Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Post: Feeding a Large Flock Without Going Insane

I have had seven birds or more in my house at any given time, between flock members and foster birds. All this, and a busy life taking care of other people’s birds too! Feeding a healthy diet to my birds is important to me, but I just don’t have all day (who does?). As many of us know, feeding a fresh diet requires thinking first thing in the morning before we leave for work, and this is something I am not very good at. I also don’t have tons of money. So buying lots of the “instant” bird mixes and cooking them up isn’t always an option. So how do I balance the time and money issue?

I got organized! I created a feeding schedule/calendar that helps me ensure that I am feeding a balanced diet to my flock. This way, I buy all the right groceries when I’m at the market, and my plan gives me a weekly and daily task list of what I need to do, and when. (Since much of the prep for a fresh bird diet happens in the wee hours of the
morning before work, I needed to tell myself what needs to get done in advance. I’m just not adept at thinking on my feet early in the morning.) I found that bird care for a larger flock can get overwhelming unless you plan in advance.

Below are sample make-ahead recipes of a bird balanced diet. You can set aside 30-60 minutes a week to make bird food and freeze and store your work for fresh food-on-the-run! I tend to do my weekly prep on Sundays, when I have the time.

Making bird recipes is often easier than people ones, and
kids love to help in the kitchen!
I often set one day aside a week to offer seed and nuts and treats above and beyond the ordinary daily nutrition. This gives me a prepping break, as pleasing to the birds, and makes time when you just want to hang out and not do work (or you have chores to do and want little distraction!) doable. We call this day “Seed-ter-day” in my house. “Seed-ter-day” allows the birds to have a treat while we are out during the day, having fun together, or doing chores. The rest of the mornings, we eat as a flock, but it’s all easy food that doesn’t need prep (or is prepped on Sunday and pulled out of the fridge).

I feed 100% organic, and animal products (like eggs) are also free range. I am lucky since in the Bay Area, I can get an organic “box” delivery: produce, cereals, nuts, and juices delivered every Wednesday! I also love Trader Joe’s supermarket- they carry tons of organic stuff- from pine nuts to eggs!

As far as processed bird products, I use a variety of pellets (all human grade, preferably organic).

Every week, set aside 30 minutes or so on one day (usually Sunday) to do bird food prep. Here are things you might want to make in advance that would make your week easier:

Hard boil eggs in advance. Serve these chopped, with the shell included.

Sweet Potato Balls (recipe has appeared on this blog)

Rice Mix with veggies (Steam veggies of choice while rice is cooking; mix together until blended. I have a rice cooker with a steamer basket and highly recommend one- and it’s great for making human food, too. It is self contained, has automatic shutoff, and takes up very little space while you are working.)

Birdie Bread Mini Muffins

Veggie ravioli with healthy veggie-laden marinara (humans eat this too!)

Make 7 layer salad  (recipe has appeared on this blog)

Make Spicy Ricey Glop  (recipe has appeared on this blog)

Prep a sprout mix

When you do your bird feeding chores once a week, it really saves time and energy- leaving your spare time to socialize and spend quality time with your flock-not your food processor!

Now through 12/5, enter code largeflock to get free shipping on orders over $100!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bird Recipe: Home-made "avi-cakes"

This is a recipe provided by a Mommabird client. These are for treats only, not a main diet! We thought with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, you could use a treat recipe!

Homemade Avi-Cakes

Mix in 2 cups each of three desired ingredients (below are examples)
(pick three things for a total of 6 cups of dry ingredients)

crushed cereal….. (Cheerios or Shredded Wheat..)
crushed pellets
instant oatmeal (rolled oats)
assorted seeds…..

Add honey or karo corn syrup, about 1 1/4 cups
(see why this is a treat? FYI: Avi-cakes are also sweetened- heavily!)

1. Stir until mixture is wet but not dripping. You may need to adjust the honey or dry ingredients to get it this way.

2. Pour it onto a cookie sheet, spread it out and bake at very low temperature like 200 F for about 45 minutes.

3. About half way through cooking, I usually score them it makes it easier to cut them when done.
You can also shape these around craft sticks with a hole drilled at one end for a hanging treat in the cage

4. These make terrific stocking stuffers or birthday gifts for the birds. My birds go crazy for these!

Now through 11/29, enter code givethanks IN THE COMMENTS BOX (NOT THE COUPON BOX) to get a free bag of Harvest Loaf with orders of $50 or more.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Over-the-Counter Medicines and Birds

Why should you avoid giving your bird ANY meds without first seeing an avian vet?

1. While saving money is important in these times, saving your bird is even more so. Most over-the-counter medications (especially the antibiotics) DO NOT WORK. They are too weak to do the job you want them to do.

2. You also may be using an improper medication, as you are not a vet and have done no tests to determine what the problem is with your bird. (Commonly people treat for bacteria when their bird has yeast- I’ve seen that one plenty of times.)You will either wind up taking your bird to the vet after using these meds anyway or having the bird die, I guarantee you.

3. Further, using these “medicines” will skew the tests that the vet will inevitably need to do, thereby delaying proper treatment even further.

Do your bird a favor- when it seems sick, take it to a (preferably Board Certified) Avian Vet. Get it tested and get the real stuff. Your bird will thank you.

Any store that would sell you over-the-counter medicines is a bad store, period. They just wanna sell you something, even if it means killing your bird or extending its suffering in the process. There’s even one that “vets” put their name on that will do this, and it has gotten them in trouble with their vet peers- because it is unethical to take advantage of people using your vet reputation and degree to sell snake oil.

Now through 11/22: enter code noOTCforme to get free shipping on your order of $75 or more!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bird Recipe: Dry Mix

This idea is a real time saver for me: I make a monthly “dry mix” for my parrots that allows me to serve variety with little time investment. I keep it in an airtight pet food container with a scoop inside to make it easy to serve my flock. 

I always have a “dry bowl” in the cages and on parrot play stands. Because it isn’t filled with moist foods, it can stay there all day with less fear of bacterial buildup. I also have a “wet bowl” at flock meals (at the table with us in the morning and evening).

Dry mix is what you make it. You can add your bird’s favorites to new items and see if there is interest as you come across them. Serving dry mix also reduces incidences of “food fear” (when a parrot is naturally suspicious of new food items and gets freaked out), because the new item is surrounded by the familiar mix.

My dry mix ingredients for my two Caiques:
1. Pellets: Zupreem Natural Conure, Hagen Tropican Parrot Sticks, Breeder’s Blend, Foundation Formula Spicer’s Blend, or Harrison’s Coarse. (Some of these brands are not my main organic brands, but I am OK with these brands in smaller quantities).

2. dried chilies (whole red hot ones)

3. dried unsulphured fruits (coconut, raisins, cranberries, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, mango, and papaya. )

4. dried seeds (pepitas, flax seed, buckwheat groats, quinoa)

5. whole grain unsweetened cereal

6. dried veggies and legumes (carrot, beets, peas, broccoli, soynuts, and bell pepper)

Ingredients are not in order of quantity or anything- when I find a deal on something great for the mix, I splurge on that. So sometimes the mix is veggie heavy, other times it is pellet heavy.

Now through 11/15,  enter code drymix to get free shipping on orders over $100!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How Much Does Your Bird Weigh? Is s/he healthy?

Here are the suggested weights these specific birds should be in (listed from lowest female weight to highest male weight). All in GRAMS.

African Grey: 300-380
Blue Crowned Conure: 84-96
Blue Headed Pionus: 238-278

Blue and Gold Macaw: 892-1294
Budgies: 30-60

Canary: 12-29
Cockatiel: 82-125
Diamond Dove: 40
Double Yellow Headed Amazon: 545
Eclectus: 383-524
Greater Indian Hill Mynah: 180-240

Green Winged Macaw: 1058-1464
Jenday Conure: 118-128

Lovebirds: 50-70
Moluccan Cockatoo: 640-1025
Orange Winged Amazon: 440-470
Scarlet Macaw: 1058-1464
Senegal: 125-150
Umbrella Cockatoo: 458-756
Yellow Collared Macaw: 223-308
Zebra Finch: 10-16

Now through 11/8, enter code weighthatbird for a free bag of birdie bread for every three you buy!