How to Get Your Bird to Eat a Varied Diet
How do you get the bird to eat new things? Keep in mind that birds are flock creatures. This means that they will eat better in a social setting. If you have a finicky eater or you are just introducing a new food to the bird, try eating the food yourself with the bird present.
If you or any other birds you own are eating with gusto, your finicky eater will be much more likely to eat or taste the food as well. Some birds need to be right next to you when you try this.
Birds eat better in familiar surroundings, without distractions. A noisy, chaotic environment will disrupt your bird’s mealtime. (And may give you ulcers as well). Try a nice quiet environment while you eat.
Keep trying! Keep offering the food. Don’t give up. Dietary changes can be accomplished with much patience and persistence on the part of the owner. Just because you offered the food two or three times and the bird refused to eat it, doesn’t mean that you should give up. It may take months before you see your bird enjoying all those wonderful foods that you are slaving away to prepare. Too many people only off a new food once or twice and stop offering it. Birds are like small kids. They make take a while before they will try something new. We know of a case where it took almost a year before the bird decided to try the new food!
Sometimes sweetening the food with a little honey may prompt nibbling. However, you must be careful about making this a habit. Too many sweets are not good for birds. (not for humans either). It could even lead to diabetes or death.
Tricking the Bird
Millet is a favorite seed of many birds. This is like candy to them. Try sprinkling milled or pieces of millet spray on top of the food. Start with more millet than other healthy food. Push the millet down into the new food. Your bird will pick at the millet and maybe even get a taste of the other food. As the bird starts to do this more readily, decrease the amount of millet until you no longer have to add any. We call this the sneaky approach.
Offer freshly sprouted seeds. You can start seeds yourself or buy sprouts in the produce section of your local grocery store. Varieties include alfalfa, beans and mixtures with radish and clover. This is a special treat for most birds and will start them getting used to different foods. Freshly sprouted seeds also contain lots of vitamins and minerals. Freshly sprouted wheat grass is also a healthy treat.
Another method that may work is to alternate offering seed a few hours at a time, then offering fresh fruits and vegetables, or other healthy foods for a few hours. Keep track of your bird’s weight if you do this. Remember to offer the fruits, veggies, etc. first, because your bird will be the hungriest in the morning. It will be more likely to try new foods then.
Sometimes presenting the food differently will get the bird to eat. Try chopping the food up into small pieces, or you can shred it. Alternate different foods on a daily basis. On the market is a birdie “shish-kabob” toy made to hold food.
Don’t forget about the power of jealousy. Whenever you have more than one bird, there is a competition for your attention. Use it to encourage your birds to do what you want them to do. (Hint: this advice pertains to other areas of training as well.) Birds are very much like little children. What ever one has, the other one wants.
Make eating a family affair — get your bird involved. Your bird will be the healthier for it. This is not meant to imply that you allow your bird to go from plate to plate, taking whatever it wants, or walking over your food. Little birdie footprints in your mashed potatoes is not exactly appetizing. THE BIRD MUST LEARN PROPER TABLE MANNERS! Try using his own dish or make a special place for him by placing is stand near the table. A bird without table manners is open to many different accidents such as being scalded from hot foods or choosing the wrong food for itself. Wrong foods are chocolate, avocados, and rhubarb. These CAN kill it. Mayonnaise products are included as well, because mayonnaise can go bad rapidly. (Hint: The word “NO” figures prominently in any discussions of birdie etiquette.)
Feed your birds all types of goodies. While some of them prefer to eat with the family, you should still offer these foods in their treat cups daily. So far a favorite snack food has been popcorn (plain). Birds differ in how they eat it – some have gone so far as to jump into the popcorn bowl. Mix other healthy foods in with their special goodies. For special treats try stringing grapes, popcorn, whole peanuts on a thing string (not too thin), Remove as soon as the food disappears. Also as a special treat, pine cones stuffed with peanut butter and seeds are welcomed by some larger birds.