Sunflower seeds are tasty.
And unfortunately for my parrotlet, Ptak, they are no longer part of his meals.
These delicious seeds are high in fats, and even though – when purchased fresh – they have lots of vitamins and minerals (including zinc, copper, and vitamin B1), I personally think they make much better bribes than diet staples.
Especially when you see how fast Ptak waddles over to get one.
Mind you, millet is still tastiest of all. Put a few sunflower seeds beside a tiny piece of millet, and you can guess which disappears first. However fast the ‘bad’ stuff is devoured, though, the healthy stuff is not. When offered a tiny piece of broccoli, Ptak promptly nipped me – and he’s usually fairly good about that. (Our cockatiel, when presented with greens, will even drop seed. And the canaries… well, they’re obsessed with kale, broccoli, and romaine lettuce.)
In order to win the healthy-eating battle, I laboriously pick the sunflower seeds from Ptak’s bowl before serving it. Our ‘tiel gets to keep hers – she seems to prefer the little seeds anyway.
As you can imagine, Ptak the parrotlet isn’t keen on this at all. He roots through his bowl and then looks at me with his saddest and most accusing eyes. I have to leave, quickly, or I’ll end up giving him the seeds anyway. I am weak that way. I ration the seeds throughout the day, using them as little bribes and treats. Even though they’re not quite as tasty as millet, whipping one out is still a great way to distract him from chewing on our fingers.
Feeding a bird a diet of seed is extremely detrimental to its health, especially for birds who are prone to fatty liver disease – like amazons. Save seeds and nuts for rewards, and make sure the diet consists largely of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can even make a grain bake, chop, or sprouts – all highly nutritious. Doing this will help resolve behavioural issues, like biting and screaming, and make your bird generally healthier.
Greens come after breakfast, in our house. I mix them with the seed, and again, our parrotlet roots through looking for the tastiest bits… Which, thanks to his human, are missing, replaced with mutant green poison-stuff. Out comes the accusing stare and away I go.
At least the canaries love me.