Dried fruit or fresh fruit – which is best for your birds?

I am commonly asked whether people can feed dried fruit  to soft bills and parrots instead of fresh fruit – read on to find out the answer in my latest blog post.

Why choose dried fruit?

Many zoos and bird parks feed their birds dried fruit on a very large scale and often it’s much easier to do.

Dried fruit is almost as good as fresh fruit, and it can be bought in bulk, which is a very useful tool if you’re busy and want to give your birds something different to eat. Some people feed both as some dried fruit not easily available. The most common dried fruit to feed to birds would be raisins, which can be fed as they are to parrot species, or soaked overnight before being fed to soft bills.

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The main benefit of feeding your birds dried fruit is that it can give variety. In my days at Bird World, I found that variety in the diet is what birds prefer – it keeps them happy, and the more variety they have, the more likely they are to breed during breeding season.

Which option is best?

With all of that said, if you have the choice and money’s not an option, fresh fruit is always best when fed on a daily basis in my opinion, but dried fruit provides a good alternative to add variety.

If you have any problems or questions, please contact Rob Harvey using the details below:

+44 1252 342533

rob@robharvey.com

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Alan Jones Bird Vet on Mite Predator

Alan Jones Bird Vet and Avian Veterinarian has welcomed this product as an effective solution to an age-old and vexing problem to all bird keepers. Rob Harvey

Rob Harvey Specialist Feeds have been working on this exciting non chemical product to bring to the market new way of eradicating Red and Northern Mites and therefore paving the way in sourcing and supplying products perfect for the welfare and care of birds.

Mite Predator

 

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Mite Predator is biological control method to control mite population on your birds. At last a solution to eradicate Red and Northern Mites and nature has given us the answer! Mite predators are mites which survive by eating other mites, their larvae and eggs as well. This is their only purpose and they have no interest at all in birds themselves, but will eat red and northern mite they find on poultry, racing pigeons, babies and exotic birds finches and canaries. They will travel over a meter from where you place them to find food and will breed while they are finding mites to eat. When there are no more mites to eat they will die. Mite Predators are a live product and they come in a media which will keep them active for up to 10 days until you release the into your bird room, but as soon as you receive the predators they should be used straight away for maximum effect. These are live mites and chemicals used to kill mites will kill them too. Your bird room should be FREE from chemicals for these to be effective. If you have treated your bird room, PIGEON LOFT or CHICKEN COOP but you have mites in your nests then simply add a teaspoon of the predators to the nests and they will immediately start eating all mites, pupae and mite eggs. Once the nests have been cleared predators will continue their travels looking for more mites to eat.

+44 1252 342533

rob@robharvey.com

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Feeding Fruit and Vegetables

I get a lot of phone calls from people who want to feed fruit to their birds, especially parrots, but who are having a lot of problem in getting them to eat the fruit and vegetables.

Obviously it’s very important for parrots to have a good balanced diet and the main reason for not eating fruit and vegetables is simply because they have too much food in front of them. It’s the same as getting your children to eat fruit and vegetables. It’s very good for them but when there are other things on offer, crisps or chocolates you name it. children will not eat fruit and vegetables.

With most species of birds but especially parrot species the key to this is to make sure they have a variety of different foods in front of them but not too much of it.

There are so many good foods on the market these days that is very easy to think that you are doing best thing for your parrot by buying them all these wonderful foods, especially when you have natural foods like palm nuts to feed them and all sorts of dry fruits. What we need to consider is how much food a parrot actually needs to eat during the day and also keep in mind how many tit bits you give your bird as well.

As an example of how much a parrot can eat: if we look at a parrot of size of an African Grey – many years ago I had 53 pairs of African Greys and I was amazed how little they actually eat in 24 hour period. Over a 10 year period I use to monitor birds, manage their weight to make sure they were not getting too fat or too thin and the average amount of food a pair of birds ate was half a mug of good quality seed mixture to this I added a teaspoon of nature harvest soak mixture, to give some variation and fruit and vegetables and one palm nut a day. This was for two birds as you can see that’s not a lot of food at all.

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With this food I always gave them fruit and vegetables. It depended on various things whether they would eat it, therefore limiting their food so they ran out of seed half way through the afternoon then would be hungry and be much more tempted to eat some fruit and vegetables. Some parrots like African Greys may be the worst ones in the world to try to get to eat fruit and vegetables, but it should always be there for them.

You need to keep in mind if it’s a pet parrot, what do you feed them? Do you leave the food bowl full all daylong? This is a mistake because they will not eat anything else than what tit bits you give them during the day. Giving tit bits to them is a very good idea to keep them tame but if you giving a lot of nuts with a lot of fat in they will not need a lot more food.

So think about a 24-hour period or write down exactly what you feed and then look at the quantity of food in one go. Compare that to what I was feeding breeding birds: half a mug of seed per pair of birds per day and you will probably find out you are giving bird too much food.

As soon as you are feeding a bird too much they will pick and choose what they want and they will throw everything else out. Think like a child, on table you offer healthy meal – meat, vegetables and at the same time there are chocolates and crisps on table and they have a choice it is certain that child will go for all the bad things and all good things will be left.

So, you must be cruel to be kind!? But to get your bird to eat fruit vegetables limit the seed and other food you give them so that they do not have much during the 24 hour period which will guarantee that they will eat the fruit.

There is also an interesting note. At certain times of the year my breeding birds did eat more fruit if they were about to breed or lay an egg. Often they would suddenly eat some of the vegetables and at other times of the year when they were not of breeding sometimes they ate fruit at other times they never touched it at all, so in the year period their likes and dislikes for fruit and vegetables even when not getting fed too much seed does vary a lot. Any problems or questions please contact Rob Harvey.

+44 1252 342533

rob@robharvey.com

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Feeding my Parrot a Balanced Diet

Almost on a daily basis I get phone calls from customers who want to feed their parrot a balanced diet. Often their birds are fat or they will not try many different feeds and they phone asking ‘have you got another diet?’ or ‘have you got a different diet?’.

We sell large number of diets but in these cases its not really to do with buying the right diet. If you feed your bird a diet and they immediately go for the food and eat everything you might think you have the right diet for your parrot.   Its not that simple.  If you feed your parrot a very high sunflower diet with hardly any other ingredients in it, they would ‘love it’ and they would eat nearly everything but as most people are aware that is not best food to feed your parrot. The most common problem is over feeding.

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I can remember when I used to breed a large numbers of African Greys when I was working at Birdworld and I would only give each pair of African Greys half a mug of seed plus some fruit and maybe a palm nut and that was their diet every day. If you think carefully about that, it is not very much seed that that parrot is having. It is a very common mistake when you have your parrot in the cage to fill the food bowl up with food thinking you are doing the right thing for your bird.

But the chances are that would be far too much food. If you think about it, the bird has seed in the bowl or pellets, and then you are giving the bird tit bits during day too, maybe a nut, maybe small piece of food that you are eating. Think about what your parrot is eating in a 24-hour period. Chances are it could be a lot more than what they need.

The problem with giving them too much food is that they are like a child and they will then pick and choose what they want to eat. This will not produce a balanced diet. With nearly all parrot species I would recommend giving them a diet with many different ingredients in it, as variety is the spice of life for us as well as for parrots. The more ingredients they have the more chances it is of a balanced diet. If you give them a very good quality seed mixture, maybe with a few pellets in it, they should run out of seed half way through the afternoon. If your bird has seed and food in front of it 24/7 it will not have balanced diet cause it will choose bits that it likes which will be probably the ones that are not best for them like sunflower seeds. Your bird will leave everything else and throw it on the floor. This is a common complaint when people phone up about how much is wasted but it is due to the fact that bird is fed too much in the first place. If you feed them the correct amount of food they should run out of food half way through the afternoon. Also take into account what extras you are giving your parrot because they do not eat that much in a day. If you giving a correct amount of seeds but then every hour or every two hours you giving them tit bits you may find that the tit bits your are giving them are is all the amount of energy in food they need in a 24 hour period.

So in most cases I would restrict how much food you give them this way they are more likely to try all the different bits of the diet that you give them and this way they are much more likely to be easier to be trained when you give them tit bits. It does vary ​for different birds. Some birds, which are fully winged, use more energy so may eat more as with human beings some people eat a lot more then others and never seem to put any weight on and there is a variation with birds as well.

The good general guide would be make sure they run out of seed or food half way through the afternoon. They can have fruit and vegetable in front of them 24/7 as that’s not a problem  They’re never going to starve. If they run out of food by midday give them a bit more however if the following morning when you go to feed your bird there is food left over you are over feeding your parrot and you need to cut down their diet slightly. You are always better off buying the best quality diet you can possibly get for your bird but it does not mean that it will cost you any more because if you are giving them the right amount of food you will not actually be feeding as much as what you think.

Any questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact myself, I will be glad to help.

+44 1252 342533

rob@robharvey.com

Rob Harvey on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest

 

Mixing Different Species in an Aviary

I often get phone calls from people asking about having mixed flights with various different birds in there: Can I have this bird with this bird? Will they be ok?  Will this work?

There aren’t really any set rules on which species can go together, but there are guidelines that can help you in this situation.

Many years ago, when Raymond Sawyer was alive, he had aviaries around his house with all sorts of different species together, when most people would say you can’t do that as they will fight.  But he was a brilliant bird man and he knew his birds very well and he would study them.  You often find you can put different species together, especially outside of the breeding season.  The problem comes when you’ve got say a large aviary with softbills in it, with starlings, ground birds such as Plovers and Touracos and all sorts of exotic birds.  They can be fine outside of the breeding season, but as you come into the breeding season you need to make sure that there is plenty of food available, and that food is available in several different places so that the large birds and the small birds are not going to the same area to feed.  You also need to ensure that there is adequate places for all the birds to nest.  Basically what you are trying to do is to avoid confrontation between the birds.  It is very easy for one pair of birds to start claiming a territory in the aviary and this can cause problems.  So in these situations, someone like Raymond Sawyer would study these birds very closely.  If one bird or perhaps one pair of birds was disrupting the aviary, they would get moved to somewhere else and really it’s this sort of studying of the birds that makes the difference.

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With other species of birds like parrots, you can have several different species in an aviary.  I can remember in the days of Birdworld we created a very large aviary and in this aviary we put species of cockatoos, macaws, amazons, african greys… all sorts of different parrots together.  When you do this, again you have to keep a very close eye on the situation.  If you’ve got breeding pairs in there they can cause problems if they mark a territory and the other birds draw close, but if there are plenty of nestboxes and plenty of feeding stations it can be ok.

It is very common in these situations for one bird, perhaps who is weaker than the other birds, to get picked on.  You have to watch the situation closely and remove any birds that may be getting picked on.  At the same time at the other end of the scale, you can have a situation where you have an extremely dominant bird or pair of birds and in order to have a mixed enclosure of parrots, these may also have to be removed.

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Once you’ve kept an eye on it and you’re in the breeding season, you can be fairly sure that everything is ok.  It is always a good idea to have plenty more branches in there, especially around the feeding stations so that there is plenty for the birds to do, to land on and to chew and to keep them very, very busy all the time.

There is nothing more wonderful than having an aviary full of different birds in it.

I can remember another aviary in Birdworld in the seashore walk where there were all sorts of plovers, oyster catchers, spoonbills, night herons, and many other different birds together.  It all worked very well but occasionally in that aviary you would have a bird become very tame.  More than once we had oyster catchers, who can be fairly tame (especially when the general public are walking around all the time), become very tame – and a very tame bird sometimes can be picked on by the other birds.  Whether this is a jealousy thing, or whether they become too humanized, I’m not quite sure but it’s something else you have to be watchful for.

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Also in a mixed aviary of softbills, like the seashore walk, you will need planting to provide different areas so that the birds can get away from each other. This all has to be taken into consideration.  There is a lot of experience required to produce an aviary for mixed birds.  For many years I travelled around the world, designing aviaries for this purpose.  Aviaries where you can view the birds and enjoy the magnificence of these creatures, but at the same time have an environment where the birds can breed, be happy and will not fight.  This is difficult to explain over the phone, but hopefully these guidelines will help you if you want to go down that path of having a mixed aviary because indeed a mixed aviary in your garden is much more interesting and wonderful to see than aviaries of just one species of birds.  You do have to watch how they interact but the interaction between them, if it’s not violent or a problem, can make a wonderful display and often mixed birds in an enclosure can breed very well indeed.  Perhaps it’s a more natural way of keeping birds, but the mixed aviaries that we had in Birdworld did work extremely well.

Any questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact myself, I will be glad to help.

01252 342533

rob@robharvey.com

Rob Harvey on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Overfeeding your Birds

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 rob@robharvey.com

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Basic Supplements

All birds do need some sort of supplement, a multivitamin being the basic one.  This makes up the difference in what’s missing from their diet in captivity to the one in the wild.  I get phone calls all the time from customers and people asking for advice on what to feed, and basically you need to     keep it simple.

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Whether you have a budgerigar, an ostrich, or any sized bird in between, they do need a vitamin supplement.  A basic powder vitamin supplement, a good quality one, such as the Harvey’s Multivitamin 50g, is fine for all species of birds.  A pinch of this on their seed in their diet everyday is what is required.  A very small amount but they do need it every single day.

For most birds this is the main supplement that will be required.  We do do a vast range of supplements on our website from Quiko – all for slightly different purposes.

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The second most common supplement would be a calcium supplement such as the Harvey’s Liquid Calcium 60ml.  During the breeding season, one or two drops of this in the water twice a week is what’s required, unless you have a bird like an African Grey where they would need this all year round as they have a higher rate of absorption.

People often what else can I feed as a supplement to my bird?  With parrot species, any fruit or vegetables, especially things like palm nuts, which are a natural foods are excellent for them.  And with this type of food, you can’t really overdo it.  What you must be careful of with parrots species, is there are so many different diets on the market that you don’t give them a bit of everything and they end up so overfed that they just pick and choose what they want and then they don’t have a balanced diet anymore.

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For small species of a birds in a large aviary, sometimes it’s best to have a liquid vitamin supplement to put into the water – but do be aware that if you have water in more than one place or they eat a lot of fruit, they may not drink very much.  So although this can be done and work successfully, often it’s better to use a powder supplement which again you can put onto the seed (because with parrot species and small bird species you know they will go for the seed!).  Although some of the powder supplement is wasted, enough goes into the bird for what you require to keep them fit and healthy.

If you’re concerned your birds are lacking in anything whatsoever, please do give me (Rob Harvey) a ring on 01420 342533, I’ll be happy to advise on our vast range of other supplements and which ones may be suitable.  It is difficult on a blog to recommend them all!  I would however recommend going to the website as well.  There are various supplements, such as the Vitamin E supplement (a lot of people recommend this in the breeding season to get birds to breed), and the Spirulina, as well as many others.

It’s very confusing, but I’m happy to help!

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