Preservatives To Avoid in Pet Foods

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Some pelleted diets are better than others but how does one make that decision? Have you ever taken the time to look at the ingredients list? To be honest, I went by what was suggested to me and sounded good. Never once have I taken up a bag of bird food and truly read the ingredients…. until this year, that is. This year I’ve learned so much and started to pay attention to the back of parrot food bags.

First, you want to pick a bag that has the most natural ingredients. Next, you want to focus on how the food was processed (Currently, I’m being told TOPS is the only pellet company that is cold-pressed. Cold pressed processing helps to keep the most of the nutrients inside of the pellet instead of losing it in a hot pressed process.)

When looking at the ingredients of a bag, look for the type of preservatives they use. Synthetic ones aren’t good. BHT and BHA are two that I try to keep out of our own human lives so why would I want my birds to have it? Ethoxyquin, is another one that some have said to be dangerous for our birds. And of course another debate is Propylene Glycol. This is very sweet tasting so it makes sense for it to be put into the parrot food however I personally do not want to eat anything that is used in antifreeze for a car. You can also find it in brake fluids.

At the end of the day, I feel a bird’s diet should not consist of anything “fake” but with that being said some preservatives are needed to keep contained food fresh. Just make sure they are safe.

Parenting Parrots

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Parrot Podcasts

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Ringo and Pookie

Learning is always a positive thing to do. One of the many ways I stay updated and informed about parrots is by listening to parrot podcasts. When I would be at work, I would put in one earpiece, go to my podcast and click play. Many times, I had to stop working to take down notes. My cleaning routine was created off of a podcast.

The definition of a podcast based off of Dictionary.com is:

pod·cast/ˈpädˌkast/

  1. a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically

I’m not sure if there are paid for podcasts but all the podcasts I’ve listened to have been free. Which I love! hahaha. So if you’re looking for other ways to expand your knowledge, definitely consider listening to podcasts. Parrotdise Perch is suppose to be offering podcast sessions every Sunday (don’t quote me as it hasn’t started yet). The podcasts on parrots that I completed was https://petliferadio.com/wingspg.html. I will continue to look for more podcasts I believe Lara Joseph has a facebook group called Level 1 and she has some podcasts in there. I’m only a part of her Parrot Project so we don’t have access to them.

If you know of any parrot podcasts please list them in the comments below so we can all continue to learn how to better our companions’ lives.

Parenting Parrots

Male Parrots Talk Better Than Female Parrots

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Purrain, female indian ringneck

So, this myth goes around that males talk better than females. Maybe there is some truth to it, as Purrain is truly my only female and she hasn’t spoken a word since I’ve had her but I know plenty of female talking birds. For example look at Einstein, the African Grey parrot you can find on YouTube. Yes, with a name like Einstein you would think she was a male but she isn’t and she is truly an amazing talker. Grayson’s vocabulary is no where near hers however in his defense she does have quite a bit of years on him. The only way to see if this has any truth to it would be to get two birds at the same time, same age, same upbringing and compare but just like humans that still won’t prove anything because it could be an one off based on those particular individuals. Regardless that doesn’t stop me from seeing Einstein’s vocabulary and wondering if I hindered Grayson’s some way, some how. Or is he still learning and growing his vocabulary and will it be more extensive than hers one day? This raises the question, does talking matter? I love to hear my birds talk, I feel the same way I feel when I see them gliding throughout the house, PURE JOY! But just like accepting a child for whatever they become in life, the same goes for parrots in my eyes at least. So the myth doesn’t matter. I don’t have a preference over male or female parrots. It’s just that the parrots I got all turned out to be male except Lola, Nyx, Purrain and Bonnie. Purrain and Bonnie are all I have left and unfortunately as I said earlier, they make this myth seem true but I’m not counting them out of the race yet. If they never talk, so be it but it would definitely be an added bonus. Don’t pick a male or female bird based on this myth please because you could end up regretting it.

Parenting Parrrots

My 2nd Attempt at Parrot Ownership

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After my scare with the gray cockatiel named Sky, I was certain birds were not for me. However, I was drawn back to parrot ownership a few years later and decided this time I was going to an actual pet store to purchase a bird. There, I fell in love with a Senegal parrot who we named Chico. He was just a baby at PJ Pets in Sherway Gardens Mall and I was certain he would be mine. I was torn between him and a baby Congo African Grey so I purchased both of them from PJ Pets and was content with my decision. They were both babies so I had to wait for them to be weaned before I could take them home.

Chico was ready to go home before the African Grey so we took him home first. Within a week of having Chico, he could say “JayJay (my son’s name)” and “Chico“. I was so IMPRESSED! Every morning I would get up and take Chico out of his cage and let him hang out on a stand at the bottom of my bed as my son and I would cuddle back to sleep. Chico would come on the bed, walk up to my son and say “JayJay”. It was GREAT for all of us and we were enjoying the time so much but our happiness wouldn’t last. Before the first week was done, my intuition kicked in that something may be wrong with Chico. I was new to parrot ownership but I had read and researched so much, I just felt that things weren’t normal.

Chico was losing his tail feathers. Why? I called the store and they told me Chico was most likely molting and it was nothing to be worried about. My response was, molting at 3 months? That doesn’t seem right. I spoke to the manager and made a deal that I would bring Chico in to be seen by their vet and if nothing was wrong with him, I would pay the vet bill. That was the last time we ever seen Chico.

Chico had a liver problem so they refused to sell him to me. I told them, I was okay with them prescribing medication and letting me take him after he was better. There was no getting better for Chico it was just a countdown. I was devastated. We missed Chico and I didn’t know what to do next. I returned his cage and never got another Senegal again.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I would love a Senegal but I just don’t want to take away from Chico’s memory. So instead of a Senegal, we got the next best thing… A BROWN HEADED PARROT!!

Parenting Parrots

Lorikeet Love

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Out of all my birds, the Lories/lorikeets are by far my favorite. They are very energetic and keep me on my toes however they also make me worry a lot. I’m always wondering if they are healthy, if I left the nectar too long, if I’ve given them enough fruits, etc… The list of worry goes on and on. Through all those worried thoughts are smiles, laughters and sometimes tears.

Building a relationship with Kodak, our Black lory was by far the hardest thing I had to do. He would screech, lung to bite me and I was ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED of his bite. All I remember thinking is maybe I met my match, he is the bird that’s going to show me I suck at bird ownership. He is going to be my “fearful” bird. Kodak is quite the opposite. I kept trying to teach him to step up, turn around, station and I thought this parrot is just not getting it and I was losing my patience until one day it just happened. He stepped up and our bond has just blossomed ever since.

Rasta, Green-naped Lorikeet

Rasta went from being a bird that didn’t really care for us to being almost caught up to Grayson, our African Grey’s training level.  He has impressed me beyond words. His vocabulary is strong and clear. He is energetic and enthusiastic about training and interacting but yet he also wants to have things under his control. Rasta went from not interacting with my son to only wanting to interact with him. An absolute 360 degree turn around but one that I welcomed and encouraged. Rasta is the only bird in the house that prefers my son but I’m happy about it because my son now considers Rasta to be his. They do a lot together, play around in the bed, watch tv, play video games even when my son is doing homework Rasta is right by his side. My son can get Rasta to step up from anywhere. For me? Not so much.

I absolutely have nothing bad to say about Lories/Lorikeets. I haven’t met one that I didn’t adore. I would be happy with a houseful of Lories but I can imagine it would get quite noisy and I have enough noise to last me a lifetime hahaha. With all that being said though, they definitely aren’t for everybody especially the green-napes. I have heard so many complaints about them, it saddens my heart because it really comes down to patience and understandings. I’ve had people offer to surrender their green-napes to me and I’ve had to turn them down as I just don’t have the living space unfortunately. These guys can be very nippy and very demanding if you are a passive individual so you need to know the type of person you are before getting one.

Parenting Parrots

Microgreens = Healthy Parrots

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On this quest of a natural raw food diet for my parrots comes the addition of Microgreens. Getting into the microgreens was a fear of mine just like sprouting, although I can sprout, I’m definitely not an expert (yet). Microgreens presented the same type of fear because I can’t keep plants alive so I thought for sure I wasn’t going to be successful at growing microgreens.

6 days of growing

The above picture was taken after 6 days of growing these radish microgreens. I had them on my window sill and as you can see they look all wild, just growing all over the place. Also I only read the directions that were on the outside of the box not the inside at this time. I wasn’t impressed with this outcome, it was just like “okay, great, so when can the birds have them” type of feeling. I had to ask the avian group I’m in on Facebook to find out when they could be served. I was advised that once they have leaves they can be served. So these were ready. I recorded the below video but still didn’t feel satisfied with the results so I decided to follow the instructions that were inside the box to see if it would make a difference and BOY, YES IT DID!!!

So, only after a day of following the instructions on the inside of the box, I went from feeling like it’s whatever to O.M.G I’M IN LOVE!! I absolutely love them growing straight up and looking so beautiful. I’m impressed and now excited to add this to me and my parrots’ diet.

The above picture is day 8 of growing these radish microgreens. I already chopped some off as you may have seen in the video but they are still growing and looking stunning! I attempted to grow 3 different microgreens: Radish, Sunflower and Argula. Out of the 3, Radish has been the easiest to grow as there were absolutely no complications or worries. My parrots accepted the little bit of microgreens they received with no issues, so that also showed me that this was definitely an addition I would like/want to continue. With that said, you better believe Microgreens is a MUST when doing a raw whole food diet for parrots.

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Frustrated to say the Least!

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I want my parrots on a whole raw food diet! IS there actually such a thing? Because right now it feels like everywhere I turn to for help, education, suggestions and ideas is basically selling PRODUCTS!!!!! So now I need to take a step back and say HOLD UP!!! Is it or is it not possible to feed parrots a whole raw food diet??!


I thought I found the perfect group on Facebook that is run by Dr. Jason Crean. He is a very nice man and I’m sure has very good intentions but since joining that group, I’ve spent at least $1,000 dollars (not including appliances I bought) trying to follow their recommendations and I’m still no closer to feeling like I’m on the right path then I did in the beginning. I purchased their suggested teas (which I still love btw, hahaha), raw nuts (which I already bought anyways so no different than usual), freeze dried worms and crickets (now that was new), Texas Naturals Freeze Dried ($83.20 for 3 little containers with shipping and handling – see picture below), Tops Organic Dream mix bundle ($189.34 plus 52.77 for custom fees) and I’m waiting for Abby Amazon to get the China Prairie products for the rest of this dry food mix. Then I will mix it all together and pray that it lasts me a few months since it will only be given to them once a day. However with all that being said, of course they are not forcing anyone to purchase the products, it is just their recommendation. With this dry mix, pellets are still included regardless of the fact that it is cold-pressed vs. being heated. As I stated before, the African Greys, I met that were in their late 50’s, early 60’s, their owners stated they never knew what a pellet was etc. So I was striving for the same concept ( I wish I took their information now) because they obviously are doing something right. I’ve never seen Dr. Jason Crean’s birds except for his babies so I can’t really say anything about their condition, I can only go off of what he claims. As for his partner, Lou from Parrotsrus on Instagram she has a great flock that includes a Toucan, 2 hyacinths macaw, a Harlequin Macaw and an African grey. All are in great shape as she shows them all the time. The Congo African Grey has plucked his chest feathers when he was about 7 years old and he is 25 now but he is still bare unfortunately however she just started feeding her flock this way about 3 years ago I believe.

Anyways after spending nearly $500 CAD to try and make their dry food mix, I got discouraged. I still have toys, fruits and veggies that I need to buy for them so this dry mix just wasn’t feasible for the Canadian dollar. When I complained about it not being more financially manageable they suggested I duplicate what I can within my country. When I see a recipe or something I’d like to follow, I like to follow it EXACTLY the way it is before changing anything so that suggestion didn’t work for me. Not to mention, I’m already busy with training, cleaning and coming up with foraging ideas that I don’t have the time to sit down and try and figure out how I can duplicate a mix within my own country. OH well, IF this mix lasts me a few months it will end up being worth it but thats a BIG IF!

Next, I joined another facebook group that advertised their name as REAL RAW FOOD. When I first inquired with the owner I was extremely excited about the group so much so that I even recommended it to another avian fellow of mine but within a few interactions I realized this lady too is pushing her product line. Now, I understand that everyone out here needs to make a dollar. HELL, if I’m spending 500 dollars just to feed my flock a dry mix, I need to find a way to make those dollars back too but with that being said, does no one want to just help out fellow parrot owners?!?

So with all this being said, I’m still feeding my parrots Harrison pellets plus a fruits and veggie chop with sprouted items and soaked nuts. I also now offer them the avian teas and that’s currently where I am regarding their nutrition. I will be stopping Harrisons completely and I’ll explain all about that in another post but let me just say I have enjoyed feeding Harrison’s over the past 7 years. Grayson, my 7 year old African grey has never plucked a day in his life and he has been through MANY, MANY changes. Now was that due to Harrisons or just me being the great parrot parent I am? Hahaha, who knows but I give Harrisons credit for that. Now, I do feel that Harrisons is NOT a good option for parrots who can suffer from fatty liver disease. I lost my 2 parrots who both were on Harrisons and both were prone to fatty liver disease. Now was Harrisons to blame? Maybe NOT! But these are little things that I take notice of.

Anyways I have more data on that, that I will post another time. So if you are interested in hearing about that, definitely follow our blog as we go through being a parrot owner.

PARENTING PARROTS

Parrot Ownership is a Lifestyle Change

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It sucks that a lot of people end up getting a parrot just because they are cute and they are not aware of the fact that having a parrot is a lifestyle change. Store owners just want to sell the bird so they tell you they are easy, just give them pellets and water and change the paper at the bottom of the cage once a week. HAHAHA, if this was true, we wouldn’t have so many re-homes. I would have 20 instead of 8 birds and I would be rich because I wouldn’t be spending money on toys, perches, food, sprouts, feeding equipment, air filters, cages, vet bills, travel carriers, training tools, seeds and nuts for training, cleaning products, paper towels and I’m sure I’m missing a few other things.

I’ve had to adjust my life SO much to accommodate my parrots and I still am everyday. I went from working full 10 hour shifts to only 6 hours so I can have more time with the birds. I changed my non-stick cookware to stainless steel pots (very costly switch). I had to remove all air fresheners from my house and find homemade, safe options. All cleaning solutions have been removed so nothing remains except bleach, vinegar, dawn dishwashing liquid and good old water options and some bird cleaning products. I buy LOTS of paper towels and have to stop my “night owl” tendencies to make sure I’m being sensitive to their 10-12 hour night rest. I have to get up earlier in the morning to make sure I feed and change their water bowls/bottles before I go to work. So now that I have to be at work for 7am and I have to leave home by 6:30am to make it on time. I usually wake up at 5am so I can have an extra 30 minutes to accommodate them. I usually like to train before breakfast but unfortunately I just can’t find the extra time to do that in the mornings now except for on weekends. So I now train before lunch or before dinner depending on how much they ate from breakfast.

I have to consider how long I’m going to be out of the house if I’m leaving to go somewhere. I haven’t had a vacation since acquiring my birds because I haven’t lined up a sitter and I’m still concerned about leaving them with others to care for them (worried mommy). Your life will never be the same. Having parrots is a lifestyle change. I used to work from home answering the phones hahaha I can’t do that with parrots in the house, they are just too unpredictable regarding when they will decide to vocalize. I have to retreat from my living room at a certain time so they can get to bed on time. EVERYTHING and ANYTHING I do includes how it will affect my birds. They are just like having kids. I should know I have quite a bit of both hahaha.

This type of change is NOT for everyone, definitely think twice before deciding if you truly want a bird. No more using the oven self-cleaning option for an easy clean, no more sleeping in or being lazy, DEFINITELY more cleaning and then more education. My learning NEVER stops when it comes to having parrots and if you are seeking the best for your birds, yours won’t stop either. So just think about all these things BEFORE you add a bird to your life. Are you ready for a lifestyle change?

If so please comment below with what birds you have decided to make this change for example an African Grey parrot, Amazon, Macaw, Cockatoo? Which bird has captured your heart and what other type of lifestyle changes did you have to make that maybe I forgot to mention?

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Making Food Fun!

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Frozen Food

There is something about watching parrots work for things that personally warms my heart. So I’m always looking for ways to enrich their lives. Parenting Parrots has so many things going on, I can barely find the time to inform you guys of everything but I will try to be more consistent. If we think about the parrots in the wild, what do we know about them? We know that food isn’t just given to them freely, we know that they spend a great deal amount of time foraging for food while making and protecting babies. Now, as much as I would love to mimic the wild environment, I unfortunately can’t BUT what I can do is try to come as close as possible to making them be fully stimulated, enriched and engaged.

The above picture is something that I can give to all my parrots including the Lories. I took little containers, filled them up with fruit. You can use whatever type you like. For this mix I used raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, mangoes and some cashews and almonds (I eliminated the cashews and almonds for the lories). Once I finished putting the food in, I filled it up with coconut water and put them in the freezer. So the next morning, I took them out, removed them from their containers and gave one to each parrot. Since it was frozen the birds got to lick and suck on the cold coconut water and while it defrosted right there, they got access to the food bits. It wasn’t a lot of work but at the same time it made it interesting and engaging for the birds especially since they kept at it for a while before realizing it needed more time to defrost.

Frozen Cube

This was a tasty little treat and definitely a way to make food more fun and get your parrots that are picky to start trying. I can’t guarantee that they will still eat whatever they are refusing but always introducing items in different ways can get a bird interested in a food item that they previously neglected. Making this cube was quick and easy, less than 5 minutes to prepare and put together. I will offer more cubes like this, more often during the summer months.

Fruit Cube

You could also substitute the coconut water for whatever type of liquid you like, the options are endless. I hope you will try this and please leave me a comment down below and let me know how your birds liked it. Also if you are going to give this to your lories/lorikeets please remove the nuts. I will be making this again, if you would like a YouTube video on it, please let me know so I can do that for you.

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Thank you for everything! I hope together we can enrich out fids’ lives.

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My African Grey is Selfish

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It breaks my heart to see Rasta, our Green-Naped Lorikeet trying to make friends with everyone and being turned away. He is such a nice, little guy I don’t understand why none of the birds play with him.

He has found a way to “bond” with Grayson or at least so he thinks. Rasta will fly to Grayson’s cage and preen Grayson through the cage bars but if I let Grayson out with Rasta, Grayson will attack.
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It’s like Grayson is only using Rasta for his own gain. Poor Rasta, really thinks he has made a friend.

Why is Grayson so selfish? He won’t return the favor so why keep getting the pleasure? When I first got Grayson, Lola was here but yet he still hasn’t learned about sharing. He was never an “only” parrot, so why?

Grayson

The Selfish Grey

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How can I teach a parrot about sharing? If you have any ideas or suggestions please leave them in the comments below.

Parenting Parrots