I know I am not the only person that has suffered through another crazy spring breeding season this year. I hate to use expressions like misery loves company, but I have to admit that while Linus was threatening to use my body parts as nest lining, I was glad to have those around who truly understood my frustration. This year has been hard on everyone it seems.
Thankfully, it appears to be drawing to an end for most of my birds. While their behavior is only somewhat improved, I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I can always tell the season is passing when I begin to see accumulations of molted feathers in every corner of every room. Molting season follows breeding season. It is a messy time, but you will not once hear me complaining about the extra cleaning – it is a small price to pay for sanity.
Aside from the obvious benefits of becoming reacquainted with the sweet birds that were jacked by spring hormones earlier in the year, there is something else to be thankful for: enhanced appetite. Following the breeding season and in support of the rigors of molting season, birds tend to gorge on food.
It is all part of a master plan: one of the main triggers for spring’s reproductive hormones is climate. Seasonal warmth and gentle rains results in plant growth and food abundance. Not only do moderate temperatures increase the likelihood of the survival of chicks, but accessible food restores the health of the parent birds after the challenges of egg laying and chick rearing.
Even for captive birds that have not experienced the physical stresses of reproduction, the season is rife with emotional turmoil and it takes its toll on the body. Feather production during the ensuing molting season is also physically taxing. Many birds will have a very noticeable increase in their interest in food during these periods.
I like to think as this as the time when nature rewards us for our tenacity and patience in surviving the preceding months. THIS is the most productive time of the year when it comes to bettering our bird’s diets. If you have a bird that is reluctant to try new foods, don’t let the season pass by unexploited!
It has been during this time of year that I have most successfully introduced foods to my flock that were previously ignored – for instance, no matter what I tried I couldn’t interest one of my birds in brussel sprouts.
Then one year, when my flock was already eating more heartily than usual due to the season, I decided to give them another try, but this time I used a bit more ingenuity.
I jammed several of them into the bars of each cage so they would be approached first as toys (all toys are explored by their mouth). The next day, preferred food was presented on a bed of brussel sprout leaves (to introduce them as a food choice). The third day, I pureed the brussel sprouts and drizzled some onto their favorite foods making them unavoidable.
A little sneakiness, combined with my birds’ willingness to try new foods because of their seasonally increased appetites, was all it took to make brussel sprouts a long standing favorite food with my flock. It only took a few days.
The time is now for some birds, it is around the corner for others. Watch your flock’s eating habits closely so you can seize this opportunity and used it to your advantage.
If you have a bird on a rotten diet who is fighting you every step of the way, please click here to learn how to make healthy changes.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.