Weighing Parrots

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Weighing Parrots

 September 19th, 2009
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I’m sure if you’ve been following this blog, you have heard by now the importance of tracking your parrot’s weight. A bird’s weight helps you read the bird and realize things that may not otherwise be obvious. Weight can sometimes tell you the mood you can expect from your bird and the level of motivation you might find when training. A bird that is full will be less likely to be active in training that a hungry bird. On the other hand a starved bird might be overzealous in training and do a poor job as well. A steep decrease in weight can alert you to illness or health problems in your bird.

Weighing your bird and its food is a lot simpler than you might think. What I did was simply buy a cheap digital food scale at Target for like $15-$30.  I really forget how much mine cost but I know they have various scales in that price range. My scale can measure weights up to 11lbs and can display in ounces or grams. I choose grams because it makes the numbers whole and easy to remember. I am not really comparing my bird’s weight to other birds but only to themselves over time so the accuracy of my scale does not really matter. Even though the scale is pretty small, it could handle the weight of up to the largest macaw.

Getting a bird to stand on the bare scale could be a bit difficult, especially to keep still and get a reading. This is why I made a simple homebuilt perch that I place on top of my scale. I put it on the scale and then turn it on. The scale automatically tares to zero so the weight of the perch becomes part of the scale. Now I am ready to measure the weight of my bird. I place the bird on the perch so its just a simple matter of “step up.”  I usually wait a few seconds for the weight to stabilize and take a reading. Then I just ask the bird to step off.

Weighing my birds has become so routine that they almost look forward to doing it to get it over with. They know that they have to stand calmly on the scale a little while everytime before entering or exiting their cage. I usually weight them when I take them out and then again when I put them back away to see how much their weight changed from the treats during training. I will often weigh them again after eating a meal to see how much they actually ate.

Having such a scale is also convenient for weighing out bird food if you are doing a specific weight management program. You can tare the scale and then place the empty food bowl on it. This will weight the bowl. Let’s say the bowl is 50g. Now you pour the food into the bowl and stop when you have poured the desired amount in. If you wanted 10g of food, you go till 60g. The reason I don’t tare the scale with the food bowl is because when I take the food bowl with remaining food back out, I want to be able to weigh again to see what is left. If I only weighed the food before, I would have to pour the food out of the bowl to get a good reading the second time. Instead I just read the weight together with the bowl. So if it now reads 54g, I know that 6g was taken out.

A reason why I personally stopped weighing my bird’s food is that I realized that it’s more accurate to weigh the bird before and after feeding than weighing the food. Birds play with the food, drop it, and throw it around. So just because the bowl comes back 6g lighter, doesn’t mean the bird actually ate 6g. This is why I just weigh the bird and skip weighing the food. I’ve gotten good at eyeballing how much food to give my bird so that she eats it all and doesn’t leave too much to be thrown out.

Some people will chart their bird’s weight. This is especially important for people with a lot of birds. Since I only live with two birds I know their weight ranges quite well off the top of my head so I am not worried about charting exact details. I know when my bird is high and when it is low so it’s not a big deal. Heck, I’ve gotten pretty used to their eating patterns and can usually guess their weight before weighing them.

So if you don’t already have a scale for weighing your bird, this is a quick and cheap solution to being able to track your bird’s weight and health. A scale is something I think no bird owner should be without.

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