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How to Care for Sick Lovebirds: Signs and Symptoms

Sakina loves birds and has had pet parrots and budgies. Now she has two lovebirds, one of which is a peach-faced male she hand-raised.

My lovebird, Lulu, was sleeping a lot as she was really sick.

My lovebird, Lulu, was sleeping a lot as she was really sick.

Is Your Lovebird Sick?

Lovebirds are prey birds, so their instincts may cause them to hide illnesses. However, these signs may indicate that your lovebird is unwell.

Symptoms of Illness in Lovebirds

  • Fatigue
  • Dull eyes
  • Sitting (at the bottom of the cage, or in one position over a long period of time)
  • Sleeping with its head tucked under a wing for a long time
  • Inactivity
  • Aggressive or withdrawn behavior
  • Labored breathing (discussed under "Respiratory Problems in Lovebirds" below)
  • Continuously fluffed-up feathers
  • Tail bobbing (moving up and down)
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty flying
  • Appetite loss
  • Fever
  • Discharge from the nasal area
  • Flaky beak
  • Increased anxiety

Respiratory Problems in Lovebirds

Respiratory problems are common in small birds. When my lovebird, Lulu, was sick, I noticed the symptoms mentioned below. There may be other symptoms as well. If you notice these symptoms or any unusual behavior in your lovebird, please take them to the vet immediately.

  • Labored breathing (difficulty in breathing, accompanied by tail bobbing)
  • Panting after flying/exercise
  • Breathing with an open beak
  • Sneezing
  • Sneezing while flying
  • Puffed-up feathers for a long time
  • Fever (warm body and beak)

Lulu's Breathing Issues: Tail Bobbing and Labored Breathing

Steps to Care for Sick Lovebirds (at Home)

I live in an area where vets are not unavailable. Before taking Lulu to a vet and before even fully knowing she was sick, I decided to help her at home. If you do not have access to a vet or must wait for an appointment, the following steps can be taken in the interim:

  • Keep your bird warm by covering their cage/putting a heating pad under it.
  • Place the cage in a dark room so your pet can get rest.
  • Avoid making loud noises—these can disturb them.
  • Make sure their food and water are easily reachable.
  • Monitor their feeding pattern.
  • Clean their cage daily to help remove bacteria.
  • Move their cage into sunlight (not direct) and fresh air for at least 10–15 minutes per day.
  • Crush a boiled chicken egg into tiny pieces and feed them. This ensures they receive a good bundle of calcium and other vital nutrients.
  • Talk calmly to them. Tell them that they will feel better and say you love them (it helps). Our pets understand us and vice-versa.

Lulu's Condition Worsened

I had hope that after taking many steps to ensure Lulu's safety, she would get better. But I was wrong. Her labored breathing soon changed to open-mouthed breathing and was also accompanied by sneezing.

Taking Lulu to the Vet

I began to go nuts. Lulu's illness was killing me. I decided to take her to the vet, as I couldn't wait around hoping she would get better. If you think your lovebird may be ill, you should contact a vet immediately.

Here's what the vet advised:

  • He asked me to ensure the cage was getting fresh air for long periods of time.
  • He prescribed an antibiotic for Lulu (to be injected in her mouth).
  • He also gave me multivitamins (to be added to the water bowl).
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He was sure that Lulu would be alright after the antibiotics were administered for 10 days.

How to Hold Your Lovebird

My lovebird, Lulu, wasn't hand-raised by me like my male lovebird, Mumu. She doesn't even allow me to touch her. Holding her and administering her antibiotic was a real challenge. Here's what I did and what you can do as well:

  • Do not be afraid of bites. Lulu isn't aggressive; I was really lucky in that matter.
  • It is best to hold and carry the lovebird while he/she is in the cage.
  • Put your bird inside the cage and try to corner them.
  • Then, gently stroke their head. Your lovebird might try to bite you. If they do so, let them. They will either bite your fingers or nibble them. After they feel your fingers aren't a "threat," the bird will relax a bit.
  • Once your bird is relaxed, gently cup your hand around their back so that your thumb and index finger are touching their feet. Once this is done, gently close your thumb and index finger under their feet.
  • While their back is cupped in your hand, your thumb and index finger must be lifting the bird from their feet.
  • Your bird will be now in your grasp. Please make sure you are holding them gently.

Holding your bird isn't easy. It will take at least a dozen tries to finally grasp them. Be gentle. If you feel your lovebird is terrified, leave them alone for some time and try again when they are relaxed.

This is me holding Mumu. If you want to administer medicine to your bird, you can hold them this way and tilt their head up.

This is me holding Mumu. If you want to administer medicine to your bird, you can hold them this way and tilt their head up.

Administering the Antibiotic to Lulu

The vet had asked me to add the prescribed amount of antibiotic in the water bowl. However, Lulu was hesitant to drink from it due to its dark yellow color and odor. So, I decided to hold her and administer the antibiotic.

Tips for Giving a Lovebird an Antibiotic

  • Once your bird is in your grasp (as mentioned above), gently open their beak and put the tip of the injection inside it. Make sure the face of your bird has been tilted above.
  • Your bird might try to squirm in your grasp or push the injection aside. Whatever they do, keep your grip gentle.
  • Once the injection is inside their beak, inject the medicine slowly. The bird might try to squirm and reject the medicine, but keep trying. If you can't hold and administer the medicine at the same time, ask a family member to help you.
  • Once the medicine is administered, release the bird in a safe area. Move away from them as soon as they are released. It will take the bird some time to return to normal (Lulu used to be shocked after each administration).

Your lovebird might squirm in your grasp. Make sure you are handling them gently at all times. DO NOT tighten your hold over them. If the squirming grows worse, RELEASE the bird immediately. You can try administering the medicine later on.


Gradually, the medicine showed its effects on Lulu. She started eating on her own (which was a really good sign). She wasn't sleeping all the time, and she grew active day by day. She did take rest, yes, but I could see the difference in her health. After 10 days, everything was okay. Lulu was okay, and I was relieved.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: My lovebird has been plucking her feathers uncontrollably, to the point where she bleeds and can't even fly. What can I do to stop the feather plucking?

Answer: Please take her to the vet. They will be able to administer a collar properly. Please give her multivitamins. I hope she recovers soon.

Question: My lovebird is sleeping a lot and doesn't balance herself while sleeping. What should I do for her?

Answer: Please give your lovebird multivitamins. If this has been going on for a while, maybe it would be wise to consult your vet.

Question: I have a male love bird, how long does it take for a female lovebird to lay eggs?

Answer: Eggs are laid a week after mating.

Question: How to find out if my female lovebird is pregnant or not?

Answer: She will have a bulge near her abdomen or bottom, she may be tired, moody and aggressive and you will see her laying an egg after a week of mating.

Question: My lovebird makes a clicking noise for up to two minutes, should I be worried?

Answer: Just check the beak. Is it properly formed? Is there something inside his beak?

Question: My baby lovebird is weak and is bobbing her head. What should I do?

Answer: Give her healthy food like corn, apple bits, banana and spinach leaves. Give her multivitamins.

Question: My baby Love Bird is making a clicking sound, should I be worried?

Answer: No, clicking sounds just mean he's rolling the tongue (it's a sign of contentment and a process birds do before they fall asleep). Nothing to worry about.

Question: My female lovebird is not flying properly and falling down and her stomach seems larger than usual. What is the problem?

Answer: I think she might be pregnant. Do you have a male lovebird?

Question: My lovebirds are losing their feathers. Why so?

Answer: They must be molting. Please give them warm baths.

Question: My female lovebird is sick. She is sleeping a lot, has a slight breathing problem and loss of appetite. She is not in the egg bound stage. What should I do? I can't see a vet for 2 weeks.

Answer: Please cover the bird well to give warmth. Warmth will help the bird because sickness makes them weak and cold.

If she doesn't eat on her own, please handfeed her. Has she swallowed seeds/fruits without chewing them? Has she eaten something hazardous?

Check her droppings. Is the color okay? It shouldn't be red.

Do you see any nasal discharge? Does she make any sounds through her nose while breathing?

Do you have a male lovebird and does he feed the female? If not, please get her one.

Question: My lovebird (I don't know its gender) seems to be ill, what food can I feed it to help it recover?

Answer: Please give lots of warmth by covering the cage. Give soft foods like mashed banana or corn and make fresh water available.

Question: My bird is looking smaller than usual. Is this bad?

Answer: Has he/she losing feathers? Do you see any weakness, nasal discharge, sneezing or tail bobbing? Any sign of sickness? Sometimes, birds look small when they're asleep.

Question: My baby budgie is two months old. She has a fever. What should I feed her?

Answer: Please give her nutritious food like fresh fruits (without seeds), boiled green leaves like spinach and crushed egg shells. Keep her warm and make sure food and water are easily accessible.

Question: My lovebird is itching her feathers. Is she sick? She bleeds as well.

Answer: Please take her to a vet as soon as possible. Itching is common in birds, but bleeding is not.

Question: Why is my lovebird's poop black in colour? Should I be worried?

Answer: If it's occasional, it must be due to some kinds of food. If it's on a daily basis, please take the bird to a vet. It's always better to get the problem looked into.

Question: I have a male lovebird and a female lovebird also. My female lovebird is not flying and she falls down. She is not pregnant, but her tummy is fat. She is healthy too. Is she fine?

Answer: I think she's pregnant. Have your birds mated recently?

Question: How can you find out whether a lovebird is a female or male?

Answer: 1. Females lay eggs and display nesting behavior while males don't.

2. Females are perched with a wider stance than males.

3. Males regurgitate food to the females and are generally chirpy and playful compared to the female.

Question: My lovebird is regurgitating white bundles from its mouth. What should I do?

Answer: There's nothing to worry about. That's only him regurgitating. Please buy a female lovebird for him.

Question: How can I find out if my lovebird is pregnant?

Answer: If your lovebirds have mated, the female will develop a bulge near her abdomen. Then she'll lay an egg after 7-10 days of mating.

© 2018 Sakina Nasir


Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on July 25, 2020:

@Sadid Please give warmth and feed a syringe full of glucose available for lovebirds. Do you see any nasal discharge or breathing difficulty?

Sadid on July 25, 2020:

One of my lovebird is behaving weird they stop chirping doesn’t take foods and keeps her eyes closed what should I do

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on July 02, 2020:

I'm sorry Raj, I think he/she must have died then...

raj rane on July 01, 2020:

my lovebird is not moving

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on December 26, 2019:

@Aditya Around 25 dollars a month.

ADITYA from New delhi on December 26, 2019:

How much do you earn

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on December 24, 2018:

@Eman, I'm sorry for your loss and I understand. I have lost many pets too, I know the feeling.

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on December 24, 2018:

I owned a pair of birds but they died and I did not repeat the experience again, but my brother and my uncle have birds as pets.

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on December 23, 2018:

@Eman Hi! Thank you. :) Do you have lovebirds as pets?

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on December 23, 2018:

Thank you for this useful article.

Sakina Nasir (author) from Kuwait on December 22, 2018:

@Louise Powels Hi! :) Thank you so much! Lulu has been in a good health since months, alhamdolillah (it means thank God in Arabic).

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on December 22, 2018:

Aww, Lulu is so cute. This is a very useful article to read about how to care for your sick bird. I hope Lulu will be back to 100% health very soon!

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