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Converting a hard-core seed junkie to a fresh food diet


Pamela Clark

1.   Begin with four dishes in the cage - pellets of choice (no dyes or preservatives hopefully), a high quality seed mix, water and the fresh food mix.  The latter will not be eaten for several weeks.  Get over it.  Serve this twice a day, in the am and in the late afternoon or evening, for the sole purpose of creating a pattern of feeding and allowing the bird to get used to looking at it.  Note:  the fresh food mix should have a ratio of 50% seed and 50% fresh foods (pellets optional).

2.  The day you see the bird exploring the fresh food mix in order to eat the seed out of it, you make the following change:  In the morning, you remove the seed dish and have only three dishes in the cage - pellets, water and the fresh mix.  In the evening, you again feed the fresh food mix, but give the seed dish back.  We don't want a bird undergoing diet conversion to be hungry.  A hungry, anxious bird does not make behavioral changes gracefully. 

3.  The day you see the bird with a piece of fresh food in his mouth, or observe that he has eaten some of it, then you eliminate the seed dish completely.  From that point onward, you provide only three dishes - water, pellets, and the fresh mix that is 50% seed and 50% fresh foods.

4.  A month later, and on each succeeding month, you decrease the amount of seed in the mix until it is down to between 10 - 20% of the mix.  So, for instance, if you remove the seed dish on February 1, then on March 1, you will begin to feed a mix that is 40% seed and 60% fresh mix.  On April 1, you will begin to feed 30% seed and 70% fresh foods.  And so on.

I've converted many parrots who previously ate only seed very successfully using this method, including a 20-year-old Moluccan Cockatoo.  The amount of seed can be decreased more quickly if the parrot is really eating the fresh foods well.






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Last Update:  03/28/01