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Will using a bowl harm abundance weaning?

bananasmom

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Our umbrella cockatoo was born June 14th, 2022. He still VERY MUCH prefers formula over any sort of food. He always has a bowl full of parrot food (nuts, seeds, banana chips, peppers, etc) as well as commercial pellets. We offer him many varieties of our food as well. He barely ever tries anything. We were told when we got him in October to wean him off formula over the course of a couple weeks, and that he would start eating more solids, but all he did was cry, beg, and lose weight. We quickly went back to hand/syringe feeding.
In February, I successfully switched from syringe feeding to bowl feeding his formula. He gets his bowl twice a day and seems fine with it. I have since read up on abundance weaning and realize we are on his schedule as far as a weaning age, and that's ok! But I have two questions:
#1 Should I be concerned that he has very little interest in ANY solids at this point? (9.5 months) He will eat his almonds and peppers and dump the rest.
#2 Is using a bowl for his formula against abundance weaning guidelines? In other words, am I psychologically harming him by not hand feeding and instead offering him his formula in a bowl?
Thank you for any guidance. He's our first cockatoo but not our first large parrot. He's quite different!
 

Toy

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Try wet pellets. Soak some in hot water until soft, but not mushy. Drain off the water. I had to hand feed/wean my U2 (got her at 7 months of age, she is soon to be 24yrs). I fed her 10-14 pellets at a time 3 - 4 times a day. I held a pellet, opened her beak & placed it inside. Let her swallow it. Eventually she would eat them out of the dish herself. Keep other foods in cage at all times. It took me at least 3 or 4 months to get her weaned.
 

macawpower58

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You can also offer less formula in the bowl. Then remove it and try the solid food.
Since he's eaten less formula than normal, his hunger may get him to try some of the solids.
Maybe even grind up some veggies, or pellets and mix with the formula.
Toos can be nightmares to wean, but it will happen.
Trying the wet pellet is another good idea.
You can also bake some bird bread and stuff veggies in that as another try. Most use a corn bread mix as a base.
 

bananasmom

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Thank you all! Will try these suggestions. What pellets do you all use?
 

Kiwi's Dad

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melissasparrots

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He should be well on his way to weaning. Abundance weaning didn't initially mean to let the bird take forever to wean. It originally meant to give the bird an abundance of choices and don't starve it into eating on its own. It just so happens that if you do it right, they don't take forever to wean and do it mostly on their own. I don't see any problems with letting him have formula out of a bowl. You might want to mix in some clumps of warm cooked and soft sweet potato, cooked rice, banana, quinoa, cooked soft beans or any combination of that. If fed at hand-feeding temperature, many young birds will wean themselves onto the same soft foods that are suitable for adults. The soaked pellets are also a good idea.
Ideally, you put the bowl in his cage and then walk away so that he is truly eating it on his own. If you just hold the bowl, then there isn't much difference between that and a syringe. You are still the source of the food.
Also, very often, babies do loose some weight during weaning. In particular, even when they are ready for a hand-feeding to be dropped, they may still loose some weight for about 2-3 days and then stabilize. Formula is heavy with a lot of fluid weight so when you drop a hand-feeding, there is often a slight weight loss but it will usually stabilize after 3 days and start reversing shortly after that. Even when done correctly, many baby birds lose 10-20% of their peak weight. I've had babies lose weight and refuse formula. Weighing him is just to make sure the weight loss is controlled. If you drop a feeding and you see weight loss that doesn't stabilize after a few days and you see an increase in crying, then it was too soon or not done right.
It is helpful to offer a partial hand-feeding (or bowl feeding) in order to take the edge off the hunger and then put the bird in the cage with a bunch of warm veggies and then walk away and don't come back for an hour or two so that the bird can focus on eating like a grown up instead of begging from mommy. A good in between might be to put some soft adult foods into the same bowl with the formula. If necessary, start with you holding the bowl and then transition to eating it from the cage like an adult.
Some people also find that having a snack of their own while the bird is eating is also helpful. Some people sit beside the bird and eat. But, if you can possibly get him to be more independent and eat in his cage that would be best.
However, if I have a baby that just wants to sit and cry at me instead of eating on its own, then I give it a quick 10-30 ml of formula to take the edge off and the plop it back in the cage with a bowl full of warm soft cooked food at hand-feeding temperature, and then I leave so they can't fixate on me as the source of food. They are still a little hungry, but not desperate and will usually explore what is in the bowl. Especially if they just saw you put something new in the bowl right before you left.
 

BrianB

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I don't think it will be an issue. We always start to offer different foods when we notice the babies starting to grab things with their beaks. Even if they aren't eating it at first it still generates curiosity and gets them to explore. Offering a few dishes of different things can encourage early foraging behavior and help you identify what their preferences might be. Try small dishes of pellets in various locations. Use different brands, shapes, sizes, and colors to see what might be of interest. A small bowl of water is good too. Move them around the cage so the baby is driven to explore to see what's in each dish as you refresh them. You can expect some waste at first, but as time goes by the baby will try different things. If you offer this in addition to hand feeding and let the baby set the schedule things will work out fine.
 

Toy

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Thank you all! Will try these suggestions. What pellets do you all use?
My U2 was started on Zupreem Natural, so that's what I've kept her on all these years.
 

macawpower58

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I use Caitec Oven Fresh Bites
 
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