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|Bird food & parrot food requires a 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 predators. 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
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 vegetable. 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.
written by mitch rezman