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  Valley Aviary

Breeder's of Eclectus Parrots, Timneh African Grey, Great Billed Parrot, Cape Parrot

AVIAN NUTRITION

In the wild eclectus parrots live on top of the forest canopy.  They are rarely seen on the ground.  They feed off the fruits and greens of the plants.  They are not able to break open a nut and are not nut eaters.  They do eat the seeds that are found inside the fruits they are eating.  Eclectus are also found eating clay from the clay licks.

Avian nutrition is very complex and their are many views as to what is best for our parrots.  Some people feel an all pellet diet is best, others feel all natural and no pellets are best.  One thing everyone agrees on is that parrots require more than seeds to remain healthy.

Our parrots need a variety of fresh foods from all food groups.  The pellets we give them need to be made for them.  Each species has its own specific nutritional needs and pellets do differ accordingly.  We also feed our parrots sprouts.  You have to be careful with sprouts as the seeds can contain harmful fungal, yeast and bacterial contamination. 

Eating should be fun.  Foraging toys are a good addition to any meal.  You can also make foraging toys by putting food inside a paper roll.  Or simply by covering up the food dish and your parrot has to work to get into it.  When starting with foraging toys - start with easy things and work your way up.  Your parrot is not used to looking or working for food and may not realize that is what is going on.  Use your creativity and have fun.  

Places to buy foraging toys:  Toys

If you are feeding pellets make sure they are always fresh.  Also always provide fresh and clean water.

Some foods that are toxic to parrots include:  avocado, raw onion, rhubarb, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, carbonated drinks, dairy products, processed meats, sugar, and salt.  

Avoid ethoxiquin.  This is a preservative that is used in some bird pellets and treats.  Check the contents labels and stay away from this ingredient for the health of your bird.  

"Ethoxiquin is manufactured by Monsanto and comes in containers bearing a prominent skull and crossbones with POISON in capital letters.  It has a toxicity rating of 3 on a scale of 1 to 6. The research that formed the basis of its approval as a preservative for livestock feeds was all done on animals raised to slaughter, none living longer than 2 years.  It was not done on companion animals expected to live long healthy lives."  http://www.dilligad.net/solidgold/whysg.html 

To get a bird who is used to a seed diet onto a healthier diet you should gradually lower the amount of seed and increase the amount of fresh fruits & veggies.  Include the veggies & fruit in their seed dish.  Over time there will only be veggies & fruit in their 'seed' dish.  Parrots need to become accustomed to a new item before they try it.  It takes time.  Never starve a bird.  Even a day without food is a big deal for a parrot.  Often it helps for the parrot to see another parrot (or you) eating the veggies & fruit.  

If you want to switch from seeds to pellets you can do the same as above or soak the pellets in very warm water and hand feed them to your parrot.  Once he is eating them this way you can put the soaked pellet water in a dish in his cage for him to eat out of.  Not to much water, he has to be able to reach the pellets.  Then gradually use less water until he is eating dry pellets.

To get your parrot to eat fresh foods (fruits & veggies) it usually helps for them to see you eat it.  Another method that Sally Blanchard explains in her book, 'The Companion Parrot Handbook' is a technique where you, the parrots favourite person sit down at the table with the parrot and another person, the person who the parrot competes with for your attention, it's rival is best.  Then you have the rival feed you in front of the parrot and talk about how good it is.  Repeat this until the parrot wants the food.  The parrot will become jealous and with time will also eat the food.  

We feed our birds a combination of Harrison's & Roudybush.  The pellets are always fresh and always made available along with fresh clean water.  Pellets make up around 5% of their diet.  No more than 9 pellets a day per bird.  The other 95% is real food.  For breakfast they get a bean/rice/veggie mixture and fresh sprouts.  In the late afternoon they receive fresh fruit and veggies chopped up.  They may also get a snack during the day and then a later supper.  But this is not necessary as in the wild adult birds eat twice a day.  Once a week they may have 1/8 of a boiled egg with the shell included, some pasta, some birdie bread, porridge, or whatever else happens to come up.  They do not always have the same bean mix, or the same fruits and veggies.  We pick up different food items to keep their diet varied.  Some things they like are: pomegranate, kiwi, grape, mango (no skin), papaya, orange, apple (no seed), banana, kale, celery, corn, plumped corn, broccoli, green peas, green beans, carrots, yams, squash, dandelion, cantaloupe (no skin), pumpkin, peppers, hot peppers, pears, berries, etc.

They may also get 1 Tbsp of budgie seed mix a couple of times a week.  

Make sure you wash all your fruits and veggies to get any contamination off.  Some foods may have insecticide residues on them.  Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and some people dip their items in Organic Apple Cider Vinegar first. 

For treats we give an almond.  No more than two a week.

Eclectus parrots need more vitamin A than other parrots so we give them foods high in vitamin A daily.  A deficiency in vitamin A can quickly lead to illness.  Also, excess chemical vitamins, preservatives and artificial food color agents in the diet can cause a variety of health, behaviour, and plumage problems in Eclectus parrots.  We do not recommend vitamin supplements.  As long as your bird is offered and eating a good pellet and has daily fresh foods there is no need for supplements.   

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NEVER give your bird chocolate, avocado, rhubarb, onions, caffeine, or alcohol. 

Articles on changing your parrots diet:  

bullet Converting Pet Birds to a Better Diet
bullet Many Articles on Bird Nutrition 

Pellets

Eclectus should not have more than 9 pellets a day.  They should not be coloured or artificially flavoured.  The main diet should be fresh foods, sprouts and cooked foods.  There are several well educated people who believe eclectus should not have pellets at all.  

When giving pelleted food you must make sure the food remains dry and clean.  It can develop mold toxins if it becomes moist.  Eclectus like to dunk their pellets in their water, for this reason we only give a small amount of pellets at a time and change their water regularly.

An Idea for Switching your Bird to Pellets (from seeds)

One idea is to take one part seed mix and two parts small pellets.  Mix together and add enough warm water to just cover the mix.  Let it soak a bit.  The bird will have to eat some pellets to get at the seeds.

Articles on diet:

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Diet Article 

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Toe Tapping Article

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Recipes

For a Diet Plan that Excludes Pellets (click here)

If you have a bird that is allergic to corn, peanuts or has a reaction to soy this is for you.  Also it is good for birds that pluck or for people who don't want to feed their birds pellets. 

There are links to articles on this page for more information on why not to feed pellets to your birds.    

For Birds that Pluck  (click here)

Many have found that removing certain foods from their birds diet as well as adding other foods has helped in reducing the feather destruction of their birds.  This page is a listing of those foods.  

FORAGING:  It's very important for your bird.  Click here to read more about it.  It has helped many birds that pluck.

Sprout Mixes

Our Baby Parrots

Our baby parrots are weaned onto a diet with a wide variety of fruits & veggies supplemented with pellets.   We only sell weaned parrots.  Your parrot is dependent on you to provide the basis for a long healthy life.  Proper nutrition is very important.  Parrots can suffer from diet related problems just as we can.  Do not feed junk food to your parrot.

Variety and freshness are the keys.  Pellets provide the necessary trace elements and vitamins.  The rest is up to you.  Parrots can become picky eaters.  Teach your bird to eat a varied diet from the day it comes into your home.  Mix all the food up in the dish so they can't be quite as picky.   Keep offering the food that is good for them, even if they aren't eating it.  They will eventually learn to eat it especially if they see you eating it.

Never offer grit of any kind.  It is unnecessary and can impact their digestive system causing death.  Never feed black sunflower seeds.  Vitamin supplements should not be fed as they have all they need in their pellets and can get to much.  Foods high in fat or sugar or salt should also not be given.

Your parrot can eat many of the same healthy foods you eat and will love to eat with you.  Some examples are scrambled egg, stir fried veggies, rice, whole wheat toast (no butter), a small piece of cheese, etc.

Pellets need to be fresh and be stored properly.  Before we purchase any pellets we check the expiry date and store them in a sealed container in the freezer.  We never purchase pellets from a bulk foods bin.  These could be contaminated or old.  Pellets with no preservatives, no artificial colours and no artificial flavours are the preferred choice.  Eclectus especially cannot have pellets with artificial preservatives, colours, or flavours.  We recommend your bird eat 95% fresh foods and 5% pellets.  Some birds prefer to dip their pellets in their water.  It is a good idea to place the water dish near the pellets to encourage pellet consumption.  Also make sure you clean the water frequently.

Adult parrots eat twice a day, but baby parrots often need to eat more often.  Please read the whole article and not just the section on the baby parrot as their is much in the top part that applies to the baby parrot.

Additional Reading:  Your New Parrot

Health

Once a year your bird should have a complete check up with an avian vet.  All the blood work, etc. should be done to make sure your bird isn't fighting any infections.  Once the bird shows signs of illness it is usually VERY sick and often too late.  Also, they should have their nails and beak trimmed at this time, if it is needed.  

It is also important to be able to recognise symptoms of illness in your bird.

bulletIf the bird has had a change in behaviour, is lethargic, fluffed up, sleepy, sitting on the bottom of the cage, change in vocal or eating habits,  etc.  
bulletWeight can also be a good indicator.  Any continuous weight loss should send you to the vet.  If you are using weight as a guide make sure you only weight first thing in the morning on a empty crop.  (before eating).  This way you are able to monitor it more closely.  Any 10% weight loss is serious. 
bulletDischarge from eyes, nose or mouth.
bulletMonitor the droppings.  Any change in the droppings can be a sign of illness.  Droppings do change according to what your bird has eaten.  Lots of fresh fruit will produce a more watery dropping.  Beets, berries, etc. can change the color.  Bird droppings consist of three parts:  two types of urine (urates - the white part; and the liquid part) and the feces.

To Monitor Droppings:

We use newspaper to cover the bottom of the cage.  It is changed every evening.  Sometimes the droppings look bad because of the color print on the back side of the newspaper.  Make sure you check that before you get alarmed.

Normal Droppings consist of three parts:

  1. Feces:  coiled or partly coiled and varies in color depending on what the bird has eaten.  From rich green to brown.  If you just fed beets it can have red in it.
  2. Urates:  This is the white part.
  3. Urine: This is the clear liquid.  The volume of liquid will change according to how much the bird drinks and if it has eaten lots of fruits.

Abnormal Droppings:

Once you get used to what your birds normal droppings look like you should recognize changes if they occur.

  1. Diarrhea - This is when the tubular feces looses it's shape.  Color changes or texture changes when there has been no diet change can be a warning sign.
  2. Undigested Food - is a cause for concern.  Make sure it is not just food that has been dropped on top of the droppings.
  3. Pale & Foamy Droppings - is a cause for concern.
  4. Change in the consistency or volume - can be a cause for concern.
  5. Green or Yellow Urates - could indicate liver disease or anorexia.
  6. Brown or Chocolate Urates - could indicate heavy metal or lead poisoning.
  7. Red Urine or Urates - could indicate internal bleeding.
  8. Increased Urates - could indicate dehydration.
  9. Increased Urine - while this could indicate disease it is more likely an indication of eating food higher in water or drinking more water."    
  10. A change in the color of the urine - can be a warning sign.

 

Safety

bulletIf you own other pets, never leave them and the bird unattended in the same room.  Other pets are often predators (dogs/cats/lizards, etc.) and the bird is prey.
bulletIf your bird is able to fly, watch out for ceiling fans, the bird getting outside, and other possible hazards.  
bulletDon't have the bird outside when there is a chance of a mosquito bite because of West Nile Disease.
bulletNever have your bird near a hot stove where it could burn itself.
bulletBirds are also prone to drowning because of curiosity and their love of water.  Make sure any aquariums are properly covered.  (this includes toilets)
bulletDo not cook with Teflon (non-stick) pans.  The fumes are fatal to birds.
bulletSmoking is also bad for your bird as is stepping on your hand if it has tobacco residue on it.
bulletScented candles, and air fresheners can also harm your bird.
bulletBasically, use lots of common sense. 

 

Air Purifiers

Lighting for your Bird

A Healthy Parrot Diet

By Sally Blanchard

Nutritious 'People' Food For Physical and Psychological Health, Feed a Nutritious Variety Every Day.

Examples of Foods In Each Group

Feed your parrot a variety of shapes, colors, textures, and sizes of natural foods from the following food groups. Percentages are approximate and there is some overlap in the food groups. Giving parrots too much of a 'Smorgasbird' of all different foods is usually not a good way to get a nutritious diet into them. Some days I feed nothing but high vitamin A veggies in the food bowl so my parrots have to eat something with this nutrient in it.

I also make mashes which contain foods with balanced nutrients. This way everything is mixed together in such a way that the parrot can not reject part of its diet. My 'glop' recipe is at the end of this article.

QUALITY PROTEINS - Up to 20%

Proteins are made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of life. Many protein sources are of poor nutritional value because they have an incomplete balance of important amino acids. Incomplete sources of protein may be combined with others to form more complete proteins - for example rice and beans.

Nonfat plain yogurt, nonfat or lowfat cheese in moderation, tofu, nonfat cottage cheese, and very hard boiled eggs. Well-cooked chicken, white fish, turkey, or very lean meats. Water packed tuna. Combinations of various grains, brown rice, enriched pasta, corn, nuts and/or various cooked beans. Commercially produced meal worms or insect larvae can also be a protein source for some birds. E xtruded or pelleted diets manufactured for parrots. I do not recommend monkey chow, dog food, or cat food since them have been manufactured for mammals - not birds. The protein/fat ratios are not formulated properly for parrots. Most mammal food contains a higher percentage of some minerals, particularly iron, which may not be healthy for parrots. The gut flora of mammals is different than parrots. Consequently, there does not need to be a greater control of gram negative bacteria in mammal food as there needs in parrot foods.

VITAMIN A VEGGIES - About 30%

High vitamin A vegetables are one of the most important foods you can get your parrot to eat. Although there are fruits that are higher in vitamin A than others, fruits are not generally as good a source as vegetables for this essential nutrient. Vitamin A is essential for skin and feather condition, eyesight, and helps the body fight infection by keeping the mucous membranes healthy.

A general rule of thumb is 'the darker the flesh (not the skin) of the vegetable or fruit, the higher the carotene content.' It is carotene that converts into vitamin A when metabolized by the digestive system. Veggies can be fed raw but are probably more digestible if they are cooked or baked. However, overcooking can destroy vitamin content.

The following are good sources of vitamin A.

Green Vegetables
Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, dandelion greens, water cress, beet greens, chicory, chard, parsley, green peppers, alfalfa, hot peppers.

Yellow-orange Vegetables
Sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, butternut squash, hubbard squash, acorn squash, hot peppers, red peppers, pumpkin.

Fruits With Decent Vitamin A
Peaches, nectarines, apricots, Japanese persimmon, cantaloupe, raw plaintain, papaya, sour red cherry.

Vitamin A is also available from eggs, meat, and many kinds of cheeses in the form of retinol but these should be considered in the other categories.

OTHER VEGGIES & FRUITS - About 15 to 20%

While these foods many not be high in vitamin A, they still have other nutritional value or psychological benefit as part of a varied diet.

Corn on the cob, peas in the pod, bean sprouts, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, leeks, artichokes, zucchini, green beans, okra, asparagus, beets, tomato, potato, apples, grapes, banana, guava, berries, pomegranates, tangerines, oranges, figs, blueberries, plums, kiwi fruit, cranberries, prickly pear, pineapple, etc.

WHOLE GRAINS - About 15 to 20%

Whole grain bread or toast, low sugar or unsweetened cereals, whole grain pastas, whole grain 'energy bars,' brown rice, low fat granola, wheat germ, wild rice, oat bran, amaranth, quinoa, triticale, plus whole grain unsalted chips, pretzels, and crackers.

CARBOHYDRATES - About 10%

Fruits, pasta, grains, bread, corn, beans, potatoes, peas, dairy, nuts, seeds. The last three items can provide your parrot with a small amount of fat needed in the diet.

SALLY BLANCHARD'S 'FAMOUS GLOP' RECIPE

The following recipe feeds my 4 parrots of various sizes and appetites for their morning meal. 'Glop' also makes a great handweaning food to finger feed your bappy.

*1 small jar of baby food carrots, sweet potatoes, or winter squash (I use Earth's Best because it is organic - they also have high vitamin A vegetable varieties with chicken and turkey. I occasionally use apricot, peach, or papaya baby food.) You can also use baked yams, winter squash or cooked, mashed carrots.
*3 slices of coarse whole-grain crumbled toast. (I vary the bread but use the healthiest bread I can find without sugar. I particularly like a jalopeno-cornbread loaf I buy at Trader Joe's.)
*2-4 Tablespoons of nonfat plain yogurt.
*Optional: 1/8 cup high quality handfeeding formula or a sprinkle of a spirulina or wheat grass type supplement.

Put in a large bowl and mash together until toast is saturated with baby food and yogurt and everything is evenly mixed. Consistency can be changed according to your parrot's preference. Mine like the toast chunky and the mixture thick - about the consistency of turkey dressing. 'Glop' is ready to feed - it does not have to be cooked.

Anything that is nutritious can be added to the glop for a variety in texture, color, and shapes. I will feed it plain or mix one or more of the following: finely chopped collard (mustard or turnip) greens, kale or broccoli flowers, grated carrots, wheat germ, oat bran, no sugar breakfast cereal, low salt V-8 juice, grated tofu-cheese, nonfat cottage cheese, chopped nuts or raisons, chopped very hard boiled egg, pasta, brown rice, well, cooked chopped chicken, powdered pellets.

Remember that any soft food will develop bacteria if left too long in the cage. I serve each batch fresh never use leftovers as ingredients. I never have to worry about this mushy mixture going bad because all of my birds eat it as soon as I put it in their food bowls. My grey, Bongo Marie, loves her 'glop; and my double-yellows, Paco and Rascal, have relished this food barely coming up for air when I feed it. The nutritious mixture as a part of their diet has kept them healthy for over 18 years. Their feather condition is superb. If you only have one bird and want to make the whole batch, the 'glop' can be rolled into balls or placed in an ice cube tray and frozen. Thaw as needed but don't overcook. Add any supplement after heating. If at first your bird doesn't like this nutritious mixture - keep trying.

Taken with permission from The Pet Bird Report.
 

Recommended Adult Diet/Routine

Breakfast:  Comprises of a cooked veggie/bean/rice mixture.  (recipe).  I often sprinkle crushed red pepper on top of it.  They love the crushed red pepper.  Don't leave the food in their cage for more than 4 hours.

Lunch:  Optional.  You could do grated carrot, apple (no seeds), banana, orange, pear, mango, etc.  Again remove within 4 hours.  Make sure their water and pellets are clean and fresh. 

Dinner:  Clean water.  Check their pellets.  Pull their food dishes and replace it with 4 or 5 of the following:

Macaroni, pumpkin, broccoli, grapes, apples, oranges, broccoli, celery, sweet potatoes (cooked), passion fruit, pomegranates, carrots, corn on the cob, peas, chillies, kale, mango, blue berries, any fresh dark green, red, orange, or dark yellow vegetable, 1/2 hard boiled egg with shell (not to often).    

Night-Time (before lights go off):  Pull the soft food.  Clean the bottom of the cage.  There is the possibility that the bird will eat the old food that is left in the bottom of the cage during the night.  This could cause a bacterial infection.    Replace water with fresh water, and check the pellets. 

An occasional almond may be given as a treat.

Pet Adult Eclectus should be fed at least twice daily (am and pm).  All food and veggies should be washed thoroughly to remove any insecticidal residue.  We cut up the fruit and veggies into bite-size pieces.  This is because Eclectus do not pick up food with their feet to eat it.  Uneaten portions should be removed (we do within 4 hours) to avoid bad bacteria from developing.  Sprayed Millet may be left in all day.  The pellets may also be left in all day, as long as they are fresh, dry and clean.  

Do not just top up their pellet dish.  Make sure you clean and dry it thoroughly before adding more pellets.  This is also true for their other food/water dishes.  If you are using Harrisons' you need to give fresh pellets daily as the old ones do get bacteria because they are organic.

We clean their water dishes three to four times a day.  Each time giving them fresh water.  Eclectus are notorious for having very dirty water because they like to dunk their food in the water dish.  It is helpful to place the water dish away from the food dish.  We are currently experimenting with glass water bottles that have a stainless steel tip/tube.     

New foods can be introduced gradually.  Make sure your bird is eating well.

Recommended Juvenile Diet/Routine

Same as the adult except that juvenile birds that are under 2 years of age often need to be fed three times a day and have a night lunch.

Alternate Diet

See Dr. Marshall's website.

bulletThe supplements to go with Dr. Marshall's diet recommendations are available in Canada from:  Lady Gouldian Finch
bullet Just for Birds or e-mail Jerry Schmidt

 

The Complete Pet Bird Owner's Handbook (Revised Ed    Read BEFORE You Buy or Adopt a Bird!    Avian Medicine: Principles and Application (Abridg 

 

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Last modified: November, 2007