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General Health Care Remember to use common sense and consult with an avian veterinarian.

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Old 12-29-2009, 12:03 AM
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changing food

Hi everyone, I want to know the best way to change a birds diet. My 7 yr.old Umbrella cockatoo eats only the sunflower seeds out of all the variety it is given. I have been told that the organic pellets....?Harrison's ..name??..are the best and would like him to eat it. He won't touch it, or the fresh stuff...sometimes he will eat off my fork at the table..pasta ,cooked veggies,rice..but in his cage or his play gym only sunflower seeds. I know this is not good for him. Do I really take away the seeds and wait?? how long is safe??Help, thanks ps. Auggies dad I would really like to hear fro you if possible. thanks
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:26 AM
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Re: changing food

If the sunflower seeds are there he will just keep eating them.

At some point you do just need to take them away completely (a bit of tough love), but there may be more than one way of working up to this.

If he will eat from your plate while you are eating then perhaps you can use a bit of trickery. Could you mix in some Harrison's with what you are eating - perhaps on the edge of the plate so it doesn't ruin the meal. You could eat it too (I have) but the taste and texture is not exactly pleasant.

You can also try enticing/teasing him a bit with some pieces of the new food and then handing it to him. He may drop it right away, or perhaps crunch it up but drop the pieces, but at least that's a start. Birds have to become familiar with new foods before they will eat them.

All the while when trying these ideas leave some Harrison's in his cage and gradually reduce the sunflower seed allotment. Perhaps on the first day he gets a handful of sunflower seeds in the morning, the second day slightly less than a handful, etc.

I suspect when he gets hungry and runs out of sunflower seeds he will be angry, cranky, and he'll put up a big fuss, but I HIGHLY doubt that he will stay hungry when food is there.

How long is safe to leave him on his 'hunger strike'? I'm not sure there is a specific answer - if there is your vet could advise better - but as I said he will not starve if there is food there. Birds can certainly go a day without eating, or more depending on their condition.

Anyhow, I'd recommend gradually reducing the amount of sunflower seeds he gets each day so he will get some nutrition and not starve but he will be more and more hungry and motivated to try the new food. And once again he will fuss and be angry but you can't give in to his temper tantrums.
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ktbug (12-29-2009)
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:32 AM
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Re: changing food

You COULD also try other foods from Harrison's. Harrison's is an excellent food and you wont find any that are objectively better or more nutritious, but you can find others that are of comparable quality that your bird might like more.

I feed Zupreem. It has received some criticisms because it contains food coloring. While their are different views on this all the study I have put into it suggests that the food coloring is not a risk in any way. Other than this Zupreem provides excellent nutrition, but it's also 'fun' to eat. Our birds diet should be healthy, but it needs to be something they want to eat.

I try to eat pretty healthy, but I don't live on purified soy protein, water, and vitamin supplements. We eat diverse and interesting foods. Physical health is important, but so is emotional health - one could argue this is more true for birds that are kept in our homes.

Anyhow, while Harrison's is excellent quality Zupreem and RoudyBush also top the list for quality. If your bird will take to these easier they may be the way to go.
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:34 AM
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Re: changing food

Quote: Originally Posted by ktbug View Post
ps. Auggies dad I would really like to hear fro you if possible. thanks
Thanks for the vote of confidence - and I hope my comments are useful. But the fact that I am a forum moderator only means I've been around here for a while (and that Auggie and I spend too much time at the computer).
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:42 AM
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Re: changing food

Good advice from Auggies dad. I work at a vet clinic and our drs try to push the Harrisons, but my birds will not touch it. I do the zupreem also. I also use Kaytee pellets. I also give my birds some seed, but no sunflower. They seem to like safflower seeds pretty well. Mine also eat alot of fresh fruit and veggies and eat off my plate also. Good luck.
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Old 12-29-2009, 06:33 PM
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Re: changing food

Thanks , I know it seems like common sense, but I keep tripping over the tough love thing. My kids are probably spoiled too I know it's not healthy to eat just s.seeds but ....ok, I WILL BE TOUGH!!....and no, I wouldn't let my boys eat just cookies. Thanks again, new friends. ktbug
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Old 12-29-2009, 06:36 PM
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Re: changing food

Good luck!! Hang in there, you can do it. It will all work out.
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