Diet Conversion is a Challenge not to be taken Lightly!
Small birds have a rapid metabolism and can starve to death in as little as 36-48 hours if they do not get enough food to eat. Owners should consult with an avian veterinarian and set up a conversion program that works but does not harm the bird in the process.
Modifying a bird’s diet is one of the biggest behavioral challenges an owner will undertake. Most issues can be overcome with patience and perseverance. Educating the owner about the benefits of feeding a formulated diet versus a seed-based diet is the first challenge.
Any dietary changes should be undertaken gradually. An important concern is the bird’s refusal to eat a “new” food, leading to significant weight loss. Weighing the bird (in grams) on a daily basis using a gram scale is the best method for monitoring adequate food consumption. Weight fluctuations greater than 10% are considered problematic. Even if provided with supplemental food, birds can starve to death while merely appearing to chew their food but not consuming it. Grinding the food into a fine powder is not the same as eating the food.
Monitoring droppings is an excellent indication of the amount of food the bird is eating. Prior to the diet change, the number and character of the droppings (color, amount, liquid, form, shape, lack of odor, staining) should be noted. Any change in the volume or number of droppings (usually a dramatic decrease in amount) indicates insufficient food consumption.
Owners should not be confused by the appearance of wet droppings, which they may assume to be normal. Wet droppings usually have little fecal matter produced from food consumption. Wet droppings are often a sign of weight loss as fat and muscle are converted to energy and water. The character of the droppings will change as the bird consumes more formulated diet – they usually become more firm with a definite shape.
It is imperative to immediately return a bird to its original diet if it refuses to eat the new diet.
The Easy Three-Step Program to Changing a Bird’s Diet
– Administer AVIx Bird Builder in the bird’s drinking water for 3-6 weeks. This builds up the nutritional state of the bird.
– Offer bake-at-home Harrison’s Bird Bread Mix as a way to introduce a new food other than seeds.