toni wrote:Thank you so much everyone!
OMG Pajarita :O - I did ask 'shouldn't he be handfed soft foods still?' and they said no! He's on Harrisons high potency mix for molting, and Tidymix, plus a whole selection of fresh fruits and vegetables and nuts. As soon as my finger goes near his mouth he bobs his head up and down like hes trying to feed from it and i feel so bad for him but they told me he doesn't need hand feeding? Can you give me any advice on what I should offer him as i want him to get everything he needs and I thought he was too young to be fully weaned yet!!
Well, you need to take into consideration that, to a breeder (or a petstore), a baby parrot is merchandise and the faster you sell it, the more merchandise you move and the more money you make so, because the industry is completely unregulated and, although most people have the best of intentions but don't have any knowledge whatsoever about them, they wean the babies way faster than it should be done and can lie to you about it without it being illegal. If you check what macaw parents do in the wild, you will see that their babies stay with them for up to four years learning from them, and that the parents continue supplementing their food intake for nine months. I ALWAYS recommend that anybody who buys a baby parrot handfeeds even when the baby is already a juvenile and doesn't really need it from a nutritional point of view (which is NOT the case here). Why? Because handfeeding is the BEST (bar none!) bonding method we have and it prevents problems later on!
In your bird's case, he is old enough to eat on its own but he should still be handfed both for the nutrition, the bonding AND, last but NOT least, the feeling of belonging, of safety that they derive from it. I suggest you get yourself some handfeeding formula or, if you really want to do it right, make your own (I keep a jar of handfeeding formula in my fridge but I only use it in dire emergencies and until I have to time to get the materials to make my own because they are all soy-based and I don't feed any soy to any of my animals). When he makes that movement with his head, he is begging you to feed him... he is a little baby without a mama or a papa and he is asking you to be it, poor little thing! I would handfeed him twice a day (morning and night) and offer him two different kinds of soft food served warm and fresh also twice a day as well as 'adult' food on the side. Because that is what you are offering: adult food and the same way that you would not just put a plate of beef stew in front of a toddler and leave him to eat on his own but prepare special food for him and feed it with a spoon, you should not just put out adult parrot food in front of a baby parrot and leave it at that (and when you read this, you went "I KNEW IT!", didn't you?
). The thing is that, if you don't wean properly (and that means the kind AND amount of food PLUS the handfeeding), parrots develop eating disorders like constant begging (I am sure you have seen videos of adult parrots begging and begging and begging) or a condition where nothing is ever enough in terms of quantity (the parrot is fat and full and still begs for more) which, in time, means obesity (they've done studies with birds).
Soft food is just what it sounds like: food that is soft and easy digestible (same as for a human toddler). It's actually quite easy to make and the base can be whole grains (as in gloop), pastina, polenta, or even old fashioned oatmeal (not the instant kind) etc. mixed in with baby jar food.
I don't feed pellets because my research has found that they are not and never will be the best dietary option for parrots (too dry, no phytonutrients, inferior quality ingredients, all of them but Tops made with soy and lab made vitamins and minerals which we now know are not utilized as efficiently as the natural ones). I feed organic gloop with raw produce for breakfast and all day picking, nuts/seeds for dinner and I supplement with powdered multivitamin/mineral supplement twice a week (for the vit D3, mostly). I also change the diet from one season to another but that's another story... I've been doing this for over 20 years and not only my birds are healthy, the ones that come in with health issues are made better by it.
I also make my own handfeeding 'formula' by mixing whole grain flours with pureed baby food and fruit juice and/or water plus a bit of a multivitamin/mineral liquid supplement two or three times a week but I am a bit of a maniac when it comes to my animals food and people have used the commercial handfeeding formula successfully so start with that. The ONLY trick to handfeeding an older baby is to make sure the formula is at the right temperature (so keep a food thermometer handy) and that you insert the tip of the syringe on the left side of the beak pointing toward the right (this ensures the baby will not aspirate) but some people find it easier to just put the food under the tongue (in the 'bowl' of the lower beak) only some of them are real good with their tongues and push the syringe with it (my cockatoo does that).