Monday, February 16, 2009

Switching diets

I was always so grateful, reading about other people's diet switching trouble, than I never had much issue with that. Eventually, they always switched, at the most, after a month. I just put the new food in their dish with a bit of the old mixed in, and fed them that for breakfast, with their old food for dinner. No issue. Perhaps I had to work harder to get them to eat certain foods, or to get them to eat fresh instead of cooked foods, large pieces instead of chopped, etc., but it was never, at least in my book, too much of an issue to switch the diet and get them eating fresh food, even with the little guys.

Until these foster budgies.

I have tried all the usual methods I have heard of, many I have never tried before. Still, unless it is sprouts of their regular seed mix (specialty seeds are not wanted here, not that I don't keep trying) or a piece of lettuce hanging from their cage (that is barely nibbled at, I think), it is ignored. No, moaned over and complained about would be more accurate. But not tasted.

I know I am not alone, lots of other people have trouble switching their birds diets. Still, it is frustrating. And it is harder with birds that are still "not very tame." Sure, they will get up on my shoulder or hand if they are feeling particularly brave, but look to me for what to eat? Not quite there yet. As they are in separate cages (they do not get along at all), side by side, I am trying to convince them that the other is eating the food, so it must be safe. I put the new food in one cage, and the seed in the other, hoping that the first budgie will see the second budgie eating, assume it is the same food, and dig in. I have been trying this for a week (before I gave them the same food, so if one was at least digging in the dish it gave the same impression) but no luck yet.

I will keep at that, but today I am trying cooked seed mix. A bit odd, I know, but millet is often served cooked for people, so I assume the other seeds in there can stand a bit of cooking, too. I also added some amaranth, just in case today they would try a new seed. And because I couldn't resist adding some veggie, I added some chopped parsley. Just a little, and cooked it all in cranberry juice (unsweetened, try not to pucker reading that!) I am hoping, if they eat this, they will get used to cooked foods, so I can start adding other cooked items. It didn't work (yet) using sprouts to get them used to fresh food, so I will try it the other way around!

I have also read that macaroni and cheese, mixed with shredded carrot and chopped broccoli tops, with a bit a seed squished in the top, has been amazing for switching little birds. That I have not tried. I wasn't sure I wanted to feed them something so unhealthy, but I might come around to trying that. Maybe. If I get really desperate.

Or, as a last resort, I will put them with my cockatiels, so they can see other birds eating fresh food happily (and believe me, Yo-yo eats anything happily. Usually while whistling or giving kisses.)

Any new ideas out there?


Mary said...

I don't have any suggestions; just my sympathy as I know first-hand how difficult it can be to change the diets of the little guys!

Daphne eschews all of my efforts to include healthier food in her diet, although I still make the effort (mostly because I'm doing it anyway for the others; if it were just her, I might have given up after 3 years).

I have read that they're mostly seed-eaters in the wild, so I try not to allow myself to get too upset over this issue.

Best of luck to you -- your idea of tricking them into thinking the other was eating it is great!

Meg said...

I certainly don't worry about it as much as I would with a larger parrot, as I do read over and over how they eat mostly dry seed in the wild. Still, it is important. At least these guys will eat greens some, but I would feel better if they would eat a larger variety of seeds, at the very minimum.

I think it is amazing you are still trying with Daphne, talk about dedication!