25 December 2008

Adventures in avian nutrition

Lola will eat pretty much whatever I feed her so long as it looks like bird food. Chester, however, is a picky eater. I’d done the research when we got him, and knew I wanted to get him on a pellet-based diet, as it’s healthier in the long run.

With this in mind, I started off with Kaytee Fusion . It’s a blend of seed and pellets, designed to help convert your bird to a pellet-based diet. Result: Chester ate the seeds and mostly ignored the pellets. When the seed ran out and he was left with a pile of pellets, he scraped them out of the food dispenser onto the floor using his beak, and squawked angrily to demand something tastier.

So, I used a colander to sift all the pellets out of the mix and turn it into birdseed. I fed the pellets to the wild birds in the back yard. I got some Zupreem AvianMaintenance fruit blend pellets , which are pricier, but made with natural fruit and vegetables plus supplemental vitamins. I mixed these in with the bird seed. Result: He ate a few, but mostly stuck to the seed, and still threw a lot on the ground.

Next I tried Roudybush parakeet blend, on the recommendation of a local pet store worker and parakeet owner. It’s an all-natural pellet, with no food coloring, unlike the Zupreem. Results were slightly better: a few more pellets eaten, less waste.

I was seeing a trend: the more expensive and natural the food, the more acceptable to Chester. So to replace the seed part of the birds’ diet, I picked up some Ecotrition parakeet blend . It’s a blend of all kinds of seeds and vegetables, plus some egg, and very little coloring. For the pellets, I ordered a pack of extra fine pellets from Harrison’s Bird Foods . They’re certified organic, pesticide free, and the resealable pack recommends refrigerating them to keep them fresh.

So far, results are promising. No beak-scraping to get rid of any of it. Not much on the floor of the cage. Hopefully we’ve found Chester’s brand.

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