I recently spent the day at another parrot enthusiast’s home, learning tips and tricks for the most nutritionally complete captive bird diet. Thank you Candie of Creature Connections for a fun and very informative day!
There are many misconceptions today about proper diet and nutrition for captive parrots. When the bird boom started thirty years ago, very little was known about what we should be feeding our birds. Many parrots have lived for years now on all-seed diets marketed by major pet brand names and pet stores. In the wild however, parrots are not living off of seeds, just like we are not living off of cereal (hopefully!). Pellets and a nutritious, varied fresh diet is the key to providing your bird everything [s]he needs to live a long, healthy life.
Feeding your birds healthy fresh foods does not need to be time consuming on a daily basis, either. Once a month, I take half a day to cook mash for my birds, then freeze it in snack sized baggies and defrost as needed. This takes about four hours, and makes enough food to feed my flock until the next mash-up (I have five birds). The mash I make is based off of the guidelines found on Feeding Feathers Yahoo group. This online group is an invaluable resource in learning about dietary needs, including the ratios you need to feed in order to provide a healthy balance of fatty acids omega 3 and 6.
“And how am I supposed to get my finicky bird to eat their fruits and veggies?” you may be asking right about now. There are many different “methods” to converting your parrot to a healthier diet of pellets, veggies, grains/legumes, and fruit. Some of these methods include slowly introducing new foods mixed in with the old, eating with your bird to model the behavior or having other, more curious birds in your home taste test and lead by example.
Personally, I have had a lot of luck converting my adopted birds by introducing new foods slowly, mixed in with the old, and by modeling the behavior (eating with them and making a big deal out of it). Since most birds are going to live at least 30-80 years, I think we owe it to our feathered kids to get them eating healthy! And with all those years ahead, we have plenty of time to work on the switch to healthier foods.