The importance of using fresh forage with birds





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Providing live forage is excellent for parrots both nutritionally and for their emotional well being. LIVE forage is one of the best ways to boost your bird's immune system. They love Eucalyptus, Guava, Acacia, Fig and Papaya. I have a Pineapple Guava on my screened in porch that provides clean branches for my fids. We have purposely planted Eucalyptus all around the aviaries to have lots of access to them. There are 2 kinds of Eucalyptus that do not break as easily as the others; they are the Microtheca and the Rudis. Do be careful that you don't accidentally poison your birds.

One of the best lists I have found on which branches are listed for their toxicity is at this link , which is within the landscape website  Mr Vaden does list "fir" as safe, but be careful not to confuse this with long needled pines which are not good for birds. (This site also has a link that is very descriptive on how to make perches for your birds and he even includes a blurb on how to tell stainless steel from the dangerous zinc washers).

Branches that are recommended are apple, alder,  ash, aspen, beech, birch, bottlebrush, citrus (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat) cottonwood, crabapple, dogwood, elm, hawthorn, hazelnut, hibiscus, larch, lilac, manzanita, mulberry, palms, redbud, sequoia and willow trees.

A list of the safe houseplants that we can grow are asters, ferns, spider plants, geraniums, pansies, nasturtiums, marigolds, dandelions. There are many good effects found from using Calendula (also known as pot marigold). too Many parrots eat flowers in the wild and they are even a primary staple in the Eclectus diet. Here in the desert, the Calendula and Nasturtiums grow well if planted in the fall.

They will choose branches over nearly any toy that I offer them and spend hours stripping, chewing and removing every bark and twig. Then they will carry the branches around and cram them  up in the corners of the cages. I have later found them perching on them. The moist alive branches must feel good to their feet. 

Most zoos provide such "browse" for parrots as do experienced breeders. Many of us raise plants that are there for this purpose. It is good to intertwine them in the cage wire giving them even the Eucalyptus leaves and berries. They also like the stalks and leaves of ginger plants (which are similar to heliconia). 

Parrots are designed to chew on branches and remove all the accessories (flowers, buds, leaves). Providing branches can be a way to deter feather plucking and other neurotic behaviors that we see due to us depriving our fids from certain "programmed activities."

The branches also provide fiber to their diet which aids in digestion, phytonutrients and trace elements.

One idea is to have 2 to 3 Hibiscus plants in pots that can be rotated through the fids. Having several pots on hand gives the plants time to recover from the serious trimming the birds perform. I don't use pots, but do routinely trim branches. 

The other neat thing about Eucalyptus is that it repels scorpions, mites, lice and other blood suckers. I rub all my nest boxes prior to putting the shavings in and then I throw some new leaves in with the shavings. This was a tip I got from a man who specialized in Australians and Gouldians.

Here is a Timneh African Grey dragging a branch of our Pineapple Guava up to her perch to rip into pieces.

LIVE food is one of the healthiest nutrients for your bird.In the wild, most of a parrot's diet consists of live food. Most parrot owners are feeding their fids "dead food." When we serve live foods, the cells are still alive and functioning despite that the plant is removed from the parent plant. The cells die in time or when the food is cooked or frozen. Live foods contain beneficial enzymes that are so good for your birds.

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