Feeding our pet birds the right food and nutrition they need is important for their health and a balanced diet is fundamental to allow your pet birds to live a full and healthy long life (and you, you know, reduce the risk of your bird turning into and overweight mass of feathers).
An unbalanced diet is mostly one of the main causes of pet birds acquiring diseases and some even results deaths (ever heard of death by overeating? yeah, that happens to birds too).
When feeding our pet birds, we must consider the species, type and size due to that not all pet birds have the same dietary nutrition needs (one bird’s tasty treat is another bird’s despised food). Good nutrition plays a role in maintaining a healthy bird and it has been estimated that 80 – 90% of bird diseases are related to an inadequate diet.
Malnutrition and obesity are human-made disease and fortunately it is also preventable. (Don’t’ blame your bird if he gets fat, blame it on yourself, for you are the one who controls his eating habit, schedule, and the type of food you give to him.)
(not really, you need to diversify their diet too)
Did you know that eating seed alone as a diet for a seed-eating bird is not enough? The irony.
Seed eating birds are referred to as “granivores” and they obtain much of their energy from carbohydrates such as starch found in grains and seeds. This includes many popular pet birds such as Budgies, Parrots, Cockatoos, Canaries, Finches, Pigeons and Doves.
Granivorous birds eat a wide variety of fresh green seed and other plant materials as well as insects for additional protein. However, granivorous birds that are held captive often maintained dry seed diets that are deficient in many vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients.
The seeds given to our pet birds are not the same as the seeds they eat back in the wild and in their natural habitats. Pet owners tend to offer their birds seeds that are lower in protein and other nutrients and vitamins.
The amount of energy used by wild granivore in foraging for food is far greater than those used by our pet birds. Since our pet birds use less energy, they need to eat fewer calories or they will become overweight (not enough exercise + too much food = obesity). Eating less however, could result in vitamin, mineral, and other nutrient deficiencies.
If you give your bird a diet consisting of only seeds, they tend to pick up and eat the yummy looking ones and leave the rest uneaten. Limiting to only several types of seeds can lead to nutrient deficiency too.
Even if Bird owners feed their pet birds multiple types of seeds. The seed-only diet will not supply the necessary supply of vitamins and minerals that is needed for optimal health. The best diet for most seed-eating birds consists of formulated diets (such as pelleted foods), vegetables, small amount of fruits and some occasional treats. To know more about your bird food components please visit Foods and Treats For Bird.
These formulated bird foods are available in many reputable manufacturers, pet stores, and veterinarians. This bird food is a mixture of grains, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and various types of proteins, as well as additional vitamins and minerals.
In preparing this bird food, the ingredients are all mixed together and then baked, and then is made in a form of pellets, crumbles, or nuggets. Unlike the seed mixture, the formulated food looks more appetizing to birds which are hard for them to refuse and they cannot select a particular component, so nutritional imbalance is less likely to occur.
You can choose different types of specially-prepared mix for specific birds and conditions, that means you don’t need to grab anything nearby on the bird food isle and call it a day. Take into consideration your bird’s species, health, age and so on in choosing the best mix.
Most of us human beings need lots of fruits and vegetables on our diet cause it keeps our body healthy, the same goes with our feathery friends too.
Veggies are a good source of vitamins, carbohydrates and minerals and it should contain around 15-30% of their diet (more is optimal), which are higher in sugar and moisture.
Radishes and apples are a good combination in adding nutrition to their diet. Of course, before you feed them to your bird, wash the veggies and fruits thoroughly and remove the pits and apple seeds from the fruit.
Any veggies or fruits that are left uneaten should immediately be discarded. Due to high water content in fruits and veggies, your bird’s urine and dropping will increase (but hey, at least it makes your birdie healthier, so there’s that).
(Adding diversity and Appeal to your birds meal)
Who can say no to a food that is so enticing and appetizing? (I don’t know about you guys, but all I can say is that I’m into foods that looks really yummy and appetizing) and birds also feel the same way too.
Birds are very visual creatures and they decide on what are they going to eat just by the looks of the food. So, to be able to make your pet birds eat all the food you prepared for them, explore and be creative in preparing their meals.
Offer a wide variety of fruits and veggies to provide a balanced diet. Try some new approach in feeding your pet bird by putting the food in a different spot like hanging it from the top of the cage, or in the sides.
For larger birds, instead of feeding them corn kernels, feed them corn on the cob. This will help amuse the bird as well as provide physical and mental stimulation (and it also makes the bird work for it, even making it more appealing). After all, it’s all about the looks, right?
(Switching your bird from a seed-based diet)
Switching your seed eating pet bird into eating quality commercial food will take some time and patience, but this hard work will all be worth it for your bird is going to a lot healthier and happier.
It is like making a meat-lover person convert into a vegan diet (that rarely happens) and this one process is a lot harder than it sounds.
This takes a lot of time and effort and you need to take it slow so your bird can cope up and gradually adjust itself to its new diet.
Before you initiate this process, consult your pet bird’s vet first to learn more about the diet that you’re about to switch for your pet, and ask for some recommendations as well.
Be sure to also discuss with the vet any special dietary considerations your pet bird may have. For example, if your bed is overweight, the vet will be able to tell you what your bird optimal diet should be (or any medications to accompany it). Visit Health Issues Of Avian for more info.
(Tips for converting to pellet diet)
To make your pet’s diet conversion easier, try using “tricks” to get your bird’s attention, and also make it look like you eat the new food that you prepare for them (if fresh fruits or veggies then you can eat it, if for prepared mixes, then..don’t, just make it look like you eat them).
Just like us human, parents do some tricks to get their children to eat the new foods. A little psychology may come in handy.
Try Experimenting and be creative in presenting the new food to your pet. You may try to put the Bird Feeder in places where your pet birds actually hangouts a lot. For example, put the food between the gaps of the Bird Toys, or hang them above the cage or beside the bird perches, or with the Bird swing it really depends on how you do it and how creative you can get. You can get your very own bird gear like bird perches and Bird swings at aviariesdepot.com.au for they have quality products with good reviews.
Allow your pet to see other healthy birds eat the same food that you’re trying to make him eat (like videos on Youtube for instance). It will help your pet motivate itself to eat the new food.
Once your bird is already eating the pellets, you can offer the new pelleted food in the morning where your pet is the most hungry and then you can add the seeds later in the day or for only several 15-minute feedings (light snack) per day.
Take Note: once your bird begins to eat the pellets, their droppings will usually change from green to brownish color and may also become a little looser due to the extra water your bird drinks while eating the pellets. It is also ideal to try this process in young birds, for younger birds are more willing to try new things, especially different kinds of foods.
(Figure out your Bird’s Consumption)
As a pet owner, it is important to know how much your bird normally eats. If you care enough for your beloved bird, you should have an idea about it, right? So, before you switch your pet to a commercial formula, you might want to know the average amount of bird food your bird consumes every day.
To do that, every morning before you feed your bird, measure out and record the amount of seeds that you put into your bird’s plate, so by the next morning you can measure how much is left. Compute it by subtracting that amount left from what you have placed to determine how much your bird ate and repeat this procedure for a week (7 days).
After a week of testing, add all the daily amounts eaten by your pet and then divide that amount by seven (7) to determine the average daily intake. (If your bird dump much of her seeds out of her cage, then you need to take that in account too.)
(Determine your bird’s weight)
Since you have changed your birds diet, he might be hesitates to eat the new one. it is important that your pet won’t lose too much weight too fast. To know how your bird weighs, what do you need to do?
Of Course, you need to have a weighing scale. Not too big, just a small one that weighs in grams will be good enough. Start weighing your bird for two weeks straight, same time, every day before you switch your bird to a new diet and weigh it also every day during the switch.
It is important that your bird will not lose more than 1-2% of its body weight per week. If he does so, contact your veterinarian for help. Regularly weighing your pet after the diet shift will help you adjust the amount that you are feeding and also will alert you to weight changes that can indicate some illness.
(Success is based on persistence and not on luck)
Converting your pet bird into a formulated diet is one of the most essential things you can do for bird’s health. For smaller parrots, (such as Budgies, and Cockatiels), once you achieved a diet that is just 25% seeds (25% seeds, 50% pellets, and 25% fresh foods), you can now consider yourself successful.
On the other hand, for larger parrots, continue to decrease the seeds a bit more to 10% overall, (with about 50-60% are all pellets and the rest are made up fresh foods like fruits and veggies, and of course some yummy bird treats.
Going through the switching process may be very difficult, disappointing, time consuming, and even hopeless (not to mention all the pellets that are wasted and all the other things).
But always remember that all of these efforts will all be worth it at the end and you will be rewarded with a healthier and happier bird on a well-balanced and nutritious diet. A little bit of determination, and a little bit more of patience, you will achieve that success that you’re chasing so hard with your lovely feathery friend.