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Diet


We like to feed our parrots a diet that is as close to nature as possible.  Parrots in the wild have access to a huge variety of nutritious fresh foods like fresh plant material.  They eat lots of colourful fruits and berries from tropical plants and trees, young green leafy shoots, tree bark, tubers etc, that vary from season to season.  They will often fly great distances to search out seasonal fruits and nuts.

We believe that feeding a natural, varied and healthy diet is fundamental to the good health of our birds.  Sadly we cannot replicate exactly their natural diet but, we feel that by supplying them with a large variety of fresh foods as the basis of the diet, with grains and seeds given as supplemental additions, it is as close as we can get.

We are often asked if we recommend either a seed diet or a pelleted diet, and the answer to that is neither per se.  Instead our diet is based on dry, soaked and/or sprouted grains, pulses and seeds, raw and cooked vegatables and also some fruits.  The basic mix and pulses we use is made by Tidy Mix.

We feed very limited amounts of processed food (i.e. pelleted diets) to some birds, but do not recommend that a pelleted diet be fed as a primary diet for parrot species.  In particular, Eclectus Parrots can be very sensitive to processed foods, and therefore we do NOT recommend feeding a pelleted diet to Eclectus Parrots.

To quote one of our vets 'There are no pellet trees in the wild.'  Pellets are processed food, no matter the brand, no matter how organic, no matter how they are stored.  In our opinion processed food has all the life oxidized, ground, heated, pressurized and extruded out of it.  Often synthetic vitamins are added to give these pellets 'nutritional value' so that these vitamins can be listed on the label, to reassure you the consumer that your birds will be getting complete nutrition.  In our opionion it is not a natural way to feed or replicate the diet of a bird.

For our birds we sprout and soak a large variety of grains, seeds and pulses on a daily basis.  These include rice, millet, buckwheat, fennel, flax seed, dill seed, seasame seed, mung beans, oats, wheat, corn, maize, garbanzo beans, red peas, lima beans, lentils, peas and chick peas.

To the sprouted or soaked foods we add a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits.  These vary according to availability and season.  Fresh vegetables that we recomment include broccoli, peppers of any colour, green beans, peas, celery, cucumber, corn on the cob, carrots and cauliflower.  You can use thawed frozen vegetables, if fresh ones are not availble but some birds do not like them.  Recommended fruits are plums, apples, papayas, mangos, oranges, pomegranate, bananas, grapes, berries, cherries and melons.  Dried fruits do not provide all the nutrients that fresh ripe fruits provide.  Just roughly chop the fruit, no need to peel as the parrot will do that itself if necessary.

Dark green leafy greens such as kales, mustard, dandelion, swiss chard, turnip tops and beet tops should be fed often.  We sometimes cook the root vegtables such as parsnips, beetroot, carrots, yams, sweet potatoes and turnips for about thirty minutes, let them cool and then chop into small pieces, this increases their digestibility and palatability.  However a lot of birds are quite happy to eat them in their raw state.

Some species require additions to their diets.  For example, macaws require a lot of fat and oil in their diet.  Therefore we provide mixed nuts in the shell for large macaw species.  The hyacinth macaws eat these nuts as a major portion of their diet and are also fed fresh coconut.  The nuts that we feed include brazils, almonds, pecans, palm nuts, walnuts, macadamias and hazelnuts.  An occasional treat of a salted nut is not detrimental, although we do suggest to lick the salt off first, but a bird should NOT be allowed to eat a large amount of any salted food.

African Greys are fed some dry sunflower seed and palm nuts as they benefit from extra oil in their diet.  Most cockatoos and amazon species do best on a lower fat diet, therefore oil seeds and nuts should be very limited in their diet.

The soaked/sprouted grains and seeds are mixed together with the vegtables, fruit and nuts and put in a dish.

Our fresh diet is fed once a day in the morning in one dish.  This diet is more time consuming to prepare than pouring seed or pellets from a bag but isn't your bird worth it?

Human table food such as pasta, scrambled eggs, rice, cooked beans and crackers (unsalted) for example, are ok if fed in small* portions.  Too much animal protein in the diet is NOT good so feed small amounts of egg, cheese, meat etc.  Birds cannot properly digest milk products so feed these sparingly, if at all.  Never feed avocado (guacamole) or chocolate to birds. 

We use open water crocks or dishes for birds to drink and bathe.  We do not recommend drinking bottles for birds.  A drinking bottle is totally unnatural for a bird.

Birds should have the opportunity to access open water for bathing and, yes, for food dunking if they want to do so.  Putting water soluble vitamins in the drinking water is not recommended as these can grow bacteria in the water quite rapidly.  Clean water dishes thoroughly every day, if you detect a slimy feel in the dish it is NOT clean!

Never be discouraged if your bird does not immediately eat a new food.  Keep offering the food and try eating some yourself, in front of the bird, while showing your obvious enjoyment, he will soon copy you and try it.

Now a little scientific information to enable you to understand why we feed natural as opposed to processed pelleted foods.

Nutritionalists are currently telling us that we should eat at least five portions of fruit and/or vegetables daily.  This is because they have discovered that there are nutrients which they have named 'Phytonutrients', concentrated in the skins of many vegetables and fruits, which are responsible for the vegetable/fruits colour, hue, scent and flavour.  To a lesser extent, they are also found in grains and seeds.  Examples of foods rich in these nutrients include tomatoes, red onions, green tea, grapes, red cabbage, broccoli, parsely, spinach, raspberries, blackberries, garlic and the list goes on.  More and more research uncovers just how powerful these nutrients are for our health.  They are potent antioxidants that can neutralize free radical damage.  Free radicals are highly reactive chemical substances that, if left unchecked, can lead to premature aging and disease.

In numbers of studies, these antioxidant pigments have been found to reduce heart disease, cancer and other ailments that are the result of oxidative damage.

For example, anthrocyanins, the pigment found in berries such as blueberries, bilberries, plums and cherries are believed to relieve arthritis and to boost brain power and maintain healthy vision.  Lycopene, found in tomatoes, helps to prevent prostate cancer.  Alpha and beta carotenes that occur in orange vegatables and fruits such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash and cantaloupe ward off various cancers.  Zeaxanthin which is found in egg yolks, spinach and corn protects vision.  Another pigment which has been found to preserve eyesight is lutein which occurs in green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and spring greens.

It has long been known that plant-based nutrients are among the most beneficial of foods.  Didn't your mother always say 'eat all your vegetables' or 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away'.  Well phytonutrients may hold the key to explaining why this is so, and this is why we consider it important to feed fresh product to our parrot.  If it is beneficial and healthy for us then it is obvoiusly of great intrinsic value to your parrot, whose natural diet in the wild would include these phytonutrients.

The darker the colour of a vegetable or fruit, the more nutritious it is.  A leaf of swiss chard or dandelion is much healthier to eat than iceberg lettuce.  A ripe strawberry is healthier to eat than a white grape.

Phytonutrients boost the immune systems of people and parrots alike, and help us to ward off illness (bacterial, fungal and viral), degenerative disease and they help to keep our organs functioning well, enabling us to live longer and healthier lives.  You are what you eat, or, in the case of our birds, they are what you feed them.

*Please remember that a small amount to you might to a very large amount to your bird, after all they are alot smaller than us.