of exercise it gets, so weighing your bird once weekly at about the same time of day will give you more consistent results. 

How do I weigh my bird?

It's so important to monitor your birds weight, but how do you do it correctly?

Don't let this necessary, painless procedure stress your bird out. Make it as stress-free as possible.

If your bird has not been trained to step-up and step-down, use clicker training to teach them this important skill. Melinda Johnson, the author of Clicker Training For Birds defines this as one of the most fundamental "manners" that you can teach your bird. "Every companion parrot should learn to step up readily..."

Stepping up is simply when your bird steps from a lower surface to a slightly higher one. 

weighing birds


Your bird should also be well versed in the skill of “staying put” for a brief period of time. This skill will come in handy when it comes time to weigh your bird, but it can come in handy at other times, too. 

After mastering these two “bird skills,” you’re ready to train your bird to tolerate getting weighed each week. Having their favorite treats handy speeds up training.

You don't need an expensive bird scale to weigh most birds accurately. A basic kitchen scale that measures in grams works perfectly well. If you're using a triangular bird stand for weighing, remember to reset the scale to zero (tare) with the stand on it. It's helpful to jot down the date and weight each time you weigh your bird, and you can use a chart or an app like DuePet to track their progress over time.

Getting into the habit of monitoring your birds weight can literally save its life!

Here's a FREE PDF to help you keep track of your bird's weight so you can intervene early if your bird is having trouble.

How do I know if my bird is too fat?

How do you know when your parrot is overweight or underweight? Use the Bird Size-O-Meter to find out. This easy to use, accurate, and FREE Bird Size-O-Meter will give you the information you need to make minor adjustments that will keep your pet bird healthy. The best part? You can use the Bird Size-O-Meter with any bird!

Keel bone method

With this method, in addition to gathering your birds weight in grams, you hone in on feeling your birds breast and measuring body fat through touch.

The Bird Size-O-Meter was developed by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association of the UK

First, towel your bird, turn it on its back and locate the breast bone, also known as the keel. A bird that is within an ideal weight range has a rounded breast muscle that allows you to easily feel the breast bone, but its not sharp or pointy.

Think about it this way: A bird's body is designed for handling weight when flying. All of its bones, joints, organs, and systems depend on managing weight. If your bird is too fat, there is a mushy feel over the breast bone. If your bird is obese, the breast bone is actually hard to feel. Fat birds and obese birds simply can't engage in natural parrot behaviors as easily, so they may become neurotic. Too much seed and lack of exercise is often the culprit.

The best way to engage your birds natural exotic nature is to feed them like they'd eat in the rainforests and jungles of the world. Wild birds eat lots of healthy, raw vegetation. If you've ever had a chance to hike in a rainforest, you've probably noticed a massive variety of plants, flowers, grasses, and more. Feed your bird a diverse plant based diet supplemented with a high quality pellet to maintain its weight.

How do I know if my bird is too skinny?

To find out if your bird is underweight, you can use the Bird Size-O-Meter. When a bird is underweight, it has emaciated breast muscles and the bird's keelbone juts out. Underweight birds are typically fragile and require medical attention from an avian specialist.

The main reason being it is so important to work with your avian vet is because birds have an extremely high metabolism but don't have the ability to store fat like humans do. That's why birds graze on food throughout the day. Furthermore, when they get in a weakened state, they often refuse to eat. If you notice any of these signs, you should contact your avian veterinarian immediately.

How do I track my bird's weight and diet to achieve better health?

Tracking your bird's weight is important for a number of reasons, but you may find that changes in weight could be an indication that something is wrong. It is reasonable to say that 10% of one's weight is significant.

There are many things that can cause a bird to lose or gain weight such as diet, illness, stress and other factors. A scale allows you to track these changes over time and catch any problems early. Use the keel bone method as a backup to learn your birds ideal weight.

Choose a day of the week to weigh your bird and pick a specific time. Ideally, the time would(Hint: You can ask your Echo device to remind you every week at the same time.)

Record the weight on a chart or a spreadsheet.

bird weight chart


What should I do if my bird starts losing weight?

 If your bird starts losing weight, the first step is to evaluate any recent changes that might have contributed to this, such as alterations in diet, activity level, exposure to stressful events, or contact with other birds that could be ill. Taking note of these factors can provide valuable insights into the potential cause of the weight loss. Additionally, it's crucial to contact an avian or exotics vet promptly for a thorough wellness exam to rule out any underlying health issues and ensure your bird receives appropriate care.

In conclusion...

It’s important to monitor your bird’s weight and use a bird weight chart ! However, it’s not just as simple as taking a single measurement to get your result. You need to be aware of your bird’s normal healthy weight range, and make comparisons against that range over time. How often you take measurements will depend on how much you are worried about their health or if there is a specific bird disease or condition for which you are trying to prevent.

Related Posts:

How To Use A Bird Weight Chart To Monitor Your Birds Weight
Parrot Weight Managment
African Grey Diet Makeover
How To Monitor Your Birds Weight and Keep It Healthy


Budai, K. A Parrot's Healthy Dining. Go Raw! Avian Nutritional Guide For All Species. K & S Natural Company Ltd, UK. 2020.

Budai, K and Pao, S. A Parrot's Fine Cuisine Cookbook & Nutritional Guide. Quietlight Productions, No. Palm Springs, CA. 2018.

UK Pet Food. (2022, July 15). Bird Size-O-Meter. Retrieved from

Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.

Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.

TAGS: #BirdStress #BirdSelfMutilation