An elderly Lutino Lovebird (over 20 years old) that developed red feathers in the last year of its life. Small photo on top before, larger photo below in the end.Lovebirds, like all birds, are very adapt at concealing their illness. This is a self-preservation mechanism, as the sick and the weak are the ones predators will focus on. By the time your lovebird looks ill, you can assume that your pet is seriously sick and is likely to deterioriate quickly unless appropriate treatment is provided.

By observing your lovebird daily you will learn its normal behavior and you will be able to notice anything out of the ordinary. Below is a list of things to look out for as possible indicators of disease / illness; and a vet may need to be consulted.


Signs of illness to watch out for:

Critical / Serious – bird needs to be taken to vet:

  • respiratory problems / abnormal breathing
  • tail constantly moving up and down
  • discharge from the beak, eyes or nostrils
  • face and head feathers coated with mucus and semi-digested seed
  • abnormal droppings
  • abnormal feathers, feather growth, bleeding feathers, or abnormal molt


  • drooping head, tail or wings
  • dull or swollen eyes
  • falling off the perch
  • hunched over posture
  • lumps or swellings on the body
  • sitting on the bottom of the cage
  • vomiting
  • weight loss

Could be serious – consult with vet:

  • loss of appetite
  • fluffed up and/or untidy appearance
  • abnormal droppings
  • excessive feather picking or plucking
  • abnormal sleep pattern (continuous, both feet on the perch when normally one foot is tucked up, head tucked under the wing, head turned towards the wing with eyes only partly closed)
  • any change in normal activities ( talking or whistling, playing with toys, preening, interaction with other birds or humans, energy levels, different perching area)
  • disorientation
  • drinking a lot more water than usual
  • soiled vent
  • drooping head, tail or wings

Diseases / Health Problems Lovebirds Commonly Come Down With

  • Malnutrition:
    • Vitamin A and calcium deficiency are the most common deficiencies seen in seed junkies. Since seeds are higher in fat than many other foods, many seed eaters are often obese as well.

What you can do:

Introducing healthy foods – such as green leafy vegetables; red or orange fruits and veggies (which contain beta-carotene) – is a natural way to provide this nutrient safely. Calcium blocks should be provided also, to prevent calcium deficiency.

For seed addicted birds offer sprouted seeds instead. Sprouted or germinated seeds are usually more easily accepted by “seed addicts” than fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Sprouted seeds are healthier as the sprouting changes and enhances the nutritional quality and value of seeds and grains. Sprouted seeds are lower in fat, as the process of sprouting utilizes the fat in the seed to start the growing process – thus reducing the fat stored in the seeds.
  • Sprouted seeds will help balance your bird’s diet by adding a nutritious supply of high in vegetable proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and chlorophyll.
  • Soaked and germinated “oil” seeds, like niger and rape seeds, are rich in protein and carbohydrates; while “starch” seeds, such as canary and millets, are rich in carbohydrates, but lower in protein.
  • It is an invaluable food at all times; however, it is especially important for breeding or molting birds. Sprouted seeds also serve as a great rearing and weaning food as the softened shell is easier to break by chicks and gets them used to the texture of seeds.

Find Your Local Avian Veterinarian 

Information contained on this website is provided as general reference only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought.