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Old 12-31-2018, 06:17 PM
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My Pionus won't eat anything healthy!

Hello! I joined ParrotForums to see if someone can help me. I have a Maximilian Pionus. She is 16 1/2 years old. She has never been a good eater...you could always see her breast bone stick out. I took her to the vet several years ago where they did blood work and came to the conclusion that she's just not a good eater. I have tried everything. She only likes unsalted peanuts in the shell. She will occasionally snack on ZuPreem FruitBlend flavor. She picks out the purple and orange pellets. In the last 6 months she looks really unhealthy! She is skinnier than ever!!!!! Her feathers come in long and scraggly and yellow instead of green. I started putting Ecotrition VitaSol multivitamin drops in her water. She actually likes that in her water and drinks more water than she use to. I need a miracle...she acts fine but look terrible and I'm so afraid I might lose her. Can someone please help me?

Last edited by janeandmaxine; 12-31-2018 at 06:26 PM.
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:04 AM
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Re: My Pionus won't eat anything healthy!

Welcome! Can you recall if the vet was certified avian or equivalent? Many practices treat "exotics" and lack essential training and equipment. Given the persistent symptoms and difficulty with eating, I'd suggest a new checkup with full blood chemistry and fecal cultures. At this point it is impossible to determine whether illness is causing irregular feathering and possible underweight or a consequence poor diet.

Peanuts in the shell can be contaminated with aflatoxins and if so, extremely dangerous. Zupreem Fruit Blend is generally well tolerated and a decent if not mediocre product from the POV of corn and added sugars. A word of caution with added substances in water: dosage is highly irregular and increased consumption may cause overdose of specific vitamins.

Has your Pionus been exposed to a preferred diet of fruits and vegetables, aka "chop?" Birds are creatures of habit and have little incentive to change. There are many techniques to gradually change diet, some here: Converting Parrots to a Healthier Diet - Tips One technique is to prepare a bowl of chop for you and your bird, and begin eating and outwardly enjoying each bite. Best to remove dry foods when given chop, though it is never acceptable or proper to "starve" a bird into submission.
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:41 AM
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Re: My Pionus won't eat anything healthy!

My boys both love peas and corn as their favorite veggies. They both prefer them warm though. Sometimes you have to eat something in front of the bird to convince them that it's something worth trying. Some birds prefer warm foods and won't eat any veggies unless they are warm. Try a variety of fruits and veggies, hopefully, eventually, you'll find something your fid likes and will eat consistently...

...and a true certified avian vet makes a big difference as Scott suggests.

Good luck!!
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Old 01-01-2019, 04:21 AM
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Re: My Pionus won't eat anything healthy!

I see you are very worried.

I must admit when I read the caption I initially went: okay... one of those cases where "my kid will only eat whitebread and sprinkles" (real story) ...the crazy thing is: when everyone is eating all kinds of things and there are *no* white bread or sprinkles around... the kid started eating normally!

A parrot eating only peanuts and maybe some sugary pellet will be malnourished anyway. There are not enough vitamins and minerals to make those feathers.

As for the breastbone sticking out... if you bird is not a flighted bird, thats more or less normal! The chickenfilets are what they use to fly...if they do not fly a lot most parrots will have no musclemass there.
so...how much does you bird weigh?
can you feel any fat on her keel? (Or next to it)


one: did your bird see a true CAV?
(because most vets will talk out of the other end a lot when it comes to parrots)
two: what happens when her favorite snack are not available, but only real food is present?


(Sunny- my macaw was on a sugary pellet and peanuts and her feathers were absolutely terrible! Though she was fat as well. She is also a plucker, but I suspect the diet was very much to blame for that as well or even the cause of all the misery to start with)

Last edited by ChristaNL; 01-01-2019 at 11:31 AM. Reason: spellink
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Old 01-01-2019, 08:05 AM
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Re: My Pionus won't eat anything healthy!

Welcome to the community!

I second what Scott said, you really need to get your Pionus to either a CAV or an Avian Specialist Vet only, no Exotics Vets, for two reasons: #1 Because it's been "several years" and parrots should have a full Wellness-Exam that includes at least a Fecal Culture and full Blood-Work at least once every single year anyway, and then #2 More importantly is that I'm quite certain based on his diet of mostly peanuts that he is suffering from not only several nutritional deficiencies, but he's also suffering from Fatty Liver Disease almost certainly, and possibly Diabetes, Kidney Disease, etc. He should have a lot of life left at only 16 years old, but as you said "he's not looking healthy" because he's not. Not only has his diet been pretty much nothing but fat/oil and a bit of bad protein and that has no doubt caused him physical illness, but he's also not gotten any of the vitamins/minerals, amino acids, healthy protein, or basically any of the nutrition that he needs...

****Will he eat seed-mix? He would be much, much, much better-off if he was eating a healthy, low-fat seed-mix every day (or for that matter a junky seed-mix would be much, much better if I'm being honest with you) than only peanuts. Pellets aren't for every bird, at least not without working on a proper transitional-plan to them, but no parrot can live on peanuts only with a few sugary fruit pellets once in a while. That's just not good, and if you were feeding him even a junky, cheap seed-mix for large parrots that you buy at Walmart he'd be much better off, at least he'd be getting enough calories, protein, and vitamins and minerals. The main reason you shouldn't feed captive/pet birds a staple of seed-mix is because of the high fat-content and the risk of Fatty Liver Disease, but if he's only been eating mainly peanuts his entire life then he's already in that situation and still not getting any nutrition, so the seed-mix would be a HUGE step-up. I would first try going to Petco and choosing a healthy, low-fat, varied seed-mix that contains NO Sunflower Seeds, NO Nuts of any kind, including NO Peanuts, and NO Dried Corn/Cracked Corn at all, and see if he'll eat that, as most birds will eat seed-mix. These healthy seed-mixes contain lower-fat, healthier seeds, fresh grains, legumes, herbs, veggies and fruit (dried), and if he'll eat one of these healthy seed-mixes it will start the recovery of his Liver and Kidneys. Two good ones are Tropimix and Higgins California Blend...Another to try would be Higgins Safflower Gold, it's a little more seed-based, but still contains no Sunflower Seeds, No Nut/Peanuts, and No Corn, and most birds love the Safflower Gold. He'd be so much better off eating a seed-mix daily and having you stop all of the peanuts/nuts...I'd at least give it a try, and if he'll eat the seed-mix then you can worry about pellets...He just needs some nutrition!!

Something to remember here (and something that many parrot owners need to be reminded of, including myself) is "If you don't give it to your bird, they can't eat it!"...I've never in 33 years EVER seen a parrot starve himself to death because he didn't like what was in his bowl, that's just not how they're wired, they are wired for survival...In your bird's case, because he's so malnourished and unhealthy due to a total lack of nutrition, I would never suggest just putting pellets in his bowl and waiting for him to give-in and eat them because he needs nutrition...But I would however completely stop ALL the peanuts and any other nuts and I would fill his bowl with one of the healthier seed-mixes like the Higgins Safflower Gold or the Tropimix, and then I'd just wait him out, because HE WILL eventually eat it. And most birds will eat seed-mix regardless...It's just a matter of you being able to wait him out and not give-in and give him nuts...

In addition to getting him to a CAV immediately (he needs to be put on a liver medication, or supplement, such as Milk Thistle) and stopping the peanuts completely and feeding him a seed-mix so he can simply get some well-rounded nutrition, I'd also in your bird's case talk to the CAV about vitamin supplementation in the short-term, until he's been eating more nutrition for a while...Your CAV will most-likely suggest different vitamin/nutritional injections/supplements based on what his Blood-Work looks like...In fact, if while you're at Petco buying a healthy seed-mix for him to eat, you wanted to pick-up a bottle of Qwiko Avian Multi-Vitamins to sprinkle on his seed-mix once a day, I actually think that would be a good thing in your bird's case...Don't ever buy any type of "vitamin drops" or any other supplements that go in their drinking water, they are terrible, you can't control the dose and anything you put in their drinking water contaminates it and grows bacteria, fungi, etc. So don't EVER put anything in his water at all! But Petco sells Qwiko Avian Multi-Vitamin, which is a powder that comes in a little bottle and has a pre-measured scoop, and you simply sprinkle them overtop of his fresh seed-mix you give him in the morning, and it's actually pretty good stuff. Most pet parrots don't need any type of Multi-Vitamin because even if they are eating a healthy seed-mix and fresh veggies/fruit, they are getting the proper nutrition they need daily...But your bird would be one who would benefit from a proper Avian Multi-Vitamin once daily sprinkled on his food..

Again, you need to at the very least give it a shot, and you need to be strong and wait him out...He won't starve himself to death, and if you feed him a healthy seed-mix he'll most-likely like it and want to eat it...But he cannot eat the peanuts if you don't give them to him, and he won't starve himself to death. He needs a complete diet/nutritional change ASAP, and he needs just basic nutrition that a healthy seed-mix will provide...
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Old 01-01-2019, 01:03 PM
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Re: My Pionus won't eat anything healthy!

The Rb is skinny, too, has been all his life... vets have said he's just one of those endomorphs who is naturally lean. He's a hesitant, lazy eater. BUTTT he's a healthy eater.
Here's that story.
Harrison's Bird Foods

I feed Harrison's, supplemented by fresh healthy treats. My first, and later, my current avian vet recommended it. My bird loves the pellets now, but to get him converted, my avian vet suggested putting pellets out all day, and putting seeds (his old diet) out for two 15-minute periods a day. That would sustain him but leave him hungry enough to try new stuff. I presume the same technique could be used to get him to eat other healthy stuff, like fruits and vegetables! My guy was eating pellets in a couple of days, and now I can feed a good variety of other stuff, knowing he has the pellets as a basic. Pellets are out all day... fresh treats a few times a day. I also like Harrison's via mail because I never have to worry about out-of-date products.
Another couple of ideas...
My ol' man is an athlete and health nut. He actually EATS all the good stuff, so it's always around. I find that tossing various stuff into the food bowls at random is good... the variations and differences seem to stimulate curiosity and attention.
The other idea... if you can stand it (lol) EAT the stuff in front of the birds, yes. That encourages them. I have also found that if my ol' man eats stuff in front of the bird, the bird WANTS it for himself. Kinda a rivalry thing!

Good luck!
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Old 01-03-2019, 08:32 AM
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Re: My Pionus won't eat anything healthy!

I'm glad that you posted the Harrison's pellet-transition for her, once again it's the best food transition plan I've ever seen, and it works!
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Old 01-03-2019, 10:30 AM
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Re: My Pionus won't eat anything healthy!

Quote: Originally Posted by EllenD View Post
I'm glad that you posted the Harrison's pellet-transition for her, once again it's the best food transition plan I've ever seen, and it works!
Absolutely! I followed the protocol and all eight in my flock successfully transitioned.
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