Fat pads can be concealed quite well under their feathers. But the line between “it’s just fluffy” and “we’re feeding our bird to death” can be fluid for pet birds.
Being overweight in pet birds can have nasty consequences: the fat deposits of budgerigars and the like not only limit their ability to fly. They also crowd out the bowels and cause problems in doing business. Fatty liver causes breathing problems and crooked growth of the claws and beak. The magazine “Budgie & Parrot” (Issue 5/2021) points this out.
A bowl of grains that never runs out is a major nutritional failure. The solution sounds very human: reduce energy consumption and increase energy requirements, i.e. FDH (“eat half”) and exercise.
What Makes The Bird Fat
All grain mixes consist practically only of fat and carbohydrates, which corresponds to french fries and pizza in the human diet. They should be used as treats for training sessions at best, but not appear in the daily feeding schedule, according to the bird experts.
Sugary fruit is also not ideal. A small piece of apple or banana won’t kill the bird. But, for example, a quarter of an apple is as much for a 500 gram Amazon as 35 apples for a 70-kilogram person. In the case of the budgie, there are even 350 apples. Vegetables and green fodder such as herbs and salads are better for the feeding plan.
Active Foraging Instead of Full Food Bowl
The solution against fat deposits: Away from the full food bowl – towards active food search. That’s how it works:
- Attach food and water bowls separately from your favorite toys.
- Nuts and seeds should only be accessible by flying.
- Making it harder to absorb calories through foraging toys, such as twisting nuts like candy in craft paper.
- Put the millet in the bowl instead of nuts – this way the birds need more time for the same amount of calories.
- Encourage more movement through active seating such as “ejection seats”. A simple branch with a central attachment is sufficient. So the branch wobbles and the bird keeps moving to keep its balance.
- Keeping birds in swarms. If they can keep themselves busy, they don’t eat out of boredom.