By Diane Burroughs
People are living longer than ever these days thanks to improved medicine, cleaner living and healthier eating. Our pets are living longer, too with the help of fresh food. Just look at the number of gourmet and state-of-the-art dog foods available–and the number of brands is increasing yearly. Owners pay premium prices for these top-shelf diets and are happy to do so.
There is no reason you bird(s) shouldn’t enjoy the same treatment. If you aren’t doing it already, make one of the commercial bird foods a major component of your bird’s diet, cutting way back on seed, which offers inadequate nutrition and too much fat. With some persistence you can get your bird to become accustomed to a commercial diet by mixing it with some of its favorite soft foods and limiting access to seed. Commercial bird food by Harrison’s, Roudybush and Goldenfeast are among the brands most used by bird owners.
Don’t forget the fresh food. Spring is the time for a produce explosion at local and famer’s markets. Organic produce is all the rage right now, with most supermarkets increasing their selections and enlarging their specifically designated organic food islands. Not only are these foods grown without growth hormones and insecticides, but they are also quite affordable and contain the antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals your bird needs.
The winter’s scant fruit and veggie offerings give way in spring and summer to delicious seasonal berries like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Standard melon varieties like watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and casaba become increasingly available, as do tropical fruits such as papayas, bananas, mangos, star fruits, kiwis and passion fruits. Figs, plums, apricots, peaches, nectarines, grapes and pineapples are other sweet choices.
The selection of vegetables also increases in the spring. Sweet corn, sugar snap peas, string beans, bell peppers, summer squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots, radishes and a wide assortment of fresh greens like mustard, kale, collard, arugula and radiccio are plentiful.
Don’t forget other ways to get variety and nutrition into your bird’s diet. Some of the foods available year-round are important, too. Soaked and cooked rice and bean mixes using white and brown rice, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, lima beans, northern beans and corn can serve as the base of these diets, and they can be supplemented with fresh sprouts right before feeding, which will add a nutrient boost to any avian diet.
When switching your bird over to a better diet, don’t completely replace its old diet with new food items all at once. Do it gradually.
Introduce something new each day and keep track of your bird’s preference among a range of foods. Seed, if fed at all, should be a small portion of the diet (15%). Nuts should be a small portion of the diet, especially for macaws and large hookbills that need higher fat content in their diet. An almond in the shell or hazelnut can make a fun and entertaining edible toy for some of the larger hookbills. A commercial diet can form another 30% of the diet. Fruits, although delicious and relished by most birds, should not be overfed. Apples seem to be a universal favorite. They should be cut in small morsels and supplemented with any of the aforementioned fruits to make up about 15%-20% of the diet. Finally, a mixture of shredded dark greens and vegetables mixed with a rice and bean mixture should form the final 35%-40% of the diet.
Your bird will learn to love the variety and will be healthier than ever before. For a choice of commercial diets, visit http://www.birdsupplies.com/bird-food/.