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FEEDING - DIETS - TREATS
FAQ provided by rec.pets.birds

Comments, suggestions, chocolates to: Jodi Giannini (giannini@nova.umd.edu). This FAQ, as a collection of information, is copyrighted 1993, by Jodi L. Giannini, and distribution by means other than Usenet is by permission only. Removal of this copyright notice is not permitted.
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FEEDING - DIETS - TREATS


Q. What can I feed my bird?

A. For hookbill, a pelleted diet is a good choice, with seeds as a treat. Finches and canaries are naturally seedeaters, but should have greenfood as well. Finches also do well to have some live food occasionally. Some canaries (red-factors) need color food which is high in beta-carotene or uses an artifical coloring to maintain their red. Lories and other brushtongued parrots eat a special nectar. Toucans and Toucanettes need a diet low in iron and will eat livefood. You can feed your bird just about anything that is good for you, but birds seem to have a tendency towards vitamin A deficiency, so keep this in mind. Birds can eat fruits, veggies, low-fat yogurt, an occasional bit of cheese, lean meat--chicken and turkey are good, cereals like corn flakes or crisped rice, whitefish. An occasional nut is fine, but be careful as nuts are very fatty and peanuts which are moldy can give a bird aspergilliosis. Basically it seems anything that is good for you is good for your bird. There is raging debate over what exactly is a good diet, but it seems that a vet-recommended pellet diet, with a little seed, and a choice of fruits and veggies daily is a good choice. Each pellet in a pelleted diet has been made so that it is nutrionally complete. Also, there is a "pulse" diet, which is a mixture of seeds, nuts and various legumes (beans, etc) which is good as well. You can also feed your birds prepackaged diet supplements that are cooked, like Crazy Corn (tm). Most birds love stuff like that.

Q. Okay, then, what CAN'T my bird eat?

A. Chocolate, Alcohol, Avocado, Rhubarb and Caffiene are toxic to your birds. Never feed them to your bird. Some seeds and pits are also toxic, but seeds from melons are okay. Foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar are no-no's too.

Q. What functions are vitamins and minerals needed for? What are symptoms of deficiency? What foods provide these necessary dietary components?

A. Birds are just like people, vitamins and minerals, along with trace elements are required for growth and maintenance of homeostasis (regulation of body). A balanced diet will provide the nutrition needed. For charts and information in detail about avian vitamin needs, check books or get a copy of December 1992 Bird Talk Magazine. It features an article by Tom Roudybush, who developed Roudybush feeds.

Q. Does my bird require a special diet/supplements?

A. Certain species need special diets. For example, Lories live on nectar. African Greys are susceptible to Calcium deficiency, which leads to seizures. Birds which are molting need more protein. Breeding and brooding birds need a boosted diet too. Sick birds may require a diet different from the usual. Consult your vet.

Q. Do I have to feed my bird live food?

A. Live food--crickets, grubs, worms, pinky mice (hairless babies) are good sources of protein for breeding and brooding birds and pets. You can get them from pet stores or mail-order. Your bird may refuse to eat them.

Q. Do I need to use a vitamin supplement?

A. A balanced diet is always better than a poor one supplemented with vitamins, but there may be a case when your bird will need them.

Q. Does my bird need grit?

A. Welcome to the great grit gridlock. Everybody has a different opinion on this issue. The current opinion is that birds that eat mostly soft food and fruits don't need grit; a bird which eats mostly dry seeds will need grit. However, some people don't even give grit to birds which supposedly "need" grit. They claim that it makes the bird lose weight. There is also the danger of crop impaction when a bird is given grit. Birds kept in aviaries with dirt floors will pick granules off the ground, so it is not necessary to provide grit to them. If you do feel your bird may need grit, try to get a soluble kind, as it will eventually dissolve out of the bird's crop and in doing so will provide calcium and other such minerals. Oyster shell grit is ideal. A bird will only need a few grains of grit.

Q. What can I give my bird as a treat?

A. An occasional treat or reward is a nice thing for a bird. It might be a bit of favorite fruit/veggie. Cheese, a commerically prepared birdie treat, a spray of millet, a bit of people food (Sammy conure gets a teeny, teeny bit of pizza when we order one) a nut is a nice treat too, and it's fun to play with. Remember, if the treat seems miniscule to you, recall that you are much bigger than your bird, so adjust the serving accordingly.


HELP! My bird won't eat anything but seeds!
What do I do?!


Be patient. Some birds will just refuse to eat pellets outright. There's nothing to be done in a case like that. There are various opinions on how to convert a seed-eater to pellets. Cockatiels are notably the most stubborn. The process can take anywhere from two weeks to two years. You begin by mixing in some pellets with the seed and gradually, decreasing the amount of seed and increasing the pellets. Veggies and fruits have to be presented daily. Some birds will not eat sliced carrots, but will eat them shredded or whole. Keep this in mind when serving the bird. It may like its apple quartered instead of sliced. Experiment. Birds like things that are fun to eat. Peas in a pod, whole beans, melon is good, and birds love the seeds. Broccoli seems to be widely and nearly immediately accepted. Try skewering a fruit or veggie, and then not only is it food, but a toy! Keep trying. Some people just take away the seed all at once, and let the birds get hungry enough until they break down and eat the pellets. But you have to be careful, some birds would rather starve than try something new, or it might be that they are unable to recognize the pellets as "food" because it doesn't fit their picture of "food" (seeds). In such a case, watch for all-black droppings, it means the bird is starving to death. You may have to try different brands of pellets as well. Patience is the key to this, and well worth it. It helps the birds to lead healthier--and fuller, more active lives.


SOURCES FOR PELLETED DIETS


*Note: According to several netters, (actually their vets) the general opinion seems to be that Pretty Bird diets are terrible, and Purina is even worse. But this is all opinion.

Lafeber Company
BT7 92 RR#2
Odell, IL, 60460
1-800-842-6445
Lake's Ultimate Avian Diet
639 Stryker Avenue
St. Paul, MN, 55107
1-800-634-2473
Roudybush Feeds
P.O. Box 908
Templeton, CA, 93564
1-800-326-1726
Scenic Bird Foods
Marion Zoological Inc.
113 N. First P.O. Box 212
Marion, KS, 66861
(Avialable only through
Veterinarians, and certain
dealers)
Harrison's Bird Foods
c/o HBD Inc
1830 F Street
Pawnee City, NE, 68420
1-800-346-0269



SOURCES FOR COOKED SUPPLEMENTS


Crazy Corn
13330 Bessemer Street
Van Nuys, CA, 91491
1-800-BIRD-YUM (1-800-247-3986)
Flights of Fancy
1594 Hilltop Drive
El Cajon, CA, 92020-8227
1-800-776-MEAL (1-800-776-6325)



SOURCES FOR LIVE FOOD


Grubco
P.O. Box 15001
Hamilton, OH, 45015
1-800-222-3563
Rainbow Mealworms
126 E. Spruce Street
P.O. Box 4907
Compton, CA, 90224
1-213-635-1494 for inquiries-information
1-800-777-9677 (orders)


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