The following information has been provided by Dr. Jill M. Patt, DVM practicing in Mesa, Arizona. She has been keeping and raising exotic birds for years, providing her a unique knowledge and understanding that goes beyond that of a regular vet who does not have the benefit of daily interaction with birds / parrots.
It is important to provide the best possible nutrition for your particular species of bird to allow for a healthy immune system and prevent the stress of vitamin and nutrient deficiences. Realize that all birds are not the same and cannot eat the same diet. Ideally, I like to offer a variety of foods that include a organic and color free avian pellet, a large variety of fresh veggies, and a small percent of fresh fruits and seeds.
The following are a few dietary generalization on some individual species, but again it is important that you speak with your veterinarian and do research on your bird prior to making any changes.
In general you need to provide a large variety of fresh food for your bird.
Typically I recommend a core diet of an organic and color free parrot pellet. A large variety of fresh vegetables should be provided for both nutrition and mental stimulation.
- Information about organic foods — a listing of the most and the least contaminated food items, as well as handling tips.
A small amount of seeds can be provided as a treat. Seeds should be clean and fresh. Sprouted seeds can also be offered and are a good way of introducing greens to the stubborn eater.
Added by AvianWeb:
Sprouted or germinated seeds are usually more easily accepted by “seed addicts” than fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Sprouted seeds are healthier as the sprouting changes and enhances the nutritional quality and value of seeds and grains. Sprouted seeds are lower in fat, as the process of sprouting utilizes the fat in the seed to start the growing process – thus reducing the fat stored in the seeds.
- Sprouted seeds will help balance your bird’s diet by adding a nutritious supply of high in vegetable proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and chlorophyll.
- Soaked and germinated “oil” seeds, like niger and rape seeds, are rich in protein and carbohydrates; while “starch” seeds, such as canary and millets, are rich in carbohydrates, but lower in protein.
- It is an invaluable food at all times; however, it is especially important for breeding or molting birds. Sprouted seeds also serve as a great rearing and weaning food as the softened shell is easier to break by chicks and gets them used to the texture of seeds.
Again, variety will occur with the individual types of macaws.
However, in general these birds require a higher fat content in their diet which can be provided with some of the large nuts as a part of their regular diet.
Greys are often subject to calcium deficiency and will require higher calcium content in their diet then other birds.
The best way to provide this is by providing calcium rich foods such as cheeses and Yogurt in moderation. Greens such as collards, kale, and mustard greens provide a healthy source of calcium. Another source is from almonds and dairy products in moderation.
Eclectus often require more vitamin A in their diet than other birds, but you must be very careful with supplements because it is easy to create Vitamin A toxicity. Again, providing natural sources of Vitamin A is best.
Vitamin A promotes appetite, digestion, and also increases resistance to infection and to some parasites.
The most obvious sign of a vitamin A deficiency is a feather stain above the cere. The staining of the feathers above the nostrils reflects a discharge from the nostrils. Subtle differences may be seen as far as the color intensity of the cere and feathers is concerned – and the overall condition of the plumage. A bird deficient in this vitamin may have pale, rough-looking feathers that lack luster. The cere may look rough instead of smooth, and you may see an accumulation of a yellow dry scale on the sides of the beak.
Vitamin A is found in dark leafy greens and orange-colored produce, such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins, apricots, cantaloupes, carrots and red pepper. Sweet potatoes – either cooked or steamed until soft – and mashed up with other fruits are usually readily accepted by birds. Many even enjoy fresh carrot juice or shredded carrots. Natural sources are generally preferable over synthetically produced nutrients, which may not be absorbable and could easily be overdosed.
Small Birds: Budgies and Cockatiels:
These guys are my exception to the rule of pellets.
In general I like to place my avian patients on a complete balanced pellet, but for budgies and cockatiels I recommend that the pellets be no more than 50% of their diet with fresh/clean seeds offered daily and of course fresh veggies.
Food Items Not to Feed to Birds, or only in Moderation
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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