Nutrition is one of the most fundamental, but sometimes disregarded, aspects of birdkeeping. Unfortunately, far too many birdkeepers merely provide food and water to their birds (and usually an over-abundance of sunflower seed). I’m sure most don’t do it out of malice, but dying of fatty liver disease is a harsh end for a bird.

If you want huge (but not overweight), healthy, colorful, active birds that not only live a long time but also make wonderful breeders and pets, one of the first things to consider is nutrition.

Birds need greens, fruits, and vegetables in their diet on a regular basis. It’s not a luxury; it’s basic sense. Can a person live on dry bread and water? Yes, but it wouldn’t be a happy existence, and their health would suffer as a result. Birds are no exception.

“Joey,” the former editor’s African Grey, evidently adores watermelon.

I’d like to use this occasion to appeal to those lorikeet owners who exclusively feed their birds dry mix in the mistaken belief that they are avoiding the birds’ infamous liquid feces. Nothing in lorikeet “mess” can’t be removed with soap and water (I know because I’ve cleaned it out of all kinds of locations, even inside my ear!). After all, the birds are nectar feeders and need a nectar mix in their diet. Yes, the capacity to spew hot liquids quickly may be considered a nuisance in pet lorikeets, but if it’s that big of a concern, maybe the lorikeet isn’t the bird for you. (Perhaps a conure would be a better choice.) Nectar feeders who are deprived of this vital nourishment do not live as long and do not have the same enthusiasm for life as well nourished lorikeets. After all, it’s their joie de vivre and irrepressible personalities that have made them one of New Zealand’s and the world’s most beloved birds. The individual or company that sold you the bird may have informed you that lorikeets do not need nectar. Please don’t take it literally. Come meet my birds and witness how beautiful their plumage is, how happy, well-sized, and lively they are (and how they never seem to stop talking!) Making nectar isn’t difficult; the difficulty is to make just enough so that they consume it all before it spoils. And guess what… there isn’t much of a difference in feces!

We put a lot of time, money, and love into our birds, so taking five minutes out of your day to chop some fresh food and pick some greens is an excellent way to protect our investment.

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