Day 4 – Training Tip for Bird Owners.

31DayBirdBlogChallengeThe best training tip I can offer relates to avian diet.  Feeding fresh, healthy food helps your bird feel his best. A bird who feels good often behaves better and bites less.

Behavioural issues can often be helped, if not cured, by ‘fixing’ a bird ‘from the inside out.’

I have been experimenting with Mavi’s diet recently. He has a lot of hormonal energy at this time of year, resulting in charging behaviour and biting. Working on his diet has helped him calm down a lot. The result has been noticeable within two weeks. He still needs to burn off energy with a mad fly around the living room a couple times a day, but focussing on what he’s eating has helped us tackle his issue quickly.

For Mavi, I’ve begun to put fewer pellets in his bowl, plus really cut back on seeds and nuts. He eats a lot of fresh fruit and veg instead – and while this might stimulate another bird’s hormones, it works for ours.

Along that line of thought, something else I find truly important to remember is to stay flexible. What is okay for one bird and his owner may not work for Mavi, and then what works for Mavi may not do so for Ptak and the others. In the parrot world, there are those who say that one thing and one thing only is ‘good.’ In reality, there are many different, legitimate opinions!  It can be easy for me to slip into a my way is the right way kind of thinking, and for me… it is the right way. But someone else can have a different way, and that’s fine.

As it comes down to diet, personally I feed a base of pellets (Harrison’s) and a base of Tidymix, which includes seed, corn, dried fruit, etc. The smaller birds do still get seed (Trill) as I feel that there is benefit to it. But they’re not on a purely seed diet.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are served every day, plus meat twice a week. Chickpeas happen to be a superfood that’s good for hormonal parrots, so they get them heated up as well. The golden rule for feeding a bird is (and this is one thing that’s pretty concrete) ‘If it’s okay for me, it’s okay for them. If it’s bad for me, it’s a thousand times worse for them.’

There are a few things that always need to be avoided. This list is fairly short, but it includes:

Avocado, chocolate, caffeinated or carbonated products, alcohol, or sugary/salty/fatty foods, apple seeds, and raw onion.

For ideas on some good, basic foods to feed, I’ve written a post here. I also list some iffy foods that you may want to choose to avoid.

Another huge part of this ‘fixing a bird from the inside’ is vitamins. It’s being proven that a cuttlebone in the cage actually doesn’t do much, so while the flock enjoy gnawing on their cuttlefish, it’s possibly best to switch to powdered calcium. Bobo liked to have his vitamin powder sprinkled on toast, while the others prefer it in their water. I’ve tasted it myself, and it doesn’t have a taste.

While it is ideal to own a UV spectrum lamp, we can’t afford one right now, so we focus on some time out in the sun, as well as using the vitamins in their water. Because I try to feed raw as much as I can, I know they get a lot of nutrients from their food, but they need the extra boost. All parrots do – most are calcium deficient. If you think about how wild parrots spend all day in the sun, this makes sense. Here’s a bit about vitamin D3 synthesis.

Birds are covered in feathers, so their skin can’t simply absorb nutrients from the sun… ‘In most birds, the preen gland collects the precursor D3 from the bloodstream and concentrates it in the gland oils,’ (Arcadia, Lighting for Birds pamphlet). The bird then spreads the oil on its feathers and ingests the UV exposed material when it preens itself again – at that point, the oil enters the body as previtamin D. Finally, the liver and kidney convert this to vitamin D3.”

Birds who are lucky enough to have an outdoors aviary actually have much more vibrant feathers than birds who spend their time indoors, as do birds with a UV lamp.

In summary, changing up my birds’ diets has helped me, so you might want to give it a go as well if you’re struggling. If so, feel free to write a comment and let me know how it goes.

And if you’re not participating in the bird blogger’s challenge, what are your favourite training tips?

4 thoughts on “Day 4 – Training Tip for Bird Owners.

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  1. Yes! Diet is so important in keeping a bird happy… I actually struggle to get my tiels to eat varied – their previous owner brought them up on a diet of almost exclusively millet seeds, and they have trouble seeing other things as food. We have tried to include pellets in their diet, but they just won’t touch them. They have tried fruit and veg on several occasions, also rejecting it after an unethusiastic asessment of taste. Bowie is willing to try anything that we’re eating in front of her, and both birds are developing a strong liking for crackers and pasta, but I just wish they would eat their greens too ),: I am going to try feeding them home made birdie bread in the near future, and see if i can incorporate some chick peas or quinoa into that.
    Another tip which I feel I should add when it comes to training is to never force a bird into doing something it doesn’t want. Time and time again I see bird owners who are super intrusive on their parrots, and then the bird doesn’t trust them. And the owner rarely understands why this is. It’s really important to learn the body language of your birds, and how they try to communicate with you. Sadly, a lot of parrots cant say “i don’t feel comfortable with this” in english, so they tell you in their own way. If you ignore these signals, your bird will associate humans with coercion and stop liking them. This applies to trick training, feeding, and stroking. If your parrot tries to tell you ‘no’, either you trick them into thinking they actually want said thing or you back off and let the parrot have some autonomy. It’s like people, really. If a bird feels that you understand their wants and needs, they will be much more eager to spend time and interact with you!
    Anyway I loved this post 😀 people grossly underestimate the importance of diet with lots of animals, and sadly parrots are a very common victim of this.


    1. Good tip, and couldn’t agree more. We had to learn to give Mishka her space when we got her. It’s human nature to want to hover and try to help or intervene, but all she needed was time. We made huge leaps of progress once we figured that one out, haha. The next step was definitely learning how to trick her – in the best way possible. Now it’s a go-to strategy. Everyone wins.

      Oh! Something that helped Mishka learn to eat her veg (besides watching others enjoy some) was mixing it with other foods. Finely chopped, warmed, and mixed with pasta might well do the trick. Chop is a good one for this, or making up a sweet potato mash or birdie bread, too, with all kinds of stuff mixed in. As to pellets – some feed them, some don’t. Half our flock eats Harrison’s, and the other half look at me like I’m mad when I serve a handful up. I personally don’t think it matters, so long as I’m making an effort with the rest of what they eat! Thanks for writing!


      1. Yeah and cockatiels can be so temperamental sometimes! I find that just treating them like equals and allowing them to join in on your human activities without actively trying to interact with them is a really good way of integrating cockatiels – they’re actually really helpful birds in their own way. Both of my tiels love to hang around me when I’m cleaning the dishes, cooking, doing homework, watching tv… It’s great for them to feel included as a part of the flock. But I’m sure you noticed that already – that even if Mishka doesn’t like to be touched she probably loves company.

        I have actually been looking into chop today! It looks great, I’m definitely going to give it a try soon. I will probably mix their normal birdseed into the mix to make it a little more familiar the first time round, and see if they’ll have it. I mean it even says on the package though, that some birds will just not eat pellets and that there’s nothing to be done about it sometimes. I live in the netherlands so it’s hard to come by american brands of bird food, online sources mostly reccomend stuff that you can only really get in the states. But there’s other ways of supplementing their diets, so I’m not too worried.


        1. I also like the mentality of treating the birds as equals. Mishka, though, she actually doesn’t enjoy human company. She is very independent… Some days she chooses to be with us (helping out with chores or dishes or just chilling on the sofa) but mostly she’d rather do her own thing WITHOUT people, haha. She is affected by her pet shop background, though. I think this is part of the permanent damage. Even years later, she merely tolerates us versus anything else!

          Chop is just great; we also make sprouts sometimes – very nutritious. The birds all love it.


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