Ask Lafeber


August 3, 2020

help my bird eat

I have had my bird for 27 years and have tried repeatedly over the 27 years to get him to eat pellets instead of the typical parrot food you find in the pet store. He is a most difficult bird when it comes to this. He wants to eat sunflower seeds and has literally refused to eat for it 3 days at a time at which point I usually give in and give him sunflower seeds along with some vegetables several times a week he likes sweet potatoes, string beans,peas, corn, honeydew, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, coconut, blueberries,, the small roasted peppers in most bags of parrot food, and most of all he loves bananas. I have tried Nutri berries Harrison’s and several other brands of pellets sure. It has been like throwing money down the drain. Recently I started feeding him Foster & Smith premium blend and discovery that he will eat the microscopically small pellets contained in that food it. It is imperative then I correct his diet I think it is suffering the consequences of nutritionally incomplete diet. At present he is getting Foster’s and Smith with the sunflower seeds removed 50% and Harrison 50%. Out of 25 pellets the next day I had 24 and 3/4 pellets left. He has however been nibbling on his kale strawberries grapes blueberry dragon fruit parsley and red peppers from his other Bowl. He has been eating it’s diet for approximately two weeks. I have not given in giving him anything he should not be eating but I am becoming concerned because I know this is not a nutritionally complete diet either. He is slightly arthritic and has mild congestive heart failure and is taking medication for both. Does that suggestion none of which you have worked. I desperately need help and finding something with adequate nutrition that he will eat. I wake me say grateful for any recommendations or advice you can give me. My birds life is on the line. He is only 35. I have had him for 27 of this year’s and he was abandoned in front of a pet store and nobody has any idea as to what the first several years of his life we’re like. SMS his being 35 years old play stay by me and confirmed by the vet as a most likely age. Please help I am desperate


Hi Robbin,

A lot of birds simply do not care for pellets because they are boring. Your bird is actually a very good eater, so at least he is getting some nutrition from his fresh foods. Your goal should be to remove all loose seeds from his diet and replace it with a nutritionally balanced diet. The good news is he doesn’t have to eat pellets to get complete nutrition. Our foraging diets are nutritionally balanced the same as a pellet, but they contain fresh hulled seeds along with other nutritious ingredients. I know you said he didn’t eat Nutri-Berries, but I have never met a bird that wouldn’t readily convert to them if done the right way. We go by the recommendations of the Avian Vets who feed our diets. You need to begin with crumbling the berries and mixing them with his current diet. But this means you need to give him less of the seeds. Generally a half and half ratio is a good start. As he starts to eat the Nutri-Berries, you then will gradually increase those and reduce the regular seeds until he is only eating the Nutri-Berries. The last step will be to get him to learn to eat the Nutri-Berries whole without having to break them up for him. You didn’t mention the species of bird, so I’m not sure if he is considered a senior, but it sounds like he is. Ideally you would eventually get him to begin eating the Senior Bird Nutri-Berries. You will get a lot of waste to begin with, but again, I’ve never known a bird that will not convert – I have met a lot of owners who give up too soon because of all of the waste. 🙂  This may take months, but you need to stick with it, not give in, and not give him so much fresh food that he isn’t hungry enough to try the new foods. The best time to give him the Nutri-Berries with his seed is first thing in the morning. Do not give him the fresh foods until later in the day. Once he figures out that Nutri-Berries are food, he should begin to eat them. He just isn’t recognizing them as food yet as long as they are in the berry shape. Below is a link to our feeding guide with more tips and information.

Bird Food Guide

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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