Ask Lafeber


November 9, 2020

Soft Food or Fresh Food

Sorry for your loss!!

In regards to the soft food or fresh food. I am a caretaker for a senior. Currently, I live here and currently I am here all day just to take care of a number of eclectus and one severe macaw. We live in Zone 10A, in Newport, CA. 10A is for gardening, but it shows kind of humidity, weather, our seasons, a number of things.

Is there an order and ratio to foods and snacks? Currently I have been making birdie bread with different things including high in egg and shells, and mostly for mornings and freezing after. At least so far, it works great for the macaw, because she is SUCH a picky eater and starving. She hates eggs and shells but is such a carb eater. She has been tested, is considered healthy, but unfortunately, she eats her poo and kind of helps her feathers when they are coming out just to grab them out and eat the ends of her feathers.

Do you have any recommendations?


Hi Mary & Kathryn,

Healthy snacks can be up to 10% of their daily diet, with fruits & veggies making up another 10%. Mainly you don’t want them to fill up on extra foods and then not eat enough of their daily staple. I’ll give you a link to our feeding guide that has a lot of suggestions for you to be able to offer a daily variety.

Severe macaws are great birds – I have two. Generally they are really good eaters. Has the testing on this bird been done by a board certified Avian Vet? I am only asking because sometimes the routine tests can’t detect a less common problem. Has the Vet said she is underweight? Does she pluck or damage her feathers or only chew on the molted feathers? Birds eat to satisfy their caloric needs. If she seems to be insatiable, there may be an underlying cause. There are things that can cause poor absorption of nutrients such as internal parasites or avian bornavirus. Avian bornavirus is also being researched as a possible connection to feather destructive behavior. So this might be something to discuss with the Vet. We do have a veterinary diet for birds that need some help putting on weight. The nutrients are more concentrated. They are only available through a Vet, so you can ask your Vet about possibly ordering Nutri-An Cakes Recovery and Nutritional Support for Large Birds. There is also a formulation for weight loss and maintenance so you do not want that one. I would limit her snacks and try to get her to focus on her daily diet – pellets, Nutri-Berries, etc. or Nutri-An cakes if this is what the Vet thinks will help her. Severe macaws are usually big chewers, so try some wood toys made from different types of soft, medium and hard woods. This will give her some she can destroy and some she will have to work harder on. They also like leather and other natural materials. Look for USA toy makers and check out their Facebook pages or reviews to see what other bird owners recommend. I’ve seen some sketchy items on Amazon, so research the source before ordering anything. One of my Severes has chewed through more than one Manzanita perch as well as grapevine, and those are two of the hardest woods you can find for pet birds. Their beaks are very strong in relation to the size and you have probably found she is pretty loud considering her size.

Our Ask the Vet with Dr. Tom Tully will be this Friday, so you might want to ask his opinion, also. Much information is shared between Avian Vets, but it’s always good to get different views because experiences and individual birds vary. To give you an idea, one of my Severes eats 6 Nutri-Berries per day but the other eats 12. Their activity levels and metabolism is that different. So don’t get too caught up in numbers or percentages. For a daily diet that is nutritionally balanced, they can have as much as they want each day. You only need to limit the healthy snacks ans fresh foods.

Bird Food Guide

Thanks for the update,


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