Conversion of a Parrot (Seed Junkie) from Seed to a Pelleted Diet

Article : Calcium Metabolish in Psittacine Birds

There is no doubt that some makes of pelleted diet are more palatable and hence readily accepted by some species than others.

No one is suggesting that this is always an easy task. Birds accustomed to a sunflower or peanut based diet do actually become addicted to it, (conversion from burgers and chips to fresh salad and fruit is not always easy).

There are however some golden rules which may help. (These techniques are equally useful for the conversion of birds onto fresh wet diets).

  1. The keeper must start with the attitude ‘I am more stubborn than you are and you will eventually eat it’
  2. The keeper is not permitted to give up for at least 6 weeks.
  3. Never change the diet of a bird unless you know it is healthy.
  4. Give your bird its normal food for 10 minutes morning and evening.
  5. After the 10 minutes feeding time, remove the usual food, and replace it with a small number of pellets in the birds normal food bowl in its usual place. Also offer a bowl of mixed fruit and vegetable.
  6. Feeding is a social activity for birds, ensure the bird is close to you with its food in front of it when you are eating. The simple act that it sees you eating will create a strong drive for it to also eat at the same time. If it cannot eat what you are eating it will usually eat what is in front of it.
  7. If the bird is still not eating, place some of the pellets on your own plate and pretend to eat them. Once the bird sees what you are doing, offer a pellet to the bird.
  8. If after 6 weeks you have no success, try a different pelleted diet.

Can supplements alone solve health problems for a ‘seed junkie’?

Certainly high quality suitable supplements are a great benefit and will achieve a great improvement for seed eating birds. The key as ever is ensuring that the birds do actually consume the desired quantity of vitamins and minerals.

As most pet parrots are now hand reared, most of them will happily accept small quantities of soft food e.g. baby cereal off a teaspoon. They may take a while to get used to this, but in the authors opinion this is an invaluable tool to be maintained right from the time of weaning through out the birds life. Any bird which will accept a teaspoon of baby cereal daily or even once a week, is easily supplemented or medicated as necessary in later life.

One of the most significant problems in the treatment of sick birds is the administration of medication. In water medication is 11 very rarely recommended, whilst the voluntary acceptance of medication from a spoon twice daily, enables a bird to stay at home during therapy, so as to avoid the cost and stress of hospitalisation which would otherwise be necessary for the sick bird.


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