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Parrots/Splayed Legs Lovebird


QUESTION: A little over a year ago my mom was given an approximately 8 year old female lovebird (the woman thought it was a parrotlet) to be a companion for our Parrotlet who is also disabled (broken leg that was never treated so didn't heal properly). The two enjoy each other's company when their cages are side by side so we kept the lovebird.
Since the poor lovebird is splayed legged and is quite aggressive, her feathers only get groomed when I take her out and scratch her. Since I will be working full time, I won't have as much time to scratch her and help with her pin feathers.
Is there anything I can get to help this poor old hen to help her?

ANSWER: -- I'm sorry for the delay.  Am I understanding that this lovebird doesn't groom itself at all?

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QUESTION: Just her head and neck because of her splayed legs

ANSWER: Gosh, I want very much to help, but I don't think I have a clear understanding of what's going on.   I'm not sure how the splayed legs are inhibiting grooming.  While the disability is a tragedy, especially since it could have both been prevented AND 'cured' if veterinary intervention was sought (sad isn't it?  A human did this by not doing anything) - birds have survived billions of years by adapting.  

 Can you post a photo?

Also, how are you compensating for the splay legs?  How bad is it?  Can she walk at all?

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QUESTION: We have the cage set up so she can sort of move around but the splayed legs is pretty bad so she usually just stays close to the nest box we put in. One foot doesn't even work. The nest box was designed so one end opens up so we leave it open and she goes in that way and sleeps. Her previous owner only stuffed nesting material in a food dish for her.
When she gets supervised play time with the other lovebirds she moves around okay. We've tried pairing her off with another lovebird but she was aggressive. She does like one of my lovies but he has a mate.
I just don't want her to be uncomfortable with those feathers she can't groom herself

-- I've been consulting with a couple avian vets about this and here's the thing you really need to do first and foremost:   Have a specifically avian vet examine her.   If there's any possibility of surgical repair on her legs, even a little bit, you have got to do it.  The first owners might have been highly and disgustingly irresponsible in not taking steps to correct this when it was relatively 'easy' to correct, but you are clearly her companion rather than her jailer and she's more to you than a decoration.  I respect that.

 Going through life in the midst of a flock and knowing she's 'different'.  Others might pick on her and she could easily be injured seriously or even killed.

 I don't see the feather issue that you do, but of course I believe you.   It might just be a typical molting period.   To groom herself all she would need is a steady substrate in order to balance or hold steady.  Provide some cuttlefish bone at the ends of some perches in the cage.  Other than this, plenty of hands on with this bird and regular vet visits (at least twice a year) because she could be prone to further complications, even infections and disease.

Well-bird visits are only about $40 where I am, so it's not even .25 cents a day for twice a year.   She's absolutely beautiful and looks like a sweetheart.   She deserves the very best, right?

 You can find out more about the 'best' for our birds here  


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Rev. Dr. S.August Abbott


Certified Avian Specialist; Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council member; Own animal rescue org; National Wildlife habitat #66378; bird care, nutrition & behavior consultant; International Assoc. of Animal Behavior Consultants Associate; National Wildlife Federation Leaders Club member; published bird care, info and behavior articles and guides. Ongoing education in exotic bird behavior and nutrition I can answer behavioral, nutritional, environmental, characteristic/personality questions as well as general health and health care. No animal emergency can ever be addressed on the internet. We cannot see your animal, perform an examination, provide necessary care or medication. Please value your companion for the priceless, living creature they are; not for what you might have paid for them.


Certified Avian Specialist. For more than 30 years I've worked with veterinarians, protective facilities, nature centers, preserves and on my own in providing care and education with regard to multiple animal species, including raptors (hawks, kestrals, owls, etc) and marsupials. In recent years I've focused on parrots, usually rescued from abusive or less than ideal situations and helping educate owners as to proper care. Expert in behavior studies and modification of problem behavior.

4AnimalCare is the organization I run as an animal ministry; World Wildlife Association, Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, National Wildlife Federation Leaders Club and more

Bird Talk Magazine articles about rescued and problem macaws.

Doctorate, Ordained Minister

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