Ask Lafeber

Question:

August 27, 2021

Birds/Nutriberries


Hi…I have a patient that apparently is picking the seeds out of the Nutriberries and Avicakes and not eating the filler material. The owner is sure that is causing some weight loss. Any ideas or suggestions?


Answer:

Hi Ralph,

First, make sure the bird doesn’t have a health issue, because only picking out the seeds shouldn’t cause weight loss unless the owner isn’t giving the bird enough each day.

The Avi-Cakes and Nutri-Berries are formulated the same as a pellet, but they are not ground up. This does mean that ideally they need to eat most or all of each berry or cake to get the full benefit. The seeds are fresh, hulled seeds, so they do have most of their natural nutrients as well as being able to absorb the added nutrients. But by only picking out the seeds, the bird will have to eat a lot more of them to get the calories and nutrients he needs.

The best way to explain why a bird will selectively feed is to help the owner understand how wild parrots feed. When food is abundant, then the parrots eat a few select bites from a food and discard the rest. We all tend to give our birds too much food at one time. The owner should start by only giving the bird a couple of berries or cakes, or one of each. If the bird eats all of the food, then give him some more. If he wastes most of the food, replace any dropped pieces to his bowl as long as they didn’t get soiled. Then don’t give him more until he eats what he has. The owner can also have some pellets and fresh foods available. You don’t want to starve the bird, but parrots are very smart, and if he thinks he will get more right away, he won’t make an effort to eat what he initially discarded. If the owner is consistent, and doesn’t give in, the parrot will learn to eat the Nutri-Berries and Avi-Cakes more efficiently. But the key is the owner. Many owners say their bird will not eat pellets or Nutri-Berries or anything but loose seed, but I’ve never met a bird that couldn’t be converted to a better diet. Owners give in, or don’t have time. So explain to the owner that this may take a couple of weeks, but once the parrot learns to eat the food correctly, you can generally go back to giving the daily amount at one time, or half in the morning and half in the early evening. If the owner can’t commit to this, then pellets might be better. But then the bird doesn’t get the benefit of the foraging exercise since parrots do spend much more time eating Nutri-Berries and Avi-Cakes than pellets alone.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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