It is the lucky bird owner who has a bird that will dive right into his pellet bowl the first time it is offered. Most birds do not recognize pellets as food and if you're challenged getting your bird to accept pellets, read on for a suggested guide to achieve success.
Here are a few guidelines to help your get started right:
Be sure your bird is healthy and of good weight before you introduce this change. If you are unsure how to evaluate the health of your bird see your avian veterinarian.
Change the paper in the bottom of your bird's cage daily. If you are not doing so already it is suggested you begin this good habit. Having clean paper each day will help you observe your bird's droppings and learn what they look like so you can determine if your bird is eating the pellets ... and eating enough food each day.
All birds can learn to enjoy pellets if you are patient, creative and persistent. Some birds just take more time and effort than others to convert to pellets and accept them as part of their daily diet.
Introducing the Pellets
If you're bird is currently eating a seed mix begin by offering the pellets with the seed in a 50/50 ratio (see exception below). This will allow the bird to look at and feel the pellets as part of his familiar food. If he tosses the pellets out of the bowl, don't be discouraged. He's touching them and may accidentally bite into one and discover it is edible.
To help him accept this new food try eating a few yourself in front of him. Let him know how much you like them ... even if you don't. No worries ... they are, of course, safe for you to eat.
Depending on your bird's response to the pellets, continue offering this 50/50 ratio for several weeks or until you are sure he is eating some pellets. You'll be able to tell when he is eating the pellets by the change in his droppings (thus, the reason for changing cage paper daily, as mentioned above). The fecal part of the dropping will change from green to the color of the pellet. You may also see crumbled pellets in his bowl or on the bottom of the cage, or even see him eating one.
Once you are positive he's trying them gradually decrease the proportion of seed and increase the pellets. When you are at this stage offer pellets only for 48 hours, carefully watching his droppings. If they begin to look sparse (that is, decrease in quantity and/or fecal matter) back up to the program of mixing pellets and seed and continue at a slower pace.
There isn't any set timetable for the conversion process. Your bird's response to this new food will determine how fast or slow the conversion process will go. Observe your bird carefully.
Exception: Cockatiels, parakeets and parrotlets should get a mix of 50% seed, fruit and vegetables and 50% pellets.
Some birds enjoy pellets soaked in their favorite fruit juice or warm water. If you feed pellets in this manner be sure to remove the bowl after several hours before so it won't become contaminated with bacteria.
Consider sprinkling pellets over favorite fruits, vegetables or table food.
If you want to treat your bird with seed consider giving a small amount at night and removing the bowl before your bird goes to sleep. That way they won't have access to the seed when they wake in the morning and eat it instead of their pellets and fresh food.
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