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Old 01-14-2019, 04:09 AM
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Sunny is very fussy with his seed mix.

Hi everyone!
So sunny is very fussy, He flicks everything out his seed bowl that isn't sunflower seed And am i correct in thinking sunflower seeds are not good for birds in large quantities as can cause illness?
I need him to be eating as much variety in seeds as possible if he has any chance of being a wild bird! I've also tried him on many fruits and veg but only likes apple (goes crazy for it!) He does enjoy pulling the young grapes straight off the grape vine in the garden aviary. And he likes to peck around at his Pine and Eucalyptus branches i put in for him, weather he's eating anything from them i wouldn't know..
How can i encourage a better Diet for him?
Thank you
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:21 AM
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Re: Sunny is very fussy with his seed mix.

It's probably better not to let Sunny have any sunflower seeds. They're very fatty and can lead to fatty liver disease, lipomas and other health issues. (That's not to say you can't feed them, just treat them as if they're chocolate for birds, ie. not to be fed as a staple diet, but rather as a treat).

It's strongly recommended that caged birds feed on pellets plus a healthy balance of fruit and vegetables. However, if Sunny is expecting to be released eventually, it might be better to feed him something closer to the natural diet, which is cereal seeds and native grass seed. I don't know what the current wisdom is on that, though. Any vet will tell you that pellets are best, but *this* bird, if he's released, won't know how to hunt for pellets. He needs to have a taste for seeds and very specific ones at that. I think WIRES is your best bet there. They'll know what a good diet for a native bird is likely to be and can advise you on quantity and the best way to feed it.

If you can, collect the fallen tips of gum trees and the nearly-ripe or overripe fruits of bottlebrush or banksia. Parrots will gorge themselves on the blossoms or gumnuts and also have access to the microfauna found inside them. I've got a flowering Buckinghamia in my yard and the birds are *loving* munching on the flower heads.

I guess the main message is not to feed him a mix that contains sunflower. I buy a 25kg bag of stuff called 'Backyard Mix' - it contains hemp, milo, barley, safflower (that's a fatty seed too), oats, wheat and cracked corn. My birds get mostly pellets, but I give them a handful of this mix as well. At this time of year, you can pull plenty of grass seed heads from the roadside verge (make sure it's clean and doesn't smell of fuel) and other weeds like dandelion and milk thistles. Other things my birds enjoy: the seed mass you cut out of the middle of a capsicum, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds and muesli (best fed dry, but sometimes you wind up sharing it straight from the bowl, complete with milk, which is not so good).

The time-honoured way of getting a bird to eat a different food is to mix it with something he already enjoys, slowly changing the proportions until he's eating mostly the desirable food. Just try a few things with Sunny and I'm sure he'll let you know what he likes.
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Old 01-14-2019, 11:04 AM
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Re: Sunny is very fussy with his seed mix.

I switched my cockatoos from a mixed pellet/seed diet to Harrison's pellets. Not sure if available in Australia, but will post their transition protocol. Worked beautifully for my flock and ought be applicable to most any product: Diet Conversion: Medium to Large Bird | Harrison's Bird Foods

Fresh veggies and some fruit ought be a significant part of their diet. I realize you have a long-term decision to make for Sunshine, but this thread may be of interest: Converting Parrots to a Healthier Diet - Tips
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Old 01-14-2019, 11:08 AM
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Re: Sunny is very fussy with his seed mix.

Use sunflower seeds as a treat for tricks! and to reward good behavior....a "few" potato chips of the seed world are fine if you use it for training and rewards.

They aren't poison, it's like ice cream or a candy bar, everything in moderation.
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:12 PM
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Re: Sunny is very fussy with his seed mix.

Quote: Originally Posted by Betrisher View Post
It's probably better not to let Sunny have any sunflower seeds. They're very fatty and can lead to fatty liver disease, lipomas and other health issues. (That's not to say you can't feed them, just treat them as if they're chocolate for birds, ie. not to be fed as a staple diet, but rather as a treat).

It's strongly recommended that caged birds feed on pellets plus a healthy balance of fruit and vegetables. However, if Sunny is expecting to be released eventually, it might be better to feed him something closer to the natural diet, which is cereal seeds and native grass seed. I don't know what the current wisdom is on that, though. Any vet will tell you that pellets are best, but *this* bird, if he's released, won't know how to hunt for pellets. He needs to have a taste for seeds and very specific ones at that. I think WIRES is your best bet there. They'll know what a good diet for a native bird is likely to be and can advise you on quantity and the best way to feed it.

If you can, collect the fallen tips of gum trees and the nearly-ripe or overripe fruits of bottlebrush or banksia. Parrots will gorge themselves on the blossoms or gumnuts and also have access to the microfauna found inside them. I've got a flowering Buckinghamia in my yard and the birds are *loving* munching on the flower heads.

I guess the main message is not to feed him a mix that contains sunflower. I buy a 25kg bag of stuff called 'Backyard Mix' - it contains hemp, milo, barley, safflower (that's a fatty seed too), oats, wheat and cracked corn. My birds get mostly pellets, but I give them a handful of this mix as well. At this time of year, you can pull plenty of grass seed heads from the roadside verge (make sure it's clean and doesn't smell of fuel) and other weeds like dandelion and milk thistles. Other things my birds enjoy: the seed mass you cut out of the middle of a capsicum, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds and muesli (best fed dry, but sometimes you wind up sharing it straight from the bowl, complete with milk, which is not so good).

The time-honoured way of getting a bird to eat a different food is to mix it with something he already enjoys, slowly changing the proportions until he's eating mostly the desirable food. Just try a few things with Sunny and I'm sure he'll let you know what he likes.
Thank you so much for this valuable information. I have tried looki for better seed mixes but they all look so cheap and nasty, I do try and buy the best one I can. Is it a certain store you buy the backyard mix from?
Iíve been putting gum tree and pine branches in his aviary and he does seem to strip them so that must be a good thing, I will search the property (150 acres) and the plantation behind and see what else I can find, I donít think Iíve come across bottlebrush yet, but I shall look out!
I will definitely give WIRES a ring, I really could do with advice on his future outcome as Iím now very stressed about whatís going to be best for him.
Thanks again for being so helpful Betrisher
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:46 PM
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Re: Sunny is very fussy with his seed mix.

Yeah, depending on where you live, it can be *really* hard to find good food. I can only find two kinds of pellets locally and one of them isn't much chop. Thus, I have only the one choice (Vetafarm Nutriblend). I buy my pellets and backyard mix (it's chicken feed) from a feed merchant near home.

It's also not that easy to find a vet who's interested in birds (unless you're near a large city where such vets might occur). I'd bet most of the ones in your area would be large animal specialists? You could try a stock and station agent or a feed merchant and buy a variety of seeds to make your own mix? I have occasionally paid my kids to sit and pick the sunflower seeds out of Trill wild bird mix. That presupposes you have access to bankrupt kids, though.

Bottlebrush (Callistemon species) and Melaleuca have small bottlebrushlike flowers, rough or papery bark and are usually covered in bees. The fruits are clusters of woody 'nuts' arranged in lines along the twiggy stem (birds LOVE these). The foliage and fruit of any native tree is suitable and you know you're safe if you see native birds munching on them.

Hand on heart, my personal opinion (which is nothing in the grand scheme of things and you must make your own decision) is that you should keep Sunny. The fact is that he's no longer a wild bird, but a domesticated one. He finds his food and water in his cage dishes and his society in you. Without a dedicated pair of parents to teach him, he'll always be 'behind' in terms of a wild flock.

If he had been a successful adult who was injured and you had rehabilitated him, it'd be a bit different because he would already have known how to be real corella. Assuming he's a nestling, only fledged in this year's crop of chicks, he's lost his chance at imprinting on successful parents and learning the ways of corelladom from them.

I think that even if you released him with wild corellas known to him, he would fail to keep up and fail to thrive in the wild. I reckon he'd ultimately fall victim to a hawk or falcon because he probably doesn't know to avoid them. Or, he'd fly down to someone's yard, begging for food and probably be re-caught and caged by someone else.

It's your decision to make, though. You know Sunny better than anyone and are in the best position to know whether he's capable of sustaining himself away from you. Keep encouraging him to fly often because he'll need a lot of stamina if you do decide to let him go. Also, give him lots of practice at flying UP and then flying down again so he can practice taking off and landing from heights, from the ground and from unstable perches. He needs to learn how to fly in a circle and to duck between branches and through confined spaces. He must learn where the grass seeds are and that water occurs in the ground, not in a ceramic dish. All this can be taught, but it's a difficult and constant job. I rehabilitated a magpie once (geez! that was about fifty years ago!) and it took forever to teach him to fly.

Main thing is, don't stress. Just take care of Sunny from day to day and he'll let you know what to do for the best. While you're working that out, enjoy each other!
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Old 01-14-2019, 10:42 PM
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Re: Sunny is very fussy with his seed mix.

Quote: Originally Posted by Betrisher View Post
Yeah, depending on where you live, it can be *really* hard to find good food. I can only find two kinds of pellets locally and one of them isn't much chop. Thus, I have only the one choice (Vetafarm Nutriblend). I buy my pellets and backyard mix (it's chicken feed) from a feed merchant near home.

It's also not that easy to find a vet who's interested in birds (unless you're near a large city where such vets might occur). I'd bet most of the ones in your area would be large animal specialists? You could try a stock and station agent or a feed merchant and buy a variety of seeds to make your own mix? I have occasionally paid my kids to sit and pick the sunflower seeds out of Trill wild bird mix. That presupposes you have access to bankrupt kids, though.

Bottlebrush (Callistemon species) and Melaleuca have small bottlebrushlike flowers, rough or papery bark and are usually covered in bees. The fruits are clusters of woody 'nuts' arranged in lines along the twiggy stem (birds LOVE these). The foliage and fruit of any native tree is suitable and you know you're safe if you see native birds munching on them.

Hand on heart, my personal opinion (which is nothing in the grand scheme of things and you must make your own decision) is that you should keep Sunny. The fact is that he's no longer a wild bird, but a domesticated one. He finds his food and water in his cage dishes and his society in you. Without a dedicated pair of parents to teach him, he'll always be 'behind' in terms of a wild flock.

If he had been a successful adult who was injured and you had rehabilitated him, it'd be a bit different because he would already have known how to be real corella. Assuming he's a nestling, only fledged in this year's crop of chicks, he's lost his chance at imprinting on successful parents and learning the ways of corelladom from them.

I think that even if you released him with wild corellas known to him, he would fail to keep up and fail to thrive in the wild. I reckon he'd ultimately fall victim to a hawk or falcon because he probably doesn't know to avoid them. Or, he'd fly down to someone's yard, begging for food and probably be re-caught and caged by someone else.

It's your decision to make, though. You know Sunny better than anyone and are in the best position to know whether he's capable of sustaining himself away from you. Keep encouraging him to fly often because he'll need a lot of stamina if you do decide to let him go. Also, give him lots of practice at flying UP and then flying down again so he can practice taking off and landing from heights, from the ground and from unstable perches. He needs to learn how to fly in a circle and to duck between branches and through confined spaces. He must learn where the grass seeds are and that water occurs in the ground, not in a ceramic dish. All this can be taught, but it's a difficult and constant job. I rehabilitated a magpie once (geez! that was about fifty years ago!) and it took forever to teach him to fly.

Main thing is, don't stress. Just take care of Sunny from day to day and he'll let you know what to do for the best. While you're working that out, enjoy each other!
I tried phoning WIRES but the only phone number I could find seemed to be for urgent rescues, So I then phoned Wildlife Victoria who put me through to a local lady who is a wildlife rescuer.
Her advice to me was to leave Sunnys Aviary open and let him come and goes as he pleases, he could find the other Corellas nearby but also come home for a snack or safety if he gets worried..
Sorry I canít reply more right now, I just feel like crying as Iím so worried about his future, is it my fault, have I rehabilitated him badly, making him too tame :í(
We donít have our own property atm as we live on our friends Brumby sanctuary in their spare cottage so I canít just build him a huge aviary until we move out which we canít do for at least a year as we have no money and Iíd hate to see him cooped up in his aviary he has at the moment, it is big, he can do little flys in there but he can also see all his friends flying high in the sky all day everyday.

Iíll make a new thread later in a more appropriate place so I can update etc
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Old 01-22-2019, 07:36 PM
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Re: Sunny is very fussy with his seed mix.

If you're planning on releasing him and him becoming a "wild" bird again, then transitioning him to pellets is a no-no, as Betrisher said he needs to eat the same exact foods he would be eating in the wild then...Sunflower seeds however need to be simply a special treat as long as he's not flying 10 miles a day and having to forage for everything he eats, otherwise he'll end-up obese and not be able to be released at all...

There are plenty of healthy, varied, low-fat seed-mixes out there, you may have to order them in Australia, I don't know, but you want one with lots of lower-fat seeds like Betrisher listed, grains, legumes, dried herbs, veggies, and fruit, with No Sunflower Seeds, No Nuts of any kind, and no Corn of any kind...That will keep his fat down and will be similar to what he'll eat in the wild...Tropimix seed-mix is a great one, Higgin's California Blend, Higgin's Safflower Gold, etc. The Tropimix and the Higgin's California Blend are fantastic and very much the same thing if you can get them.
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