Today, I deceived Ptak.
Pip, Mavi, and Mishka, you see, are excellent eaters. They eat what’s put in front of them, when it’s served. This afternoon, they dined on baby corn, peas, kale, and rasberries. Mavi had to get his out of a foraging toy. They finished every last bite of theirs (what was flung counts, right?) and would probably have eaten more had I let them.
Ptak, however, received the same, but will only eat his seed. And only specific seeds at that.
He is an addict.
But something changed today – at least for the moment. O. and I had a day off – and I deemed it the time to scrub cages and sanitise everything. I let Mishka out to help me – she is a cockatiel, after all, and supervising is what ‘tiels do best.
Ptak’s cage was first, so I popped him in Mishka’s (empty) cage to amuse himself while his was systematically disassembled and cleaned.
I tricked him, though. I emptied Mishka’s bowl and re-filled it with fresh fruit and veg that I had both chopped and left whole. He watched me do it. I also mixed in a small amount of seed and pellets. We’ll call this the boring bowl.
In Ptak’s own bowl, I put in the same fruit, vegetables, and pellets, plus a really tiny serving of seed, and then poured in a teaspoon of fruit juice. Apple and mango, in case you’re curious.
Mixed it all up.
Put it in on the opposite side of the cage from Mishka’s bowl.
And I had only to wait.
It was clear that Ptak thought that he had stumbled onto something wonderful all of his own accord. He treated the ‘boring’ bowl (which he is very familiar with, as he sneaks into Mishka’s cage all the time to eat and explore) as if it were terribly dull – but his own bowl, he would not leave. He warned me off when I tried to remove him, so he ended up spending ages in there stuffing his face.
Let me reiterate. Stuffing his face with actual healthy food. For the first time in an age.
So what qualifies as ‘tasty’ to a picky eater? Well, this picky parrotlet, anyway, gnawed the peas, relished the strawberry, and discarded the raspberry after a taste. I don’t know about the baby corn, as Ptak has a bad habit of chewing his food to bits rather than eating it. Hopefully he got a taste of that too.
Verdict: fruit juice makes everything palatable to a finicky eating parrot. A change of environment and routine may help, too.
So Mishka may be sacrificing her cage again in the near future.