The weight of your bird provides an important insight into its general well being and physical health. Here we look at how to get a bird onto a weighing scale and how you can keep records of your bird’s weight over time using the BirdBuddy app.
Why weigh your bird?
Whilst the weight of your bird may naturally fluctuate throughout the course of a day depending on eating, exercise patterns and even temperature, an extended period of weight change is not normal and should be investigated.
Continued weight loss can be triggered in various ways. At the more benign end of the spectrum, there may have been a change in the bird’s environment that led to appetite loss. Or a change in diet which is unfamiliar to it. More sinister reasons would be diseases or poisoning.
It’s not only weight loss that can spell trouble for the bird. Weight gain can also be a sign of something awry. A diet too high in fats will lengthen weight gain and lead to health complications. Tumors will also add weight as would egg binding, which is when a female bird cannot expel an egg from her body.
Finally, a perfectly healthy bird will of course gain weight when developing healthy eggs so at least there’s one bit of good news that sustained weight change can bring.
Items needed to weigh your bird
The things you’ll need vary only depending on how co-operative your bird is. The bare minimum of course is one bird and one scale. For this article, I have enlisted the help of Sunny the imaginatively named sun conure to be our model. He is tame and fairly obedient so a perfect candidate to help with this.
As for the scale, I’m basically using the cheapest, lowest quality weight measuring device money can buy in order to show that weighing your bird can be a very simple and inexpensive process. Whatever type of scale you use, it will be better than this one and therefore make it even easier for you. Dedicated bird-weighing scales even have t-shaped bars for birds to perch on, for example.
If your bird is not very co-operative or scared of standing on the scale then you may need one or two other items to serve as perches. Many birds will be comfortable stepping up onto a twig or small branch so have one of those handy. Or if your bird is either particularly small or not used to stepping up onto branches, have a small cardboard box ready so you can put your bird in it before putting it on the scale.
Bird weighing methods
The easiest way to weigh your bird is to place it on the scale surface and read the weight. Easy, huh? Well, if it’s that easy then you are extremely lucky! If, like most birds, your feathered friend is somewhat apprehensive or fidgety then it is best to introduce something more familiar for them to stand on.
Most birds will fairly readily stand on a twig or branch with gentle encouragement. If you can get your bird to do that, you can then place the twig on the scale. Take the reading and then weight the twig on its own and subtract that number from the reading to get your bird’s weight.
For smaller birds or birds which for whatever reason won’t step up onto a twig, try putting them in a small box which can then be placed on the scale. Weigh the empty box separately then subtract its weight from the weight reading to get the weight of your bird.
Weight tracking with BirdBuddy
Once you’ve weighed your bird a few times it should become easier as your bird gets used to it and you can then quickly build up a log of weight readings over time. You will become familiar with the normal range of your bird’s natural weight variations – which should be fairly narrow – and you will be able to quickly spot any differences to the normal readings and respond to potential problems sooner and solve them more easily.
The BirdBuddy app has functionality which allows you to record dates/times and weights at any frequency and display them in an easy to read line graph. To access this functionality, you must first set up a bird profile in BirdBuddy and then go select your bird in the Birds -> List Birds section. Then just tap the yellow ‘Weight’ button and the weight tracking popup will appear.
In the ‘New Weight Reading’ section beneath the graph, you can enter date/times in one box and the weight in the other box and tap the green ‘Add’ button. Once you have added two or more weight readings, the line of the graph will appear and be extended each time you add a new weight reading.
Beneath the ‘New Weight Reading’ section you can use the ‘Search Weight History’ to find maximum, minimum and average weights for the date ranges you specify. This will help you identify periods where the weight is outside of the normal range, thus alerting you to any potential problems. Enjoy!