Nanday Conure Forum

Message #2092. This is a followup to #2087.

Date:Wednesday September 22, 2004 7:21:13 pm MDT
Subject:Re: How to encourage a seed eater?
Message:Hi Linda E.!  Persistence is going to be the key here.  You need to be more persistent than your bird is resistent.  <smile>

Eating is a social thing with birds, so you may have luck if you are eating these things with your bird hanging out at the table with you.  I can attest that I am eating healthier now that I have parrots.  LOL!  You should also try presenting the veggies in different ways.  What I mean by that is to get your bird eating carrots (good source of vitamin A which many parrots lack in their diet, but they're also sweet and most birds do/will like them) - set yourself up a veggie platter with ranch dip and have whole baby carrots.  Make it look and sound good to be eating them.  Have your bird there with you and say "Yum, YUM, I LOVE these carrots!!!"  Use emphasis on certain words and really "enjoy" those veggies.  Don't worry about coaxing the bird to eat them at first, just let her see you really enjoying them.  Often if you act like this is YOUR food and you want to eat it all YOURSELF, the bird may think it is "fun" to "steal" your food and eat it.  You know what I mean?  It can be a "game" to the bird.  So anyhow, if baby carrots don't "do it" for your parrot, then try shredded carrots or matchstick carrots (both can be found in the produce area of major grocery stores).  If that doesn't work, try thawing out some of the frozen carrot circles or the mixed veggies that have the little carrot cubes.  Warm them up so they aren't hot enough to burn the bird, but often warm foods can entice the bird.  Perhaps your bird would much rather prefer to get those carrots baked into a birdie bread of sorts?  Here is an address to the National Cockatiel Society's website that I am the Online Editor for - this is the page with bird safe recipes, such as birdie breads -

What also can help is to make sure your bird is hungry when you try to tempt them with these healthy fresh foods.  A way to guarantee a hungry bird would be to pull the food cups at night when you put them to bed.  Leave the water in there, but remove all food.  Then first thing the next morning at the usual time you uncover them, get them out and bring them to the table where you are going to sit and eat these wonderful things in front of them.  Give them a couple of hours to try these new foods.  If after you've spent time eating and having them watch you, and they still do go for it, go ahead and change the cage papers (to monitor droppings and food remnants) and put some veggies in the cage with the bird for another hour or two.  If the bird still isn't eating them, go ahead and put the usual food back inside.  This is the same way you'd go about getting your seed eater to try pellets.  

You don't want to starve your bird, of course, and if you see black tarry-looking poops, the bird's digestive system is shutting down and the bird is in starvation mode.  This can be very dangerous.  Also, it can help to have a good gram scale handy because your bird is likely to lose a little weight during this process.  A gram scale will help you keep exact tabs on that.  If you can feel your birds keel bone in front and the bird's chest area is shaped like a "V", then your bird is skinny and you should probably not try converting your bird at this time.  If your bird is shaped like a "W" that would be extra flesh on the sides of the keel bone and in this case your bird is overweight and losing a little weight isn't going to hurt him.  Go ahead and try converting your bird to a healthier diet.  If your bird is "U" shaped, which is normal and healthy and not over- nor under-weight, then your bird is likely healthy enough to withstand the stress and weight loss of a food conversion.

Let me also add that is you are contemplating a food conversion of any sort, it wouldn't be a bad idea to discuss it with a vet and to have them check to make sure the bird is in good enough condition before you start.  They will weigh the bird and you could probably take the bird back to the vet in a week for another weight check.  You should try every morning to convert your bird if you are on this mission.  

You are also encouraged to bring your bird to the dinner table with you and encourage them to eat the healthy items on your dinner plate.  Of course, don't let them eat anything that your mouth has touched because the human mouth has bacteria that is very harmful to birds.  Remember, no butter or salt for your bird.  No junk food, no avocado, chocolate or caffeine, etc....  Watch out for pesticides and grapes and strawberries can be particularly dangerous to your birds for this reason.  Pesticides are made to stay on during the rains, so rinsing often isn't enough for the sake of your bird.  

I hope this helps.

Linda E. wrote:
> Hi, I'm hoping either Margaret or Anna And Boo might have an answer
> for me. I encourage my birds to try fresh veggies, and foods as often
> as I possibly can. Mr. Bird has no problem tasting and eating veggies,
> and fruits. But Kiwi Annna bless her little birdie heart shies away
> from most things other than her seeds. She will eat a banana and an
> apple- and she liked grapes. But if I try giving her carrots, celery,
> or cracker or something she hides her head and refuses to having
> anything to do with these treats.
> What can I do to encourage her to eat? I've even placed those things
> in her seeds and pellets.
> I'm open to any ideas.
> Thanks: Linda E.

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