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?