It is very common nowadays that people give their birds too much food.
This is more the case with parrot species than it is with other species of birds but it is the same principle that applies. There many more food products available on the market today than there used to be. I can remember over 30 years ago in the day of Birdworld, we even had to make up food for flamingos and all our birds from whatever feeds and foods were available. There wasn’t really such a thing as a specialised diet for a bird. Now there are so many specialised diets that it is very, very confusing as to what to feed your birds.
With this in mind, if you take things such as the parrot species, there are specie specific diets that are a good idea but there are many extras and supplements that you can feed and it is very easy to fall into the trap of over-feeding your birds.
For example, many years ago, when I had over 50 breeding pairs of African Greys, I used only half a mug of seed per pair of birds plus a tea spoon of Nature’s Harvest Soak Mix and a palm nut to feed each pair of birds per day. Fruit and veg were always available, but as you can see this wasn’t a lot of food and these birds were breeding birds.
Now the average person with a pet bird at home will often give their bird tit-bits, which isn’t a problem. Anything that you eat that is good for you is good for the bird, but anything that is bad for you is awful for your bird. However, all these tit-bits add up to a lot of food and it can be difficult to tell if your bird is overweight because your bird is covered in feathers and it is not very easy to see their muscles.
Having a tame bird that is a little overweight is not the best thing in the world, but may not matter too much. However, if they are heavily overweight then they can suffer from all sorts of fat related problems and a very heavy bird can die because of this.
It’s the same when you have a breeding collection of birds. With parrot species, there are a lot of people who want to do the best for their birds and they buy them wonderful diets. But with all parrot species, they should run out of seed half way through the afternoon (with fruit and veg available 24/7). If your bird runs out of seed mixture and food by 12 o’clock then they need some more. If there is loads of food left over the next day then you are overfeeding your bird and they will not have a balanced diet because the bird will choose whatever is easiest to eat. Sunflower seeds are not dangerous at all, but if your bird is overfed then they will eat more sunflower seeds because they are the easiest seed to eat.
Many collections, when I travelled around the world as an avian consultant, used to breed a lot of birds and then the breeding started to slow down. This was mainly due to the fact that they were giving these birds all these wonderful foods, thinking that they were looking after their birds in the best way that they possibly could, but at the end of the day they had too much food to eat. They looked in very good condition, but the male and the female birds were overweight. They went through all the actions for breeding, looked wonderful, but stopped producing fertile eggs and the percentage of birds breeding went down and down.
This can happen with small birds as well if they are overfed. Small finches and other small birds can all suffer from the same problem if they are fed too much food. It is normally slightly less of an issue with the smaller birds, simply because they are very active. As they are in cages and flights, they can move around and do a lot of exercise and in doing so, burn up a lot of the fat, so it’s not such a major issue, but you can still have the same problems.
With the breeding birds, it is always variety is the spice of life when it comes to diet – whether you’re talking about finches or parrots. A variety of feed is essential. In Birdworld, it was very clear to me, with all the species of birds we bred, small birds all the way up to ostriches, they were always happier and seemed to breed better when they had a variety of different things to eat in front of them. Just having a pellet isn’t very interesting for them. It is the same with all species of birds, with finches all the way through to parrots, variety is the spice of life – the more different things there to eat, the better, BUT (and it’s a big but), do not overfeed your birds. A little of everything is fine, but because there are so many different diets and so many different feeds around, it is very easy to overfeed your bird, which does them no good at all.
For more advice, please do not hesitate to contact Rob on 01252 342533 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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