Q & A: “How should we feed our parrot in breeding and non-breeding season?”

April 21st, 2016 | by LubosTomiska
Q & A: “How should we feed our parrot in breeding and non-breeding season?”
Tony Silva NEWS
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Except for areas very proximate to the equator, parrots rely on two factors to come into breeding condition: an increase in daylight hours and a flush of foods. In south Florida, for example, Tabebuia is an important diet for Brotogeris parakeets. They coordinate breeding so that this food resource is available when the young fledge. Severe Macaws Ara severus coordinate breeding when Melia and certain palms have seeds. This tells us that diet is important in triggering breeding.

In the non breeding season, parrots should receive an austere diet. This diet should contain a higher fat content, especially if the birds are exposed to cold. The additional dietary fat helps them thermoregulate and is burned through the metabolic process. In the breeding season, which typically corresponds to the warmer months, excess fat is stored in the body and can lead to obesity. Dry food can also inhibit breeding. This means that commencing in early spring, the diet should be modified to include more vegetables, some fruits, sprouted seeds, par boiled grains and other foods. This rich, moist diet with the filling of the nest with chunks of wood for the parrots to chew is often a great breeding inducer.

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File:Plain Parakeet (Brotogeris tirica) -eating fruit in tree.jpg

Plain Parakeet (Brotogeris tirica) eating fruit in a tree. Parque da Independência, Museu do Ipiranga, São Paulo. (c) Dario Sanches. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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I mention wood because there is a direct correlation between spending time in a dark nest chewing the wood to slivers and then kicking the excess nesting material out and gonadal development. This same behavior is seen in the wild, where the pair must condition the nest. I have often seen birds that are fed an excellent diet show no interest in nesting until the nest was made irresistible by being filled with chunks of wood for them to chew.

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When pairs are rearing young, excess food should be provided. It is best to offer food several times daily rather than place everything in the cage at once. The foods should be nutritious, easily eaten and digestible. These foods are consumed by the male who in turn feeds the female, who passes it along to the young, or is consumed by both parents to feed the young. Inadequate amounts of food will mean that the largest chicks will be fed and the smaller young neglected. This is why sufficient amounts are important.

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grass finches Asiatic parrots Cockatiels soft

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Once the breeding season is ending, there should be a transition from the breeding to the non breeding diet. In contrast, to induce breeding the change should be abrupt. This is my opinion works better than slowly changing the diet.

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author: Tony Silva

Title photo: (c) Doug Beckers. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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