Ask Lafeber


June 8, 2020

Lovebird feathers

Hello. A couple of questions: I have a 13 week old lovebird that still cannot fly. She has been examined by my vet and is healthy but developing her feathers slower than average. She has some malformed feathers that are not pin feathers. Would it be helpful to pull the odd feathers? Other question is that I have been feeding my birds (lovebirds, cockatiels) pellets and fresh vegs. My baby lovebirds really enjoy Nutriberries. Would they be a healthy alternative to pellets and if so what would daily serving size for lovebirds and cockatiels?


Hi Lori,

Your first question has been answered by Dr Susan Orosz and I will add my reply to the nutrition question after her reply.

Dear Lori,

There can be a number of reasons why the feathers do not grow in normally and would be very important to investigate. There can be a problem with the nutrition particularly when the feather is growing, there can be a genetic reason that this would occur and more commonly an infection. Infections can be viral, bacterial or fungal. Several viral diseases can be implicated with malformed feathers and include; polyomavirus and psittacine beak and feather disease virus. Tests for these viruses can be sent to Veterinary Molecular Diagnostics by your veterinarian to make sure your lovebird does not have those viral diseases. If those come back negative, your vet may chose to take a tissue sample of the skin and a malformed feather or two to send in for histopathology. This would require most likely a short anesthesia depending on where they are located.  It may sound easy, as if pulling out the feather will solve the problem, but more commonly and depending where the feathers are that are malformed, this can be a potential for a major problem. We hope that it is just a problem with nutrition or somehow the feathers were damaged. Thank you for asking.

Susan Orosz PhD, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian), Dipl ECZM (Avian)

Bird and Exotic Pet Wellness Center, Toledo, Ohio

Hi Lori,

Yes, Nutri-Berries can be fed instead of or along with pellets. The same goes for our Avi-Cakes and Pellet-Berries. Any of these can be fed along or in combination. The Nutri-Berries, Avi-Cakes nd Pellet-Berries are nutritionally balanced the same as a pellet, but they are not ground up. This provides whole ingredients that are more like their natural diet, as well as foraging exercise. The amount per bird varies. The goal is for them to eat most or all of each berry or cake, without wasting too much. This way they are getting the full benefit of the nutrition. Once they are eating these diets well, you can reduce the amount you offer at a time and then give them more when those are eaten. For Nutri-Berries, one bird will eat anywhere from 6 to 12 per day, and about half that amount for Avi-Cakes because they are a bit larger. If you can’t monitor the intake, the best solution is to give them a reasonable amount, but also keep a dish of pellets in case they need more food. They are not going to over eat if their nutritional needs are met, so you will find they may eat fewer after they ahve been on them for a while.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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