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Food conversion affecting behavior?

jzarc17

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Hello All,

I am going to apologize in advanced, this is going to be a long post due to the amount of details. For me this is one of those situations of what came first the chicken or the egg? I am trying to figure out if my attempt of converting my very new parrot from a seed based diet to a pellet alternative could be effecting the birds behavior.

The seed based food she has been eating to called Uccello, Extra Small Hook Bill Powder Food. Below is a picture of the back panel that shows the ingredients. This is what the store I bought her from told me she had been eating.
Uccello.jpg

The food that I am trying to covert the bird to eating is Oven Fresh Bites, Classic for Small Parrots. Below is a picture of the back panel of this bag of food.
Oven Fresh Bites.jpg

So here is how I tried to start the conversion (I got this idea from: Converting Parrots to a Healthier Diet - Tips) I think the thread is called Pellet Past)
I smashed up the Oven Fresh Bites until it was mostly powder and then I added equal amounts of the seed based food, I then added enough warm water to the mixed food to make a thick past and I let it dry over night. I put the dried mixture in the birds food dish the next day, I actually made enough there was more than a days worth of food. I left the food in the cage all night and day. The bird was resistant at first but eventually started to eat on the first day the new food was presented. I could not tell for certain if the bird was picking the seeds out of the mixture or not. This is what I offered for two days straight. I don't have a weight yet because the bird is not yet tame but getting there.

On the same day that I started the conversion the bird suddenly started to interact with me in ways she was not before. I have a separate post where I talk about it in detail. The bird suddenly no longer seemed scared of me and was flying to me and I was rewarding the bird with millet to encourage her to come to me. On the second day of the conversion I noticed that bird was spending nearly all of it's out of cage time seemingly in search for millet. Anywhere I dropped some small seeds of millet the bird was zeroed in on. The bird was on the floor under the desk, under other furniture basically all over the place but especially in tucked away places looking for millet and she would peck at anything she thought might be a tiny seed. I put some millet in my hand to give to her and she ate it but once she ate it all she started to bite me. I decided to try to put a little of her old food only in my hand to see if she would eat it with the same intrest level as the millet. When she ate it she seemed frustrated when the seed portion ran out ...she sort of aggressively pecked at what was left and eventually bit me again. I stayed calm and brought her back to her cage so she was not under the bed or dressers looking for millet. I started to wounder if she was coming out of her cage not because she suddenly wanted to be with me but becuase she was hungry?? I looked closely at the food bowel and and I seemed like there was a lot of the "Oven Fresh Bites," food left behind. Maybe she ran out of seeds that she could pick out. I thought about it more and felt horrible that she might be hungry! I took the conversion food out and replaced it with a new 50/50 mix but this time I did not make it into a paste, I wanted to make sure she was able to eat enough even if it was the old food.

Today I feed the same 50/50 mix but not making the past so she can have more control to choose what she is eating, I'm nervous that she will not eat enough if I do it a different way. Interestingly enough she is acting differently today, more standoff-ish and did not seem like she wanted to come out of the cage. I must mention that I worked at the office today and was not home all day like I normally am so she was offered considerably less out of cage time, maybe she was pissed?

So with all that said I'm not sure of how to properly proceed in the conversion that will work for her. Maybe I need to try a different method, different food? Perhaps I need to hold off on converting her to a different food until she is more settled in my house. She came home with me on 9/21. I got so concerned with giving her a more healthy diet that I might have tried too soon? I am wondering if the food conversion caused the desire she felt to come out of the cage, possible due to the need to look for food outside the cage? Sorry, my mind is going 24/7 and there are so many variable to consider. I feel like I need to go back to square one, give only the seed based food and offer veggies, leave the cage open while I am home and let the bird come out when she feels like it and wait to see if she returns to coming to me on her own to rule out that it was due to her being purely food driven. Also, I want to be able to weigh her to be sure she is staying healthy, I really want a measurable metric. What do you guys think. Sorry for the long read, there is just so many details that I feel where important.
 

expressmailtome

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fluffypoptarts

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I don’t know...typically they don’t act like that (friendly) if it‘s just looking for food. Now, that’s not to say she can’t be frustrated, moody, or hormonal, especially if she’s a female. Lovebirds can be quite particular about their food, so I would make sure she likes whatever it is before converting.
 

Zara

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The friendliness towards you, I don´t think is related. That just seems to be separate progress.
The searching for food, could be hunger, but my birds like to forage all the time anyway.
Also I know my ¨untame¨ bird will bite me once the millet cluster has no more millets on it, I caught it on video once, I´ll paste it at the end of my post.
Take advantage of her desire for millet, put a chunk of millet on the scales and Tare/Zero, then stand back and watch the weight when she hops on to eat the millet.
I don´t know about that food (the seeds), corn, peanuts, salted peas, and all the dehydrated fruits stand out to me. Maybe try to wean her onto a new seed mix first? One you feel better about (higher in canary grass seed, no sunflower seeds as those are treats).
Definitely keep offering the veggies in the mornings, sprinkle a pinch of seed on top, I add a small pinch of sesame seeds too, they are quite healthy and mine took to them right away.
Here´s the video, you can see once the millet was gone, she goes for the bite, (I thought there was more left on the other side and it´s hard to film with multiple birds out)
 

jzarc17

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I don’t know...typically they don’t act like that (friendly) if it‘s just looking for food. Now, that’s not to say she can’t be frustrated, moody, or hormonal, especially if she’s a female. Lovebirds can be quite particular about their food, so I would make sure she likes whatever it is before converting.
Thats good feed back, thank you. I’m not sure if the bird is a he or she, thought when I got her (I keep calling the bird a her) that she was 4 and a half months old but she is currently about 4 months. Her birthdays is 6/8. Is it possible for a Lovebird to be hormonal at that age?
 

jzarc17

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Rochester, NY
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Jackie
The friendliness towards you, I don´t think is related. That just seems to be separate progress.
The searching for food, could be hunger, but my birds like to forage all the time anyway.
Also I know my ¨untame¨ bird will bite me once the millet cluster has no more millets on it, I caught it on video once, I´ll paste it at the end of my post.
Take advantage of her desire for millet, put a chunk of millet on the scales and Tare/Zero, then stand back and watch the weight when she hops on to eat the millet.
I don´t know about that food (the seeds), corn, peanuts, salted peas, and all the dehydrated fruits stand out to me. Maybe try to wean her onto a new seed mix first? One you feel better about (higher in canary grass seed, no sunflower seeds as those are treats).
Definitely keep offering the veggies in the mornings, sprinkle a pinch of seed on top, I add a small pinch of sesame seeds too, they are quite healthy and mine took to them right away.
Here´s the video, you can see once the millet was gone, she goes for the bite, (I thought there was more left on the other side and it´s hard to film with multiple birds out)
Fabulous advice as always! I will use all your suggestions! You and @fluffypoptarts are such amazing people and have helped me so much. I really appreciate the time both of you take to comment on my posts. It’s a big help! I will update once I have a chance to put the suggestions to use. Thank you :hug8:
 

fluffypoptarts

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Thats good feed back, thank you. I’m not sure if the bird is a he or she, thought when I got her (I keep calling the bird a her) that she was 4 and a half months old but she is currently about 4 months. Her birthdays is 6/8. Is it possible for a Lovebird to be hormonal at that age?
Yes, for sure. She’s also quite young, so she’ll be testing boundaries and pushing you to see what she can get away with. ;)
 

fluffypoptarts

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Fabulous advice as always! I will use all your suggestions! You and @fluffypoptarts are such amazing people and have helped me so much. I really appreciate the time both of you take to comment on my posts. It’s a big help! I will update once I have a chance to put the suggestions to use. Thank you :hug8:
You’re welcome! Zara is always so full of suggestions, information, and videos - she’s great. :heart2:
 

jzarc17

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Yes, for sure. She’s also quite young, so she’ll be testing boundaries and pushing you to see what she can get away with. ;)
She is definitely testing boundaries lol. The good news is she came out today and perched for a while on the book shelf next to my desk while I was working. The bad....she flew to the floor so I offer the stick to step up onto since I know she is more comfortable with that and she side stepped her way to my hand and pinched me! What a little stinker!!! o_O Good thing she’s so cute :rolleyes:
 

Zara

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:rofl: I knew that would happen with a small cluster ;) That´s why I said put a ¨chunk¨, sorry I should have been clearer, I meant like a couple of inches.
Place it in a cereal bowl so she has to hop up on the bowl to eat it or she will just yoink it from the plate.
 

fluffypoptarts

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I swear you’ve got a girl there...they tend to be more saucy, crafty, and diabolical than the boys could ever be! :laughing2:
 

jzarc17

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I swear you’ve got a girl there...they tend to be more saucy, crafty, and diabolical than the boys could ever be! :laughing2:
I have a funny feeling your right! I don’t have experience with birds prior to this one but this bird is SASSY! I can tell when she is not on board with something I’m doing be she yells at me! I swear she does! It’s this fast repetitive chirp, I hear it and I just put my hands up and back away lol
 

fluffypoptarts

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I have a funny feeling your right! I don’t have experience with birds prior to this one but this bird is SASSY! I can tell when she is not on board with something I’m doing be she yells at me! I swear she does! It’s this fast repetitive chirp, I hear it and I just put my hands up and back away lol
Lovebirds absolutely do yell at and regulate their humans, and the females are especially vocal! My little old guy Termite makes regulation noises at me on a daily basis, but he usually only yells if someone else touches me or my hair while he’s on me. :rolleyes:

My wife’s lovie makes a high-pitched machine gun chirp when she’s annoyed, but she’ll also growl. When she’s scooped up against her will, she makes angry little squeaky bat noises. :D
 

jzarc17

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Ok, it’s round two for the diet conversion. I’m a little nervous lol. I have a new seed mix which is a custom mixture that a local bird specialty store mixes themselves. I opted for it because the other ones I saw had a lot of dried fruit in it and Zara said she was not liking the dried fruit. I hope this one is ok I wish I could identify all the seeds that are in it. There is only one that I think I know what it is...white millet? The really small round seeds I think. A picture of the mix is below. The other foods I brought home was samples of fruity Zupreem and Roudybush. I see lots of people have luck on here with those so I am going to give it a go. I have this funny feeling that this little bird is going to give me a hard time...it’s ok, I’m a little sunburn myself so I’m sure I have it coming ;)

At around 3pm today I offered her the new seed mix...she ate mostly the white millet...go figure. I‘ll keep offering intermittently and see how it goes. Next up is the fruity zupreem, that’s the one I think I have the best chance of getting her to eat due to the sugar...I can’t blame her...at 34 years old I still really like fruity pebbles...:cool:

So the plan is I will take out the seed mix at bed time and first thing in the morning I will change the paper and then offer the fruity zupreem all on it’s own. I will watch the dropping to see if they change color to indicate if she is eating the pellets. If I don’t think she is eating the pellets by 1 or 2 in the afternoon I will switch back to he old seed mix to make sure she does eat. The store owner told me that people have tried to switch the birds food all at once and just did not watch to see if the bird was eating it and then after about two days the bird died because it refused to eat the new diet, that was a sobering moment...that not going to happen to my bird, not on my watch! Wow.

The other bit of info I wanted to notes is that Lovebug has reverted back to being more apprehensive of me, she does not really leave the cage as much and this is all since I started feeling her the original seed mix feed again. So strange! When she was out and coming to me for that sort time I was very carful not to push past any boundaries. Also I have continued to leave the cage open during the day while I am working from home and I try not to pay attention to she when she does come out so she does not feel any pressure.

So yeah, thats what up at the moment. Below is the picture of the new seed mix. Thoughts?

5D22CDEE-4F2A-4D0E-80FE-ED9977EB3ED4.jpeg
And below is what is not eaten a little after 8pm...
0176EE1F-6395-4871-ADCC-D4EC16EC2192.jpeg
 

Zara

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Mix looks ok. There´s a lot of safflower seeds though (the white ones that look a little like sunflower shape).
I see some hemp in there which is good. I also see the red millet. I see a few rolled oats, they´re good too (not heavy as they are high fat).
Though no idea what that big brown thing is (middle near top), and there´s no canary grass seed?
I make my own mix that has more canary grass seed than millet.
Are you offering the pellets in their own bowl too? Have you tried adding them to foraging activities?
Will Lovebug eat millet from you? If so, offer her some, when she´s eaten a bit, then swap it for a pellet, see if she eats it..
It is just a case of trying new ways to incorporate these new foods and hoping one works :)
 

jzarc17

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Mix looks ok. There´s a lot of safflower seeds though (the white ones that look a little like sunflower shape).
I see some hemp in there which is good. I also see the red millet. I see a few rolled oats, they´re good too (not heavy as they are high fat).
Though no idea what that big brown thing is (middle near top), and there´s no canary grass seed?
I make my own mix that has more canary grass seed than millet.
Are you offering the pellets in their own bowl too? Have you tried adding them to foraging activities?
Will Lovebug eat millet from you? If so, offer her some, when she´s eaten a bit, then swap it for a pellet, see if she eats it..
It is just a case of trying new ways to incorporate these new foods and hoping one works :)
Thats a good idea about the millet and then swapping for a pellet. I’ll try that for sure!

The hard part about this new seed mix it that they don’t include a label with ingredients. So frustrating.

I did manage to get a weight on her today, 1.35oz.
 

Zara

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I did manage to get a weight on her today, 1.35oz.
That is very low (38g). If she is willing to eat the millet, then give her millet spray to eat. You really want to get her weight up to at least 45g.
I would hold off changing her food until her weight is better.
 

jzarc17

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That is very low (38g). If she is willing to eat the millet, then give her millet spray to eat. You really want to get her weight up to at least 45g.
I would hold off changing her food until her weight is better.
I agree 100% I just fed her a bunch of mille, she ate that really well. The did a nice healthy poop after she got done eating. The poop seemed to have a lot of substance to it (sorry, I don’t mean to be gross) after all that she is beak grinding happily on her favorite rope perch. I’ll take advantage of this reason to spoil her a bit, maybe me feeding all the millet with further solidified our relationship.

I wish I was confident that I could get her weight regularly, it was tough to get her out of her cage and onto the scale on her own. I might need to try to put her food in a bowl that sits on top of the scale in the morning to encourage her to get back on the scale so I can get another weight. Now I want monitor her weight even more now that I know that she’s underweight.
 
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