A friend of mine has a budgerigar that keeps its head on its chest permanently. Please can you tell me what is wrong with the bird? I have enclosed a photograph.
G.C., via email.
Dave Herring, former Budgerigar Society president, replies: Having taken a look at the photograph it made me think it is rather similar to a bird that I have at present, and others that I have had over the years. I have one line of birds which, conversely, tend to hold their heads back, and look slightly upwards most of the time – a family trait!
However, the cases may not be identical because each of those birds that I had were only taking this position when at rest. They were able to straighten their necks to commune with their fellows, and reach hanging objects such as millet spray or anything that they treated as a toy.
When each of these "afflicted" birds were feeding from the floor or dishes, and when they went to drink, they were similarly adept and showed no sign of discomfort. The birds moved their heads in any possible direction when they chose to do so. It could be that the birds had some degree of weakness in the spine, or muscles in the neck, but it did not prevent them from leading a full life. Hopefully this will be the same with your friend's bird.
If the bird is permanently unable to raise its head, and it has been so for some time, I can only suggest that it will not be cured. It may continue to live a life of good quality despite its condition.
Finally, it looks a little "down in the mouth". It is possible that it has some degree of depression and could benefit from tonics in the form of treats, and toys to perk it up. My aviary birds respond to music on the radio, and this is worth a try. I would suggest hanging the mirror a little higher to see if the bird will stretch upwards for it.