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1 oz (28.35 g) Sunburst Millet Bits Treat for Small Birds by Higgins 1 oz (28.35 g) Sunburst Millet Bits Treat for Small Birds by Higgins
$1.50
5 oz (141.75 g) Sunburst Fruit & Stix Treat for Parrots by Higgins
$4.00
Four Big Drawers Interactive Foraging Treat Holder by Caitec
$29.00
Preening Swing for Small to Medium Birds
$19.00
4 ea Bird Safe Vegetable Tanned Large Leather Irregular Shapes with Holes
$4.00
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$2.00
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Home>Bird Food, Treats & Vitamins
Bird Food, Treats & Vitamins
 
Pellet Conversion Questions AnsweredBird Food Brand Differences Explained
Information resources on feeding birdsMore information on Avian Nutrition
Why Factory Sealed Bird Food is Importantbutton bird food from the way back machine
Feathered Factoid: People have 9,000 taste buds, while parrots have 350.
Sub-Categories
Vitamins & Supplements
Vitamins & Supplements
Parrot & Bird Treats
Parrot & Bird Treats
Canary Foods & Supplements
Canary Foods & Supplements
Finch, Keet, Lovebird
Finch, Keet, Lovebird
Tiel, Small Conures
Tiel, Small Conures
Caique, Meyers, Quakers
Caique, Meyers, Quakers
Grey, Eclectus, Amazon
Grey, Eclectus, Amazon
Large Bird
Large Bird
Avitech
Avitech
Dr Harvey's All Natural
Dr Harvey's All Natural
Goldenfeast All Natural
Goldenfeast All Natural
Hagen - All 3 Blends
Hagen - All 3 Blends
Harrisons USDA Certified Organic
Harrisons USDA Certified Organic
Higgins Bird Food - 7 Varieties
Higgins Bird Food - 7 Varieties
Lafeber's Snack & Foraging Food
Lafeber's Snack & Foraging Food
L'Avian Bean Cuisine & Seeds
L'Avian Bean Cuisine & Seeds
Nekton Supplements
Nekton Supplements
Pretty Bird Pellets
Pretty Bird Pellets
Roudybush
Roudybush
Scenic Pellets
Scenic Pellets
Totally Organics
Totally Organics
Tropic Delight
Tropic Delight
Volkman Bird Seed
Volkman Bird Seed
Zupreem Pellet Bird Food
Zupreem Pellet Bird Food
Cooked Bird Food
Cooked Bird Food
Hand Feeding Food
Hand Feeding Food
Lory & Softbill Food
Lory & Softbill Food
No Sunflower Bird Foods
No Sunflower Bird Foods
Organic & Natural
Organic & Natural
Pellet Bird Food
Pellet Bird Food
Wild Bird Food
Wild Bird Food
 
Today's science lesson: because birds are small and have a high need for energy they can digest food rapidly. This is one reason young birds mature quickly and migrating birds are able to store fat which enable the long flights. There are species of birds that are known to increase the weight 40% in 10 days.

Birds may break up their food or crush it with their bill, they don't chew it. Parrots, birds of prey, and finches have short, thick, fleshy tongues which allow them to manipulate their food. Where humans swallow with our soft palates, birds have to tilt their heads back to get the food from inside their mouth (buccal cavity) to the first part of their throat (Oesophagus). The oesophagus continues to draw the bird's food down into it's body - where it stands at the Crop.

Parrots use the crop to store food eaten in a hurry so they don't get caught by preditors. From the crop food goes into the stomach where it finally begins to get digested. The stomach has two sections one of which produces the necessary digestive juices and enzymes which soak the food which is then passed to the gizzard. The gizzard has a lot of muscles that grind up the food - what we do with our teeth.

Digested food now moves to the first part of the small intestine which is divided into two parts and where most of the digestion and absorption of the food now occurs in the parrot's gut. A bird's pancreas is actually better developed than a mammal's pancreas. This is probably to compensate for a lack of some saliva and chewing. It produces proteins, digesting enzymes, carbohydrates and fat which are delivered into the small intestine.

The food then moves into the large intestine which is really small compared to mammals and doesn't really have a lot to do with digestion and birds. The food journey ends at the cloaca (which also serves as a reproductive organ) where waste materials are collected and expelled.

Soft billed birds like Finches and Canaries swallow their seeds whole. Parrots are able to remove the hulls from the seeds with their beaks. Now that we know about the gizzard, we should note that the soft billed birds could use a little help grinding down these whole seeds. This is why we introduce small amounts of grit they can swallow which will help grind up the seeds while in the gizzard.

 

African Grey Parrot Playing with Red Solo Cup - Video
(Toby Kieth song of the same name in background)
Nothing to do with food - just really funny
African grey parrot Playing with Solo Disposable cup

That said a seed diet is okay, just be mindful that you need to supplement with some vitamins, minerals and amino acids. You can do this by supplementing with fresh fruits and vegetables. Halved walnuts for larger birds and cracked walnuts and slivered almonds for smaller birds are good source of omega-3 fatty acids. You can also simply add a commercial supplement like Prime. Adding a powdered supplement to your bird's food can be a challenge so here's a couple of tips

And then there are all the brands. We just added our 14th brand of bird food to the website, welcome Cede. Why do we carry so many brands? We offer everything we can based upon what you, our customer asks for. Which brand is better, that's up to you and your bird(s). To further complicate the issue, there are brands within brands Hagen offers Living World seed blend, Tropimix which is a blend of seeds fruits and nuts and other nutritious items, and Tropican their pellet blend. Higgins offers seven lines of food including Mayan Harvest, a natural gourmet blend of seeds fruits and legumes and exotic spices, Nederlands Vita Seed an economy seed mixture and Worldly Cuisines cooked bird food.

Volkman is a very popular and very clean bird seed coming in a variety of species specific blends. They even offer an
Eclectus food (which can be eaten by other species) which is not vitamin fortified in accordance with the most recent avian nutritional research. Volkman has no chemical preservatives or artificial flavors if you're looking to steer clear of them. Dr. Harvey's bird food is an all-natural blend containing only human grade ingredients too.

Birds in the wild are scavengers, they have to be in order to survive. Mark Hagen says it well "Wild animals and birds are shown by their parents the right combination of sometimes very limited types of foods to meet their requirements for flight, growth, reproduction and living! These wild food items have been selected through thousands of years of evolution. In captivity they are under different conditions and eating different foods and we expect them to select the best combination immediately.

But it is not necessarily better to feed what birds eat in the wild to those in captivity. Many plants in the wild contain secondary plant compounds or are very low in many essential nutrients. Some Breeders have a romantic notion that captive diets which are complicated, labor intensive, using expensive ingredients are the most nutritious. Yet it is possible to feed easy to prepare, cost efficient diets which do not compromise proper levels of essential nutrients
".


Wild Sulfur Crested Cockatoos Foraging - Video
Cockatoo parrot foraging in grass


This is one of the reasons that pellets were developed. Pellets combined all the "good stuff " into one relatively neat package. We know parrots can be picky so a dish of food where everything looks the same offers less visual temptation to remove the contents. Zupreem makes pellets with colors and without. If your bird likes colorful food
Zupreem Fruit BlendorPretty Bird Daily Select offer colorful pellets that many birds find attractive.

LaFeber's Nutriberries although considered a bird treat offer a comprehensive nutritionally balanced diet for your bird consisting lots of human grade ingredients like pineapple, papaya, carrots and raisins all rolled up in neat balls. The ball design provides your bird with a variety of beak and tongue sensations while enabling foraging activities.

Harrison's and Totally Organics offer USDA certified organic bird food pellets. Goldenfeast bird food has no dyes or preservatives. There can be benefits to these organic bird foods but just like in the grocery stores you'll find the cost of organic bird foods higher.Scenic bird foodalthough not as well-known as the others has been around for more than 25 years and is popular in zoos and animal themed parks as a daily diet. Their pellets are shaped to improve feeding techniques, ease of manipulation, and low waste. Roudybush offers pellets in several sizes and uses different fruits like dried peaches, apricots, plums, bell peppers and carrots in their California Blend is an example.

I do hope we made some headway in clarifying the options you have to feed your bird. Feel free to contact us with specific nutrition questions. And remember we are the only company to offer free bird food rewards for all of your purchases


 

If you would like to add to or comment on this discussion, please join us on our Facebook Fan Page

Until next time
Mitch Rezman
Vice President
Windy City Parrot, Inc.

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