Weigh  Away

I must admit that I had never given much thought to weights and measures and had no idea how much a budgerigar of any age would weigh. As happens with many things, my interest was initially sparked by a chance remark. The wife of one of the guest speakers at the Rare Budgerigar Club of W.A. was involved with the hand raising of several varieties of parrot.. At the end of the show the speaker turned and asked hoe much a budgerigar weighed and how much they weighed at hatching. No-one knew!

This set me wondering and as I had some Birthday money hidden away I decided to buy a set of digital kitchen scales and weigh a few birds. As the scales are only accurate to one gram the newly hatched birds all seemed to be about a gram, maybe two by evening if they hatched during the day. This complies with data I already have.

 

An egg - weighing in at 3 grams

   

Taking into account that a chick registering at 1 gram could be anywhere between 1g and 1.99g and multiplying that by 28, because we are told that a chick will have increased its weight 28 fold by the time it fledges, one would expect a chick leaving the nest to be between 28 grams and 56 grams. I have found that small chicks have weighed in at about 43 - 45 grams, while the more impressive ones have been about ten grams heavier at 53 - 54 grams, up to 61 grams.

Chicks in the nest box with good parents grow steadily until the time they are due to fledge. Once out in the cabinet and fending for themselves they are likely to loose some of this condition, so their weight may drop off slightly until they have mastered the art of cracking seed and being independent.

A chick on the day of hatching - weighing in at 2 grams

  

If they have a conscientious Dad feeding and watching over them this will be less obvious than for those whose parents have moved on to the next round and ignore them. Sometimes older chicks may feed younger ones to their own detriment but by the time they are moved from the cabinet to a "kindy" cage most of these fluctuations will have levelled out.

Obviously, to be able to make any decisive statements about this, one would need to weigh hundreds of chicks and keep copious records, which in this short time I have not been able to do. Neither do I intend to weigh all of my chicks and get hung up on weights and measures but at the same time I do see having the scales as a useful tool. For example when I hand raised three orphans who were almost at the stage of being self sufficient I weighed them regularly, just to satisfy myself that they were going in the right direction.

 

Two day old chick - 3 grams

At another time I weighed an adult bird that had not been well to see whether he had lost more weight. He had in fact gained a few grams - something that one could not tell just by feeling his keel bone.

Experienced breeders will often sense that something is wrong with a chick that is not growing as it should. When checking adult birds for condition the flesh over the keel bone is always a good guide - the keel should be covered so that the bone is not sharp to touch. In an overweight bird the keel may not be evident - this is not a good sign!!  Like Baby Milestones, weights and measures are only a guide, as every bird is individual and "normal" will cover a range. Some small chicks take on a growth spurt later and catch up to larger siblings.

  B. M. Rea 2008     

A six day old chick weighing 9 grams Nine day old chick 20 grams Ten day old chick 22 grams

At twelve days this chick weighs 35 grams Eighteen days weighing 53 grams Twenty nine days and weighs 61 grams