Margaret A. Wissman, DVM
My bird grinds his pellets down into a fine, dusty pile. Does this mean he’s consuming them, or should there be no remnants of pellets left if he’s actually eating them?
Some birds that are bored spend some time grinding up their pellets in their bowl, after eating their fill, until the pellets disappear into a fine powder at the bottom of the bowl or cage. If you notice that your bird is spending time grinding pellets into dust, then this can be a clear sign that it needs some new toys, enrichment or foraging activities to keep him busy.
If you are unsure about your bird’s consumption of his pellets, and you are seeing a lot of dust in the food bowl, and you are not sure if it is producing enough droppings, then I recommend that you purchase a good quality gram scale and weigh your bird periodically, at the same time of day each time.
Keep a chart of your bird’s weight. A drop in weight of 5 to 10 percent can signify that your bird isn’t taking in enough calories or that there is a medical problem causing him to lose weight. A bird fighting an illness may not be able to take in enough calories to fight an infection or other problem and still maintain his weight.
If you are still unsure if your bird is eating enough, make an appointment with your avian vet, who can examine, weigh and test your bird for any subclinical illness, if necessary. Bring in your bird in his uncleaned cage (with white paper toweling in the bottom of the cage so your vet can easily evaluate the number and consistency of the droppings) or if the cage is too large to transport, bring in the papers from the cage bottom instead. The peace of mind from a clean bill of health for your bird is certainly worth it.