I only want to take my birds to the vet once a year – for their annual well bird exam. Even with the excellent diet my parrots enjoy, things happen that are beyond my control that cause me to have to bring them in for unscheduled maintenance.
There was one year that I made a total of 16 visits to my vet in a nine month period with the same bird, over the same issue. I was still paying for those visits well into the next year. There are so few things in life that we can control, that it doesn’t make any sense to let the things we can influence slip through our fingers.
When we offer a great diet EVERY SINGLE DAY we can exercise control over the health of our birds. I try to be on top of these things because I want my birds to have the best possible quality of life and I don’t want to be the reason my vet drives a Mercedes.
The 5 all time worst parrot diets
An all seed diet – There is such a love/hate reltionship with seed in the parrot world. On the one hand, seed has merit. It is part of the wild parrot’s diet, especially the smaller birds, and it does have purpose nutritionally. It should be PART of the diet. (We like it to be the training reward part to keep its consumption under watchful moderation.)
On the other hand, it is incomplete dietarily. It can’t come close to sustaining a bird’s health on its own. And, sadly, in many homes, it is expected to do just that.
The bird that lives on seed has access to certain minerals and EFAs, but almost none of some of the vitamins that are essential to good health. On its own, it is a high fat diet that leads to obesity and other health issues.
An all pellet diet – Like the all seed diet, an all pellet diet is insufficient. Pellets are produced with the good intention of providing all the nutrients a parrot needs for good health, but most fall way short of the mark.
Heat in processing eradicates most of their useful nutrients (Feed Your flock pellets DO NOT use heat in their processing) making many pellet brands overestimated in value.
The different pellet brands, not designed with any particular species in mind, typically have too many of one nutrient and too few of another. And because of the nutritional inadequacies of an all pellet diet, liver disease is waiting in the wings, so to speak.
A human food diet – My birds turn into Stretch Armstrong trying to get a look at what’s on my dinner plate. I would love to share it with them but it is likely to have been prepared for human consumption with butter, salt, sugar or sauces.
Once you begin offering human foods, in all their buttery glory, you can never again expect your parrot to accept them raw and unadorned, the way nature intended them to be eaten.
Humans have deplorable dietary habits. It’s amazing we can keep ourselves alive to look after our birds.
A high fat/calorie diet – Whether its human food or parrot food you are giving your bird, you can count on health problem arising from the high fat diet.
Parrots, given their own choice, will go for the nuts, seeds, dried fruit and the packaged parrot snacks before the broccoli every time. Even if your bird has no qualms with broccoli, the pull of the seed is stronger and will always win.
Common sense will tell you not to give a child the choice between an apple or a Snickers bar for a snack. Same with birds. It is up to you to push the diet in a healthy direction.
A diet with only 1 or 2 types of food – Here’s one you may not expect: “My parrot LOVES carrots and would happily eat them all day long.” Good diet, right?
Sorry, no! Carrots are great. I love carrots. I love birds that love carrots. But they aren’t so great that they can do the job all by themselves.
Carrots are loaded with beta carotenes. The body coverts that to vitamin A which is essential for the good health of your parrot. That’s a wonderful and important benefit to the parrot diet. However, what about vitamin C? Or K? What about minerals? There is no one food that can guarantee your parrot good health on its own.
So, what is a GOOD parrot diet??
The very best parrot diet is the one that is most widely varied and that includes foods from the different food groups that are applicable to parrots. There is a huge list of foods to choose from. Unfortunately, most people feel unsure of themselves and avoid them.
The Birdtricks facebook fans are a pretty savvy bunch when it comes to bird care, but every now and again, someone would post that they gave their bird a hot dog or something. Sometimes, Jamie and I would just look at each other and shake our heads in disbelief: is it possible that people are still that unaware about the parrot diet? The more we investigated, the more we found it to be true.
We realized that somehow the message was NOT getting out to bird owners. And with the types of questions we receive here at Birdtricks and on Facebook, it was evident that people were unsure of how to use the information that was getting through.
We made a list of the problems being faced by the average bird owner and recognized the 5 biggest areas of concern in the parrot diet:
- What we can and should feed a parrot
- How to safely prepare these foods
- How to get a picky bird to try the different healthy foods
- What preventative measures to use to avoid potential health issues
- How to maximize the diet of a bird with an existing health problem
With the resolution to the Womach flock’s recent health problems fresh in our minds, we put together Cooking For Parrots which is a compilation of the information that every owner needs to have to feed their birds appropriately and safely.
We logged in hundreds of hours in the kitchen creating over 100 recipes for what started out as a book, but became a full blown course on diet and nutrition.
If you are having trouble with your parrot’s diet, whether it’s coming from your end or your bird’s, I urge you to get this book. Knowledge on proper diet is the most powerful tool you have in managing your bird’s health.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.