Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tips on Converting a "Seed Junkie"

Hi Sandee, I would like to know if this issue with my parrotlet is something to be concerned about or not. I have read in your book and blogs about parrotlets that they require fresh vegetables and fruit everyday to maintain a healthy diet. I have tried offering almost every possible vegetable and fruit to him, both chopped up in tiny pieces and whole, and he doesn't want to have anything to do with them! I have tried mixing them with his favorite seed mix, but he just flicks the veggies and fruit out of his food bowl with his beak! I have noticed that he particularly likes sunflower seeds and millet, so I add vitamins to his water daily to compensate for the lack of nutrients. He obviously wasn't exposed to fresh food while he was being weaned; is it possible to get him to like them now? I have thought of removing the seed mix for one day, and just offering a bowl of mixed veggies, but I don't want him to starve to death if he refuses to eat it? Any suggestions would be much appreciated. He seems to be a healthy boy, but I am wondering if he will have health issues later on from being on a strictly seed diet? Thanks Sandee! Sincerely, Monica Dear Monica: Thank you for your email. I have been writing on this subject for more than two decades – ever since we first imported wild-caught adult parrotlets that needed to be converted to food they had never seen before. While the first article I wrote was on identification of species, the second was diet and how to get them to eat healthier. I have included various tips in all three of my books, in my blog and on my website. Basically, it takes time, patience and a little ingenuity. First, parrotlets do learn to eat things by playing with foods before they consume them. They are Nature’s ‘reforesters” and have a symbiotic relationship to be wasteful with food. The grabbing, biting, chewing and flinging of food allows them to taste the various foods along with the textures and this is how they learn what to eat. Flinging it about helps redistribute seeds and plant material which is required in Nature to keep a health environment. As for getting your bird to eat a better diet, which is vital for a healthy, long life, let him eat and play with his food. Offer thawed frozen peas and carrots with a little millet or other seed sprinkled on top. When you see him starting to eat that, then you can add more healthy foods such as carrots and broccoli. Also, feeding foods with seeds in it such as kiwi, strawberries, melon, zucchini and peppers will also encourage him to eat the plant material as well as the seeds. Sometimes the form in which the food is presented such as shredding or mashing it can help. Stringing chunks of fruit and vegetables on things like Birdy Kabobs or baking it into bread can all be offered. Cooked fresh foods such as Beak Appetite also can be fed. So try various things. Eventually you will figure out what your bird likes. Best of luck and I hope this helps. Sincerely yours, Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S. The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner, Join the International Parrotlet Society, – the World’s Largest and Oldest Parrotlet Organization A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest. Camaroonian Phrase ________________________________________

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