Ask Lafeber


February 4, 2021

Conure not taking solid food?

I have a 4-5mth old green cheek conure that’s recently weaned. He’s eating all kinds of cooked soft food (veggies, grains etc.) but seems to only be drinking the liquid and not swallowing the contents. He’s underweight to begin with as he’s been treated for infection for 2months, and now with his “selective liquid diet” he’s not putting on any weight. I am preparing his food to have as little liquid as possible to try to break his habit. He pecks on pellets and seeds in his cage but very little throughout the day. Would this change as he grows older?


Hi Kevin,

First, I want to make sure you did have a follow up with the Vet to make sure the infection was clear? And did the Vet check him for yeast, since he was on antibiotics for so long?

I’m not sure if you bought the bird weaned or if you weaned him? Because of laws in many States against selling un-weaned birds, most parrots are weaned at a much younger age than they would be in the wild with parents feeding them. This can cause food anxiety and poor eating habits. Sometimes a re-weaning process can be helpful. This is where you would go back to feeding him baby bird formula in the morning and evening if he will eat it, along with offering solid foods. The best method of weaning is called “abundance weaning”. This method was always used by breeders when parrot breeding was a new thing, and the breeders had to figure out how to wean parrots. It wasn’t even called abundance weaning at the time. It’s basically just providing a lot of different foods, along with fresh water, to let the bird explore different tastes and textures. You will have a lot of wasted food, but it can teach the bird to explore a variety of foods, as well as give them confidence in eating and knowing they will have plenty of food available. You would offer a soft food mix – cooked brown rice and mixed veggies is good, served warm, pellets, a little bit of fruit, maybe some multi grain bread and any healthy human food you have available. You can even mix some formula where it is thick and put in a small dish for him to eat on his own. If you offer seeds, it is best to offer our foraging diets. Our Nutri-Berries, Avi-Cakes and Pellet-Berries are formulated the same as a pellet, but they are not ground up. They can be fed instead of or along with pellets.

We do have two Veterinary diets that you may want to ask your Vet about. One is our Nutri-An Cakes Recovery & Nutritional Support for Small Birds. This formula has more concentrated nutrition and can help a bird regain lost weight after an illness. Once the weight is back to normal, you can switch to the Avi-Cakes or one of our other foods, or the pellets of your choice. Your Vet will have to order the Nutri-An Cakes, and make sure it is the right one, as we also make one for birds that need to lose some weight. We also have EmerAid for exotics, and this would be mixed and fed like a handfeeding formula. Again, your Vet can contact us about it to determine if this would be something to help your little guy.

Parrots do grind food in their beaks before swallowing it, and your conure may find the softer foods are more like his handfeeding formula, and they are comforting to him. But he won’t get enough nutrition from these foods as he would from his pellets or our foraging foods. Loose seed is not good to offer him, because he will get very little nutrition from them. The difference in the seeds in our foraging diets is they are hulled, so added nutrients are not lost when he eats them as they would be with a seed he would remove the hull from. And because they do not have the hull, they are easier for him to eat. Right now it is important to get him back to a good weight, and then I feel like his eating habits will improve. Handfeeding formula, or our EmerAid, can help with this since he is preferring soft foods or liquids. Keep trying a little of everything, but of course try to steer him towards eating the most nutritious foods. You might also try soaking the pellets to soften them, and see if he will eat more that way. Again, contact the Vet with these concerns just in case there is something else going on, and of course to discuss the Veterinary diets.

Here is a link to our feeding guide to give you some more ideas on what you can offer:

Bird Food Guide

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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