Diets- it is not just seed anymore…
Few things in the bird world have sparked more debate, disputes, differing viewpoints, and rumors than the right food for a pet parrot.
I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of the iceberg…
I can offer you an unequivocal response…
Nobody knows what or how much they consume in the wild; we just know a few tidbits…
Most of the fruits and plants they do consume are unavailable to us in the United States. Indeed, several of the fruits and nuts they eat in their own nations have no English names!
I can tell you about my own experiences with what I’ve observed and what I’ve utilized for my own dogs over the last 10 years. I have what I believe to be healthy birds. They are content, which I attribute to feeling well after eating well.
A healthy diet is difficult to offer. It is not as simple as loading a feeding dish with the dog or cat food. Cooking for a three-year-old who wants an ice cream but can crack Brazil nuts like butter is more like it.
I’ll start with the standard responses that most people have when I say “feed a variety of veggies and fruits.” Apples, grapes, and maize are all fine, but they do not reflect diversity. I believe the ordinary individual believes that by periodically providing such items, they are doing their bird a favor. I regard a variety to be a spectrum of ten or twelve various items supplied on a regular basis, with fruits being a component but not the backbone. You’d be surprised how many folks respond, “Well, I do give him apples,” when I ask, “Do you feed him any vegetables?”
I thought apples were a kind of fruit.
Then there are the bird owners who use the ever-popular “I simply can’t get the bird to eat anything except sunflower seed” defense to justify their bird’s poor diet. This sentence makes me wonder what a parent would say to justify feeding their kid nothing but chocolate cake. I find it equally repugnant to feed your bird nothing but anything. I’ll tell you straight: you need to be more tenacious than a two-pound parrot.
Give the bird its regular meal; don’t starve the poor creature; but, serve chopped carrots, peas, sweet potato puree, and bits of wheat bread all over those seeds for as long as it takes for the bird to sample these foods. Don’t be surprised if they all get thrown out of the dish and pooped on; you’re making adjustments that your buddy may find difficult to accept. Birds are cautious birds, and recognizing that there are food items rather than poison bits on their plate may take a long time. Transitional diets, seed mixtures containing a broader choice of dried fruits or other seeds, are available for extremely obstinate birds. Some of them have a strong odor and are brightly colored. I believe that at first, it would be beneficial to attempt some of them; they are steps in the right way. The bird will begin to notice that things are sometimes different in the dish, making it interesting…and may be encouraging the little fella to try something new. Eating with your bird is also quite successful, and most birds get intrigued about what is on your plate that tastes so nice. I believe this is because they eat with a large group of companions in the wild. You may fit vegetables in between the cage’s bars. Hang them on skewers made specifically for birds. You may serve them raw or cooked. The important thing here is to KEEP TRYING. Your bird’s life is on the line. I’ve heard that this is too much labor.
I realize this is a lot of things to do for a bird, but these are the things that will ensure your bird has a long and healthy life. Our birds wake up each morning wondering what will be in their breakfast dishes.
In addition to the vegetable battle, you may provide grains and legumes in their most popular form, bean mixtures with pasta thrown in. Many birds like warm, mushy cooked pasta, and you can sneak some vegetables in there in the form of organic baby food purees to offer your bird something it will most likely enjoy.
Pellets are often provided to birds since they are a quick and easy method to provide a balanced combination of vitamins and minerals. I do feed them, but I have yet to discover a type that the birds can’t get enough of. They seem to prefer fresh meals to pellets. On weekends or throughout the week, I sometimes forgo one day of fresh offers so they don’t forget pellets are food, not simply toys to toss. They do eat them, but many of them whine for their soft meals. I often give in, but only after they have shown that they will take a pellet or two first. On these days, I’ll offer them their mushy breakfast for supper, which keeps the birds guessing. Rigid habits do not benefit birds, particularly young birds. I usually propose shaking things up a little, changing up the routines a little, variety…remember?
Distinct animals have different dietary requirements. What works for an Amazon may not work for a conure. Do your research on the species you have or are acquiring. When it comes to food, don’t presume your macaw is nothing more than a large parakeet.
On sweets? Many store-bought treat sticks include an excessive quantity of sugar and seed; instead, provide something unusual. The pizza crust is entertaining for larger birds, or how about a mouthful of your linguini? Maybe some yogurt every now and again. Simply use moderation; nothing is beneficial for these people if given in large numbers; think gourmet, not bulk. Food quality because “eat like a bird” is a real saying.
Keep the salt to a minimum.