How Bulk Re-Bagged Bird Food Can Make Your Bird Sick

I was reading in a parrot related forum recently about the great pricing a website had because it sold all it’s bird food in bulk. In other words not in factory sealed bags with nitrogen injected to kill larvae.
Basically the food gets shipped to you in a Ziploc bag. We see a lot of bulk bird food sold in pet shops with those fancy dispensers used to sell all sorts of bulk foods, nuts & candy.
Our biggest fear is Aspergillosis which is a disease found in the lungs of birds caused by the fungus Aspergillus. Aspergillus is found everywhere.
The bottom of bulk food bins are the perfect breeding ground for A. fumigatus and other flavors of the Aspergillus mold.
The fungus itself doesn’t cause the disease but if your bird’s immune system is compromised Aspergillosis can be triggered. What lowers your birds immune system & redirects calories? Stress, molting, egg laying & the changing of seasons are some contributing factors.
African grey parrot wearing surgical mask

We don’t sell bulk bird food in any form because we don’t want to make your bird sick. Aside from that not-so-minor detail if you’re buying re-bagged bird food you don’t know:

1) When it expires (or when it was produced)

2) If it’s been exposed to birds

3) If it’s kept in bins and the bins are not washed out and sanitized before each refill you don’t know what has been collected in the bottom of the bins. This is a breeding ground for molds that can potentially contribute to Aspergillosis (see explanation above)

4) You have no guarantee that fillers have not been added

5) You’re never really sure what you are getting & what you paid for. Bulk food usually doesn’t have an ingredient panel on the bag.

6) Unless their scales are certified by the local health department on a regular basis (as they are for restaurants) bag weights may not be accurate.

7) The country of origin

8) The manufacturer’s warranty which means you can’t get it replaced under warranty should you find the food compromised in any way.

9) What kind of storage building it’s housed in. Much re-bagged bird food comes from people who store their bird food in farm buildings. Many of these buildings have high concentrations of farm animal fecal particulate in the air – which is why they smell like barns.

 Ask yourself if saving a few dollars but potentially jeopardizing the health of an animal with one of the most complicated metabolisms on earth is worth it?
Which is why we only sell bird and parrot filled in factory sealed bags. 

This insures the bird food comes from a sanitary environment, contains the ingredients listed and the bags and will have full efficacy through the expiration dated imprinted on the sealed bag.

Lastly many of you who buy re-bagged bulk food will say “I’ve never had a problem with it” As someone who sells more than 10,000 pounds of bird food every month I promise you there may come a time you say “until now”

If you feel your birds are wasting bird food – please reach out to us for caged bird keeping management solutions that will save you money.

BTW – You can freeze bird food but you’re taking a chance of the vitamins degrading.
If you’re going to freeze it should be in a chest freezer because they are colder than a standard refrigerator freezer. Freezing will also dehydrate seeds.
find all our hagen bird food here too
written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

How do I know if my bird is being broody?


If your bird is hiding in places like this



She’s probably being broody



Although these little nesting areas your bird finds make adorable photographs they should be avoided in order to help reduce the production of eggs if you’re finding this to be a problem. Especially if you have a mating pair.


Cockatiels can be prolific egg layers whether or not they have a mate. You may find that your tiel is laying eggs more frequently than some chickens.


For the most part things can go well but you have to be aware that eggs can get caught up inside the bird which is called egg binding.


The birds body will also reroute calories to the reproductive system pulling them away from their own bodies immune system so you want to keep a close eye on your birds health & demeanor.


The longer days of summer can trigger egg laying activity. If you are using artificial lighting this would be a good time to reduce the birds artificial daylight by an hour or so and cover the cage a little earlier. About 10 hours of lighting tops is all your bird is going to need.


If your bird has an interest in sitting on the eggs let her have them for a few days and pull them after she has gotten tired of them or 3-4 weeks at most, but don’t bother replacing them with fake plastic eggs which are mainly for actual breeding purposes.
With a mating pair of cockatiels, sitting on the eggs is shared duty. A single female cockatoo will feel additional stress for pulling double duty which further depleting her body’s immune system. This would be the proper time to provide a robust multi vitamin and calcium supplement.


If you have problems delivering supplements to your bird watch the video below for a simple solution.





written by mitch rezman

approved by catherine tobsing


Is organic bird food really better for my bird?


First off, I love your site and am grateful to have found it. I like local shops, don’t shop Petco, and most pet stores don’t have a great bird section anyway. I haven’t bought anything yet, but I will.

shop 26 brands of bird food

I’m writing because I have a question about Bell, my quaker parrot. He squeaks. He didn’t used to, and it seems to be getting more pronounced. When he sleeps and sometimes when he eats – it just occurred to me it must be a breathing thing. I should take him to the vet, maybe.

Read moreIs organic bird food really better for my bird?

Feather plucking parrots – a questionnaire to help work through the problem

As you can imagine we get a lot of calls and emails about feather plucking problems. Because of this we are the only website on the Internet to have a comprehensive feather plucking category which contains products that we know (based upon feedback from our 70,000 plus customers) are helpful in the reduction and/or the elimination of feather plucking. Many of the emails are quite detailed. Others will ask nothing more than “My bird is plucking what can I do”?

There’s an old joke, a guy walks into the doctor’s office and says “Doc, it hurts everywhere”. The doctor says “show me.” The guy touches his arm and says “It hurts here”. The doctor asked him to touch his head which he did and the man said “it hurts here as well, doc”. “Now touch your leg” said the practitioner. Which the man did and said “It hurts there even more!” To which the doctor replied “Your problem is obvious, your finger is broken”.

We take them out of the sky – cut off half their wings – confine them to 10 sq ft restricted areas that noway resemble a tree for endless hours in places where the sun sets at 5 PM. We feed them engineered & manufactured food found nowhere in nature.

So why is it such a mystery that even our veterinarians can’t figure out how to prevent the self-destructive behavior that so many of our feathered companions exhibit?

We can’t begin to diagnose something as complicated as feather plucking without asking questions. Some plucking triggers may be apparent – if you’re looking in the right places. Change a painting on a wall, move a piece of furniture. Maybe the new carpeting in the upstairs bedroom hasn’t fully out gassed? This is why we recommend pulling everything out of your bird’s cage at least once a month and rearranging the aforementioned bird toys & accessories.
Yes we want to freak your bird out. Yes we want him or her to be highly inquisitive and suspicious of the new cage feng shui (you added new stuff too right?) We want a skeptical psittacine. While focused on the new digs, it may distract them, even for a short period of time and keep the from plucking their freakin’ feathers. How often do you rearrange your bird cage?
That little thing that you plug in the wall in the powder room to make it smell nice, ditch it whether your bird is plucking or not, it’s dangerous (respiratory reasons). Scented candles are a big safety hazard for birds. Actually even if the candle is not scented, it’s important to note that birds in particular are very sensitive to the smoke and soot produced by petroleum-based paraffin candles. Birds are also not afraid of a candle’s flame.
So if you are interested in having a dialogue with us about feather plucking simply cut and paste the list of questions below into an email. Answer the questions the best you can and send them back to
Chances are we won’t be able to answer everyone individually. We will do our best or include you in any “we see a pattern responses”. By sending us your retort you are agreeing to allow us to post the information (your first name only – no email) on our blog which will also appear on many social media sites. I know some of you will say this list reminds me of the lyrics to the David Crosby song, Immigration Man. “Here I am with my immigration form, it’s big enough to keep me warm”.
There’s probably a couple of dozen more questions we can ask. Keep in mind this is a problem that makes many board-certified avian vet’s scratch their head. The reason that we’ve had moderate success (“overwhelming success” would in fact be an overstatement) is because we look at the bird’s environment as a “captive”, look at the bird holistically and ask that you see yourself as a caged bird keeper.
First name:
Email address:
How long has your bird been plucking?
Species (please be specific, there are 24 species of Macaw):
Your bird’s sex if (known) by DNA or feather color (dimophic bird)?
Your bird’s age?
How long have you had your bird?

Is this the bird’s first home?

If not, do you have any information on its last home?

In winter do you have forced air or passive (radiator) heat?
In winter is a humidifier in use?
What human foods are being offered?
Is any citrus being fed to your bird?
Has the human pecking order changed (divorce – child goes to college)?
Has something changed in household furniture-drapes-carpet-paint?
Are there other animals in the home?
What manufactured bird food(s) are being served?
Do you purchase your bird seed from a bulk container like a barrel or plastic drop-chute?
Is there ever any poop in your bird’s drinking water?
Bird toys, what types and how many?
How many bird toys are in the top 1/3 of your bird’s cage?
Any other birds in the home?
In summer do you have central air or use a fan(s) to cool your bird?

Is your home teflon free (including waffle irons & hair dryers)?

Is the bird cage placed against any walls or in the “middle of a room?
Do you cover the bird cage at night?
Does the bird get silence at birdie bed time?
Do you offer full spectrum lighting to your bird?
Is the lighting on a timer?
What is the size of the cage living area only?
On average how many hours is your bird out of the cage daily?
When you are out of the do you leave on “white noise” TV-radio?
How many perches are in the cage?
Are there any “flat” perches in the cage?
Any soft rope perches?
Manicure perches-if so where is it placed?
What type of perch does your bird sleep on?
Do you employ clicker training in your bird’s routine?
Do you regularly exercise your bird?
Is your bird fully flighted?
If you clip your birds wings and is the clip modest or severe?
Date of your birds last visit to an avian vet?
How often do you weigh your bird?
Have you tried any “anti plucking” supplements/sprays?
Has anything worked?
List the foraging opportunities in and our of your bird’s cage.
Is the bird cage placed near any picture windows or sliding glass doors?
Does your bird ever chew on its cage?
What is the style of the cage dome top/play top/flat top?
When out of the cage does your bird have a place to “hang out”?
Is your bird a one person bird?
Is your household on a regular schedule?
Have feathers been plucked little by little or overnight?
How often do you bathe or mist your bird?
Is there a tobacco user in the home?
Are there any use of air fresheners or scented candles in the home?
Is your bird exposed to fresh “outside” air when possible?
If you have a female could she be “utilitarian” plucking (feathers used for lining the nest)?
written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing

Why Do Eclectus Parrot Moms Peck Their Male Chicks to Death?

Feathered factoid: Eclectus parrots represent about 20% of parrots that are sexually dimorphic meaning you can tell the sex of the bird by it’s color.

Eclectus boys are green, girls are red. Only male Indian Ringnecks – have the ring.

It’s like headlines ripped from supermarket check out tabloids

Read moreWhy Do Eclectus Parrot Moms Peck Their Male Chicks to Death?

Total Cockatiel personality change after death of cage mate – what can be done?


Hi Mitch–
I read about Popcorn’s ordeal while you were away and am hoping you have some suggestions. Until about a month ago, I had two cockatiels, Elm and Cal who were inseparable best friends. Elm passed away about a month ago and Cal is still freaking out. 
He squawks ALL THE TIME. He used to have pretty little songs and melodies. But this is loud and obnoxious and constant. I have to leave the security alarm off during the day while I am at work now because his squawking is so loud it will set off the glass-break sensor. His other cage mate, a Quaker parrot is still with him but he has not gravitated to her for company.
Woman scrtiching head of cockatiel
He has proper lighting, both day and night, set on timers so there is a good routine with that. I feed them avi-cakes and mixture of legumes, nuts and fruits with a small percentage of seeds and some table foods.
Any thoughts on how to help him get through his loss? Many thanks!
Hi Krysta – Catherine here:
I am so sorry for your birds loss of his pal.
We need to ask some questions (simply reply in comments below)
Were all three birds in the same cage?
In general Quakers can be aggressive to other birds so if you just put them together I would separate them into their own cages again.
How old is the remaining cockatiel?
How long were they together?
All males? 
Did they look similar?
If your remaining bird is elderly and you do not want to consider getting another cockatiel then I would recommend getting it a mirror.
Birds that lose their cage mates can often find comfort in seeing a similar bird in the mirror.
I wish I had any other way of offering your bird comfort but time will help.
Another option is to remove the birds from the cage and put them aside (in another cage for now), then rearrange the cage completely, move all the toys, perches, add some new toys too. Make sure there are places for the two birds to be able to retreat as desired. Then put the birds back inside and shut the door. This may help your bird become distracted by something else and it will take some time to get re-situated in the cage. 
We have Popcorn too who is a female tiel but she is as vocal as any male and loud so I do understand the problem with the calling. They are small birds but their call carries quite well.
Is your tiel tame? If so, try to offer it some comfort with scritches and a bit of millet. 
You can also offer comfort by trying to create a schedule for your bird.
Wake at the same time, radio goes on at the same time and off at the same time, lights on timers, fed at the same time, you come to greet your birds at the same time. The birds like a schedule and if your birds can begin to look forward to these things it may help too.
I hope some of this will help other than time.
catherine tobsing
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