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Educate yourself about nutrition for your bird. A bird's diet is one of the single most critical factors contributing to a long and healthy life. Birds of all sizes need more than seeds to maintain good health. So what do you feed birds…..Pellets? Organic foods? Seeds? WHAT??!!

Well lets look at seeds first. Seeds are an excellent source of calories, a great emergency food that can be stored without refrigeration, and a good source of many vital nutrients. But a bird can't live on seeds alone -- any more than humans can live only on bread or rice -- and have good health. Seeds are a small miracle of nature and do deserve our respect. Sunflower and safflower seeds are two high oil seeds -- about 55 percent fat. Fat is necessary to keep the skin soft and feathers shining. Good small seeds -- millet, canary and groats -- provide plenty of good calories for small birds.

Vitamin A is perhaps the most common vitamin deficiency in birds. A seed-only diet is low in Vitamin A. A lack of vitamin A can cause respiratory illness and other infections plus a gambit of other problems.

Now lets take on the pellet diet. If you want to try a pellet diet first make a checklist of what is important to you: type and quality of ingredients; freshness; the research behind the diet; can you get a free trial sample?. Most pellet manufacturers have an 800-number and will discuss their products with you. Pellets are formulated and manufactured diets that are steamed. Usually clay is used to hold together the ground-up ingredients. Pellets tend to contain less fat and pack fewer calories, but still have the vitamins and nutrients your bird needs.

I know people who have their birds on a pellet diet and they are doing great. Healthy happy birds. I tried to get my birds on pellets (all older, adopted birds) and they hated the pellets. I did everything for a year or more. I even ate the pellets myself, licking my lips and making yummy sounds! My birds would not have anything to do with the pellets no matter what I did to introduce the pellets into their diet. So my birds eat food I cook for them and seeds. I also give them vegetarian formula Missing Link. They are also Happy and Healthy birds.

There is no magic formula for converting birds onto pellets. Some birds accept new foods immediately while others can take weeks, months and even years (and sometimes never). If you want to go the pellet route be consistent and innovative. Birds, like humans, can be reluctant to adopt healthier eating habits.

Organic foods that are free pesticides and chemicals are also beneficial for your bird's health. Organic fruits and vegetables, grains, pastas and legumes are great foods for your birds. You can cook a mix of these foods and freeze it in small amounts. What is important is that your bird gets a well balanced diet every day. Lots of fresh purified water and lots of love.

Things to look out for in your bird's diet:

-- Rhubarb and avocado are poisonous.
-- Fruit seeds and pits may be toxic. Remove seeds before giving fruit to your bird. Cantaloupe seeds are OK and birds seem to like them. Grape seeds and cranberry seeds don't seem to cause harm.
-- Sugar or salt can harm birds.
-- Alcoholic drinks can cause liver damage and death.
-- Chocolate contains THEOBROMINE, which is toxic to birds.
-- Uncooked poultry and meats can be contaminated with salmonella and other bacteria.

Remember no single diet will work for all birds. There are too many things you have to consider: the species of bird, its age, its past eating habits (good or bad) and its over all condition. By educating ourselves and trusting our instincts about good foods, seeds and pellets we can do our best to see that our birds eat well and wisely.

© 2001, Sandy Gaston. All rights reserved.


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Last updated:
10/25/2002 11:44 AM

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