Bird pellets are the most common type of food used to feed pet birds. They are convenient to use because you only need to pick up a packet at the store and feed them to the bird. It also gives you peace of mind knowing that they contain the correct amounts of all nutrients required by the bird.
What if you cannot afford bird pellets for your feathered friend? What if you happen to be in a place where pellets are just not available? Homemade formulas are the alternative.
It is important to have a few homemade hand feeding formulas for birds so that your bird doesn’t go hungry on the rare occasion when you cannot get your hands on pellets.
To come up with a good homemade hand feeding formula, you must have a basic understanding of your bird’s nutritional needs.
Understand Your Bird’s Nutritional Needs
Recommended diets for pet birds are more or less the same for most birds. They require fruits, vegetables and seeds or pellets. Differences come in depending on the specific bird breed because certain breeds require more of one component than others. Some birds are prone to obesity so it is important to keep this disease in mind especially if your bird is one of these.
Varying needs for specific breeds
African gray parrots do best on a diet of 70% basic nutrition such as pellets and 30% other foods such as fruits, nuts and vegetables.
Canaries thrive on breed-specific pellets or seed mixes, song mixes and vegetables. These birds need not be fed with vegetables on a daily basis. Two or three times a week is sufficient.
Conures are naturally active birds so obesity is not a concern with them. They thrive on a base diet of seed mixes with rotational additions of vegetables, dried fruits and nutritious treats.
Quaker parakeets do best with equal parts of pellets or basic nutrition and vegetables. Grain- based treats can be used during play or training time.
Breeds prone to obesity
Cockatiels, Amazon parrots and Macaws are highly prone to obesity.
Cockatiels do well with diets made up of 60% basic nutrition or pellets, 40% seed mixes specific to this breed and vegetables.
Dietary needs for Amazon parrots depend on their activity level and size. Recommended amounts are 30% pellets or other basic nutrition, 20% whole, dried foods like nuts, seeds and fruits and 50% fresh fruits and vegetables.
Homemade Handfeeding Formulas
Even if you don’t plan to feed your bird on homemade formulas all the time, it is always a good idea to have a few recipes handy. You never know when you will need to whip something up for your feathered friend.
Here are a few recipes your bird will like.
- 1 tablespoon of glucose powder
- 1 packet of high protein baby cereal
- 1 cup of ground sunflower seeds
- 4 Granita biscuits ( finely ground)
- 1 cup of almonds (ground)
- 1 cup of corn meal ( maize meal)
- 1 cup of corn meal (maize meal)
- 1 cup of millet meal
- 1 cup of raw what germ
- 1 cup of finely ground sunflower seeds
- 2 cups of high protein baby cereal
- 1 cup of finely ground, high protein dog biscuits
Either of the two recipes above could also include peanut butter or apple sauce baby foods. When using apple sauce baby foods, make sure to use the smooth type so that your bird doesn’t have to deal with lumps.
Blend the following ingredients:
- 1 teaspoon of baby creamed corn
- 3 teaspoons of baby cereal
- 3 teaspoons of applesauce
- 3 teaspoons of canned baby mixed vegetables
- 3 teaspoons of plain yoghurt
- 1 banana
- 3 teaspoons of peanut butter (smooth)
To this mixture add 12 ounces of pellets which have been soaked in bottled water for 20 minutes. Once all these ingredients are mixed, cook the in a microwave for several minutes.
How to Deal With Picky Eaters
It not just humans who sometimes develop picky eating habits. Some birds have the very same behavior. This makes feeding them a challenge because they may end up over nourished with some nutrients and lacking in others. These are some tricks bird owners have used to get picky eaters to consume a wide variety of foods.
Add a challenge to food. Make a hole through a rice cake and hang it in the bird’s cage.
Place one or two pinches each of nuts, dried pasta, dried fruit and pellets in a paper lunch sack. Use a piece of string or ribbon to tie the sack and then hang it in the bird’s cage. He will enjoy the challenge of foraging through a double-bagged sack.
Play around with shapes and temperature of foods. If your bird is a picky eater, trick him by changing the shape or temperature of his food. If he refuses to eat raw vegetables, try feeding him with cooked versions of the same foods. Chop up fruits into cubes to alter shapes. Give him oranges with the rind still on or peas in a pod.
Make use of individual preferences. Just like we humans have strong likes and dislikes for certain foods and textures, so do birds. Observe to find out what he likes most. Use these favorite foods to come up with healthy treats which your bird will enjoy.
With a clear understanding of your bird’s basic nutritional requirements and ideal food types, you can let your creativity take lead to come up with all sorts of recipes.
When you come up with one or a few formulas you would like to stick with, have a veterinarian approve them to make sure they cover all the required nutritional requirements. They could contain too much of one nutrient and too little of another and this would cause imbalances in the bird’s nutritional intake.
Homemade hand feeding formulas for birds are nothing short of a creative art. You can come up with all sorts of combinations. However, just like art, there are rules to be followed and there is need to understand the basics of the entire process.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of your bird’s nutritional needs when making homemade feeding formulas. When you are happy with one, run it by a professional veterinarian to make sure it is nutritionally balanced.