A Diet Your Bird Would Eat in the Wild – It’s Healthier, Right?

Super Bowl Sunday and we’re pinned in by snow and freezing temperatures. Popcorn our black tail Albino Cockatiel (A.k.a. the tail dragger) flitting between the top of my computer monitor play stand and the floor creating little clouds of seed husks and the pieces of woven IKEA baskets at the bottom of our entertainment center.
How do I pick what to write about each week? I’m an analog guy living in a digital world. Being a post war baby boomer I grew up watching black-and-white TV. I still like watching old war movies where the radio guy is frantically turning dials trying to “tune in” to a certain radio frequency.
You may be reading this from an email, on our blog or perhaps from a link from a social media site. We have an 800 number. That puts me in front of a LOT of people. Asking for your feedback and listening to your bird care challenges, has fallen under the “be careful what you wish for column”. It’s getting kind of noisy here people – but in a good way. There is no app or software that truly allows you to “tune in” I try to get out there and chat with a lot of you – if’s the analog side of things. So I’ll usually pick a topic with the most “noise” at the time I’m sitting down to write.
A constant source of discussion is bird nutrition. The calls and the inquiries start many times with, “we want our birds to eat what they would eat in the wild so they can eat healthy!’ Which makes perfect sense, to provide the equivalent of what your bird would eat in the South American rain forest, Australian Outback or Serengeti plains in Africa.
How can I say this indelicately? I can’t – Are you freakins nuts? It’s not uncommon to see flocks of birds in the wild with a mortality rate of 20% or more. Did you know the largest threat to California Condors is lead poisoning from carcasses that hunters choose abandon?
Californian Condor flying left to right
Seriously, this is the 21st-century, Which seems to be the century of “can we make things any more complicated?” Social media sites are filled with every bird companion’s opinion on a proper nutritional programs for hundreds of parrot/bird and parakeet species. Lots of conflicting evangelists. What’s right for your bird? Quite frankly, I’m not sure, so over the next few weeks, I’m going to lay out all the nutritional options we offer. Then you can hopefully begin to decide, the path you seek to follow.
I will frame this by telling you that if your bird is getting good nutrition, don’t change what works. In that we offer a huge variety of bird food and treats you may see things you haven’t before. Different doesn’t need mean better. We just wanted to let you know there are solutions – even for “your” bird
Button Mark Hagen on Avian Nutrition Button Biography of Mark Hagen
Tips from a Vet Button Tropican Bird food Pellets & the Competition
Button Hagen Bird Nutrition Review
We’ve been offering Hagen For about 10 years. Hagen bird foods are unique for a number of reasons. Notably they use approximately 350 pairs of parrots both domestic and wild caught to develop their brand. One notable statement Mark Hagen the developer of these foods makes is “Some Breeders have a romantic notion that captive diets which are complicated, labor intensive, using expensive ingredients are the most nutritious. Yet it is possible to feed easy to prepare, cost efficient diets which do not compromise proper levels of essential nutrients.”
Hagen has and continues to micro measure input as well as output, Hagen has been able to create a full line of avian nutrition is split into three brands. Living World, Tropimix & Tropican. Living World Premium Parrot Food contains assorted exotic nuts, naturally grown fruits and vegetables, plus Tropican Fruity Granules. It can be a good diet base when combined with the appropriate fresh foods.
Hagen bird food on sale all february 2014
Living World Premium Parrot Food contains assorted exotic nuts, naturally grown fruits and vegetables, plus Tropican Fruity Granules. It can be a good diet base when combined with the appropriate fresh foods
Tropimix incorporates Tropican morsels with more than 50% fruits and nuts and is free of husks or shells, eliminating messy waste. It can be a good diet base when combined with the appropriate fresh foods. To increase palatability, moisten Tropimix with warm water. Because birds may select their favorite ingredients from their food, Prime Supplement should be used.
Tropican is the only formulated food line that most birds will need in their lifetime, from a newly hatched baby chick to a mature, breeding adult. For baby chicks, Tropican Breeding Diet is a formula product with no guesswork, recipes or cooking required. Tropican High Performance Granules provide stressed or breeding birds with extra protein and minerals. For regular maintenance, Tropican Lifetime Granules or Lifetime Food Sticks ensure that fussy eaters get a full balanced diet. Since Tropican incorporates vitamins and minerals,

Help – My Catalina Macaw is chewing everything!

catalina macaw
I have ordered toys from you previously. To be quite honest, I have probably ordered at least one toy from every place I’ve found online. 

I have a 5 yr old Catalina Macaw that I have had since he was 6-1/2 weeks old. At 6 months old, he broke the bars of his first cage, then we got him a big “Kings Corner” Cage, and it didn’t take him long to learn how to open the latch on the door, so we have been duct-taping that for quite some time now.

Then, he learned how to maneuver his tongue just enough to get the circle to spin so that the flat/solid food doors would open, then he would push the dish out with his head and get out of his cage, go around and undo all the other doors and then walk around the top of the cage like he was saying “ha ha ha I got out…” The only toy that ever lasted is a simple metal swing that used to be covered with rope and toys and such, he destroyed those in minutes and kept the metal ring as a swing/massager for his wings and such. 

ALL other toys he will either get through in an hour TOPS (and those are the really good ones that say they are “parrot proof” or “macaw proof”), the only other toys that stick around are the ones with hard wood pieces, for which he takes a little off the edge occasionally and then loses interest. 

I have yet to find a B.E. that holds his attention for a relatively long time and I was hoping you could help me with this, maybe come up with something, or recommend your best?? Preferably NON-food related, as he is already about 100g over weight, he is fully-flighted, and can still fly, but I’ve already lost him once, so I’m a little hesitant to let him try flying outside again (even if it is on harness and a really long leash meant for that. 

Alright, that’s all I have to say, please help if you can! Or direct me to someone you think may be able to.
Thanks! – Stephanie

Buy Interactive Bird Toys at Windy City Parrot

Hi Stephanie – Thanx for the email

Unfortunately birds will be birds and your Catalina is behaving quite normally. That said I have a few solutions I can offer up. First duct tape is a bad idea. It has adhesive that can snag feathers. Wings can be broken in an attempt to escape the adhesion.

Safety tip: Should your bird get ensnared in adhesive – duct tape, scotch tap , fly trap, rodent trap – cooking/olive oil is your friend . Oil will instantly break an adhesive bond, 

As for chewing up toys – if your bird was in the wild he’d fly 50 or 60 miles a day stopping as many as 30 times to “forage” for food. He’d use his beak to scrape under rocks and rotted old trees seeking food. He’s just acting out what nature is telling him to do naturally. 
My advise would be to make your own toys. The don’t have to be big, fancy or colorful,. He just wants to chew. Please watch my video to show you how to make big bird toys in under 5 minutes 

Because he’s a chewer I wouldn’t let him fly outside with a line – he’d chomp it off. You can do things like chase him around a blanket on the ground or up a flight of stairs for exercise. 
You can also hold him by his feet and move him up & down. He’ll flap his wings in response which is another great exercise.

Hope that helps

Mitch Rezman

All Seed Diet Problem for a Senegal Parrot

Senegal Parrot

A woman just called and asked if we had any Beta Carotene. We asked why she was looking for that particular product. She replied her 6 year old Senegal was not looking well.

Next question – what’s his regular diet? Answer – “a bag of seed”
This is where we now had to have to have the “talk” A bird can not live a long a healthy life (I recent posted about a 26 year old budgie on Facebook) strictly on a bird food seed diet. 
The woman explained she had tried to introduce human food but to no avail. Lettuce. Not a nutritional food – but its a start. We ask that you introduce some sort human food every day. By not doing so you’re setting a routine for your bird that is hard to break. Your bird becomes scared of change.
We fed Sunshine our Indian Ringneck parrot something fresh (or thawed from frozen) every day for 20 years. Sure it can be a pain when you’re trying to get out the door when your running late – but it’s your responsibility.
The woman is coming in to discuss nutrition and vitamin use. One of the things we talked about was, if you’re going to us a bird food supplement like Hagen Prime don’t sprinkle it over the seeds – it will fall to the bottom of the dish. Put it in the water and it gets tossed daily. Your best bet when putting bird vitamins on bird food is to use a salt shaker and lightly sprinkle over an apple slice or piece of banana

Congo African Grey who regurgitate his food

Tory Violette
Hi Catherine and Mitch, I’m writing about Jasper my Congo African Grey who is now 8 months old. Well since he was about 16 weeks old he has been doing the motions to regurgitate his food when I pet him and talk to him. Well yesterday morning it finally happened. He brought up food and he really worked hard at bringing up the food. I know that it has something to do with him wanting to make me his mate. At least that’s what I was told a long time ago. My Macaw did that and the place I got him from told me that’s he was doing. He was trying to give me his food as he would do in the wild if he had a mate. The male will feed the female. I see that in my back yard with Cardinals. The male always feeds the female the peanuts that I give him, when he comes and asks for it. So what can i do with Jasper if this is what he is doing. Is there any advise you can give me?? He is an extremely lovey bird. More so than I have seen in a bird. when he sits with me on the couch he does weird things, like try and rub against me. He is always trying to get in the position to have his head pointing downward and his bottom end up toward my shoulder. I put him over on his portable perch when he gets to over whelming. Then he poops right away and wants to come right back. I have trained him basically to poop on command. When I try and leave him there longer then if I was just putting him there to do his thing. He gets upset and stomps his feet and yells at me. So could you please tell me for sure if that is what he is doing when he regurgitates his food. Every time I pet him and talk to him he starts that motion to regurgitate. Thank you very much 
Dear Tory, it sounds like you have a female, not a male. And she is getting in the mood. You may be bringing some of this on yourself. Birds that are pet below the neck basically consider it “foreplay”, you will have to restrict your petting to the head and neck only, not stroking down the body, etc. Avoid letting her rub herself against you, re-arrange the cage as well, moving everything all around to give her some distraction and anything that allows her to rub against it in just the right spot and hopefully shift her out of her comfort level and thus become less broody. NO tents, NO cozys, NO piles of paper to play in, NO boxes. Cover her cage 10-12 hours a night and if she is not able to have quiet bed time where her cage is (you stay up late with the loud TV/music on or walk by the cage all the time), then get her a sleeping cage (it can be a lot smaller than her regular cage) that she can go into at night in a quiet dark room. NO closets. (yes, people have done that). How many toys are in her cage? Add more, foraging type toys for treats and pellets, less shreddable toys. A greys cage should have 15-20 toys in it lining the inside the top third of the cage, like a canopy of leaves. Plus some foot toys on the bottom. Does she usually expect to be held or on your shoulder when off her cage? Do you have stands for her in all the rooms you take her into? If not, then you need them. She can be with you, but not ON you. There should be toys, etc on each of the stands. Is she clipped? Let her walk behind you, don’t carry her around all the time. Exercise helps too. If not clipped, then let her fly if she is familiar with the area, WITH a location she knows is there for her to land. (thus the extra stands). If she lays an egg, and it does not break. Put it in an open box with some padding and let her tend to it until she gets bored, or breaks it. 3-4 weeks. Then take it all out. A trip to the vet would also be a good option. I hope this helps. Catherine

Egg Laying Umbrella Cockatoo

We have a female Umbrella Cockatoo, age 26 who, despite head-only petting when she is ‘broody’ will lay an occasional egg or two (maybe once a year, sometimes not for a couple years). 
I have never been able to find the answer to: Is it better to let her sit on the eggs or take them away immediately? We have tried both methods. She gets a very healthy diet and supplemental calcium when she is going to lay.
I have read that if you take away the eggs, it encourages them to lay more, but I worry that sitting on the eggs for several weeks isn’t good for her either. Has any research been done on this topic?

The amount of eggs your bird is producing is not a problem, but it is best to let her keep them so she does not try to lay another in its place over and over. If they crack, remove them. You can also replace the eggs with a ball of similar size.
Do you have a nest or box or cozzy she sleeps in? Take it out. Give her a shallow, open, not dark box for her eggs if she has them now, then discard it all when she is done.
I recommend rearranging her cage so it is all new to her and that will help distract her from being too comfy and wanting to raise a family.
Overall, our handling our birds like children, stroking and petting them only serves to arouse them and start their urge to lay. We have to restrict our petting to their heads. 
Is she also getting 10-12 hours of undisturbed darkness each night? A cage cover or a light blanket is a good start. Or move her to a sleeping cage at night in a quiet, dark room and bring her back out during the day.
Strange (to your bird) light cycle can trigger egg laying. Full spectrum lighting on a timer near your birds cage can help correct this
I hope this helps.

How does Roudybush bird food pellets compare to Harrison’s?

They are both excellent food for your bird. Harrison’s has USDA organic going for it Roudybush has no peanuts Harrison’s does.
Roudybush also has a little variety now in that they recently came out with California blend having more fruit and veggies like dried peaches, apricots, plums, bell peppers, carrots, tomato and cabbage combined with Roudybush Daily Maintenance pellets.
Roudybush daily maintenance has roughly 7% fat and 21% of its calories are derived from fat. Which theoretically helps in converting birds from a diet high in seed fat
With Harrison’s, it’s best to follow their recommended regimen and use Harrisons Organic Adult Lifetime after completing a dietary program of High Potency Formula for a period of at least 6 months.
Either bird food which falls under the category of “engineered” bird food which will theoretically sustain any caged bird for a lifetime without the need of additional vitamins.
That said – there ain’t no pellet trees in the rainforest so you still want to give you bird fresh fruits, veggies and nuts.
If you haven’t already please feel free to take a look at our complete bird food selection – hope that helped
Mitch Rezman

Random Bird Care Questions Answered

Several Green Budgies on tree branch
No ones favorite chore is taking out the trash. Today we not only have household and work waste but recycling as well. The 21st century brought us “digital” clutter. files, images, emails and sometimes stuff gets lost. Here’s some stuff I found in my digital dust pan. 
Budgies in the Bedroom

Hi…I was just reading some information on your website about where to place a birdcage. We Have a bird cage in our oversized master bedroom, however I read that bedroom is not a good idea. 
Why?? We have 6 parakeets in a huge cage and have had them in here for a year or so…
They seem to love it as do I… thanks – Linda

If it is working for you, don’t fix what’s not broken.

Generally , birds may not do well in a bedroom because:

#1 They may wake up earlier than you and will wake you up.

#2 You may keep them up later than they should.

Birds should have 10-12 hours of undisturbed so as not to be over stimulated. They may consider breeding due to increased day light.

Excessive breeding can deplete their calcium levels and cause early death in females and egg binding.

Covering their cage with a bird cage cover will help prevent these problems or put their cage in another room.

#3 Parakeets, may not be a problem, but larger birds can be affected negatively by witnessing sex so they would not belong in a bedroom at all.

I hope this answers your questions.


Can a I put 15 – 20 budgies in one outdoor aviary?



Generally speaking, Budgies will breed better in a colony than simply a single (male/female) pair. 

A big problem with placing a number of mixed sex budgies in a single cage is the issue of fighting. Colony breeders will do better in a colony than just 2 budgies but not all birds are allowed to breed in a colony.

Generally one or two pairs will most likely become a “dominant pair” not allowing others to breed. Thus you can lose control of colors you might be seeking.

One male will service many females in a single cage but one female in a cage with many males will end up “exhausted” (for lack of a better term) or even injured.

Females not allowed to breed in this scenario will simply drop their eggs to the bottom of the cage. Introduction of additional calcium (cuttle bone) is highly recommended

Also the noise will be much greater than having the same amount of birds in individual cages and any bond between you and any of the birds is unlikely.

If you decide you want to raise “aviary budgies” I would suggest two cages housing each of the sexes with a third designated breeding cage big enough for one or two pairs of budgies. 

Do the dimensions stated in the bird cage listings include seed guards?


The listed cage dimensions do not include the dimensions for the seed catchers. In general figure an additional 10 inches side-to-side and front-to-back. Using the seed catchers is optional, we don’t suggest using them, they are just another thing to wash and the birds do manage to toss things beyond the seed catchers anyway.

Lighting for Dometop Bird Cage

I have a dome A&E cage and I am looking at the lighting on your site with the wire bottom where the light stands on. How do you attach it to a domed top?

The light comes with a square frame with legs that easily fit a domed top cage. The light fits on top of it and the legs are set on top of your cage, including rounded top cages, they are best secured with plastic/nylon cable ties.
My bird loved his and played more in his cage after it was installed than in the 15 years prior.

Mitch Rezman

CMO Windy City Parrot

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