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diet transition and other questions

Talk about bird illnesses and other bird health related issues. Seeds, pellets, fruits, vegetables and more. Discuss what to feed your birds and in what quantity. Share your recipe ideas.

diet transition and other questions

Postby cstone01 » Mon May 13, 2019 7:48 am

I have not had a bird in the house for years and finally have my life at a point where I could own another and purchased an alexandrine almost a week ago. The woman I bought him from had him on a 100% seed diet plus French fries. They used white grapes to lure him but only as treats. Apparently she had bought him young at a pet expo with no bird experience. She was very afraid of him and couldn’t get him out of the cage because he would bluff bite at her. He is super sweet and steps up just fine for me already if I ignore the bluffing. She said thinks he is 4 or 5 years old but he still makes little baby bird noises.
I am trying to switch him from this seed diet to a mostly fruit/vegetables and a few pellets but I am having a very hard time getting him to try foods. I am offering all sorts of fresh food but he will only eat white grapes, asparagus and carrots. I grow sprouts and he may have eaten some radish and alfalfa sprouts but I think he was mostly playing with them. He refuses to try berries, bananas, peppers, snap peas, mango or any other fruit I have cut up. He will eat the white grapes but not red or black. I am worried about him getting enough food and have been monitoring his weight on a food scale. It hasn’t dropped too much but I am still worried. I was not given much extra of the seed mixture he was on but I have been offering a small amount of it to him while he is on the stand to make sure he is getting enough to eat. Should I go buy another bag of seed mixture and try to more gradually wean him off of it or will he eat the fresh food when he is hungry?
I was also wondering about tomatoes. Years ago when I had a bird all of the nightshades were on the foods to avoid list but reading recently I have seen them on some diet lists. Has the school of thought changed on this or are they still foods to steer clear of? I have some rainbow cherry tomatoes in the house and some are a similar color to the white grapes so I thought he may be more likely to try them. His feathers may be slightly dull looking but i only have past birds i have owned as a baseline. he also has some dark blackish tint on some of his wing feathers and i know this can be due to diet issues in some species but cannot find anything about this on alexandrines
One final question is about hair products. I have long hair and he loves to get under it and play with it and I started thinking if my hair products could harm him. I use
- Christope robin hair oil ingredients: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Coco-Caprylate, Oryza Sativa Bran Oil, Opuntia Ficus Indica Seed Oil, Fragrance, Inula Crithmoide Leaf/Flower Extract, Opuntia Ficus Indica Fruit Extract, Lecithin, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Amyl Cinnamal, Citronellol, Citric Acid, Benzyl Salicylate, Evernia Prunastri (Oakmoss) Extract, Linalool, Geraniol, Limonene, Hydroxycitronellal, Coumarin.
-But I am more concerned about the dry shampoo I use. It is not an aerosol but a powder you shake out. Bumble and Bumble Prêt-à-Powder ingredients: Zea Mays (Corn) Starch , Montmorillonite , Tapioca Starch , Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour , Silica , Polysilicone-22 , Fragrance (Parfum) , Hexyl Cinnamal , Linalool , Citronellol , Limonene , Coumarin , Geraniol , Butylphenyl Methylpropional , Potassium Sorbate. I know they have sensitive respiratory systems and was worried about the small particles being inhaled. Should I stay away from either of there products?
Thank you for your time, I know it was a long post. I haven’t had a bird in a few years and just want him to be as happy as possible.
cstone01
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 5
Number of Birds Owned: 0
Flight: No

Re: diet transition and other questions

Postby Pajarita » Mon May 13, 2019 9:25 am

Welcome, Cstone and congrats on your new baby but you forgot one very important thing: his name!
Now, please don't take this the wrong way because it's only meant as help for you: your bird is in what we call the honeymoon stage, when they are at their very best behavior and hardly ever bite -even the very aggressive ones are smart enough not to attack during this time. So, please, if he starts biting you in a month or two or three, don't think it's anything you did, it's that the honeymoon is over and he is showing his true colors. But, having said that, it doesn't mean that he might not continue being sweet to you. I've had birds that were given up because of aggression that have never ever bit me - not once - so it's entirely possible. And it's also entirely possible that he does. Just letting you know so it doesn't catch you by surprise.

Now, yes, you are 100% correct that his diet needs to be changed and FAST! Alexes are like IRNs and all other psittaculas: mainly fruit eaters so pellets are never recommended for them. Seeds are fine as long as they are very low in protein (I would start him off with a finch mix which is the lowest in protein and, after I take him to the vet and depending on what his bile acids test says, possibly switch him to a budgie mix). My birds (which were also fed a terrible diet of free-fed high protein seeds for years and years) are now on a finch mix (1 heaping measuring tablespoon) for dinner and gloop and raw produce for breakfast and all day picking (as well as liver cleansers and tonics). And, I have to tell you that I had no trouble whatsoever switching them to a better diet -as a matter of fact, they have started eating their leafy greens on a regular basis and that's the hardest part of a diet switch- and I will tell you my trick: do not free-feed any protein food and always serve the raw produce first thing in the morning (as soon as there is enough natural -NOT artificial!- light for them to see their food). You see, switching birds to a better diet is not only a matter of insistence (one week is nothing, you need to keep on doing it forever and ever, even if he keeps on throwing his food out for years to come) and presentation (large or small chunks, stuck between the bars or in a bowl, etc) it's mostly a matter of timing. All diurnal birds are crepuscular feeders (it means they eat at dawn and dusk) and are always hungriest early in the morning (it's the way Nature hard-wired them) and, in the wild, they go out foraging as soon as there is enough light for them to fly without mishap so giving them the healthier food in the morning is the way to go (no better sauce than hunger, right?). My IRNs eat either out of a bowl (like blueberries, black berries, sugar snaps, and, yes, grape tomatoes, etc) or from between the bars (for large chunks like bananas, oranges, apples, etc and all the greens) so try both and see what happens (they do like their food up high because they are canopy feeders (it means they get most of their food from the top of the trees).

Now, you can't free-feed any protein food so, even if you choose to continue feeding pellets (which I would not recommend), you need to find the right portion size and give it to him only for dinner. For the day, you need to feed something that is much, much lower in protein and fat than pellets and there are choices: gloop, mash, chop, birdy bread, etc. Personally, I've done years and years of research and have cared for hundreds of birds and, in my opinion, there is nothing better than gloop. All my birds eat it and LOVE it. It's super nutritious, very high in moisture and natural fiber, very low in protein and fat, easy to make once you get the knack of it, relatively inexpensive, great for adding supplements and different flavors (mine get one day spicy, one day what I call 'fruity') and, best of all, birds LOVE IT! I suggest you try it and see what happens because, if your bird is like any bird I've ever had (all my birds come from somewhere else, I've never bought a baby), he will be eating it in a matter of two or three days but, in order for this to happen, you need to practice tough love and not feed him any protein food during the day until the evening when he would get his portion of seeds (which will be taken out once he falls asleep so there is no protein food in the cage when he wakes up). Now, if you want to play it safe and ensure that he will eat it right away, you can try making a simple grain gloop where you would barely cook whole grains and not add any veggies to it. I used to do this years ago but I no longer do because I can transition a bird from pellets or seeds to a complete gloop in a matter of a couple of days. I took in a caique less than a week ago and he had been eating pellets and walnuts for years and he started eating it the very first day from the bowl I had it and while I was scooping it up to serve in the individual bowls! He loved it at first sight! My IRNs also started eating it on the first day and Casper, the white female, loves it so much that she actually gets inside the big bowl getting not only her entire head dirty with it but also her body :lol:

Ah, one more thing! The baby noises he makes is most likely a consequence of him not being weaned properly. And the stress bars (black portions on the feathers) can be diet related but they can also be from chronic stress - which, in turn, can be caused by disease so, if I were you, I would not wait to take him to an avian vet for a complete wellness check up (ask for a bile acids test to see how his liver is doing because he's had a real bad diet for years). And I also don't think that any shampoo or conditioner would affect him because you rinse them off but any 'leave on' conditioner might so, if this is what you use on your hair, I suggest you start using a non-toxic line that offers some sort of innocuous oil (sweet almond is toxic).
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14253
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: diet transition and other questions

Postby cstone01 » Mon May 13, 2019 12:09 pm

Thank you for the reply. I will look up the gloop recipe and give him some later today maybe he will eat some tonight. His name is now Hephaestion after Alexander the Greats general. He was called “big bird” before and I hope he stays sweet but if he develops behavioral problems I’m sure we can address them. She had him in the exact same cage I kept a cockatiel once, It was not nearly big enough and I’m not 100% sure but I think that may have contributed to him being cage aggressive there. He has an appropriately sized cage now at my house. I have an appointment for him with a vet in a week and a half, I will make sure they run the diagnostics that you recommended. Thank you again for your time.
Last edited by cstone01 on Mon May 13, 2019 12:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
cstone01
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 5
Number of Birds Owned: 0
Flight: No

Re: diet transition and other questions

Postby cstone01 » Mon May 13, 2019 12:20 pm

Oh, one other possible question. When I was younger my mother had a bird that she would sometimes give herbs and spices to as a treat. Like fresh dill, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks and I haven’t been able to find anything about this online. My previous bird never liked any of these things but is that safe to offer? My mother gave her grey all sorts of things she probably shouldn’t have back then.

Is there a good comprehensive list of “no foods” on this forum?

I would also like to thank you for your kindness. I have read some forums where people automatically respond with “You know nothing about birds and should not have one” to anyone who asks a question. I have been out of the game for a couple of years but I am trying to figure out what is best for him so it is nice to have an open community to ask questions in.
cstone01
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 5
Number of Birds Owned: 0
Flight: No

Re: diet transition and other questions

Postby Pajarita » Tue May 14, 2019 11:33 am

Well, my dear, anybody who says to somebody else: "You don't know anything about birds" is somebody who doesn't know enough him or herself because the sad truth is that none of us knows enough and anybody who thinks they do, know less than others. With parrots, we are all like Socrates and all we know is that we know nothing!

Now, parrots do enjoy strong flavors because they really have very few taste buds with all of them placed in the back of the throat and that's why they enjoy very spicy food as well as bitter and sour, too (they cannot taste sweet). Mine do enjoy spices - they get oregano, white and black pepper, paprika, thyme, sage, a little bit of garlic, cinammon (but not the sticks, only the powder and then only the true cinammon, the Ceylon one), ginger, the tiniest sprinkle of nutmeg and allspice, rosemary, etc. No parsley and no cilantro (VERY high oxalic acid) but they can have fresh basil and they adore chili powder!

As to what foods are not good: anything that has caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate), avocados, all animal protein (meat, cheese, eggs, etc), anything dehydrated, anything with preservatives and I also never give them collard greens or beet greens (way too high in oxalic acid) or spinach (way too high in iron for birds) but, aside from that, mine eat all kinds of fruits, veggies and leafy greens - and a very large range at that! I also don't give them kale often (once every ten days or two weeks) because is too high in sorbitol and can give them diarrhea.

My IRNs (VERY similar to Alexes) love raw broccoli and the greens that have crunchy stalks (like bok choy, Swiss chard and the very heart of the romain) but, when it comes to fruits, I haven't found a single one they would not eat.

Oh, I was thinking about what you said of him eating green grapes but not the red or black ones and thought that maybe it will help if you get green things - like kiwis and Granny Smith apples, for example - Oh, and cucumbers - they all like cucumbers! They are really very low in nutrition and quite useless when it comes to vitamins and such but they do have a lot of water and fiber in them.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14253
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes

Re: diet transition and other questions

Postby cstone01 » Wed May 15, 2019 7:27 am

In the last two days since my post Hephaestion has flipped a switch and he now eats any fruit I give him other than Raspberries and BlackBerries so I am very happy about that. I am no longer afraid he isn’t getting enough food. He really likes dill and sage. I am going to buy him some hot peppers tonight. Thank you for all of the advice and your time it is very much appreciated.
cstone01
Parakeet
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 5
Number of Birds Owned: 0
Flight: No

Re: diet transition and other questions

Postby Pajarita » Wed May 15, 2019 9:04 am

AHA! Success!! Psittaculas love fruits! But you still have to do a low protein food like gloop so, please do not forget as it's pretty much the only thing you can free-feed.
Pajarita
Norwegian Blue
 
Gender: This parrot forum member is female
Posts: 14253
Location: NE New Jersey
Number of Birds Owned: 30
Types of Birds Owned: Toos, grays, zons, canaries, finches, cardinals, senegals, jardine, redbelly, sun conure, button quail, GCC, PFC, lovebirds
Flight: Yes


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