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The sternum of a lineolated parakeetA bird's breast is a very important part of its body. The flight muscles are located there and the anatomy of a bird's breast allows it to find out whether the animal is well-fed or underweight. This chapter provides the facts you need to know to rate your bird's health and nutritional status.

The most prominent part of a bird's breast is a bone that is called sternum. Its cross section looks like a trident star. One part of the sternum points to the front of a bird's body. This part is called Carina sterni and many people also simply call it breast bone. The flight muscles are fixed to it and stretch over the bird's breast on either side.

If vets want to find out whether a bird is undernourished or overweight, they softly palpate the breast and the sternum. In case a bird is in a perfect health status, the sternum is palpable, but also the strong muscles are easy to detect. Those budgies who are in poor health are often underweight. Also their flight muscles may be weak and therefore their sternum is perceptible as a sharp edge. In the worst cases, the breast bone is even visible for layman if the feathers are shifted sidewards.

On the other hand, birds who are overweighted can be recognized by their big breast. It is nearly impossible to palpate their sternum or the muscles because of the adipose tissue covering this part of the body.

The photo on this page shows the sternum of a lineolated parakeet. Because of the blindness, this bird didn't fly and therefore the muscles were weak. And because the bird often laid on its belly while it rested, the feathers fell out. Therefore you can easily see the sternum.

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