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Dr. Pat
Dr. Pat, Avian Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 4244
Experience:  25 years as avian-only veterinarian
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My lovebird has a twisted is cocked to one side. he

Customer Question

my lovebird has a twisted is cocked to one side. he is about 15 years old. he is still eating. but can no longer fly. what can I do to help him. I live in a rural area with no vets that take care of birds.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Is there special brace or massage I can give him. I have purchased vitamin and exact Kaytee food. Is there any special medications ? antibiotic or muscle meds? How or why did this happen? I appreciate your help. email is***@******.*** or phone number(###) ###-####. Lucy Mayer Thanks again
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 1 year ago.

​Greetings, I am Dr. Pat. I have worked with birds exclusively for many years.​

Older lovebirds can be the victims of stroke-like episodes that cause what you describe. They can live with the condition, but you must make certain that he can eat, drink water, perch, and sleep OK and that he not injure himself in attempted flights.. It helps if he has a tent or shelter for nightime and naptime use.

Braces or splints can cause great anxiety and fear and may do more harm than good. I usually advise that they learn to adapt and get around, even with the twist.

You may have to make a handicap facility for him. I have had several lovebirds myself with this condition, and I have fount that soft net cages, with low rope-type perches, low bowls, soft bath towels on the bottom work best. Even the large, low plastic critter boxes can work well. The nets (20 gallon or 38 gallon are the best sizes for handicap birds) are available from

Can you tell me more about the bird?​

How long has this been going on?

How long have you had him?

Where is he from?

Any accidents or trauma?

Interactions with other birds/pets/children/guests?

What is the usual diet? has it changed recently?

Has the bird gotten into anything? Chewed electrical wires?

What is your geographic location and local weather?

If you feel comfortable with it, examine the bird thoroughly, using gentle restraint via washcloth or hand towel: do not restrict the chest or hold around the body. Check the eyes, nostrils, mouth and beak if possible, having a good look in there for mucus, redness, masses or anything else unusual. Palpate the tummy for pain, fluid, lumps or anything else (eggs, if female or unknown). Check all the joints for swelling, pain, and mobility. The feathers should be parted to view the skin, muscles and skeleton below; this can be done using a q-tip with isopropyl alcohol or KY gel. Look for bruising, lacerations, injured feathers.

Do not try to force food or water. Pedialyte or electrolyte replacer can help but many birds do not like them; when in doubt, plain warm water is best. They can hydrate from oral fluids almost as quickly as IV if the GI is functioning properly. You can offer warm cooked rice, pancakes, cornbread, grapes, melon, greens in addition to normal food.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He has had the condition for about 3 weeks. I have had him all his life. Purchased him as an egg and hatch him. I got the egg from a breeder in south florida. He has had no accidents or trauma. He has no interaction with other pets. He does love to take a bath with me and fly around the house. About 2 weeks ago he stopped flying and would only get on my head. He eats vita seed Love bird food , Wild harvest Nutrition diet. , millet. sunflowers seeds. I started giving him Avian Plus vitamins , Protein egg food and mineral grits for calcium . He does like apples and grapes. He has not gotten into anything. We live 30 miles for Key West. It has been very warm here. The house does have central A/C . His cage is covered every night. He hates his cage being cleaned out. I am afraid of changing his cage. The last time we changed his cage he went crazy for about a week. Is there any massage I can do? He does not seem to be in pain. I appreciate your help. Lucy ( the first photos is last year , the second is him now).
Expert:  Dr. Pat replied 1 year ago.

I will include below my recommendations for diet, knowing that this is not a good time for change. However it will help. He may really like the yam bread recipe.

Do not feed the grit. The calcium is not bioavailable, it is often contaminated, and it will cause GI issues. Additional vitamins do nothing. The best thing is a good basic diet with veg--high quality pellets and leafy greens.

You may find that he is good in a smaller, more protected cage. They know when they are vulnerable.

Do not let him fly, as he ,may not have the coordination and could injure himself badly.

Massage of the neck will make him feel better but will not fix the problem. So long as he enjoys it, all OK.

Conversion Diet
YAM BREAD (cornbread mix+cooked yam)
1' cube per bird

​1-2 x ​


RICE MIX (cooked short-grain brown rice plus fresh veg)
1/4 cup per bird daily

PELLETS (we recommend Harrison's and T.O.P.)


Entire leaves of greens poked through the cage wires or on branches

Corn wheels

Cooked yams or squash

Whole carrots, tops included

Half of apple and whole (opened but not peeled) banana poked on sticks (in the aviaries)

Grapes, citrus, pomegranate, persimmon, etc. One small slice per bird. Put on twigs etc.

Here are a few suggestions that I give everyone: important!

The following guidelines help with basic issues such as nutrition, obesity, good immune status. Surprising how the following can make a bird healthy, and how infrequently birds are ill if they are on the following regimen. No amount of medicine is going to work if the birds' basic needs are not met.

​great resource links:​

AAV Guidelines

Birds should be on a high-quality, preferably prescription, pelleted diet: I prefer High-potency Harrison's


In addition, they should be offered dark leafy greens, cooked sweet potatoes, yams, squash, pumpkin; entire (tops and bottoms) fresh carrots and so forth. No seeds (and that means a mix, or millet, or sprays, etc. etc.) and only healthy, low-fat high fiber people food. A dietary change should be closely monitored and supervised by your avian vet.

Daily Maintenance

Birds should get 12-14 hours dark, quiet, uninterrupted sleep at night. Any less and they can suffer from sleep deprivation and associated illnesses. They should be covered or their cage placed in a dark room that is not used after they go to bed.

The cage material should be cleaned everyday, and twice a day if the bird is really messy. Paper towels, newspaper, bath towels are ok. Never use corn cob, sawdust, wood chips, or walnut shell.
Food and water dishes should be cleaned and changed daily. Keep one set cleaned while the other is in use.

Fresh, perishable food should be placed in separate food bowls. Remove fresh food from the cage after a couple of hours to avoid spoilage.

Change cage papers daily, and clean the grate and tray weekly.

Clean food debris or droppings from toys and perches as needed (which can be as often as once a day).

Grit is not necessary for birds, and will cause digestive problems and death. The best sources of minerals (and vitamins) are leafy greens. Never give grit, gravel sandpaper or cement perches. A bird will eat those to excess when it is not feeling well or if there is a nutritional deficiency. They do not need it at all (an old myth from the poultry days, even poultry do not need it). It can cause an impaction and lead to serious or fatal consequences.

Useful links: