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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7627
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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My 7yr old female peach-faced lovebird has her neck cocked

Resolved Question:

My 7yr old female peach-faced lovebird has her neck cocked to one side and cannot straiten it out. She is very weak and is trying to eat but she looks like she had a stroke or stiff neck. Its like how the have their head turned when sleeping she can only bring it to her right side and down. She looks like she has no neck muscle and her head hangs to one side! I was hysterical this morning bec I thought she was dying but this poor pathetic thing is trying to eat and is trying to do so with her head sideways! Please help, what can I do to help her?!
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Bird
Expert:  August Abbott, CAS replied 7 years ago.

What you can do while securing a vet to see your companion is supportive care.

Most birds will need a heat source to maintain body heat while you’re getting their medical treatment lined up or while you’re on your way to see the vet with them. Ideally, a brooder is suggested in order to keep the bird comfortable, calm and warm.

For a makeshift brooder: Use a small box lined with soft clothes like tee shirts.



Use a thick, clean sock and fill it ¾ with plain, raw white rice. Knot the end and microwave it for about 1 ½ minutes. Shake it afterwards to distribute the heat and be sure it's not too hot. Tuck this in just under the cloths. The heat should last a couple of hours and even though it’s dry, raw rice - it’s a moist heat. You can use two socks if you feel it’s appropriate.



A heating pad under the box is also helpful, set on low. This is one of the few times I’d ever use both heat sources if necessary to maintain incubation temp (approx. 90 degrees). If you use the heating pad - I’d only use one rice sock, if any at all. Be sure you only put the heating pad underneath ½ of the cage bottom so the bird has the option of moving to a ‘cooler’ side.



If ever using an electric source for heating anything in anyway, please be vigilant and constantly double checking carefully.



Gently drape a light cover over this box to further help hold heat in and keep light low.






You'll need an eyedropper ready to administer a few drops of plain water, or better yet, children’s Pedialyte every 20-30 minutes. Put the dropper gently inside the beak and let the drops fall into the bottom beak under the tongue rather than trying to get into the back of the throat. We don’t want to chance the bird inhaling the fluid and developing pneumonia.

You can also make some sugar water with 1-2 tablespoons of natural white sugar (none of those sugar substitutes no matter how natural they claim to be) in ½ cup of water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and offer the bird a couple drops of this along with the Pedialyte.

In a pinch, Gatorade or other sports drink without added zinc or at least with zinc listed low on the list of ingredients, can be used while you are getting Pedialyte.

Another feeding option is to offer ½ spoon of all natural, organic baby food (squash, yams, sweet potatoes, mixed vegetables) which many birds take readily; also try some pabulum or baby rice cereal and a few licks of natural (no artificial anything) yogurt.

Feel free to mix these or offer them one at a time.


At this point it doesn't really matter what's behind this - it could be any number of things, from infection to a toxicity. The most important and necessary thing is that she be seen just as fast and as soon as you can.

This isn't one of those conditions that can be treated at home, no matter what's causing it.

---- I need to warn you to be very, very careful. She might seem to improve after you implement the options described here. Do not let this lull you into thinking she's fine. All that's happening is that she's regaining some strength and is "masking". Birds are top experts at hiding symptoms of illness or weakness until so far progressed it can't hold on to the act anymore.

So this means your little one has been sick for some time now.


Find an avian vet near you



These days, with birds growing fast in popularity as in home companions, many DVM’s are quite experienced and able to see and treat many birds. If you have a pet store that sells birds or know of any bird breeders – ask them who they use for their bird care.


If you have a Pet Smart in town you may have a vet for your bird. Most Pet Smart’s now have a veterinary clinic inside and many of them will see birds (open 7 days a week too).



Finding an emergency clinic may mean making calls to every single vet in your area. There is always at least one that maintains urgent care hours and often cover for each other. Sometimes they switch offices; for example, one vet will do it for certain time period, then another will do it, etc..

Make the phone calls - listen to the answering services - they should give options for “in case this is an emergency”.






---------- Good luck and God bless you both!




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