Keeping A Happy, Healthy Parrot
On my list to research:
I’m always researching…
A LOT of people say seeds are ok for a parrot to eat- some same ‘fancy’ seed mixes are ok, but I put a lot of weight on my vet’s word, which matches my expert’s (Vet is Dr Susan Clubb, her contributions to avian medicine and her recognition is vast; expert is Tony Silva and he’s literally ‘written the book’ on parrots)
For example, I read online that dairy is part of a parrot’s diet, which didn’t sound right to me. Dr Clubb shook her head… “I figured,” I said, “but I read it so I wanted to confirm with you that parrots don’t hang out with cows and consume dairy products!’
What Would My Parrot Find To Eat In Nature?
A lot of ‘what to feed your parrot’ can be logical. Just ask yourself, what would my parrot find to eat in nature? I think that 9 out of 10 times (or more) the answer would be leaves, greens or veggies. They may find seeds every now and then, but not endless sunflower seeds – this just leads to fatty liver disease. My ‘pet’ parrot, Lorenza (YeIlow-naped amazon) I adopted a year ago. She was already about 10 years old. Within a couple weeks my daughter and I saw several signs that told us that something was wrong with her. She was lethargic compared to our other birds and didn’t move around much; her droppings seemed ‘wrong’ or ‘off’ in color and in the couple of weeks that I had had her, her feathers seemed to get brighter and it felt like she lost weight. Sure enough, Dr. Clubb diagnosed her with FLD, fatty liver disease.
Just like people, a sick parrot gets cranky, moody and isn’t happy and fun. Sure, Lorenza used to cause no problems at all and now she chases other parrots off, but I’d rather have a spunky parrot than a lumpy, feeble one.
Parrot Seed Mixes Are Less Advantageous
Pet stores everywhere sell “parrot mix” with seeds, but don’t be fooled. The seed’s shells take up a lot of space so that you go tough a bag of mix with seeds faster than a bag of pellets. Also, with less nutrition to offer, seeds don’t satisfy a parrot’s hunger. Small parrots, like my parrotlets, require seeds (same as budgies and cockatiels – Dr. Clubb says to feed them about half seeds and half pellets – PLUS fresh foods/veggies). I had been feeding my parrotlet seeds, but i was having to refill their food bowls half way through the day. Twice the work! It was unreal. They were eating twice as much! I asked Dr. Clubb about it and she asked what I was feeding them. Cockatiel mix, I answered. “Feed them parakeet mix,” she said. It doesn’t have the fatty sunflower seeds. So I switched.
I’m always looking to improve what I offer my parrots and to make sure that they are doing well, are healthy and happy as best I can. Switching the small guys to a budgie seed mix, pellets and fresh foods seems pretty good. I love watching them bolt to their dish when we put the veggies in for them in the morning.
Lorenza, My Yellow-Naped Amazon Who Has Fatty Liver Disease
I also love seeing my parrot (Lorenza) turn more and more into a healthy bird. I’m not sure whether or not FLD can be cured, it seems to be a condition that she will always be prone too, but it lights me up to see her feeling better. I’ve never seen her dunk her head and get so wet like she did when she took a bath today; last year I’d never seen her open her wings when I first took her to the vet – today she opened her wings to let me spray her, adding to her bath.
Health and vitality are beautiful on any beastie, human or parrot. Diet is easier to do right than having to pay a veterinarian later on or having to pay emotionally for an unhappy parrot, so research and talk to your vet about a proper diet for your parrot. You may not think anything is wrong, but you won’t know until it’s too late. Many parrots, for example, are vitamin A deficient, but by the time you know something is wrong, it’s very wrong. So feed them well so that you can enjoy your companion for years to come.