We’ve all seen the budgies and cockatiels at the pet store huddled over their dishes of bird seed, chirping or squawking happily with one another. Now picture a gathering at your home – a bunch of friends in your living room, enjoying snacks and treats. Sounds like a good time right? Of course it is! That stuff tastes great! But, we know that we shouldn’t be eating junk food all day every day and that we can’t survive off of potato chips or fast food (well, not if we want to be healthy anyway!).
Now let’s fly back to the main topic at hand: birds. The majority of our feathered friends are raised to eat seed-mix as their primary diet. Though common, Seed-mix is not a well-rounded diet for birds. Seems almost shocking, right?! Truth is, in the wild, birds eat a wide variety of food and some of that would include seed but not all of it. And let’s admit it, your bird picks out only the types of seed he prefers and tosses or ignores the rest (which makes his diet even less well-rounded). We’re not saying that you should eliminate seeds completely from your pet bird’s diet but because seeds are high in fat and low in nutrients, you should be offering a wide variety of healthy human foods and limiting seeds to more of a treat.
Now, here’s the tricky part: Getting your feathery companion to try different foods. Have you noticed that your bird is scared of anything new that you place in her cage? This is a survival instinct. Anything new or unusual could (in their mind) be a potential threat. That piece of broccoli you just put in the dish? It might try to kill her in her sleep (joking!). In all seriousness though, one of the challenges of varying your bird’s diet is that he/she is going to be weary of anything new. Don’t let this discourage you though! Think of your bird like a toddler: You may have to offer the same thing 5-10 times before they even look at it but before you know it, they love it!
Now you may be thinking – what kinds of foods should I be offering my bird? The general rule of thumb is: anything that is healthy for you is healthy for your bird! Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole wheat pastas and breads, cultured milk products, etc. Be sure to avoid Avocado as it is extremely toxic to birds.
The most important thing to remember when you are offering new foods to your bird is this: Rome was not built in a day! You must be persistent and patient with your bird. Try offering new foods in his/her cage or set up a little plate for her at the dinner table while you are eating (birds are social eaters). See if he likes his veggies cooked or raw, cut or whole, etc. Stick with healthy human foods and avoid our junk food (no pizza, pop or chips!). Have fun with your new food adventure and good luck!
On a final note, you may be wondering: What are the consequences of a seed-only diet? What’s the deal with pelleted diets (Harrison’s Pellets anyone?!)? How do I transition my bird to a healthier diet? We will cover these questions and more in future blog posts. Diet is such a huge and important topic when it comes to birds so stay tuned for more information on improving your pet’s diet!