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Most diseases and illnesses in pet birds is directly or indirectly
the result of malnutrition and stress.
This is not to say that birds are underfed by any means, only not
fed the right food in the right amounts-which varies from species to
species. Most birds are on an all-seed diet out of convenience and
the fact that they take awhile to "spoil". This all-seed
diet is very high in fats which we all know is not good for anyone.
Some owners will feed a variety of foods in addition to seeds; and birds
invariably pick out and eat all of the seeds rather than consume
the more nutritionally balanced items that might be being
There are many diseases associated with malnutrition in birds.
Here is an impartial list of problems associated with all-seed
diets and malnutrition:
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Cardiac Diseases
- Poor Immune function (subsequent bacterial/viral infections)
- Beak abnormalities (overgrown, flaky, breakage, poor growth)
- Feather problems (poor condition of feathers)
- Skin problems (dry, flaky, overgrown or callus-like)
- Stress intolerance
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Central nervous system problems (seizures, paralysis, etc.)
- Fertility problems (egg-binding, egg-breakage, non-formation of
- Tumor formation (lipomas)
As you can see, the list is quite extensive and it can all boil
down to what is in the food bowl. There is no one diet that is
meant to be healthy for every species of bird--they all come from
different areas of the world and some can have very special
needs. You should ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on a
diet that is right for your particular species of bird.
In general, a good diet should consist of a nutritionally balanced
pelleted diet (Squoz, Zupreem, Kaytee Diets, etc) as the main
part of their diet; along with a variety of other foods such as
dairy products, fruits, vegetables, eggs, breads, cereals, even
some meats and protein sources. Also, it is a good idea to
supplement your bird with powdered multivitamins made especially
for birds-available through most veterinarians. Some foods to
avoid would be onions, avocados, chocolate and any seeds or pits
from fruits that contain toxic compounds.
Also, you may want to avoid keeping any perishable items in the
food bowl for extended periods of time due to growth of molds,
spores, and bacteria (meat is a good example).
Water ideally should be freshened as often as possible (2-3 times
per day) and should always be available as birds tend to
accidentally contaminate their water with droppings, food scraps, etc.
Birds like and need a variety in their diets to satisfy not only
their extensive nutritional needs but also to overcome boredom.
In nature, a bird spends approximately 2/3 of its day searching
for food. Being domesticated, this "search time" must be filled
with something; as food is provided. Toys also become very
important; along with outside stimulation from you, your family,
televisions, radios, etc. Also, keep in mind that birds are
"flock" animals and like to be part of a group-so try to include
your bird in some daily family activities. There are many more
variables in the husbandry of keeping a healthy bird, but a good,
nutritionally balanced diet is of utmost importance.