Most species in the animal kingdom can suffer from obesity. A bird is no exception. While a fat bird is not a common sight, obese birds face significant health dangers that aren’t easy to fly away from.
What You'll Learn
In all of our forms of communication, cute animal pictures, gifs, and memes are standard procedure. Whether it’s little puppies, teapot pigs, or any of the plethora of animals we coexist with, the reception is always positive.
Fat animals can be trivial. While we consume these media pieces, we may enjoy or laugh at a heavier set animal, but we should consider the choices that made it large in the first place.
Most animals are active in nature. Animals that must hunt & gather to survive have no problem burning off extra fuel (calories) in their excursions. Most cases of obese animals occur either in livestock such as pigs, cows, and chickens. However, this is obviously intentional.
Exceptions to this typically come from domesticated animals such as dogs & cats. Inherited genetics and specific traits play a large part in keeping an animal’s weight in check. When a dog or cat is obese, it’s usually the human’s fault (too much food and not enough exercise).
Birds, especially ones with the ability to fly, are rarely overweight. If you were to think of the number of fat birds you have seen in person, it is likely a very low number, maybe even zero. However, that doesn’t mean birds can’t get fat. While it is tough to imagine a “big-boned” bird, they are still susceptible to obesity.
How Can Birds Get Fat?
Like all living creatures capable of storing & burning calories, a bird gains weight by consuming more calories than it burns over time.
However, birds have a much harder time gaining weight because of their poor ability to store fat. Birds consume food to use as expendable energy during the day. During colder seasons, they will eat routinely throughout the day to expend some of that energy to keep them warm.
Cases of obesity in wild birds would rarely ever occur, as their life’s trajectory requires constant efforts of sourcing and obtaining food, migrating, and other measures to ensure survival.
Indoor & pet birds are much more susceptible to suffering from obesity. Pet birds experience some pretty great luxuries at the expense of the open skies. Without the means to their primary outlet of expending energy, pet birds must be given a diet that caters to these limitations.
The bird’s owners may also be responsible depending on the diet they are fed. A diet that primarily consists of high-fat seeds would be another factor in managing a bird’s weight.
Risks Associated With Obesity in Birds
Excess weight on any living being is going to cause complications. Obesity can similarly cause health issues in birds, especially when left untreated.
Birds that are obese are more likely to develop tumors or cancer. Another dangerous condition that stems from obesity is arthritis. Arthritis can hinder a bird’s ability to fly, cause it to limp, and lose balance when perching.
Anything that affects a bird’s ability to fly can prove lethal, as most birds possess this ability and use it to build nests and retrieve food.
In most species that can develop arthritis, the disease becomes chronic, which means once it is present, it will be managed and treated daily.
How To Help Your Overweight Bird
Birds that become obese can go downhill pretty fast, but that doesn’t mean it has clipped wings, figuratively speaking, that is.
We all know the best strategies to help a bird lose weight, but it’s easier said than done. A simple solution is to reduce or refine your bird’s diet and encourage it to be more active.
Your bird’s cage is the best place to start. If you feel your bird could benefit from more room to move, consider purchasing a larger cage for it to navigate.
By moving its perching branches, water bowl, and food bowl, your bird will have the opportunity to move around the cage more. If your bird is not as playful with its toys, replacing them with new toys can invigorate your bird’s desire to play and be more active.
When addressing a bird’s diet, it is important to note the nutrients birds need each day. Losing weight is achieved through a caloric deficit. However, restricting diets could lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Introducing or increasing the amount of pellets can reduce the fats your bird gets from eating seeds. Before making any dietary changes for your bird, it is recommended to first consult your veterinarian.
Obese Birds Are Rare
Although extremely rare, our feathered friends can become victims of obesity.
A little extra meat on the bone isn’t a big deal. Sometimes it can make an animal even cuter than it already is. Although slight weight fluctuations do not harm birds, they can cause serious problems if left unchecked.
Whether it’s your pet bird at home or a local neighborhood bird, the instinctual norms of perching, flying, and moving are crucial to the bird’s identity and survival. Obesity in birds can cause depression, which can be a tough obstacle to overcome, especially for pet birds whose solace lies in its habitual patterns.
Do yourself and your bird a favor by ensuring a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
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I am Bryan Powell and I own BirdHour.com. I love bird watching; in fact, I have a parakeet of my own. I enjoy spending time outdoors and observing the natural world around me. This website is a means of sharing my passion for birds with others who may be interested in this activity.