AVIAN NUTRITION

In the wild eclectus parrots live on top of the forest canopy.  They are rarely seen on the ground.  They feed off the fruits and greens of the plants.  They are not able to break open a nut and are not nut eaters.  They do eat the seeds that are found inside the fruits they are eating.  Eclectus are also found eating clay from the clay licks.

Avian nutrition is very complex and their are many views as to what is best for our parrots.  Some people feel an all pellet diet is best, others feel all natural and no pellets are best.  One thing everyone agrees on is that parrots require more than seeds to remain healthy.

Our parrots need a variety of fresh foods from all food groups.  The pellets we give them need to be made for them.  Each species has its own specific nutritional needs and pellets do differ accordingly.  We also feed our parrots sprouts.  You have to be careful with sprouts as the seeds can contain harmful fungal, yeast and bacterial contamination. 

Eating should be fun.  Foraging toys are a good addition to any meal.  You can also make foraging toys by putting food inside a paper roll.  Or simply by covering up the food dish and your parrot has to work to get into it.  When starting with foraging toys – start with easy things and work your way up.  Your parrot is not used to looking or working for food and may not realize that is what is going on.  Use your creativity and have fun.  

Places to buy foraging toys:  Toys

If you are feeding pellets make sure they are always fresh.  Also always provide fresh and clean water.

Some foods that are toxic to parrots include:  avocado, raw onion, rhubarb, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, carbonated drinks, dairy products, processed meats, sugar, and salt.  

Avoid ethoxiquin.  This is a preservative that is used in some bird pellets and treats.  Check the contents labels and stay away from this ingredient for the health of your bird.  

“Ethoxiquin is manufactured by Monsanto and comes in containers bearing a prominent skull and crossbones with POISON in capital letters.  It has a toxicity rating of 3 on a scale of 1 to 6. The research that formed the basis of its approval as a preservative for livestock feeds was all done on animals raised to slaughter, none living longer than 2 years.  It was not done on companion animals expected to live long healthy lives.”  http://www.dilligad.net/solidgold/whysg.html 

To get a bird who is used to a seed diet onto a healthier diet you should gradually lower the amount of seed and increase the amount of fresh fruits & veggies.  Include the veggies & fruit in their seed dish.  Over time there will only be veggies & fruit in their ‘seed’ dish.  Parrots need to become accustomed to a new item before they try it.  It takes time.  Never starve a bird.  Even a day without food is a big deal for a parrot.  Often it helps for the parrot to see another parrot (or you) eating the veggies & fruit.  

If you want to switch from seeds to pellets you can do the same as above or soak the pellets in very warm water and hand feed them to your parrot.  Once he is eating them this way you can put the soaked pellet water in a dish in his cage for him to eat out of.  Not to much water, he has to be able to reach the pellets.  Then gradually use less water until he is eating dry pellets.

To get your parrot to eat fresh foods (fruits & veggies) it usually helps for them to see you eat it.  Another method that Sally Blanchard explains in her book, ‘The Companion Parrot Handbook‘ is a technique where you, the parrots favourite person sit down at the table with the parrot and another person, the person who the parrot competes with for your attention, it’s rival is best.  Then you have the rival feed you in front of the parrot and talk about how good it is.  Repeat this until the parrot wants the food.  The parrot will become jealous and with time will also eat the food.  

We feed our birds a combination of Harrison’s & Roudybush.  The pellets are always fresh and always made available along with fresh clean water.  Pellets make up around 5% of their diet.  No more than 9 pellets a day per bird.  The other 95% is real food.  For breakfast they get a bean/rice/veggie mixture and fresh sprouts.  In the late afternoon they receive fresh fruit and veggies chopped up.  They may also get a snack during the day and then a later supper.  But this is not necessary as in the wild adult birds eat twice a day.  Once a week they may have 1/8 of a boiled egg with the shell included, some pasta, some birdie bread, porridge, or whatever else happens to come up.  They do not always have the same bean mix, or the same fruits and veggies.  We pick up different food items to keep their diet varied.  Some things they like are: pomegranate, kiwi, grape, mango (no skin), papaya, orange, apple (no seed), banana, kale, celery, corn, plumped corn, broccoli, green peas, green beans, carrots, yams, squash, dandelion, cantaloupe (no skin), pumpkin, peppers, hot peppers, pears, berries, etc.

They may also get 1 Tbsp of budgie seed mix a couple of times a week.  

Make sure you wash all your fruits and veggies to get any contamination off.  Some foods may have insecticide residues on them.  Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and some people dip their items in Organic Apple Cider Vinegar first. 

For treats we give an almond.  No more than two a week.

Eclectus parrots need more vitamin A than other parrots so we give them foods high in vitamin A daily.  A deficiency in vitamin A can quickly lead to illness.  Also, excess chemical vitamins, preservatives and artificial food color agents in the diet can cause a variety of health, behaviour, and plumage problems in Eclectus parrots.  We do not recommend vitamin supplements.  As long as your bird is offered and eating a good pellet and has daily fresh foods there is no need for supplements.   

Pellets

Eclectus should not have more than 9 pellets a day.  They should not be coloured or artificially flavoured.  The main diet should be fresh foods, sprouts and cooked foods.  There are several well educated people who believe eclectus should not have pellets at all.  

When giving pelleted food you must make sure the food remains dry and clean.  It can develop mold toxins if it becomes moist.  Eclectus like to dunk their pellets in their water, for this reason we only give a small amount of pellets at a time and change their water regularly.

An Idea for Switching your Bird to Pellets (from seeds)

One idea is to take one part seed mix and two parts small pellets.  Mix together and add enough warm water to just cover the mix.  Let it soak a bit.  The bird will have to eat some pellets to get at the seeds.

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