Tips for Converting Small Bird Species to Harrisons’ Bird Foods

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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.

– Offer High Potency Fine (cockatiels or other similarly sized small to medium birds) or High Potency Super Fine (Canaries, Budgies and other similarly sized small birds) formula.

What’s the Solution for Abandoned Pet Birds?

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An Excerpt from HBD’s Avian Examiner #33
Greg J. Harrison, DVM, Dipl Emeritus ABVP (Avian), Dip ECZM (Avian, retired)

Many committed and well-meaning persons join bird rescue organizations because they are concerned about the welfare of abandoned pet birds and want to make a difference. I understand that a basic frustration occurs due to the constant struggle for financing and the vast number of birds in their care. Of course, well-adjusted, socially acceptable, reasonably-sized, family-friendly birds are not usually among these. In most cases the shelter birds have been “donated” or abandoned due to some buying impulse/misjudgment on the part of the owners or chronic behavioral problems — screaming, biting, other aggression — on the part of the bird.

A resolution for this situation must start with educating potential bird owners. What is their motivation to own a blue and gold macaw, for example, which tends to favor a single person and shows aggression toward other family members? Or why choose a cockatoo that expresses its natural chewing tendencies by destroying the kitchen chairs? Some of these birds can be “saved” and adopted out to an appropriate household. But many become totally unwanted and end up occupy¬ing cramped space in a rescue facility.

Ideas for Solutions?

While we applaud the effort of kind volunteers who donate significant personal time to provide care for these birds, we also recognize that overcrowding scenarios in some rescue facilities do not spare some birds from enduring a life of misery. Preventive, educational measures are the keys to addressing this issue moving forward. We look to you for suggestions on how to incorporate such measures.

Please submit your ideas to Dr. Harrison at
The Avian Examiner is a free avian medicine newsletter that is created by HBD International and is distributed several times every year. Subscriptions are available to veterinarians and veterinary clinics who carry or sell HBD products. It includes articles written by vets, practice tips and avian medicine news.

Posy the Parakeet ditches the seeds!

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Posy the Parakeet ditches the seeds!

We at Harrison’s would like to express our gratitude to our Canadian friend Angelika Zecha for taking the time to create this cool graphic detailing the progress her beautiful Rosy Bourke’s Parakeet “Posy” made using Harrison’s Bird Foods.

Why is it important to switch away from seeds?
A diet of seeds (even if they are vitamin fortified) simply does not meet the bird’s basic nutritional requirements. Commonly fed cereal grains like sunflower, millet, oats, safflower, and corn are deficient in at least 32 essential nutrients. As early as 1923, scientists observed health deficiencies in caged parrots that were fed seed diets, yet these diets continue to be fed to this day. Birds that eat seeds often seem to be “addicted” and are sometimes difficult to convert to a healthier dietThe bird selectively eats only certain types of seeds

Disadvantages of seeds
 – Seeds are often of low quality (dirty, old, contaminated with fungus and mycotoxins)
 – Selectively eaten seeds often have excessive fat content and lack high quality protein
 – Deficient in high quality minerals, trace elements, vitamins and primary amino acids
 – May stimulate aggression, picking and chronic egg laying

Is your bird a seed addict?
The discussion in regard to seeds fed as a main diet has been an ongoing topic for many decades. The improvement we see on birds switched from seeds to Harrison’s is profound. Please feel free to contact Harrison’s any time to discuss your bird’s diet. We have a live customer service staff awaiting your inquiries.
Our number is 1-800-346-0269 and our email is

Harrison’s loves all of our friends from north of the border. Thanks again Angelika for sharing your results!

Thoughts on Diet Conversion – By Dr. Harrison

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Recently we were asked about resistance towards diet conversion. The response below from Dr. Harrison is a good read and addresses some key points in regard to why (and how) patience and persistence goes a long way in improving a bird’s diet.

“The reason we developed Harrison’s was because there was no other food program that even the devout could follow and get the results I wanted for my pet bird clients.
Our formulas were initially based on very successful diets designed by John Stoodley. Over the years we have re-addressed and improved the formulas based on input from avian nutritionists, other avian veterinarians and general usage feedback.
If you review the articles on our site (specifically John endorses our approach as being as good as his.

These conversion issues we are discussing today have long presented one the largest challenges in my work.

I ultimately found that presenting the information in the physical exam chapter of Clinical Avian Medicine along with examples of “perfect vs. poor feathers” and finally a USB microscope exam (50-100X)
of a bird to allow the specific clinical sign to be so obvious no one can miss it, convinced all but the totally closed minded.

Recent breakthroughs in addressing acceptance issues include preconditioning with Builder®.
A surprising number of birds need this build up and the attending herbal (milk thistle, SAMe) and organ supportive products (lactulose, apple cider vinegar or probiotic) published in our conversion literature, prior to executing a diet change. Preconditioning birds for conversion in this manner has been found to be a genuine leap forward in diet conversion methods.

The Bird Bread® and Power Treats ® have added many birds to the fold due to high acceptance.

Sadly, a huge percentage of birds still do not get converted. Patience and persistence (incorporating the dozens of ideas in our conversion literature) has worked over time on every case. “

Tales of “Birds Feeding Dogs” Leads to Organic Dog Cookie Mix

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Over the years we have recieved many calls from bird owners who have noticed that their pet bird had developed an interest in “feeding” the family dog, from the cage using Harrison’s Bird Foods. Birds are clever and most dogs will pounce on a tasty bird food nugget given the opportunity. It was these stories that lead to the creation of our premium, certified organic, “Bake at Home” cookie mix for dogs (Harrison’s Certified Organic Dog Cookie Mix).

Made from some of the same great certified organic Harrison’s ingredients that you have known and trusted for decades is a tasty treat that you can bake up yourself. It is perfect vehicle for administering medications, or you can customize the cookie as you see fit. We recommend using Sunshine Factor instead of standard cooking oil – which is an added health benefit for your canine pal.

The mix is available in 400g bags or can be purchased as “Dog Cookie Kit” which features two 400g bags, one 1oz Sunshine Factor and a fun bone-shaped cookie cutter, all packed into a cool paw-print craft bag.

If you have a dog-loving friend the kit makes a perfect gift for any occasion!

Click for more details.

More THOR!

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*No endorsements of any kind are implied by these photos. Please do not reproduce.

And here is what you DID see in the pet store scene from the movie Thor! Our Handbook For a Healthier Bird  and a HEALx rack card are prominently displayed as Thor demands a horse from the shocked pet store clerk shown here. Click image to enlarge.

Harrison’s Pet Products on The Set of “THOR”!

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*No endorsements of any kind are implied by these photos. Please do not reproduce.

Here’s what you didn’t see in the theatrical release of  “THOR”.
If only The God of Thunder needed some bird food instead of a horse. Maybe in the next movie?
These are production stills of the pet store sometime before the scenes were shot. Who knows, maybe the home release with expand this scene. Fingers crossed.

STUDY: Medical Treatment of Avipoxvirus Infections in Birds of Prey

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STUDY: Medical Treatment of Avipoxvirus Infections in Birds of Prey

“Poxviruses are double-stranded DNA enveloped viruses that infect a wide spectrum of animals. Poxvirus infections in birds are caused by a large avipoxvirus. This infection (mostly dry form) is now seen more frequently in Spain, and considered common in falconry birds in Europe and Middle East. Until now most of the treatment options were surgical. We treated more than 150 raptors infected by poxvirus with a monoglyceride (HEALx Booster Concentrate) to treat over 150 birds of prey observing clinical remission without or with little sequels. PCR and histopathology on some cases confirmed the poxvirus infection.”

Please follow the following link to read the complete study.
Booster Concentrate Clinical Study in Bird of Prey

Harrisons’ Pet Products Student Veterinary Program 2011

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Click HERE to view full details (.pdf)

Want to become an entrepreneur while attending veterinary school?
…and support your avian/exotic animal club at the same time?


• Start with a free $250 credit with which to make your first purchase.

• Receive a deep discount (20% below wholesale) for sales to fellow
students and faculty.

• Take advantage of the discounts for your own pets.

• Receive educational and promotional materials (brochures,
rack cards) to support your growing enterprise.

• Gain knowledge and experience with these products that will prepare
you for success following graduation.

• Develop business skills while you are still in school by responsibly
clearing balances on time and designating profits for subsequent
orders and club activities and guest speakers.

Contact Bobby at
or call 800-346-0269.

Harrisons’ Pet Products Introduces Convenient Diet Conversion Kits

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The nutritional status of a pet bird is the single most important factor that influences the prevention of disease in a healthy bird and response to treatment in a sick bird. Harrison’s Bird Foods produces certified organic, nutritionally complete formulated foods for pet birds, but it is sometimes challenging to change the eating habits of a bird that is accustomed to eating a high-fat, nutritionally deficient but familiar seed diet. To assist in this conversion process, Harrisons’ Pet Products has released two convenient kits:

The “Small Bird Conversion Kit” includes:
• 1 1-oz (30 ml) bottle AVIx Bird Builder to supply trace minerals missing from seeds
• 1 bag Harrison’s Bird Bread Mix (Millet & Flax flavor) to attract a hesitant bird to try something new
• 1 1-oz (30 ml) bottle HEALx Sunshine Factor for overall nutritional support
• 1 1-lb Harrison’s Bird Foods High Potency Fine or Superfine Formula to maintain the diet conversion
• 1 copy of the “11 Quick Tips for Conversion” educational handout

The “Large Bird Conversion Kit” includes:
• 1 4-oz (120 ml) bottle AVIx Bird Builder • 1 bag Harrison’s Bird Bread Mix (Original flavor)
• 1 4-oz (120 ml) bottle HEALx Sunshine Factor
• 1 1-lb Harrison’s Bird Foods High Potency Coarse Formula
• 1 copy of the “11 Quick Tips for Conversion” educational handout

Both kits are available @