Bird food pellets developed in the late 20th century have been a definite boon to avian nutrition. They offer a fully engineered diet that can be life-sustaining for most birds over decades.
Bird food pellets offer the lowest cost per pound/calorie of any food as well as the least mess.
The flip side of that is we tell people there are no pellet trees in the rain forest so pellets can be counterintuitive to a bird. They lack the many textures and flavors that seeds nuts fruits and vegetables offer.
I have 3 birds, a conure, cockatiel and a parakeet. My birds are really fussy about their food. I feed the parakeet Hartsfield, the cockatiel is very fussy, I’m trying to teach her to forge her food. She just throw her food out of the cage and use her dish as a toilet. The conure is very fussy too but she does look for her food until she finds what she wants.
You didn’t mention how your birds are housed so I must assume they are each in their own cage of appropriate size. If they share a big cage or aviary, the dynamics of the situation change somewhat.
You mentioned that you feed the parakeet Hartsfield. This is not a brand I’m familiar with nor could I find it on the internet. I believe you mean Hartz Mountain, a common brand of small bird food sold in cardboard boxes in superstores and grocery stores. I can’t recommend using that type of food because it may have been on the shelf and in warehousing for a very long time since it was packaged. The food can be old and won’t provide good nutrition for your little keet. The same is true if you are buying food for your cockatiel and conure at places that do not specialize in the freshest, healthiest bird diets. It can contain moth larvae that eat the inside of the seeds, leaving nothing for the bird and only causes seed moths to fly around your house unless you are unusually clean about removing every single seed every day.
Any all seed diet requires supplementation or you are slowly starving the bird to death, significantly shortening its lifespan and leaving it open to opportunistic diseases. All your birds may fit into this category. More about supplements further on.
Birds that are on all seed diets can be converted to pellet diets with which no supplements are required. The conversion can be very easy with some birds but require a little longer with others. You find your birds to be picky eaters but they would convert over time. In fact, we have a plan on how to do the conversion as easily as possible. This plan happens to refer to Hagen pellets, a very good balanced option available for every size bird but the concepts are valid for any brand of pellet diet.
Great choices in pellet diets include those available for your size birds from Higgin’s Intune line of pellets or Harrison’s Organic NonGMOpellet line. Either of these choices are available in sizes for every parrot species and they are great for foraging by hiding some in foraging toys.
We have found that Hagen Living World parakeet seed is a very excellent, fresh product that comes in factory sealed bags. It has a “use before” date, just like human foods so you know you are not feeding old, stale seed. The fresher the seed, the more nutrients it has available for the bird. Higgins Vita Seed with Probiotics is also available for your parakeet as well as your other parrots.
we have learned these Australian lorikeets are carnivores
You didn’t mention what you are feeding the cockatiel and conure so I imagine you are feeding them seed diets as well. You’ll find a great choice for each in Hagen Living World Cockatiel blend and Hagen Living World Small Parrot blend or choose the appropriate size Vita Seed blend from the Higgins link above.
You mentioned the conure picks through the food until it finds what it wants. The problem with this is that it is only eating some of the types of seed in the food. All too often they choose the high fat seeds like sunflower, rejecting all else. Cockatiels sometimes do the same thing with their food. By choosing a no sunflower blend like in the size for cockatiels to conures, you’ll avoid the “sunflower addict” problem and round out their nutrition. Or choose one of the other no sunflower foodsfor your cockatiel and conure.
You mentioned foraging and birds need to forage for some of their food. It is more like the experience they have in nature. You can use special treats, fruits, veggies and Lafebers AviCakes and Nutriberries to provide enrichment in their diet and lives.
If you do choose to stick with a seed diet, and many parrot parents do choose to do so — me included, you can add Avitech Avivita Plus multivitamin supplement or Nekton S multivitamin supplement. If you have a specific health problem, your vet may recommend additional supplements which you will find in the Avitech and Nekton sections of the site.
Good luck and please let us know how you decide to proceed and your experiences.
Editor’s note: We have quietly rehomed a number of large birds found by the Chicago Police and Fire Departments over the years. We found Popcorn, (a citizen calling to say a white bird was stuck in the bushes). We post pictures to Facebook and local neighborhood groups.
How To Tell If Your Budgie Is Male or Female – As Well As Age
While we were having dinner together, I casually brought up to Mitch that I took in a stray parakeet today. A man passing by saw it in a tree and asked me for a net and a ladder to catch it. I supplied him with the items, not knowing if I would ever see him again much less my ladder and net. But only 5 minutes later he returned with the bird in the net and a big smile on his face.
He didn’t want the bird as his concern was mainly for the bird’s survival and safety as he knew it would not know how to find food in the wilds of Chicago. I think he enjoyed the chase and having saved the bird. He gave me the bird to find it a home and left. So I put it in a small cage we keep on hand (this has happened before), gave him some fresh food and water and parked him in the shop for the night. I identified it as a boy due to its light blue cere. He was eating when I left him.
Editors note: In case you don’t know, the cere is the area on birds where the nostrils are located. In adult parakeets it has a somewhat leathery appearance while parakeets under one year of age have a smooth often pinkish-brown cere in both genders. Once the budgie reaches about one year of age, the cere will, in most mutations, turn blue in males and anywhere from dark pink to deep brown in females.
A few of the mutations are a bit difficult to differentiate this way with absolute certainty, but Bacon is not a member of one of these subsets. Catherine was therefore able to easily be sure that Bacon is a male of greater than one year of age.
So, I was concerned Mitch would grouse that now we have a parakeet to deal with for awhile since he is used to a bigger bird, but no. He perked right up at the news and went right into the shop to get it. He was gone awhile because, of course he came home with the bird and an armload of supplies and treats.
Refresher post from 2 months ago Birds are like soul mates & should find you – right?http://www.windycityparrot.com/blog/2016/07/07/birds-like-soul-mates-find-right/
Mitch immediately started setting up Popcorn’s old cage. Changing the light bulb, changing out old toys and perches for new ones. Then he brought over the little cage to the big cage for the transfer. Bacon (the budgies new name, LOL) was not startled enough by my tapping the cage to leave the cage so I reached in and scooped him out bare handed and deposited him in the larger cage. I felt him try to beak me but not hard, his struggles were strong but not wild. I think he may be partially tame. He did not bite.
Right now he is fully feathered so he will stay caged for his safety. He saw the Tidy Seed Feeder with food in it and he was kind of confused dancing around trying to figure out how to get the food, then just scurried over to the side of the cage, climbed down and hopped right into the feeder. Took about 2 minutes in case anyone wants to know how hard it is to get a budgie to eat out of one. LOL.
Editor’s note: BTW Bacon (who I named in about 4 minutes) the blue budgie was brought to our home. No post was found in our three Ukrainian neighborhood Facebook groups for a lost bird. No small bird missing on Parrots 911 and my guess is the bird probably escaped from a pet box store – I’ve seen their caregivers in action.
Mitch was totally jazzed. He was glowing at our new little house guest. He immediately set up the camera to record the event and I hoped the little guy was as happy to be here as we were to have him here.
Let’s talk about parakeets, a misunderstood species. You’ll look at Bacon and call it a budgie although technically it is an American “pied” parakeet with clear marking on its wings (making him a “clear flight” mutation) and unusual color markings across its abdomen.
The reason we do not outsource that advertising is, unless you’re a caged bird keeper you really don’t understand – the keeping of caged birds.
I’d like to remind the audience that there is only one species of dog but more than 10,000 species of bird. We specialize in approximately 350 species of parrots and 372 species of parakeets.
Yes Martha the budgie is a species of parakeet but there’s another several hundred dozen more that we need to chat about (roughly 372) Or so we’re told.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again “every conure is a parakeet but not every parakeet is a conure”.
So here’s this many conure species alone – you may have never heard of.
Getting back to Bacon, I’ve had him out of the cage a couple of times during his stay.
I’ll open the door to his cage while I’m working having all the other doors closed in the room so he can’t get too far but he hasn’t shown an interest in coming out of the bird cage.
Yesterday I thought he might like to take a shower with me. I grabbed him in the cage & got him onto the shower rod but the sound of the running water spooked him and he flew directly to some crown molding.
I didn’t catch him up there. He flew off and made it to the shelf in the shower where I grabbed him.
Today I pulled him out of the cage and had him on my hand for a while. then he flew off to more crown molding (between 8 and 9 1/2 feet above the floor). I was able to trap him between the window and shutters so I returned him to his cage where he was clearly happy to be.
In that we had a similar issue when we rescued Popcorn, if he ends up staying with us, we’re going to follow the same protocol and clip his wings one time to restrain his confidence and then give him flying lessons and teach him landing zones as his wing feathers molt out and grow back, which they will quite quickly.
To my darling wife Catherine
I know you’re concerned that budgies are not considered parrots and we were talking about a bigger bird. I think we will still eventually get one. But Bacon is a magnificent creature – and budgies are very smart.
If bacon is here to stay, I see a long-lasting, loving relationship for the three of us because the 3 of us have one thing in common. “We speak bird“.
written by mitch rezman approved by catherine tobsing approved by nora caterino
Sweet Harvest bird treats were first formulated and intoduced in 1977. At the time there was only a very limited selection of natural products for bird and small animals. The majority of the products available only offered artificial colors and flavors.
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Consider what the Kaylor of Colorado difference will do for you.
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written by mitch rezman approved by catherine tobsing
There’s a lot of talk today in the caged bird keeper community about how bad seeds are for our birds. We should be introducing bird chops to our our birds. If you are not familiar with bird chop – you mix up about a pound of fresh lettuce, beans and vegetables and fruit and serve to your bird.
Most birds will eat less than 1% of that 1 pound of chop which is why we let Popcorn just steal some nibbles from our plates – as long as she does not walk across our plates.
Then there’s the whole pellet argument. Pellets are engineered foods. They pack the most nutrition per kilo/calorie if you will – than any other form of food. We love seeing birds on pellets because we know that they don’t require additional vitamin supplementation which is usually the case with seeds.
Hagen Tropimix is a wonderful blend of fruits veggies, seeds and pellets where all of the seeds have had their hulls removed so it’s a very clean blend with minimal waste, virtually 100% of the mix can be eaten. Pellets are less messy than seeds, then again there are no pellet trees in the rain forest.
We get a lot of request to talk about certain species which we try to do – last week it was Caiques. We’ve done posts on Amazons and on Lories but when I mention Australian grass parakeets most people say, “huh”?
The Bourkes parakeet is the exception in coloration in that Rosy Bourke’s have a brilliant pinkish tone – the other six species – Blue-winged parakeet – Elegant parakeet aka Rock parakeet – Orange-bellied parakeet – Scarlet-chested parakeet – Turquoisine parakeet – have grass green backs which helps them camouflage well.
The flip-side is their colors are anything but boring. And I’m using them in this discussion to talk about seeds because the Australian grass parakeets feed entirely on the ground and mostly on (grass) seeds. They have lovely voices and rarely get into trouble.
Is not to say that we are suggesting that you don’t even try to convert them to pellets – just making the point that sometimes seeds are okay although you always want to introduce some form of vitamin and fresh food supplementation.
These small birds don’t have the red bull type of personality budgies do (Who are a cousin to grass parakeets) with all sorts of activity, they’re are a little more laid-back. Because they have short legs and small feet it’s best to leave them fully flighted because they are not built for lots of climbing. The tiny beaks have a hard time gripping many surfaces.
The most commonly known of these pet birds is the Bourkes parakeet which is relatively small, very calm and usually quite tame.
Is this where we segway into what seeds are best, Mitch? For that I will let all of you decide. I will start by delving in to some bird food lines one at a time
Our bird food category is a robust 42 subcategories so I know it spins some people around, especially the newbies. We going to start with the Volkman Seed Company.
This company has been producing birdseed since 1863 and we feel it’s one of the cleanest caged bird seeds available today. They are located in California’s sunny San Joaquin Valley, one of the world’s most fertile agricultural regions for premium-quality fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds.
In addition to serving caged bird keepers you will find their seed in veterinary schools, clinics, zoos and aviaries.
One important note: Volkman is now using NON GMO white corn in their parrot food mixes.
Seeds are tested in an independent lab for the possible presence of E. coli and Streptococcus, then super cleaned, CO2 flushed, and packed in air-barrier bags to seal in freshness.
Volkman mixes contain over 50 essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids bonded to pre-hulled seeds. Fruits and vegetables are human grade and seeds are germination tested for freshness. They use no dog food, cat food, meat, poultry or fish by-products, animal fats, chemical preservatives or artificial food colors.
We’re offering 31 SKUs of Volkman from their Avian Science Line which are nutritionally balanced bird diets fortified with vitamins, minerals, bonded amino acids and select grains.
Meaning we have it available for finches, canaries, macaws, cockatoos, and everything in between, including a special non vitamin fortified blend for Eclectus parrots. All mixes contain exceptionally clean, all-natural, human-grade ingredients. And a tradition of trust for generations of healthy birds.
The Featherglow line is a group of specialty mixes and treats incorporating a wide variety of shapes, colors, and textures, including American-made pellets, and convenient Soak ‘n Serve or Soak ‘n Cook entrees. Volkman calls Featherglow “The Smart Solution for Brighter Birds”.
And they are all packed in re-sealable zip-lock poly bags for added convenience and use multi-layer lined bulk bags for added freshness. They were also the first bird company to introduce nitrogen-flushed bags for extended shelf-life.
written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing
approved by nora caterinao
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A very stubborn pair of budgies (Waylon and Willie) who were on a strict diet of grocery store spray millet were brought to us for a conversion trial.
We spent week one observing eating habits and introduced Coconut oilto their food. The pair was ravenous for spray millet but turned up their beaks to anything else offered.
At that point we baked up a batch of Harrison’s Bird Bread in small muffin shapes with spray millet mixed into the bread. The bread was broken up into pieces and placed on top of a clean paper towel at the bottom of the cage.
As expected, for the first few days the pair sorted through the muffins for the millet. On day three though we observed that they were also now eating bits of the Bird Bread. The amount of millet mixed into the bread was reduced and eventually replaced with High Potency Fine. After a few more days the millet was completely removed and High potency Fine was scattered amongst the pieces of Bird Bread on top of the white paper towel.
Within a few days not only were they off spray millet completely and they were now eating only Bird Bread and HPF.
Mark Hagen is the Research Director at The Hagen Avicultural Research Institute (HARI). He has a Master of Agriculture from the University of Guelph and specialized in Psittacine Aviculture. In his Bachelor of Science, Mark concentrated on nutrition and zoology and attended a semester at the University of California, Davis taking courses in cage bird medicine, nutrition and avian science. It has been more than ten years that he has been studying companion birds; writing his first paper on parrot breeding in 1983 and establishing HARI in 1985.
Following five years of experience housing birds indoors in a converted warehouse, Mark designed the new HARI facility in Rigaud, Quebec in 1989. This facility incorporates the latest techniques in environment control. Presently his research includes nutrition, and the influence of temperature, humidity and light cycles on breeding. Mark also speaks French and German and is making connections with European aviculturalists in order to trade captive bred birds for a wider gene pool.
This week at the Windy City Parrot where the sun never sets empire world headquarters, our two local networks decided to freelance.
In the digital world you can not tolerate freelancing networks so we went out and got one of those transformer looking routers with lots of menacing antennas and fired it up.
Getting all of the computers to talk to all the printers talk took 10 hours of my time and several hours of Catherine speaking to a number of support reps from our shipping software company.
2 trips to Micro Center and a bag of returns and receipts,
Thus this week’s birdie brunch is a patchwork of information due to the 10 hours that were sucked out of my life by the universe this week. Damn you Windows 10.
We’ve all been there
2/14/2016 2:59:55 PM
I have a 6 year old cockatiel who moulted again twice due to a second freeze we had. This morning when I got her up she had a bloody spot on the bottom of her cage, it was the size of a silver dollar.
She had a tail feather that was messed up and like she was pulling on it. She did get it out and the bleeding stopped. Is there anything I could do if this happens again.. Thank you
Your cockatiel has what are called blood feathers – new feathers grow in during and after the molt the feather shafts will contain blood.
It’s best to remove these broken blood feathers before they break further and your bird bleeds a lot as what has happened to yours. It’s important to monitor your bird for these blood feathers and remove them to prevent additional bleeding they could possibly lead to loss of life.
Here’s a little more information that might be helpful http://www.windycityparrot.com/OMG-A-Blood-Feather–Now-What_b_305.html
2/13/2016 9:08:33 AM
I’ve been watching, with interest, your updates on Popcorn’s health situation.
As a past cockatiel owner (we’ve had about 5 of them–one of which lived to be 30 years old!), I know how wonderful these birds are and I know you are concerned about her condition. Prayers for successful treatment and future health.
Customer 2/14/2016 3:02:08 PM
Since last week’s visit 4/1/16 to see Dr. Byron the abdominal swelling has gone down but she now has some sort of hernia like protrusion – very odd. Dr. Byron didn’t have an explanation so we’re just watching it.
Every couple of days I flip her over and gently feel it. She’s sensitive to such handling so I don’t spend a lot of time but I’m letting her out of her cage more.
Her flights around the apartment are getting longer – and she continues to do a lot of floor walking and foraging as cockatiels will do in the wild.
We don’t know if she’s going to be around two days or two years so the meantime she gets all the millet she wants and lots of affection from the two of us
Thank you for reaching out Carol
she hasn’t lost her appetite
Customer 1/4/2016 2:16:53 PM
Due to a divorce, I now have only four birds. A Quaker, BCC (Blue Crowned Conure), GCC (Green Cheek Conure) and a Love bird. (I had to re home a B&G and six Cockatiels, broke my heart) what do you recommend?
Right now I do give them a little seed at bedtime, get them through the night. ( No sunflower seeds) Zupreme pellets and LaFaber Nutraberries-berries. They also get nuts and chop. Any suggestions on what I should do differently? They are all near 20 except the Love bird is 4. I want the best possible seed for bedtime. I have ordered from you before but it has been awhile.”
Hi Denise – I’m sorry for the loss of your birds – it sounds as though your nutritional program is on track – the only thing that I would suggest is leaving the pellets or the Nutriberries as the nighttime snacks instead of the seeds – kinda like me choosing between a cup of yogurt or a handful of sugar cookies before I go to bed
My first question will always be “have you determined that your bird has a D3 deficiency through a blood workup”? It’s really best to rely on food and supplements, not the quality of added light to modify a bird’s metabolism.
Any of the lights we offer will make your bird feel good and they should be placed on timers especially during the winter months when the days grow shorter which is very stressful on caged birds I write about this in detail here
Happy the Eclectus – talking in the car (I wasn’t the driver)
Ok, So I read your rant on chop and other fresh foods and I get that Hagen and Lafebers mixes are good. Well I have an Eclectus and I am driving myself mad (not to mention breaking the bank) trying to feed properly.
Everything I read, and there has been lots of things, all say I must feed him mostly fresh veggies and lots of fruit. He won’t eat enough of that to stay alive. So what am I to do? What do you recommend? He bites his feathers off, he has too much fat in his blood, he seems happy and is very much loved and socialized with me and my daughter.
He is out of his cage most of the day. I’m going nuts and very broke trying to find what to feed him that is actually good for him and that he wants to eat. Thanks
So the biggest issue with Ecletus parrots Janice is that they have an “elongated” digestive system. It is possible for vitamins to become “toxins” because the vitamins over extend their stay in this delicate metabolism.
In order to stabilize your bird’s nutritional situation I’m going to recommend that you start with the Volkman seed/fruit/veggie blend developed specifically for Eclectus parrots – it has no vitamin nor supplement enhancements – making ideal for your bird.