Knowing that I don’t believe in processed (pelleted) diets, people ask me what I feed my birds. So I thought I’d share. It’s very elaborate but maybe you’ll find in it two interesting things to try.
First, note that I have a mixed flock 21 of the following bird species:
- Red-rumped parrot
- Elegant parrot
- Bourke’s parrot
Since many live in an aviary, separate mixes are not particularly practical. However, my mix percentages remain the same but I may use only budgie mix for a cage only containing budgies, but a mix containing cockatiel and budgie mix for an aviary.
Everyone gets fresh food every morning. Only a few birds are fruit eaters, but everyone gets veggies.
Apples, pineapple guava, grapes. And sometimes things we buy for ourselves.
Fresh or frozen corn, sweet potato, celery, kale, dill, dandelion, mustard, parsley, basil, collards, cilantro, thyme, watercress, beans, chard, beet greens.… READ THE REST
I’ve had this idea for a long time to start a non-profit to promote bird keeping as a way to raise awareness about the plight of birds in the wild. Here is my business plan. I’m half hoping someone will just take it and run with it as it would be a huge undertaking.
I wrote a previous post expressing my feelings about euthanasia. Even if you believe in it, it’s a vague decision. You can’t run a test on a bird and determine that the time has come.
Someone retold to me the criteria used by Brian Speer DVM of the Medical Center for birds. It still has subjectivity, but it’s still very useful and simple.
You start by thinking about the 5 things your bird enjoys most, or enjoyed if they are already in bad shape. If the bird can do at least a part of 3 out of five of the list, then the assumption is that they are still getting enjoyment out of life. Anything below that is time for euthanasia.
A friend of mine shared the 5 things for one of her birds dying of cancer:
- Bossing other birds around
- Hanging out with her mate and being affectionate
She’s still alive and doing all 5, but they are all diminishing.… READ THE REST
There is a complete lack of research on the cold tolerance of parrots, so I have to rely on the thoughts of vets and aviculturists. I’m trying to choose people that are respected in the bird community.
The predominant opinion is that parrots should be kept in a strict climate-controlled range. However, this opinion comes from hundreds of individual people and just saying something is true doesn’t make it true.
I found one of the more amusing opinion pieces on this.
For birds living in our homes, temperatures typically fluctuate very little from one season to the next as we humans like to maintain a relatively constant indoor temperature of 65-72 °F year round.
If your bird gets chilled, warm it on a heating pad, massage its feet to aid circulation and/or put small birds under your clothing to warm them with your body heat.Avian Enrichment: Temperature
Humans don’t even have feathers and we could withstand that in shorts and a T-shirt.… READ THE REST
I touched briefly on full-spectrum lights in my article on UV light myths.
So what does full spectrum mean? Well, it means something different when it comes to light and to light bulbs.
Full-spectrum light is light that covers the electromagnetic spectrum from infrared to near-ultravioletFull-spectrum light—Wikipedia
For light bulbs:
“Full-spectrum” is not a technical term when applied to an electrical light bulb. Rather, it implies that the product emulates some important quality of natural light.Full-spectrum light—Wikipedia
There is no agreement and there are no standards for what constitutes a full-spectrum bulb. This may come as a shock if you’ve bought bulbs labelled as full spectrum, which typically are priced higher.
It’s not to say that every manufacturer is lying, but rather than trust the labeling, it’s better to understand the qualities of natural light and try to buy bulbs that have many of those qualities. There is no such thing as a bulb that perfectly emulates natural light.… READ THE REST
There are a lot of alternative remedies out there and a lot of claims are made about whether they work or not. Usually, they claim that everything works. What’s missing from nearly all these articles is:
The main thrust of this blog is to present ideas and back them up with science. Reading an article that says “diatomaceous earth kills parasites” without proof is not useful at all.
However, I’ve shown research to back up claims that diatomaceous earth helps with parasites and mites, among other things.
Today I move on to another alternative therapy that is touted, but rarely backed up with research: essential oils.
Now I’ve already presented evidence that thyme oil is a very effective disinfectant and a great alternative to bleach. In researching this, I came across some incredible research about the many ways essential oils can be used. The research comes primarily from poultry but pathogens are pathogens so the research should be taken seriously.… READ THE REST
While wild bird (including chickens) have a lot of published studies on their diets, there are virtually no studies of parrot diets in captivity. This is unfortunate because we know that birds don’t live as long in captivity. Could it be diet? Wouldn’t it be great to know?
In 2012, a study was published called “Nutritional Levels of Diets Fed to Captive Amazon Parrots: Does Mixing Seed, Produce, and Pellets Provide a Healthy Diet?“—you can download the PDF here.
I was pretty excited to finally see a research paper studying captive bird diets. This study is the one study that vets point to when they tell you what to feed your bird. If they reference it, they usually call it the “Amazon study” as a shortcut.
This site strives to rely on scientific research for its conclusions, but it’s important not to just accept something because it’s published in a scientific journal.… READ THE REST
In a previous article, I talked about how to find credible sources of information. Sometimes you may have questions and simply cannot find any source you can trust.
Caveats for forums
I can provide some caveats for when you resort to visiting forums or blogs that have uncited information.
- People are far more likely to visit forums to report problems than successes with their birds. If one person reports a problem, it’s possible that many others did the same thing and didn’t have a problem.
- When someone asks “should I let my bird do xyz” on a forum, the answer you will likely get is no. People default to no because it’s a safer answer. But in the desire to provide rich lives for our birds, we owe it to them to not be reactionary.
Finding the good in forums
So, I’ve basically trashed forums, but they are sometimes the only place where certain topics are mentioned.… READ THE REST
I’ve written previously about the benefits you can gain from using remote cameras with your birds. Most smart phones can also do time lapse photography.
While videos can capture useful information about your birds, sometimes you want to monitor behaviors that happen rarely or you want to see how often they happen over time.
Some examples of behaviors might be:
- How often and for how long are my birds eating?
- Are my birds eating specific foods I’m putting out for them?
- How active are my birds?
- What toys and perches are my birds favoring?
- Are my birds fighting?
- Are my birds engaging in mating behavior?
- What toys are my birds playing with?
Sure, a video would capture these, but this is a significant time commitment to review these videos.
Before I get started, I wanted to recommend a tripod I like. Since you could take a time lapse that could last hours, you want a way to hold your phone in position.… READ THE REST