cage bird diet question

Discussion in 'Caged Birds - Finches, Canaries, Cockatiels, Parro' started by hensonly, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. hensonly

    hensonly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2008
    upstate NY
    Hey,

    A friend of mine has recently begun caring for some cage birds owned by her sister. There are parakeets, doves, pigeons, and I think a cockatiel or two. It seems they've been getting seed of some sort, and have never had any grit. Is this possible? I gave my friend some of my chicken grit, which she can break up for the smaller birds if needed. She did, and says it doesn't seem that they are ingesting any grit...should she worry? The birds came from some woman who apparently has tons of birds, overcrowded and not very well cared for (this is the opinion of my friend who knows nothing about birds, but she's not blind, either!)

    I assumed all birds need grit unless they eat only soft food... but these birds have all survived this long, so does she need to keep putting grit in the cages for them??

    Thanks for any information.
     
  2. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    My Coop
    Birds that hull their seeds, which parrots and many finches do, do not need grit to digest. In fact, there have been more parrots that have had impacted crops (and perished) from grit than any other material.

    All birds 'needing' grit is sort of a wives tale, and it got carried over because up until recently nearly all research on birds in captivity was done on chickens (which obviously do need grit) and thus the parrot world gained a lot of misinformation that has carried on through today. Many of the older books even carry a lot of misinformation! More information on why parrots rarely need grit: http://www.birdsnways.com/wisdom/ww58eii.htm

    Parrots
    can exist on seed, but they will not flourish, especially long-term. It's is sort of like offering a child a two plates: One of hamburgers, candy, and cake, and another with a rounded diet of veggies, proteins, etc. Most kids would take the candy plate wouldn't they? Seeds alone are nutritionally deficient and fatty-- for species prone to fatty liver disease they can be a slow death sentence.
    I know that conversion to healthy foods can be very hard with stubborn parrots... again, consider the candy plate vs. veggie plate analogy above. For a few of my seed-junkie parrots, it's taken years of effort to get them on a good diet!

    If your friend has an internet connection, may I suggest sending her this article? http://www.rationalparrot.com/diet.html

    This
    is the diet I feed my parrots, specifically: http://parrot-chow.livejournal.com/24403.html

    Best
    wishes to you both!!
     
  3. hensonly

    hensonly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Wow, thanks so much. I'll pass that info on, and am glad to have it for my own information.
     
  4. dwhite

    dwhite Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is fairly easy to get birds to eat new foods once you get one started, they will learn from each other quite fast.

    Balanced diet is key, just as with us, too much of anything is not good.

    I have talked to vets that have seen issues with hookbills on just seed, and just pellets, but ones that get a variety like several breeders I know feed just flourish.
     
  5. AquaEyes

    AquaEyes Chillin' With My Peeps

    The doves and pigeons need grit. They ingest their seeds whole, as do chickens but unlike finches and parrots, who remove hulls by manipulating and/or crushing the seed in their beaks and ingesting only the softer inside part. Only if the pigeons are eating a formulated diet (in other words, not whole seeds but something like a mash or pellet) will they not need grit. Oh, and of course, fruit-eating species of pigeons and doves will not need grit to the same degree, if at all.
     
  6. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    DFW
    Quote:This depends on the species of parrots. The natural diet of some parrots in the wild is seed based:


    http://proaviculture.com/neophemas.htm

    I think it's best to research the particular species of bird you're keeping, find out what its natural diet would be, and then try to match that as best you can in captivity.
     
  7. AquaEyes

    AquaEyes Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:This depends on the species of parrots. The natural diet of some parrots in the wild is seed based:


    http://proaviculture.com/neophemas.htm

    I think it's best to research the particular species of bird you're keeping, find out what its natural diet would be, and then try to match that as best you can in captivity.

    Nutritionally, it's not really equivalent to compare eating seeds collected from live plants or scattered on the ground with the seeds in a bag of bird food. I'm not knocking using seeds as part of a healthy diet -- Sammy eats a sprouted mix every day, and has for 13 years -- but in the wild, they're getting seeds at various stages of ripening, ingesting bits of green plant material in the process of collecting the seed, grabbing bugs and dirt, etc. Neophemas and many other species that depend on seeds in the wild do well with a commercial seed mix as a base, but still need their diet to include the parts of "wild seed collecting" that don't get included in a dish of bird seed -- greens, protein, minerals. Psychologically it may be important to include seed in these species' diets, but physiologically it is not complete.

    :)
     
  8. Poultrybonkers

    Poultrybonkers Overrun With Chickens

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    I dont use grit for my budgies of finches ive had a finch die becuase of grit. Parrots and soft bills dont need it.
     
  9. Terri O

    Terri O Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nambroth--thanks for those parrot feeding links! What a lot to learn! Terri O
     
  10. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2009
    DFW
    Quote:This depends on the species of parrots. The natural diet of some parrots in the wild is seed based:


    http://proaviculture.com/neophemas.htm

    I think it's best to research the particular species of bird you're keeping, find out what its natural diet would be, and then try to match that as best you can in captivity.

    Nutritionally, it's not really equivalent to compare eating seeds collected from live plants or scattered on the ground with the seeds in a bag of bird food. I'm not knocking using seeds as part of a healthy diet -- Sammy eats a sprouted mix every day, and has for 13 years -- but in the wild, they're getting seeds at various stages of ripening, ingesting bits of green plant material in the process of collecting the seed, grabbing bugs and dirt, etc. Neophemas and many other species that depend on seeds in the wild do well with a commercial seed mix as a base, but still need their diet to include the parts of "wild seed collecting" that don't get included in a dish of bird seed -- greens, protein, minerals. Psychologically it may be important to include seed in these species' diets, but physiologically it is not complete.

    :)

    Absolutely. You should see what our Splendids do to a stalk of broccoli.....
     

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