Budgie very quiet, fluffed and lethargic, but eats a lot

by Mel
(New Hampshire)

Our budgie - which is between 7 or 8 years old - has been very off in his behavior for the last two to three months. Normally he is very chatty and sociable and would come out to visit with the family early in the morning before work and in the evening as we settled in after dinner.

Sometime in October or November (approximately three months ago) his behavior started to change. At first we noticed that he spent a lot of the day sleeping, or at least resting with his head tucked under his wing; this was new behavior, but we though it might just be because he was getting older.

Then he stopped coming out of his cage much. Previously he would come out of his cage to fly around and visit, or just to scamper around on his cage, at least a dozen times a day. Now if he comes out once or twice it's an unusual event.

Then we noticed that our usually chatty budgie, who had quite a wide vocabulary, had stopped making much noise at all. He'll still occasionally chatter or burble, but he almost never talks.

When he's not sleeping, he spends most of his time hunched up and fluffy near the back of his cage. His droppings are runny and green. What's odd is that he hasn't lost his appetite. The time I see him most active is when I go to feed him. He descends on his seed dish like a starving man. He spends much more time eating now than he did prior to becoming ill; and not just his seed. Any food we give him -- millet, molting conditioner, his cuttlebone -- he gobbles like mad. He also drinks more water now than he used to.

We've taken him to the avian vet twice. They took blood and found nothing wrong. Then they took x-rays and found nothing wrong. At his initial visit, when they took blood, they found that he was a little dehydrated and had slightly elevated uric acid, but nothing extreme. He'd also lost a little weight since his last checkup earlier in the year. He's clearly not a well budgie, but they don't know what is causing it.

Since he clearly still has an appetite I keep wondering if it's something missing from his diet, but I don't know what it could be. Despite his appetite, he's always been a picky eater. He won't eat anything sticky, like fruit, or leafy, like lettuce. I've considered sneaking some egg food into his seed to give him some more protein, but I'm scared he'll notice it and stop eating entirely rather than eat something he doesn't want.

I hope you can help!

Comments for Budgie very quiet, fluffed and lethargic, but eats a lot

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Nov 04, 2018
Skypuf Update Continued.
by: Anonymous

Also, I think the sick birds appear to eat a lot, because their bodies cannot process the food they eat, as they are sick... Fatty liver, etc. They don’t know how to make themselves well, so they eat. Runny poos mean an unwell bird.
Go well...

Nov 04, 2018
Skypuf Budgie Update
by: Anonymous

Took Sky to the vet. She had a fatty liver, they said. So we gave her the prescribed medication twice a day and hoped for a recovery. Sadly she died after a few weeks. The fatty liver was never reversed. Vet said females are more prone to it.
The vet said budgies, pet birds, need the special food they provide. Like the dry cat food, etc, it’s dried budgie grits. Expensive, $24 a lb. But it lasts a while, need to give some seed and some grits. The birds prefer seed, but it’s not healthy. Like eating Mc Donald’s burgers 24/7. Need to get them used to eating some grits daily. About 3/4 grits & 1/4 seed proportion. Good if you can get them to eat leafy greens, fruit, seed grass, etc too. Just like humans, a balanced diet.
We have a new budgie now, who is very healthy & active. We are trying to get him to eat the grits with his seed. He seems to. Probably easier when they are young...
Good luck! Hope your birds recover...

May 01, 2018
Fluffed Up Quiet Budgie
by: Anonymous

My Budgie, Skypuf, has similar symptoms. I decided to do the worming treatment once, then repeated it in 2 weeks. Have also sprayed her twice now for mites. Will do that again soon. Have been tempting her with home made whole meal pancakes, which she loves, pear, mandarin, seed grass... A wider diet- she is also a fussy eater. Today I bought Budgie seed from a different pet shop, just to vary that, plus a honey stick, which she likes and a millet spray. She is eating a lot of seed and shell grit. She does have runny poos. It all seemed to start about 4 weeks ago, with moulting. She was scratching a lot too. Hence the mite treatment. If she had those, they could have been spoiling her sleep, hence the tiredness and daily sleeping. I am hoping for her recovery. Today she seemed to have a little more life. Been praying for her too. Here’s hoping..... Good luck for you all and your precious feathered friends! Cheers....

Apr 14, 2018
to Mel
by: val cotton

It doesn't sound good but green droppings can mean several things. Is your vet really an avian specialist or just an "exotics" vet which isn't the same thing. I go to Avian Veterinary Services in Northwich - they ONLY see birds and are excellent. I don't know where you are, but I am near Leeds (75 miles from Northwich) but it's definitely worth the effort to get there. There aren't many avian specialists in the UK.
Sadly the same symptoms can mean many things, but
for me those symptoms - which can last a long time - have always been megabacteria. It is treatable with Megabac-s but needs to be dealt with asap. They always seem to be eating frantically but in fact aren't really eating anything - just grinding the seed. Apple cider vinegar is helpful - 1 tsp per litre water. (Good at all times!) Plz let us know how you get on.

Apr 09, 2018
by: Erin K


I was hoping someone could give me some advice on my current budgie. Unfortunately one of my budgies died this morning with the same symptoms listed in the first post: hunger, tiredness, change of personality, etc. I now think it must have been Macaws Wasting Disease. We had tried baby food and plenty of water in order to try and improve his health.

We still have one budgie left, they shared the same cage throughout the illness and I am now worried about his health. Will he also have the disease? How can we prevent the same thing happening?

Any help will be greatly appreciated

Mar 21, 2018
same symptoms as my 12-year old parakeet
by: kelise

Mel, you described the same exact symptoms that my 12-year old parakeet Rocky has had for the last 3 mos. You could not explain it any better. At first he was quieter than usual but he would come out of his cage once in a while to 'visit' my other parakeet who is in a separate cage right next to his). He started just sitting on his top perch all puffy and with one leg up & head tucked into his back. He would perk up again but then would go back to being very lethargic. He use to fly around the room like an 'eagle' and chirp all day long. I too, thought it was because he was getting older and that his end was near. I have been covering his cage halfway with blankets to keep him warm during the day. Now all of a sudden, he's been constantly eating. He has a variety of food that he’s been nibbling on – I put egg food on top of his food in his dish, he loves honey seed sticks and eats spinach daily. I also put vitamin drop in his drinking water (which I change every day). But he hasn’t come out of his cage and the last time he did, he flew but landed on the floor which I then had to grab him and put him back onto his cage. He's never done that before and I think that frightened him. He has also fallen off his perch a couple times so I've lowered them. The strangest thing is that a few days ago, I realized he had lost all his flight feathers on one wing and therefore, not sure if it's because he's molting (stress ?). I read that once they lose those feathers, they are off balance and can attribute to not feeling well. Hopefully, they will grow back and he'll be able to fly again. I too hope he can live a longer and healthy life. He's such a wonderful loving parakeet and if taken great care of, they can live as long as 15-20 years old!!!!

Jan 01, 2018
Help my budgie
by: Anonymous

I got my budgie in the summer. And it’s a female, I don’t know her age but she was totally fine and recently got a new cage for her and got two more parakeets to join her,she’s been great until last night when I came back she seemed all fluffy and still with her eyes closing. And today she seemed sick and the same. But when I fed all three she seemed fine and ate normally and still had an appetite. But when she’s not moving she standing still fluffed up. Please help what’s wrong with her?

Editor's note: Dr B is not answering questions here anymore, but you can search for your answer on this site.

Sep 06, 2017
Fluffed up budgie poo is normal
by: Mother of budgies

The last couple of days my beautiful budgie pumpkin 18 month old has been sleeping a lot as sometimes when she wakes up her head goes bk in her feathers her poo is normal though also not sure why she is like this ive booked an appointment with the vet this afternoon as i worried as i have lost about 4 budgies in the past too different illness sadly i miss them and think of them always pumpkin and her sister sunflower are from their parents which i bred myself i really hope she is ok we love budgies so much 🐤🐤🐤🐤🐤🐤🐤🐤❤

Jun 10, 2017
Sad parakeet
by: Shay

Mel I was reading about your parakeet and you discribed my birdy to the letter. Two minutes after reading your entry I said this bird has been like this since I changed his toy with the mirror. I know I changed his food once and I thought the end was near. Went out and bought the 17.00 bag of food with the eggs in it and he was totally back to normal. So today I put the older mirror back in his cage and once again he was jumping up and down from perch to perch, singing as always. He had not put his beek under his wing since. I just never knew birds were so picky. Well my Gizmo is 10 years old and I hope I get another 10 from him. I do give him vitamins daily with his water change.

May 14, 2017
by: Anonymous

What is the reason why their behavior changes? As my budgie's behavior has changed

Mar 09, 2017
7 months
by: Emily

I've just lost my 7 month old male Budgie. He was due to be seen by an avarian vet today. We noticed that his poos weren't healthy about a week ago, very watery and green. I took some advice from the local pet shop and introduced more Egg based products into his died which improved the poos.
Unfortunately in the last few days he has deteriorated greatly, with a sticky substance forming around his beak, acting very lethargic, sleeping most of the time and only waking to eat a very large amount then back to sleep again.
He was incredibly underweight when I picked him up to clean his beak area yesterday.
Any ideas as to what caused his death?

Jan 20, 2017
by: Amelia

That's just like my 3 year old budgie. I try to give him fruit and veg but he refuses to eat it. but I figured out, if you haven't given your budgie worming treatment within 3 months start to do it. (once every three months) their poop looks way less runny and disgusting and he is a bit more energetic although he still sleeps a lot even in the present of a brand new baby budgie.

Thank you so much I thought my budgie was sick and ill and didn't have much time left in his life.

Sep 20, 2016
Thank you
by: Anonymous

Thanks to this thread I was able to save my parakeet! He WAS malnourished, and I was able to intervene.

Nov 25, 2014
re my previous plea for help
by: val cotton

The budgie I had written about eventually died. I had a post mortem done and this showed Macaws wasting disease
Val Cotton

Nov 08, 2014
More on, Budgie very quiet, fluffed and lethargic, but eats a lot
by: Anonymous

Budgies eat different foods they can find every day from place to place and from season to season in the wild. Therefore, there will be nutrition problems if we feed them with a mixture of seeds at home. Because they would select the kind of seed they like (for example, may be just one kind, the millet) to eat and leave the rest of them behind, consequently, they would suffer malnutrition (imbalanced diet). They may try to regain the strength by eating a lot like mad but that won’t help them (by eating just one kind of seed). Frequently, they eat so much that they end up spitting out or vomiting out some of the food they ate. By checking the food being spit out one may see they are just one kind of seed (again, millet). There are signs of malnutrition before a budgie is very quiet, fluffed and lethargic such as weight loss, colder feet than before, can no longer fly as far as it used to be, fly like a butterfly (no momentum), wings drop down etc. The fact that they can still eat a lot suggests they are not really sick but weak. Therefore, the vet visits may turn out nothing. The thing to do is let them eat pelleted food that homogenously contains balanced diet in each grain (they can no longer selectively pick what they like). If your budgie won’t accept pelleted food immediately, you may add some powered milk (KLIM or similar products), protein egg food and pelleted food (crash pellets finer for budgies) on top of seed mix first and do the conversion gradually after they have recovered. Give them regular potato chip occasionally. They eat or lick salt from the potato chip when they feel the need. Another importance thing is the room temperature. Keep the room around 25C but never blow a heater (or draft) at the bird. A budgie may retract one leg (standing on one leg) simply to conserve energy and keep warm, not necessary due to sickness. Give them meditation music with nature sounds (birds, water, wind etc.) to help them relax. They may sing alone softly, even with their heads tug behind their necks.

Nov 06, 2014
Most likely malnutrition
by: Anonymous

An active budgie needs to eat about 20% of its body weight daily. Therefore, "a budgie is very quiet, fluffed and lethargic but eats a lot" is an indication of malnutrition rather than sickness. Other than quiet, fluffed and lethargic it may loss a lot of weight despite it eats a lot. Do two things immediately. First, feed the bird with Pelleted Foods and Protein Egg Foods. Secondly, keep the room temperature warm (around 77 degree F or 25 degree C) otherwise it may become ill such as diarrhea. It may take several weeks for it to recover but one may see the improvement in a few days. Pelleted foods may have to be grounded finer for smaller birds such as budgies. Add some regular seed mix to the pelleted foods so they can still work on seed husk. Add a little bit of Powdered Milk such as KLIM is also helpful (not needed after recovery). This is just my experience. Hope, it helps.

Jun 02, 2014
Budgie eatin like mad
by: Anonymousmick

When my budgie came out of his cage he kept flying down onto the work tops in the kitchen looking fo food he would eat anything on return to the cage he would tuck his head in his feathers and fall asleep,for his normal seed that would be scattered all over the place,Sadly he Died last night when I looked at his beek it was a little bit longer than normal we were wondering was he starved to death last 3 days he was kept in his cage.Always keep an eye on there beaks and if you notice a change in there behaviour seek Advise.

May 19, 2013
African grey tumor
by: Becky

Last October, My 9 yr old African grey presented with these same symptoms. First, he was diagnosed with PDD, but after all negative results, including a crop biopsy, they began looking elsewhere. After a barium x-ray, they found what they thought might be a tumor. We took him to UT Knoxville for an MRI and he has a tumor between his proventriculus and ventriculus. It is non treatable. I have been syringe feeding him every hour, since October and his weight fluxuates daily. Recently, he is eating double the amount he has been, but there is no weight gain. I work every day just to do what I can for his weight. He is on metacam, which helps. I'm telling you all this, so you can let your vet know, as it seems they do not know much about this tumor, as I'm sure most don't spend $5,000 for a correct diagnosis. We could have stopped at PDD, but we felt like that just wasn't right. The barium study at least put us in the right direction. Other than his weight, he seems fine! You would not even know he was sick!

Mar 02, 2013
fluffed up and eating a lot
by: avcotton

Only just seen this article when lookin for help for my own budgie. He has exactly the same symptoms and for 3 months now. The avian vet has not found out why and I just wondered what had become of the budgie in the article. I would be most grateful if you could reply. Thanks. Val Cotton

Jan 21, 2012
Fluffed up bird
by: The Avian Vet

Always the first indication of disease or illness is a behavior change. Your bird should have been seen by an avian veterinarian immediately after noticing these changes.

These are serious signs of illness. When you see these the first thing to do is put a heating pad on the cage to get the temp to 90-95F. The second thing to do is to call an avian veterinarian. Find an Avian Vet

Not talking is a significant symptom and should not be ignored. Your bird is very sick and may not survive unless you get immediate attention.

More diagnostics are needed. You also need to be providing supportive care including heat, fluids, and antibiotics. There is something there that is not normal and you need to continue looking until it is found.

No doubt that nutritional deficiencies and imbalances can contribute and even cause these symptoms. If you are not feeding a pellet diet, then nutritional problems are going to be a primary differential. Budgies should eat 70% high quality pellets like Harrison's or Roudybush and 30% treats (no more than 10% seeds).

Dr B

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