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My Bird Won't Eat That by Scott Stork

This is a comment we hear almost every time we talk to new customers about improving their bird's diet. Most people assume that their bird cannot be convinced to eat a new food because he or she doesn't like the taste of it. That is rarely the case.

Birds are creatures of habit. This is very obvious when dealing with their diet. If a bird has eaten seeds its entire life it wants to eat mainly seeds. If it has had only pellets of a certain kind it wants only pellets and most often only that exact type. This behavior is most likely an inherited trait that keeps wild birds from eating potentially harmful foods. Birds, wild or tame, do not have some sixth sense that tells them if a food is safe or not. Instead they eat only what they have eaten before, what they see other birds eating, or, if they are very hungry, what seems safe because of similarities to other food they are familiar with. The 'fear' or 'distaste' that birds show towards new foods is probably nature's only way to combat their curiosity and keep them from poisoning themselves.

There are many ways to overcome this behavior in your bird. The important thing to remember is that you are wholly responsible for your bird's diet. Like a child, they are not able to choose the proper diet for themselves. If your bird is to live a healthy and happy life, he or she must eat a variety of healthy foods.

We have customers who have successfully switched birds in their twenties or thirties from the seeds they had eaten their entire lives onto a mixed diet of 'pellets', people food and natural food mixes.

Please contact us about the best methods to teach a bird that a new food is safe. Remember that your bird is not 'being stubborn'; he or she is following their instincts. Never use starvation to switch a bird to a new food, but also don't let your bird force you into feeding it a diet that could lead to malnutrition and illness.

This article was published on Tuesday 22 June, 2004.
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