my fat parakeets

Breaking news – Toby and Kelly are overweight!

When our new boy Kevin came home I started worrying immediately that he was too skinny. After we starting working on stepping up in particular, I remarked to Patrick that he felt like nothing on my finger compared to Toby or Kelly. I didn’t think that an already freaked out Kevin would appreciate hopping on a Food Scale for a weigh in, so I decided to weigh Toby and Kelly instead for a baseline. I haven’t weighed them in several months and was horrified to find that I have fat parakeets!

Toby is just a little bit into the obese range, but Kelly weighs so much that it’s almost unbelievable. In true parenting-denial style, I found myself moaning, “but she’s big-boned”!  And then had to have a good laugh at myself!

Here’s how I think this happened, even though they are technically only getting two tablespoons of seed mix each per day. One, at the beginning of summer I got a new job and started working late and generally exhausting myself trying to get up to speed. When I would get home from work I would let the parakeets out and basically collapse on the couch, trying to cool my over-heated brain. This meant way fewer days where Toby and Kelly got their afternoon fruit or vegetable supper.

Two, I ran out of Roudybush Daily Maintenance Bird Food, Nibles and for some reason didn’t buy another bag. So that meant that our bird mix went from 1/4 pellets to half Dr. Harvey’s Our Best Blend Natural Food for Parakeets and half Volkman Avian Science Super Parakeet. Neither of these are “bad”, they are both high quality mixes with a lot of good stuff in them. But, I do think that increasing seed intake, eliminating pellet intake and reducing vegetable availability all at the same time was a recipe for fat parakeets.

Three, I introduced those darn food silos. Not only did they increase mess by 100% but they also made eating both extremely fun and a competitive sport. They are no longer being filled but I’m keeping the food silo on hand because I still think it would be a good back-up food source when we are on vacation.

Knowing how it happened is good I think, so that I can avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Keeping parakeets at a healthy weight is critical to health and longevity, and I want to keep these guys around for as long as possible!

The first order of business was to break out my OXO Good Grips Grater and starting making fruits and vegetables a regular diet staple again. This is the one thing that I never should have let slip, and I’m committed to doing better by them going forward. Particularly seeing how they dive into a plate of good food, made me feel pretty guilty for leaving it off the menu.

Next on the list is getting pellets back into their daily diet. We’ve always used Roudybush pellets, but I’ve heard some amazing stuff about Harrison’s, and this seems like a good time to switch. We are going to try Harrison’s High Potency Super Fine, and I’m sure I’ll be reporting back with a review, and maybe another Amazon gift card giveaway, in January.

Eliminating food silos, keeping up with regular fruit and vegetables offerings, and putting pellets back into the seed mix should be enough to shed some of those pesky ounces!

13 thoughts on “Breaking news – Toby and Kelly are overweight!”

  1. Jason crean and the raw food diet for birds cats and dogs may be helpful. He is an avid avian nutritionist, biologist, phd, and zoo consultant. He does not recommend pellets. Check out his site for more info.

    1. Toby is 43 grams, which isn’t really that bad, but Kelly is 55 – I’m a little horrified about that. She is a bigger bird though, I don’t think I’d get her lower than 45.

      What do your hens weigh?

  2. Hi there, sorry I didn’t get a notification that you had replied.

    43 grams is good actually. 45 would be ideal, Toby is definitely not overweight.

    Kelly maybe could do with a little more exercise? but 55 is by no means that fat, 50 would be okay. I’ve had a boy at 60g before but he’s gone down to a healthy weight now.

    Lucy is 45 and Polly is 50, I’m happy with those weights, they both get plenty of flying time and eat their veggies.

    Don’t be fooled by the 30g that budgies in the wild are, as they are a lot smaller than our pet birds.

    1. I’m so glad to have your input – when I look at Kelly I can see that she’s quite large, but I always though Toby looked fairly sleek!

      After two weeks of modifying their diet a bit and making sure they’ve got a lot of veggies Toby is down to 40 and Kelly to 50, so I’m very glad with the progress!

      I plan to do weekly weigh-ins to keep a better eye on it and adjust again if they get too low.

      The new little guy is quite tiny, he’s only 28g so we’re trying to get that up, I’d hate to put him around our big girls and have him feel intimidated! He’s so little compared to Kelly is hard to believe they are the same species…

      1. The thing is, budgies are like people, they come in all different sizes. As long as they seem healthy and their poops are okay, then I would not worry too much.

        28g is quite light for an adult budgie, I think you said he’s about 2 years old?. My boys range between 40 and 53 grams at the moment. I’d like the 40g boy to be 42-45g but he has a liver condition and so his health and weight can vary.

        I did have a boy (Monty) that was only 30g though and he was perfectly happy, he must have been the runt of the litter, but he was king of my flock for a good 4 years until he passed away.

        Another thing, when scales are weighing lower weights they can vary a bit, sometimes I’ll weigh a budgie, then look back at the scales after and they say “—-” as in it’s a minus figure and I keep having to reset them!

      2. Well put, I need to look more at their overall size and whether the weight makes sense, versus just focusing on the number (probably good advice for humans too!).

        28 does seem light, but he wears it well and doesn’t look underweight. I wonder if part of it is having his wings clipped a bit, full flight wings will probably add a few grams.

        Good tip about the scales being wonky with tiny amounts!! I’m using a kitchen scale and I’m sure where the budgie stands on the disc impacts the reading….

  3. Hi there! I know this is an older article but it was just what I was looking for on google! I just found out my budgie (I recently adopted her, she’s about 2.5-3 years old) is considered obese at 52g with a small frame said my new avian vet. I was told she should be 30-40 grams. I’m trying to get her to lose some weight but don’t know how much she can lose safely per week in grams and the vet couldn’t tell me how much is safe. I haven’t gotten her to drop any weight in grams until I can find an answer. Would you happen to have any idea at all? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Cassandra! I am so sorry for my delay in getting back to you, I am usually much better at getting back to comments but I was on vacation last week.

      I don’t know exactly what would be considered safe for a rate of weight loss, but I do know that it should be very gradual.

      I’m going to try equating it to human weight loss, which may seem weird but bear with me! For humans, a weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week is considered safe, so if someone weighed 250 pounds and wanted to lose 100 pounds (40% reduction in weight fairly close to the percentage reduction from 52 to 30g) they would be trying to lose less than 1% of their weight every week. Whereas, if your budgie lost one gram per week that would be almost 2% of her body weight.

      So, if you assume equivalency you would want to see a weight loss of no more than one half a gram per week. Hopefully that doesn’t just make sense in my own head!

      I think that if you focus on increasing vegetables and exercise hopefully the weight will not be too difficult to shake, especially if she led a sedentary life before you adopted her. Best of luck!

      1. That’s okay!! I’m so glad you were able to take a vacation and really appreciate your response because this is still SO new to me, I’ve never owned a bird before! <3

        I'm overjoyed you could break it down the way you did it makes clear sense to me, especially because the vet couldn't provide me with anything more than "she needs to lose weight before it causes damage to her heart" and I don't know anyone else who has been in the same situation or who can say its been a safe/healthy budgie weight loss! I'll keep going with vegetables although she wont eat too much of it yet, just a few birdie bites per day and with the exercise (she didn't even know how to fly when I got her, she was ALWAYS kept in a very small cage and in a living room right next to a chain smoker so I'm working on building her endurance and flight strength in my smoke and chemical free home! Literally broke my heart when I read her story and it made me really want to give her a good life and home!)

        I really appreciate how you took the time to answer this!!
        Sending you a big hug!

      2. I’m so glad that it made sense! It sounds like you are making a wonderful home for your little lady! She must be overjoyed to be learning how to fly, trying new foods, and bonding with you. Thank you so much for adopting her and providing her with such a great life 🙂

        Best wishes.

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