Tony Silva NEWS: How to stimulate your parrots before the breeding season? PART II

May 14th, 2015 | by Tony Silva
Tony Silva NEWS: How to stimulate your parrots before the breeding season? PART II
Tony Silva NEWS

Read also the first part of this article:

Tony Silva NEWS: How to stimulate your parrots before the breeding season?


We also provide a sprouted seed mix. This includes mung and garbanzo beans, popcorn, lentils, various types of peas, small sunflower, safflower, milo, buckwheat, wheat and anything else that may be available. You will notice that I have mentioned sunflower and safflower—two seeds that are deemed fatty. This is correct but sprouting changes the chemical composition of the seed and converts fats to much more nutritious elements.

The diet is varied depending on species. Galahs and Amazons, which tend towards obesity, receive more vegetables and sprouts and less pellets and cooked foods. The higher content in the fat I believe is sufficient to emulate the wild. The caiques receive more fruits, vegetables and cooked foods. The Eclectus receive primarily vegetables and sprouts, and the macaws and African Greys Psittacus erithacus receive many more nuts, this in order to provide the fat they require. We simply do not feed the same amounts of every element to every species but try to emulate the wild diet.



Some breeders feed only pellets supplemented with the occasional piece of fruit. I find that this type of diet does not encourage breeding. I feel that pellets are a good addition to any diet but alone they contribute to eating apathy. Also, results of feeding trials by Daniel Gowland at Priam in Australia showed that a diet composed primarily of the best organic pellets does not contribute to the success claimed by manufacturer. On the other hand, when seeds were added to the diet results improved.

This change in diet I have described along with access to the nests is key to inducing breeding. The nests are simply not just filed with shavings. They are filled with chunks of wood, which the birds must chew into slivers or fine particles in order to nest. This activity—having to chew blocks of wood in order to access the nest—has a stimulating effect and emulates nature. In the wild all tree cavity and termite mound nesting parrots (or about 94% of all species) must spend time preparing the nest. Years ago I had pairs of Blue and Gold Macaws Ara ararauna laparascoped at the onset of the breeding and thrice duringthat same month. The result seen in pairs whose nest was filled with wood was dramatic. The gonads swelled and became much more active in pairs that had their nest filled with wood when compared to pairs who were simply given a nest filled with shavings. The time necessarily spent in the darkness of the nest invariably contributed to the gonadal development. The pairs who had to prepare their nest also produced many more fertile eggs than those pairs that were given a nest ready for egg laying.

Throughout the breeding season, we provide enrichment on a continuous basis. I do not believe, as some visitors have suggested, that keeping the birds mentally challenged has a deterring effect when it comes to breeding. On the contrary, I believe that keeping the birds mentally stimulated encourages breeding. This is why I believe that 50% of success is psychological.


File:Triclaria malachitacea -two captive-8a.jpg

(c) TJ Lin. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


A breeder in the Czech Republic cannot follow the same protocol. Tropical fruits are extremely expensive or not available. Reducing the fat content in the diet in winter is not possible. Pellets there—as in the rest of Europe—are not widely used. A Czech breeder can modify the diet by incorporating weeds (including dandelion and others) that are vitamin packed and which we cannot growin subtropical Florida. Other items in this list include rosehips, hawthorn and rowanberries and many other incredible foods in spring. These along with sprouted seeds can bring a bird into breeding condition as quickly as can the regimen we employ. I know this for a fact, as part of my life was spent breeding birds in the US Midwest where the climate is cold, windy and inhospitable. There I used a long list of edible weeds, locally available berries and fruits, including crabapple and rosehips, the branches of pussy and weeping willow and anything else that during the course of daily activity I saw wild birds eat. I always felt that if the wild birds ate the items, they were also good for my cage birds. It never failed and I produced many young each year.

The single element that has never varied irrespective of where I have lived was providing wood inside the nest. I started this concept in 1988, after watching how wild amazons in Argentina spent several weeks chewing and preparing the nests. The daily activity changed from foraging to nest preparation. If this was an important element in the wild I felt it would also be in captivity. During the ensuing decades I have only affirmed this belief watching wild parrots from Australia to Zambia.

My more than 40 years as an aviculturist have highlighted the need to intensely manage the flock all year. The diet and nest are two very important elements but the psychological well being must never be overlooked. It is when the bird is mentally and physically happy that results are as expected. Good luck with this year´s breeding season to all!


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



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