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The following recommendations may not apply to all species and are meant only as a guideline. Certain species may have special requirements not included here. RECIPE: Get as much information as possible regarding the type of bird(s) that you own, put it all together, mix well with a dash of common sense, and then feed!

[Imagine: dryfoods.jpg]

My suggestions for a dry food diet consist of a good clean seed mix labeled for the right size bird (no wild bird food), hulled oats (oat groats), pellets, spray millet, and large mixed nuts. Even the smaller birds such as conures get halved walnuts which are a good source of Omega3 fatty acids. Otherwise, small birds unable to crack nuts get finely diced walnuts and slivered almonds. Many species are grain eaters in the wild, so should be offered different types of seed and millet spray. It is a myth  that seed is more fattening than pellets. Both can be fattening if overfed. It is also a myth that sunflower seed is fattier than safflower seed. A decadent treat that I give the birds once or twice a week are Mini Ritz Bits with peanut butter. They love it. Many cockatoos, greys, cockatiels, and Senegals like spray millet - both the regular and the mega millet - since they are basically grain eaters in the wild. I was shocked to see a Yellownaped Amazon eating a piece of millet that I added to their dish by mistake.

Dry diets (except pelleted diets) do need to be supplemented with a good vitamin/mineral/amino acid combo fine powder that adheres to seed. Nuts such as pistachios, pignolis (pine nuts), pecans and macadamias can be given sparingly for variety. Macaws' diet should consist of mainly mixed nuts in-shell, some seed mix and plenty of produce. Working to get nut meat out of a shell is all part of the joy a parrot or macaw gets from their diet.

IMPORTANT: Don't buy seed that has been sprayed with vitamins or adulterated in any way by vitamin processing. It can become rancid quickly. The shelf life on it may have already expired by the time you get it home. It's usefulness in vitamin/mineral supplementation is debated since the birds discard the shells. It may also destroy the good live nutrients of the seed. DON'T EVER REFRIGERATE SEED to keep it longer! Freezing is safer. Just keeping it in a plain brown bag or breathable poly bag should be a sufficient means of storage in most climates. Larvae is healthier than mold! Invisible mold will grow in a matter of a day or so in the refrig.

AMOUNTS: Weaned babies need to have extra amounts of food, especially if they are fully flighted and active.Small birds from finches to cockatiels need extra amounts of food because of their higher metabolism and activity.Medium sized birds such as conures should have at least 20oz. food and water containers. Larger birds should have no less than 30oz. cups for both food and water. All birds should have large enough water cups to bathe in.

[Imagine: fruitbasket2.jpg]

Fresh fruits consist of well scrubbed or rinsed fruits such as: grapes, bananas, apples, carrots, melon, grapefruit, oranges, cranberries, strawberries, blueberries ( Don't let them poop on you for a day or you'll have blue stains on your clothing.), pomegranates, pears, papayas, nectarines, mangos, and other unlisted produce. Frozen fruit is just as nutritious as fresh and in the summertime provides a refreshing cold treat for the birds. Just don't overdo their sugar content. Also do not use canned fruit if it's labeled with high fructose corn syrup.

When feeding very juicy fruits such as oranges and pomegranates, mix some CheeriOs (not too many because they contain too much iron) in the bowl with it to absorb the healthy juices. The birds love the tasty oat rings.

[Imagine: veggieline.jpg]

Fresh veggies consist of well scrubbed or rinsed produce such as: carrots, chicory (sometimes called curly endive - real curly dark greens, slightly bitter, birds love it), swiss chard, dandelion, sprouts, green beans, pod peas, snap peas, cooked sweet potatoes, raw or cooked pumpkin, all varieties of cooked squash, corn on the cob, frozen corn, warmed frozen mixed veggies, peppers, broccoli, kale, spinach, cucumbers, celery, and other unlisted produce.

For a large flock of birds, a nice recipe for a medley of ingredients is to mix brown rice, a small amount of shredded cheese, heated frozen mixed veggies, a seasonal fruit, and another seasonal veggie or leafy greens. This is a good way to introduce birds to new produce. In moderation, you can give them cooked eggs and even include the shells for the calcium, oatmeal, veggie pancakes (add frozen mixed veggies to them), bits of fish or chicken, spaghetti, plain cooked pasta, toast, pizza, and tastes of your cooked veggies. Just remember that they can't exist primarily on table food. Cheese, and other dairy products should be kept to a minimum because the cassein in them can obstruct the digestive system. Many parrot owners give their birds chicken bones, but this should be done rarely if at all since the marrow is loaded with cholesterol. The frequency of vascular and liver disease in young birds is frightening!

[Imagine: toxicfood.jpg]

Avoid any kind of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, chocolate, cocoa, dill, apple seeds, rhubarb leaves, raw beans, cabbage, eggplant, asparagus, honey, avocados, cessia cinnamon quills. If you must feed raisins, use only organic unsulphured raisins. See the explanation of avocado toxicity, and onions (garlic, chives and leeks are in the same family - err on the side of caution by also avoiding them).

There are several good manufacturers of pelleted avian diets who maintain good quality control of their products. Pellets provide a more balanced diet than that of special chop, mix and blend guessing game diets. Birds without a dietary supplement should have pellets available to them. Birds on seed diets should also have pellets available not only for extra nourishment but for crunchy fun. It may take a while to find the preferred pellet brand or type for your bird. Some like colored pellets and others don't. They also have preferential taste buds. Buy in small quantities until you find out what your bird(s) prefer.

AVOID: greasy foods, fatty foods, salty foods, or foods that are heavily supplemented with preservatives such as hot dogs. GMO foods such as corn and soybeans should be avoided if possible since the DNA in them actually contains chemical pesticides or fungicides.

HOT FOOD: Do not offer [Imagine: hot.gif] to the touch cooked foods. Birds' crops are very delicate and can burn easily. Microwaved food should be thoroughly checked before serving.

BEANS: Many bird keepers make a bean mix for their birds for extra protein, but I feel that the birds receive enough protein from the seed mix biscuits and pellets. Bean preparations also spoil rapidly in warm weather and must be removed right after eating. Most parrots don't require a high percentage of protein. Too much protein can have adverse irreversible effects such as gout and then renal failure. Moderation is the key with beans. I do add well rinsed chick peas to my birds' diet once or twice a week.

DRY UNCOOKED BEANS: - Do not feed them. Doing so can be very dangerous, as several varieties of beans are acutely toxic when uncooked. Varieties known to be toxic include soy, black, red, yellow wax, and kidney beans. Cooking destroys the hemaglutin toxin. I do give my birds well rinsed cooked chickpeas once or twice a week (up to 5 each).

BONES: Avoid chicken bones and any other meat bones since the marrow contains very high cholesterol.

SMOKE: Second hand smoke will have a detrimental effect upon the general health of your bird.

COOKING VESSELS: Non-stick pots, pans and utensils can kill your birds if heated beyond a certain temperature. Avoid using them.

VITAMINS: Since produce has approximately 30% of the nutrients that they did decades ago, it's wise to supplement your birds with a quality vitamin containing minerals and amino acids. With a well-rounded diet, you might only need to do this once or twice a week. An all-pelleted diet would not require supplementation.

NEVER put vitamins or supplements in the drinking water despite what the manufacturer guidelines state - because:

  1. Birds generally don't drink that much, so you don't know how much they are getting.
  2. They can cause bacteria to form quickly in the water.
  3. They lose potency quickly in water.
  4. If the bird bathes in the water, feathers can get sticky.

PROBIOTICS: A good probiotic or acidophilus will act to keep the bird's gut flora at a ph level for proper absorption of food. While it might not be necessary in most cases, it doesn't hurt and is necessary after a round of antibiotics or in a state of stress.

HERBAL REMEDIES: Use only if medically necessary under the advice of your vet.

AFRICAN GREYS: Perhaps because of the amount of powder dust that their bodies produce, African Greys can easily become calcium deficient. This can be manifested by seizures, poor muscle control and coordination, and falling off their perches. Don't assume that the cause of these symptoms is lack of calcium until you've had blood work done by your vet. Treating with calcium is tricky. Too much can result in death. This is why a well-balanced diet with vitamin supplements is so important.

ECLECTUS: Eclectus Parrots require a different diet of a large percentage of soft foods/produce to a lower percentage of seed. Pellets should be given very sparingly, and only non-colored pellets. Too much can cause toe-tapping and other unwanted habits.

LARGE MACAWS: Hyacinth and Greenwing Macaws need higher fat content. Their diets should consist of mixed nuts including high fat macadamias in shell, and plenty of produce including palm nuts. Scarlets and Blue and Gold Macaws should also have a diet of mostly nuts in shell and produce.

PARROTLETS: This small bird cannot tolerate pellets well and should be on a diet of seed mix and produce.
Source: plannedparrothood.com
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