Food

I deliberately titled this page as Food rather then Diet since diet is still one of the most controversial subjects in relation to our pet birds. PLEASE NOTE: THIS PAGE IS MY FEEDING PRACTICES AND MY OPINIONS. I AM NOT A VET, NOT A NUTRITIONIST. IT WORKS FOR ME!

Years ago, pet birds were fed an all seed diet with some just being fed sunflower seeds, not even a variety of seeds. This was often supplemented with corn. While some birds did seem to live quite well on this diet, many others had far too many medical problems. At this time, a few interest groups, looked at how we had formulated diets for dogs and cats and set to work coming up with one for our birds. We call these inventions "pellets" While I see the progression that pellets have made and will admit that pellets have to be more nutritionally sound then an *all* seed diet, I'm still unsure if they are the total answer. We have so little information on what most species eat in the wild, how do we come up with protein requirements, fat requirements, vitamin requirements etc.? I also look at all the different regions of the world our pet birds come from and wonder how one diet can do any bird. There would have to be a difference based on availability, climate needs etc.

I do use some pellets, especially when weaning babies, but I doubt they make up much more then 20% of total adult diet.

What I do feed. I like to use more of home cooked foods. A very important part of my birds diet is a cooked beans/rice/grains/veggie mix. There is leeway with this allowing you to do changes, make it a bit different every time. I will just tell you about my batch today for some ideas. I started with a 10 bean soup mix (no spices just beans and lentils) To this I added more Lima beans, Pinto beans, Black Eyed beans. I cook these *al dente* but make sure they boil for at least 30 minutes to ensure any bad enzymes in the beans have been neutralized. Today I cooked the beans with several handfuls of dried chili peppers. I rinse my bean mix after it is cooked even at the risk of loosing a few nutrients as it makes the mix look cleaner, crisper, brighter and more colorful, which my birds appear to like. To this I added frozen mixed veggies (corn, carrots, peas, beans) and more frozen corn. I then set about cooking some grains. I cooked some wheat and some oats, and also some amaranth and some quinoa. I also cooked whole wheat macaroni and brown rice and added this also. I then added some sliced almonds, some pine nuts, and some sunflower seeds. Voila! That was today's mix. I make a rather large amount and then divide it up and freeze it in individual day size freezer bags. This mix may still get changed on different days even with this base frozen. Some mornings I will add fresh broccoli to the mix or more carrots or chopped spinach or some chopped up fruit. A favorite of the birds is the days I add some scrambled egg to the mix. Some days I will add sprouts other days I will add a handful of pellets. You can easily vary this.

Another food I use that I believe is very nutritious is sprouts. Sprouts are called a living food. The sprout mix I use consists of Hulled/Unhulled Sunflower, Mung beans, Triticale, wheat, Adzuki beans, Buckwheat, Whole Oat, Safflower, Brown Rice, Garbanzo beans, Whole green peas, Lentils, Alfalfa Seed, Pumpkin seed, Radish seed, Red Clover seed, Fenugreek, Spelt, Kamut, Broccoli seed, Amaranth, Mustard seed, Flax seed, Quinoa and Sesame seed. Because I am motivationally challenged, I order this sprout mix from BlueSkyAviary in Alberta. My birds get sprouts about every second day.

I also bake a birdie bread which is used more as a snack material and they also get boiled popcorn kernels. That all said, my birds also get some seed. I feel that seed is important to their mental well being as well as providing some needed fat.

If you are interested in learning more about feeding your bird with whole foods I would like to suggest the book "Feeding Your Pet Bird" by Petra Burgmann (ISBN 0-8120-1521-5). This is just a small Barron's book jam packed with good and interesting information explaining all the nutrients required for health and their relationship with each other.

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